It’s that school holiday time of year again when the Pied Piper shows up and spirits all the children away. And by that, I specifically mean all the up and coming young anglers of the future. Take a look at the picture shown, and then let me colour in the details.
This is obviously a drain (or dyke) with a road to the left and an access road to the industrial area on the right. It may not be the most picturesque, but it does have its merits. To begin with, there are shoals of small roach in the 4” – 6” range (and the metric police can go swivel) and of course, where there are small fish there are bigger ones in the shape of some quite decent sized perch and the occasional pike muscles in on the action.
So, and perhaps most importantly, the requisite quarry are there. The swim itself is shaded by a tree, the current is slight most of the time and flowing away from you, meaning you can easily ‘trot’ the swim for just about as you can see. Or maybe a telescopic whip to hand would bring plenty of action.
If the water does start to push through, then this promontory is the only one along the bank meaning a real ‘Crabtree-esque’ slack forms behind. This provides excellent shelter for the fish, shoaling them up quite tightly, and begs for a juicy worm to be lowered into it on a light leger, and just wait for the rod tip to be wrenched round.
Other plus points to note are that boat traffic is slight-to-non-existent and there is a tackle shop a few minutes’ walk away should you require additional bait or tackle during your session. About the same short distance in the opposite direction is the town centre if the angler needs sustenance, with all manner of shops and even a Golden Arches restaurant. Transport wise, it is a short walk from the train and bus stations, and there is a car park directly behind. There is even a litter bin…!
So, you may ask, how do I get on the waiting list to fish this Utopian swim? Can palms be greased to leap-frog you towards the top? Obviously this year will be fully booked, so just when do reservations open up for next year, or are places for that already being snapped up? Or maybe it is a strictly limited, invitation-only, syndicate.
Well, the almost unbelievable news is that this is free fishing, so you will obviously have to get there at still dark o’clock to stand any chance of wetting a line, such will be the clamour to claim this swim.
Errr…..no, Actually the answer is none of the above. I have passed this spot nearly every day for almost five years and the number of anglers young or old I have seen fishing this spot is none, not one. And with particular reference to the youngsters, I can’t believe that there could be a better spot to get out and about during the school holidays. As well as the proximity to just about everything you could ever want for a fishing spot, there is a degree of passing foot and car traffic so even the fear of ‘stranger danger’ is far less than along some deserted canal bank or secluded lake.
Most will blame the call of the games controller for this dearth of tyro anglers, but I blame the Pied Piper of Flitwick, one R. Walker esquire, for starting it. When I started fishing it was of the bamboo cane, string and bent hook variety. During school holidays everything from muddy puddles upwards would have a group of kids standing shoulder to shoulder vying to catch whatever they could. Floats (usually bits of twig or wooden lolly sticks) would be sat in the water almost on top of each other.
Should you be lucky enough to actually catch a fish, your mates would have their floats in the hole in the water left when the fish was pulled out. And as the lucky captor, your reward would be to go to the back of the queue for ‘the’ spot, as your next ‘cast’ would be relegated to the periphery of the action
But then Pied Walker and his cohorts came along and lured the kids away with tales of huge fish that could be caught if you ‘specialised’ and that bigger was most definitely better. In fact, ‘bigger’ was the only acceptable way to go: just catching any old fish was now frowned upon. Just like Olympic qualifying, there were now weights that had to be attained before you could be considered a proper angler.
And that is why this spot is empty all year round. There are no 30lb carp, certainly no double figure barbel, so for many youngsters it’s not worth the effort of fishing for no reward is there. I mean, what would happen if your mates saw you fishing there and asked you what you were doing? How can you say “I am just enjoying myself catching a few small fish”?
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