The Nutstown Angling Association had decided to go against the grain by retaining the traditional close-season in order to give everything – anglers, fish and their waters – a well-deserved rest.

It was a particularly pleasant day in late May when the sun shone warmly through a fresh and intermittent breeze; the hawthorn were in full blossom, the flowering cherries still in possession of their finery.

As arranged the previous weekend, a motley group of enthusiasts had gathered under the big willow at the western end of Twixmere to get a feel of what the coming months might have to offer. Among them were a few new members who tended to hover on the periphery, reluctant to assert themselves in the company of the ‘big boys’; but in due course the eldest and probably the most-respected, Big Bill, introduced them one by one.

“As you can see we’ve got a few new faces today, all fired-up and hoping to make their mark this season!” Smiles all round. Big Bill ushered one of the two females to the fore. “This is Amber – Amber Rudd, so naturally she’s all ready to go!!” Eyes were raised to Heaven by some but others didn’t quite see the joke. Anything to say, Amber?

“Errr…yes, just a few words. Thanks everyone for making me so welcome. I may have the body and the looks of a woman but I do assure you of my combative spirit…I tend to punch way above my weight and certainly in angling terms I’m no pushover!” She certainly looked good and the admiration from her male fellows was easy for anyone to see. She continued. “I’m here this morning to have a good scout-about and to see if we can spot a few chunky specimens lurking in the undergrowth; I’ve heard there’s some really big beasts here”.

There was general agreement and lots of nodding. “Oh, yes” said Old Henry, “There’s one we call Four Eyes but none of us has actually made his acquaintance as yet”.

“Let me at him!” laughed Amber, but was playfully silenced by Nicola, Nicola Sturgeon.

“Ah, yes!” Big Bill took his cue. “This is Nicola Sturgeon – very independent type if I might say so! She relocated here…when was it, Nicola? Ah, yes, in March. How are you finding your new surroundings, my dear?”

Her eyes subtly betrayed her disdain for Big Bill’s sexism…’my dear’ indeed, but she remained polite and expressed delight in her association with Twixmere. “Yes, I’ve heard about old Four Eyes…not sure I’d want to meet him on a dark night!”

“I believe I did” They all turned to face veteran, Micky ‘Mouse’ – so called for his famous love of cheese. “Yeah…last season. Right at the crucial moment – the net was within eighteen inches – and the hook pulled! To be honest it was dark so I didn’t get a really good butchers at him but I’m convinced it was Four Eyes…felt like a really big, fat so ‘n’ so”.

Julian – Julian Bream, one of the elder statesmen, echoed Micky’s disappointment. “Same thing happened to me, Micky, only in my case the line broke; cor, blimey, the air turned blue that night, I’ll tell you!”

“I’ll vouch for that, I was with him!” Michael Zander stepped forward (unsolicited, you understand) to face the group. “Honest…I’d never heard such foul language in all my life! Everything seemed to be under control then CRACK! Everything went slack and the night sky was suddenly filled with profanity like you can’t imagine!”

Rather than chance Michael giving everyone a sample of those profanities, the gathering shifted then broke up as if to get moving. “Who’s up for a recce?” somebody said, and they all murmured their agreement, moving off in two groups to explore the longest banks of the roughly triangular lake. The smaller of the two groups was led by Chris Grayling, a long-established character at Twixmere who urged his colleagues to stay low as they slowly pushed their way through the rushes and the weeds, “If you spot anything we don’t want him to see us, ok?”

Grayling’s group had almost reached the end of the lake without event when one of them noticed a stirring ahead, something bulky moving slowly beneath the boughs of an ancient oak. “Look…there!” They came to a halt and partially hid themselves to observe the big, handsome specimen pushing awkwardly toward the corner.

“Anyone seen him before?” asked Chris.

“Don’t recognise him”

“Me neither”

“Nor me”

But the youth at the back, Alex Salmon, did! “That’s that…wassisname…errr…Jeff Woodhouse! And look! That’s Rod Sturdy and Geoff Maynard behind him…blimey…there’s a crowd of them!”

As they watched so more and more came into view and it became clear that they were homing-in on a Kelly Kettle being stoked by no other than Kev Perkins. The group went no further, preferring to hang back and watch the antics of their adversaries as they got their heads down on a gingham carpet of sausage rolls and pork pies. “Cor…they love their savoury stuff, don’t they” stated Julian, whose surname was a fortuitous anagram of ‘Amber’!

Chris agreed but remarked on the species’ weakness for sweet stuff as well. “You watch…won’t be long and they’ll break out the plum cake” he said.

Suddenly, Nicola and Julian could no longer feel the warmth of the sun on their backs; they were now in the shade and rather confused. Looking up, he was there…….Four Eyes Fairbrass! And he was going through the sprinkling ritual! “Blimey!” A shocked Amber Rudd went into reverse, her fins urgently back-pedalling to escape the gruesome but irresistible sight “I knew he was big but not THAT big!”

“What weight would you put on him?” Chris asked no one in particular. The consensus was “around 16 stone” plus an extra couple of pounds for his… boots”.

The group watched in awe at the specimen’s girth; its intriguing, mesmeric eyes and incredible camouflage as it briefly shook and headed back to the group, now disbanding and making tracks for the clubhouse. “Well…” started Chris Grayling, “we’ve got the next three weeks to prepare so, come on…back to my place for tubifex and swan mussels!”



Thanks to for the photograph.

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