No rain all week and an instant improvement in the fishing. Fish have been caught on every day of the week, mostly in the afternoon. From eleven o’clock onwards there has been a steady trickle of ephemerids hatching through to late afternoon, small Spurwings, Medium Olives and Pale Watery Olives; not huge numbers but enough to get the fish interested. Several of the Brown Trout in the river are starting to muck about and chase each other around, they also have periods when they become impatient with any passing Roach or Grayling that may be passing. This is often a sign that they are switching their minds away from feeding and onto spawning. They will feed less and less in the coming weeks, bringing a natural end to the Brown Trout season. The Grayling and Roach in the river are in prime condition, not spawning until early spring they are feeding hard. Several Grayling approaching two pound have been caught along with some Roach around the pound mark.
The dry weather has also enabled me to get the tractor out and top the meadows, I normally do this around four or five times a year, and try and tie it in with various Test matches as I can then sit on the tractor and listen to the cricket all day, this week it was the Ryder Cup.
I continue to have problems with the errant Spaniel, several times this week he has been found crunching pheasants, still no word of an apology just a “have you seen my dog?”
I have also been through the Wood and Game cover cutting the feed rides for the pheasants. These are pathways through the cover/wood on which you spread the corn to feed the pheasants, leading them to where you want them to be on a shooting day.
Otis my own puppy has had an operation on his eye, the lower eyelid was turning in on itself so he has had two dissolving stitches inserted to enable the eyelid turn outwards. He can now see twice as much of what is to him, is an incredibly exciting world. His cruising speed has now increased to around 20mph with brief bursts of 30mph. After a few years of sensible sedate dogs, Otis is proving to be quite a shock to the system; a garden of five thousand acres would not be big enough. On the training front, he retrieves the dummy very well, will walk to heel off the lead - if not distracted too much, and quarters reasonably well when searching out a hidden dummy in cover. He is however proving difficult to stop, when hunting game. When “dogging in” in the morning it is crucial that you are able to stop the dog before he reaches the young game birds, the idea is to “chivvy” the birds back to where they came from. One day this week Otis pursued a covey of Partridge over a hundred yards before he would respond to my call. He is very young, quite clever, full of personality but bloody hard work!
I have started to feed the Flight Pond this week. Seconds Barley are tipped around the edge of the pond to induce Wild Duck to spend the night on the pond. The Ducks like to feed in relatively shallow water and come into the pond at dusk. The half acre flight pond can have over two hundred ducks coming in to feed and roost at certain times of the year, and provides very exciting and sporting shooting. The types of duck visiting the pond vary throughout the winter, as do the numbers, and the time of night that they arrive. A good nights shooting on the pond would result in a total bag of around twenty having seen around two hundred birds.
The signs are obvious if you have large numbers of duck visiting the pond, the surface of the water is covered with feathers and a half-hundredweight of Barley has been eaten.
The Ducks shot are never wasted; Wild Duck is one of my, and many other’s favourites and tastes superb. The farmers around here have been combining like mad this week, quite slowly as most of the crop is laid on the ground but cutting well into the dark before they are stopped by the particularly damp night air. I am not sure of the quality of the crop cut and it still requires some drying but at least it is in off the field, although the straw cut cannot be of much quality.
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