Where did all the water go? No weed to cut in august, a proliferation of blanket weed and the river is now down to its bare bones. Fly life through August was reasonable with better sedge fishing than this time last year and Olives trickled off from late morning on the fine days. The rain we have had has done nothing but add colour for 24 hours, with fish rising between the showers. Now the river is crystal clear and with three weeks of the season left, several fish are more intent on making territorial charges than looking up for flies. There are many fish left in the river most have now moved into the deeper holes. On some parts of the river there is a thin line of mud between the water and the marginal fringe, a small beach that will be even greater when we cut the weed out in October. The Stew ponds are also short of water and it may soon be necessary to put a few sheets of tin into the river below the inlet to try and push a bit more water through.
The Pheasants are now out of the pen and all over the meadow, some are showing signs of adult plumage. I have feeders out through the wood, but the fatter they get on natural food and maize from the game cover the better as the price of Wheat has shot through the roof and currently stands at £150 per ton. Following the close of the cricket season and the start of school we had a week in Cornwall. A non-fishing holiday, at the end of a hectic summer, to a place we used to visit regularly, but had not been to for nine years. We also used to buy our day old pheasants from a chap who lives in a castle on a beach, we visited the beach several times during the week and the roads leading in were covered in tiny Cornish pheasants, half the size of a Hampshire bird they make a challenging target pushed of the top of some of the hills and cliffs that surround the beach. They did well here in Hampshire and flew beautifully, but had a tendency to walk a little further than their rotund Hampshire brethren sometimes over the hill and far away, and if it wasn’t your hill then they did not feature or your shooting day. In a week in Cornwall hanging around harbours, bumming on beaches and walking the cliffs I saw fewer Cormorants than I would on a mid winters walk on the middle Test.
Unfortunately during the past month, the best dog that we have ever had cashed in his chips. Zebo, our twelve year old Black Labrador developed a load of lumps where lumps shouldn’t be, that finished him off in a matter of weeks. Born into a well-bred litter of eight, he and his brother Jacko who lives nearby, were the two left that nobody chose. He cost a day’s fishing for two, and after initial efforts at training, it became abundantly clear that “it was all in there” and he knew far more about shooting than anyone else around here. He had impeccable manners with both humans and fellow dogs and did not have one fight in twelve years. On driven pheasant days he would quarter and flush as well as a Spaniel and then switch to picking up mode when the drive was done. On evening duck flights he came into his own, He abandoned all hope of me hitting anything at an early stage and would mark most ducks that fellow guns shot. These would then have to be located and picked up in the dark at the end of the flight, some on the water others in cover; on several occasions he picked the whole bag. He had two failings, the first a propensity to sit in front of us of an evening chattering his teeth if a neighbouring bitch was in season, and in his later years, after taking a long drink he would blot his gums on my wife’s thighs, best linen trousers or not! He had a week of Steak, Sausage, Chicken Breasts and Nan bread before it all got too much, and he now resides by the river at the end of a bridge where he would wait patiently for me to finish feeding Fish and Pheasants.
Big shoes to fill for his nephew Otis, Immature and great fun, he displays fleeting signs of high intelligence that are quickly extinguished by the slightest opportunity to arse about!