My nightly vigil on the middle Wye has provoked some comment, and there is much to add. Of course, the swim was chosen for practical reasons initially. It is easy to get to, even in heavy rain, which makes distant swims across meadows impractical. It is comparatively flood-resistant, by which I mean it takes a rise of eight feet to make it not worth a visit. It is well sheltered from main flows but even so, it is relatively snag-free. After nigh on three months I have yet to get hooked up or failed to land a fish successfully. This matters in the dark, cold and wet. The swim has a reputation as well, and provided several good fish right into November, so I have been able to fish it with confidence.
All this speaks of pragmatism, which is important, but it ignores that word passion. As the evenings have rolled by, I have found increasingly that I love that swim, that I love being there, that I have come to regard it as a sanctuary and a place I can be supremely relaxed and content. Last night, I had one quick nod on the rod tip, a super-fast bang that was impossible to hit and which never materialised. I didn’t care, the momentary interest from a fish was enough to enliven my evening.
The sunset was soul-stirring and it is a feature of favourite swims that many face West. There is a beamed cottage on the far bank, perhaps a quarter of a mile away, and I look for its lights to come on, one by one, as the dusk falls. That cottage apart, there is little or even no other sign of human presence or activity. I feel as though the world has shrunk to my swim and I am its only incumbent. I don’t take a phone – though it lies switched off in the car in case of emergency – as this is a haven where 2022 is excluded. I have come to count my boilie-fed robin as a friend, fatter by the week. I know now the grazing swans on the crops opposite, and the horses on my bank come to me as I walk past them in the late afternoon light.
For now, this is my safe place, my enchanted place, and a fish is a bonus. There have been other swims that I can measure my life by… on the Wensum there was The Alder, The Great Bend and Goliath. Although I fished the Wensum a hundred or more nights a year, man and boy, it is those three swims that I look back upon. On the Cauvery, in India, it would be Croc Rock Pool and in Mongolia it was always the Four Band Cliff that I had to visit first.
I’ll revisit these swims over the winter, but it would be great to hear of your swims that have brought that extra element to your fishing life, a place on a river or lake that means more to you than simply the fish it gives up… share if you can.