Yesterday was a balmy day for early October, and by 11.00am the air was alive with insects, the reed beds thrumming with dragonflies, and yet, not a carp was caught, hardly a fish was seen. Perhaps this was the legacy of the mammoth low pressure that had deluged the country the day before, shedding so much rain that the lake had filled to the brim with breathtakingly cold water.
I didn’t mind. I had my excitement. Around midday clusters of bubbles crept towards and then around my rocking red float, an object of delight, and made for me in 2009 by Andrew Field, master float builder. It never went under, but it has done again and again in the past. It cost me a small fortune, but the fish it has accounted for, and the pleasure it has given me have been incalculable.
This long, slow day, I also observed my reel, a classic centrepin, from many different angles. A Piscario Elemental, if you look up the website. Bonkers expensive, but I got mine cheap and considering its history, I’d have paid the full whack if the money had been there. Titanium, if that means anything, but beautifully engineered, and every bit as good as new after five years of endless abuse. I just like its look, its feel, its solidarity. I think the Americans would say “its heft”. There was a time when I didn’t go much for gear and then, for ten years or more, I worked for Hardy and I began to see what all the fuss was about.
Carry on collecting, I say, but perhaps use the stuff as well if and when you can. Of course, none of this man-made stuff compares with the show nature put on for me. The sun through the reeds and the barely turning leaves. The mating dragonflies. A sparrow hawk busy after something airborne, perhaps those very dragonflies, come to think of it. So a blank day in fishy terms, but golden with memories. The younger carpers around me fretted and fumed, but it made no difference and it really was dry nets all round. Like me, hopefully, they’ll come to a time when they don’t care, and take delight in all these little things a day on the bank can reveal.
I know I am being sombre, sentimental even, in these posts, but a close friend is dying and I think how much he would love to be with me on such a day. It’s like I owe it to him to eke out joy from every little thing I see, and appreciate every second of what life I personally have in front of me. And of course, realise my enormous luck to have led this life at all.
I just wish I had come to this realisation donkey’s years ago.