Traditionally, when an author finishes writing a book, he thankfully slams the door of his garret and clatters down the rickety stairs to the fleshpots of the nearest big city… there to get utterly amnesiac on Guinness, absinthe or whatever qualifies as the local obliviator of choice.
By contrast, back in September, all I wanted to do was go fishing. Better still, I knew exactly who I wanted to go fishing with.
Dominic Garnett is a West Country based angling blogger and writer for Angling Times, Total Flyfisher and other magazines: I’d already got to know him whilst researching urban fishing opportunities in Tiverton, and quite coincidentally he’d just submitted his own manuscript, Fly Fishing for Coarse Fish, to our mutual publisher.
So I was pretty sure my first serious foray onto a canal was in safe hands…
As it turned out, conditions were practically perfect for sight-fishing flies to trophy roach, rudd and hybrids in the almost-still water of the Grand Western Canal: perhaps a little too much cloud and wind, but the low, clear water concentrated the fish and gave us good visibility whenever the sun was blazing down like a floodlight.
Our usual long, light fly-rods conferred huge advantages in reaching out over the marginal fringe of reeds between the canal and the towpath, and size 12 – 14 black and peacock spiders were really the only flies we needed. I’d tarted mine up with tiny glass beadheads in front of soft black hackle, whilst Dom got the same effect with heavy Kamasan B100 hooks:
As their upturned lower lips might suggest, rudd seem to prefer chasing their food up through the water column, rather than following it down… so the main design requirements amounted to generic lifelike bugginess and a slow sink rate.
Competition would sometimes kick in between the better fish, and they’d take with a noticeable gobbling action: once you managed to hook them, the fights were short but decisive, and a long-handled landing net was essential for banking these larger specimens…
… together with waist or even chest waders and an intrepid attitude which rapidly lost me my mobile phone somewhere in those reedy jungles.
Still, it had already tried to get away on at least three other separate occasions, so it was on borrowed time anyway. And in the end, Virgin Mobile didn’t even laugh at me when I told them I’d dropped my ancient handset into a canal. (They deal with
delinquent demob-happy fishing writers all the time… right?)
Update: a few weeks later, Dominic came up to the Smoke to spend a day with me on the Wandle… read his account here!