I don’t normally fish on Sundays. That is nothing to do with my Christian faith by the way, just that as a minister I am usually tied up and it’s a very busy day. But as far as actually fishing (or anything else for that matter) on a Sunday is concerned, my view is that as long as it isn’t keeping me away from church or affecting my focus there is no problem. But this week I had the chance to get out for an overnighter after church. It helps that the days are getting longer plus the fact that the type of fishing I am doing at present means I can set up, cast out and take it easy.
I wear two hats as far as my work as a minister is concerned. The first is as the director of a small charity that works predominantly in Africa whilst the other sees me as the pastor of a local church. I don’t know what you think about church, probably that it is past its sell-by-date and is totally irrelevant for the 21 st century. Well, I will be the first to agree that is true for some churches, but not all. Take Tipton Family Church for example, which is where I am the minister. We have grown in the last five months by 76% – and that growth has consisted of people that previously had no church connections.
Words such as ‘brilliant, exciting, amazing and awesome’ are not ones that you usually associate with church, but in our case they all sit very comfortably with where we are and perhaps more importantly, where we are going. You can check out our website at www.tiptonfamilychurch.org and if you are local, come and pay us a visit. Angling gets a regular mention in the sermon!
Anyway, back to the gravel pit! As I set up I couldn’t believe the weather – the middle of April and it felt like the end of February. With a persistent wind from the north pushing in it was cold enough by late afternoon, but once the sun set, the temperature really dropped. By the time it had well and truly disappeared over the horizon a frost started to form on the ground and on my fishing tackle. The prospects for the night ahead looked grim, but if you want to catch then you have to be out there, that’s for sure.
As the night wore on and the swingers remained statuesque connected to silent bite alarms, the prospect of a blank became very much a reality. And by the time the sun reappeared and started to burn away the remnants of ground frost I unwrapped myself from the warmth of the sleeping bag and looked to begin the process of packing away. But before I did, I noticed that one of the swingers was hanging low. Upon inspection I realised that there was also a lot of slack line, which after a few turns of the handle of the reel, resulted in a bream.
What had happened was that the bite alarm had malfunctioned, without any warning beforehand. The batteries were OK but something had gone wrong with the internal mechanism and it had died. Not that I want any fish tethered out in the water, but at least it was a bream and it was only temporary. Apart from minimal movement it hadn’t gone anywhere. But if it had been a carp or a tench then it would have stripped line off until there was none left. It’s not a nice thought is it? But what can you do in a situation like this other than ditch the alarm and buy another one. I guess for a while I will be constantly checking the alarms after I have cast out. In fact I often do anyway, giving the swinger a gentle push upwards setting off the alarm.
Therefore as it was I didn’t blank and the fish was totally unaffected. I observed it in the net in the water after landing for a while and it was fine. If I had to stereotype the personality of bream I would portray them as a bit on the slow side, and I could imagine this fish was totally oblivious to what had gone on. So a couple of photographs and away it swam, back to the depths of the pit. I’m still on the right side of the fine line between success and failure!
The episode though reminded me of the night I was on another gravel pit and in the next section was a well-known angler and some of his mates. They drank that much alcohol that during the night when he had a bream on, they were all fast asleep and unaware of the fish. The angler in question was actually snoring just a couple of feet from his pod!
(Originally published April 2008)