Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trott, 2012 Not Out!

Much of this week has been spent in palls of smoke as the neighbouring estate burns unharvested fields of linseed. It all went a bit flat in the early summer rain and would have been a slow job with the combine, but if they had needed it, they would have got it in somehow, Linseed fetches between £300 and £400 a tonne through the winter and up until a few years ago there was a substantial subsidy for growing the stuff. I guess the sums were done by a Barley Baron in a land far far away and an assessment made of the potential yield, the thumb pointed down and the field set alight, modern farming, it’s a funny old game! Linseed is an odd grain , pretty blue flowers on thin spindly stalks that occasionally catch fire during harvest turn into flat shiny grains that, sans spectacles, look like an undernourished tick. As a student I worked the corn cart for four summers on an estate on the middle river. For two summers they grew a few hundred acres of linseed that cut beautifully in the sunshine but was a bugger to cut on an overcast day. The trailer load of linseed acts more like water than wheat, slopping around on every corner and refusing to go up in a heap., jump in a bin full of wheat or barley and you will sink in to your ankle, jump in bin full of linseed and you just keep on going down.

On the river fishing has tailed off a tad, a few fish are entertaining carnal thoughts but a significant number give the impression that they may be vaguely interested in surface food. The influx of extra water early in the summer has kept the river in good condition for much of the season and the fish have responded accordingly, far fewer Brown Trout have sulked and skulked during recent weeks compared to the low flows of the last two seasons when most Browns in the river have tucked themselves away from mid July onwards, fewer fish have been caught on a nymph this season and most rods have found a rising fish somewhere, but many of these late season fish have been around the block and in cricketing terms with the end of season approaching are looking to protect their average with a few “not outs” . One fish, twenty yards below the fishing hut I have named Trott. An idiosyncratic fish she has remained on the same station since early April unfussed by the Grayling Roach, Pike and Perch that occupy the same hole. There is nothing flashy about her rise but it gets the job done, returning religiously to the same station, scratching her crease to prepare for the next fly that the river will deliver be it in one minute or one hour. She has had all manner of things thrown at her throughout the summer all of which have been met with a dead bat, she has got bigger and bigger and after a couple of seasons in the river is now around five pounds. Earlier in the season she had a partner of similar seniority on a neighbouring station who I shall call Kevin, after a promising start to the season in which he showed great discipline through a surfeit of Hawthorn and Mayfly he fell to the first flashy nymph that was twitched past his nose; Kevin is now exploring new career opportunities at the smoker. Barring injury during the close season Trott will be in the same spot next year, bigger wiser and a prize catch/wicket for someone cute enough to catch him out. There’s also a fish I call Ian who is the best looking fish in the river who plucks flies from the surface with perfect timing but has been hooked and lost a few times when concentration has been lost.

Chalk stream Brown Trout are batsmen and once their eye is in, they often stay in. The angler is the bowler, some days rewarded by a consistent line on off stump with the fiftieth ball/cast finding success, on other days variety is the key, mixing up deliveries or going through the fly box in order to achieve success. On other days the bowler is removed from the attack only for the next bowler/angler to reap the rewards, often with their first ball/cast.

Hatches of medium Olives from late morning on have been reasonable as have the numbers of Blue Winged Olive who continue to take five in various parts of our house. As is often the case at this time of year a cool zephyr results in a procession of micro flotsam and jetsam taking the racing line through the river, much of which has blown off fading bankside trees, caught in amongst are small terrestrial bugs and beasties that draw the interest of feeding trout, look in a Yankee fly box and there will be all manner of patterns to cover such a situation and much more besides, but here small and black normally suffice.

The two parliamentary figures enjoyed their day, the outgoing chairman of the cross party committee for angling was indeed a keen coarse angler and duly swooned at our Roach, the present incumbent of the position proved a more than competent fisher with oodles of fly fishing experience and will undoubtedly go far in the house.

The evenings are now turning cooler and one morning this week we had a few small patches of frost in pockets up the river.
I have had some very kind invitations to fish in various places, a weekend on the Wye, bothering Barbel with a twenty four hour bankside festival of meat was declined due to a University open day for child B, and work commitments prevented a trip with a fly rod to the Kennet. I am however looking forward to day on the lower Itchen in pursuit of autumn Salmon. I haven’t visited the stretch of river for many years but do remember seeing almost every freshwater fish under the sun bar a Salmon the last time I was down there.

Unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control we will not be having our usual shooting days this year. The “circumstances beyond our control” bit was a tad surprising as the whole shebang was always under threat from inept keepering. It’s been a bit like an episode of Dallas in tweed but following “circumstances etc” we no longer have the ground on which we used to shoot. We will still have a few bumbles up and down the valley with the usual suspects in line to worry the local wildlife, but the jolly days of driving Partridge and Pheasant from our strips of maize and an Iron Age defence ditch will not be happening this year, which is a shame.

Returning to cricket, the club with which I and other members of my family are involved received the most votes in the Lloyds Bank Community fund awards and the 1st prize of £5000 has been splurged on an artificial wicket, which will be installed at the end of the month. If you were able to cast a vote in our direction, thank you very much!

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