On a recent visit to the River Severn while roving the bank for chub, I heard a noise in some undergrowth. Looking across I saw a pheasant that initially I thought was stuck. But when I went over to free him I realised he wasn’t tangled with anything at all but couldn’t get around. As this is shooting country I figured he was one that had been wounded in some way and not killed outright. I’ve seen them shoot and injured birds fly on and flap around all over the place.
Anyway I tucked him up in the undergrowth and he seemed to settle. There was no blood so maybe he was just stunned. I paid him a visit later on but he hadn’t moved and so as darkness drew in I was a bit concerned for him. Just lying there he was a target not only for foxes but also rats and mink. And I couldn’t stand the thought of him being savaged by these latter two in particular so I decided to intervene and take him home. We kept him indoors at night and then put him in the garden during the day. (photo 1)
After the first couple of days of being in a new environment he settled in quite well. He started to eat (photo 2) and allowed us to pick him up and stroke him and he would even fall asleep in my arms as I stroked his neck. He wasn’t able to get about very well though. Then 10 days or so in we noticed he took a downturn and realised he wasn’t going to make it. So for a day, although he still responded to our approach, he just slept. And that’s how he died, peacefully in his sleep.
I got quite attached to him and he became a star on my facebook page with ‘Fezzant update’ posts attracting a fair few likes and comments. Would I do the same again in this situation? Yes I would. As far as the natural world is concerned, my approach is very clear. I won’t interfere but I will intervene in circumstances like this. If I saw a sparrowhawk heading towards a blue tit on a tree I wouldn’t make any movement to interfere in the course of nature. But coming across a wounded animal then I would intervene.
That intervention would depend on the situation. In case of Fezzant I guess we knew he was in an uphill struggle, but at least we gave him a chance and he died peacefully. I try not to get too soppy and emotional about animals, after all there are people suffering terribly in the world. But as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t have to be either/or, you can have compassion for both! And on the subject of that, onto the fishing, and while on the bank in my first session I had a call from someone that is going to work with us in an orphanage project.
I’m the director of a charity (Sedgley International Christian Ministries – SICM) if you weren’t aware, so that’s who ‘us’ is! And as I’m pretty much on expenses only, that’s one of the reason I get to fish so much. You can’t earn big bucks and then go off fishing 5 times a week. But when you give more than you take then of course that’s different. I love my work, challenging at times, but very rewarding. Bit like my fishing! And as the river season drew to an end I decided to hit the middle Severn and pursue chub.
The first outing is the one featured in the video and as you can see, I managed to get a fish (photo 3) for the camera. It’s always nice when I can do that, but ultimately the aim of the video is not to put on some sort of rod-bending entertainment, rather to inspire and share tips. Just to clarify one thing I said on the video when referring to tap water not being good for the fish, I wasn’t talking about their health but rather the fact that additives such as chlorine can have a negative effect on the bait. If we add 1mm of this and 2mm of that then small doses really can make a difference.
My bait was bread flake pinched around a size 6 hook and dipped in blue cheese and garlic (photo 4). And this was how I began my second visit to the Severn (photos 5,6). The river was looking good and warm weather had brought a few anglers out on the bank. In fact the pegs I would have fished had they been free were all occupied, so I found myself going right to the very end of the stretch. After a few casts I started to get little taps and wanting to explore further I switched to a size 14 hook and double maggot. The culprits were minnows (photo 7) and I landed a couple or so.
Then it went quiet and I figured something bigger had moved in the swim, which was just off an overhanging willow. The next movement on the quiver tip was more than just a slight rattle, it pulled round properly. The result was a chub. Not a big fish, in fact nothing substantial throughout the session, which was an afternoon ending an hour before dark. I would liked to have stayed beyond that but I had to get back home. Anyway, I’ve rounded the article off with a number of chub shots (8,9,10). If you write an angling blog then variety of fish photos is essential.
And so another river season drew to a close. It only seemed like five minutes and I was kicking everything off last June. Whoever coined the phrase ‘time flies’ certainly knew what he was talking about, that’s for sure. Mind you, I don’t feel as attached to rivers as I used to be. Even though the stillwaters were open, I always approached the middle of March with a real sense of sadness that it was all over for another 3 months. But in the last few years, rather than my love of rivers diminish, my passion for other venues has caught up. So watch this space for some new 2012 species, plus perch of course. Can’t neglect them can I! (article published March 24 2012)