Up at 4.45 on a frosty late March morning. Tackle packed into my trusty Volvo the night before, lunch and flask prepared, and Indy my dog poised and alert: he knows we’re going fishing. It took me almost all of the previous afternoon to prepare for today’s session. My wife said “you spend more time sorting your tackle out than you do fishing, “ with a little grin and a Finbar Saunders “fnarr, fnarr” thrown in for good measure.
But that was because I had to do the big change over, that long-winded but ever so slightly exciting process of breaking down your winter fishing kit: the roving chub kit, the piking kit, to convert to your spring tench and bream kit. Once it’s done, further session prep is half the chore.
The destination was the sensational St Ives fishery, about a fifty minute drive from home. Specifically the pit named “Ivo” after the alternative name for St Ives, the patron saint for, amongst other things, the poor and needy. And given the current economic climate, a disciple of whom I’m swiftly becoming.
The drive to St Ives was made resplendent by the sun’s fiery orb on the eastern horizon, casting a Sauron-like glare at the new day. I arrived at around seven and the four lake complex was wreathed in an ethereal shroud of morning mist, it looked perfect but the chill conditions had me doubting the possibility of an early fish. I’d probably have to wait for the air and water to warm for a bite, if a bite was forthcoming.
I opted for a familiar swim, slightly off the beaten track where, the previous spring and early summer, I’d had one tench to 7.2lb, an old battered warrior of a male and a new PB, plus a few chunky bream to 7.9lb.
I was aware of two gravel bars, one at ten yards, the other at thirty five, so I plumbed around for them, clipped up and did the distance stick thing with my two rods to enable me to cast accurately to both bars. In went some feed and two PVA bags, one with popped up maggot the other a worm kebab. The water thermometer read 10.7 C so still chilly. I sat back to take in the ambiance. The mist was gradually lifting as grebes and mallards glided back and forth, already paired up for the coming spring shenanigans.
I played fetch the stick with Indy for a bit as sticks were aplenty after all the recents storms. The water temperature had risen to 11.5C. It was midday. Suddenly, the right hand rod burst into life and I lifted into…nothing. I was baffled. Maybe the hair-rig was too long? Maybe it was small fish mucking about? No, that was a proper run, a flyer. I shortened the hair anyway, just in case and cast out again.
Directly behind my swim on the Ivo is another small pit named “Lowries” after who or what I don’t know. It’s an exceptionally weedy pit in the summer and is rarely fished, its piscine population an intriguing mystery. I decided to have a plumb around in the nearest swim for future reference. First cast and twang! I’d forgotten to unclip the braid from the spool from when I was plumbing up Ivo. Now the spool was devoid of its clip, a tiny little plastic stump, like a broken tooth, in its place.
While I remonstrated myself in no uncertain terms, the right hand rod tore off again. It was 1pm. This time I was in, and a good fish too. I knew it was a tench by its muscular fight, it was a job to control it. With my attention duly distracted, I failed to notice that the firm bank I was standing on had to end somewhere. With a splash and a gasp I found myself thigh deep in water. The fish was still on despite my dunking, and I managed to hold the rod up high with one arm and drag myself out of the drink with the other. During this entire debacle Indy just stared at me, in fact he barely moved, offering no assistance whatsoever; no more fetch the stick for him, the lazy so and so. Back on dry land I eventually managed to land the fish, a gorgeous fin perfect female tench. She went 7.6lb, a new PB. Soaked from the thighs down but mightily happy, I took a photo or two, rested her in the margins for a spell and slipped her back in, fighting fit.
After wringing myself out and placing a bank stick at the water’s edge to act as a marker should I venture too close again, I sat down for a coffee, moist but content.
I missed another flyer at about 3.30 and that was it for the day, but I wasn’t complaining, although slightly perplexed about the two missed runs. I’d planned to fish into dusk but a chill was beginning to creep through me, courtesy of my damp nether regions, so as the early spring sun began to set in the west, me and Indy headed for home, already planning our next visit to the St Ives, with a mental note to self to make sure I pack the Speedos.