Another dry week and a continued improvement in the fishing. It is still not easy and many of the bigger fish’s thoughts are turning increasingly to spawning over feeding. The rewards at this time of the year can be so much the greater. To winkle out a sporadically feeding two pounder, worth a basket full of suicidal stockies at Mayfly time. This week I was lucky enough to be invited to fish on the Avon near The Woodfords. A similar size to the river Test near here, it had luxuriant weed growth, a steady trickle of Olives throughout the afternoon and several free rising fish. I have fished this stretch on several occasions at this time of the year and each time have seen Mayflies hatching, twice inducing fish to take a Mayfly Dun imitation in the middle of September. If you threw a Grey Drake at a fish on the Dever in September it would run a mile or sulk on the bottom for several days. On the Dever and the Test, Mayfly hatch intensely through the last two weeks in May and the first week in June in true “duffers fortnight” tradition and are non existent from the late June onwards. Twenty miles to the West on the Upper Avon they hatch throughout the summer with no particular peak time. Ten miles to the East on the Upper Itchen they rarely see a Mayfly; It’s a funny old world.
One morning this week, while feeding the Pheasants. Otis put a White Cormorant off the pond. I have never seen a white Cormorant before, through the power of modern technology I was able to contact several fellow keepers, who questioned whether I had been drinking and could it have been a Pelican, Flamingo, Spoonbill or Egret. I was twenty yards from the blasted thing and it was a white Cormorant; further investigation proved that they are occasionally seen on the Tweed in Scotland. I assume that it was an albino and not an “ermine” Cormorant heralding the onset of a particularly harsh winter.
The river has a late summer/early autumn sparkle at the moment, the weed is still in good condition and the water gin clear, fly trickles off the water and the trees lining the river are on the turn. The fringe has ceased to grow along with the grass, with two weeks left of our trout season there is little to do on the river.
The Pheasants have found the strips of Maize and are hammering the feeders. I hand feed a big bucket of wheat every morning and am filling up the pheasant feeders on the rides once a week. When the maize in the game cover has gone the Roe Deer knock the feeders over to get at the corn, at the moment there is an abundance of food for the Deer so they leave them alone.
The first part of this week I have spent cutting the hedges around the place. I do this by hand. For the large hedges around the stable yard and bordering the road I use a scaffold tower in the back of my pick up truck. Back my pick up truck up next to the hedge and climb to the top. The hedge bordering the stable yard is fifteen feet high and fifteen feet across and makes my arms ache; there is something to be said for fences and brick walls!
I continue to have a problem with an errant Spaniel, although I am assured that the owners are doing their best to keep him within the confines of the village. If numbers of Pheasants are low on a shooting day, the explanation to the guns that “Mrs Miggins” doesn’t keep her dog under control carries little weight.
By coincidence, a previous occupier of the same house was an elderly country gentleman who lived alone and had taken on a young Yellow Labrador Puppy for company and shooting. The dog was strong willed, lively and called Lark. On walks around the village and finding himself unable to keep up with the highly mobile “Lark” the elderly gentleman could be heard on his afternoon walk calling and calling,
Lark, Lark, Lark……… LARK!
F… Y.. Lark!!!
As the dog headed in a straight line for the Moon;
A shooting man he had Lark sorted out within a few months, but the Yellow Lab was forever known as F… Y.. Lark !