Friday, April 13, 2012

Le Mans 24hrs of rain

Currently I sit under an umbrella in the pouring rain; an annual four day fishing trip to France for Dads and boys in pursuit of all fish Coarse. I cannot remember when I last experienced twenty four hours of rain as we just have and if we have room in the boot on return I shall bring as much back with me as I can. Like any fisher, bridges are a welcome diversion from an interminable journey a brief peep over a succession of parapets revealed the Somme, the Seine and the Sarthe well down from the last time we ventured this way.

We are chasing Carp on this visit and four of us have laid siege to a lake twenty kilometres south of Le Mans. A “guilty pleasure” it is not the purest form of fishing but fun nonetheless, and a change from our usual pursuit of Chub and Barbel, very social with wine, bread and cheese to the fore and much mickey taking throughout. The water is chilly following snow last week and the fish are relatively inactive although we have managed to put three fish over twenty pounds on the bank.

We are surrounded by cows, one of which has been fitted with a bell along with another, who, deprived of a bell chooses to batter seven bells out of its tin shed. The two combine to form a tuneless Cow calypso with steel drums and bells that seems to go on for much of the day and night. They are two of fifty odd Charolais that have been overwintered outside and while the fields are a little torn up they are not the muddy morass that you would expect at the end of a typical winter. Before the rain there were a couple of cuckoos and each night we hear boar bumbling around a neighbouring wood. The trees that surround the lake are further on than at home` and the buds are breaking on an Oak that stands next to my swim. We often see our first Swallows and Martins on this trip but no sign of any yet, only a brace of Tern who carry out regular sorties of the lake.

Back home we have received countless pieces of advice in the post from all quarters on how to get through the coming season. Pretty straightforward stuff on maintaining levels and preserving what little water we have. If fish are to be rescued from anywhere on this river it will be interesting to see what stance is taken over the licensing of such movements or whether they will be allowed under special measures that will compromise the Biosecurity bumph that we have been bombarded with in recent years. I still have concerns over the fish in our stew ponds that are starting to look large and numerous in the small amount of water that is flowing through them. Weed growth in the river will help raise the level a little and send more water through the inlet pipe, but a couple of errant Swans running fast and loose through the bars of ranunculus could see the level drop back to its current level. Our abstraction licence is for a quarter of a million gallons a day which is all that will go through the pipe, I doubt whether we are currently getting half that.

"Marsh marigolds" are starting to show, the first few “Lady’s Smock” are up and out and it won’t be long before the Ramsens are in flower. No sign of any early Hawthorn here yet, the hedges are in full bloom but I did see several of the cumbersome black flies at

the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais. The odd sedge and a steady trickle of Olives from late morning to mid afternoon hold the interest of the Brown Trout several of whom look to the surface and after a brief break, a few Grayling are hard at it again in the shallows with around half a dozen males charging around after the arrival of the final few gravid females.

We have had a herd of Fallow Deer in the field behind our house for much of the past ten days, There are fifteen of them, which is the most I have ever seen over this way although there are numbers a few miles north of here. They may have moved into this parish following a recent “deer society” day on a neighbouring estate when guns from all corners of the globe turned up. Or it may be that their numbers are on the up and they will become a more regular sight around here.

The world's worst and wobbliest Spaniel was due his "spring coiffure" so the lady who sleeps on my left went at him with the clippers in the garden. A wide variety of objects were removed including twigs, a lost Christmas tree decoration and a small family of shrews. The garden is full of hair and feathers from our first and last Spaniel, smelly fluff that provides useful nesting material each year for the birds in our garden.

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