GET HOOKED with Cotswold angler Jon Berry
REGULAR readers will know that I am a fan of Mr Crabtree – Bernard Venables’ fictional cartoon angler, the pipe-smoking guru who, decades ago, led young Peter to improbably big fish in the Daily Mirror every week.
One of the reasons I’m a fan is that Venables and his illustrated alter-ego were men for all seasons. Both fished through the year for the classic species associated with each month, eschewing single-species narrow-mindedness. They fished for simple, unfashionable pleasure.
I have tried to follow a Crabtree-like policy this year. The warmer months have been spent on lakes and ponds chasing the summer fish – tench and carp – and though I’m not quite done with the latter yet, now is the time to begin wandering the rivers.
Last Sunday, I spent a morning on the Malmesbury Avon, wandering the pools and weirs with a simple float rod, centre pin reel and tub of lobworms. It was just the sort of day that Crabtree and Peter enjoyed in their fictional Octobers, and I must say that real life didn’t disappoint.
It didn’t start well. I’d forgotten that the fields around the river were hosting a national three day eventing competition over the weekend; caravans, motor homes and PA systems had claimed the meadows, and wherever I looked there were horses; not the usual forlorn pair of mules that occupy the field by the first weir, but gloriously aloof horses and their equally impressive human companions. It was quite a scene.
None of this seemed to bother the fish. There were none to be found in the shallows where hooves thundered through their course, but away from the main action – in the white waters of the weirs and the darker, deeper corners, they fed with abandon.
One of the delights of this sort of fishing is that a float-fished worm can draw attention from many different species. In days past, I’ve caught barbel, tench, roach, chub and a solitary carp from this beat with such an approach. Last Sunday, however, was a perch day. Wherever I wandered, they found me. The biggest weighed perhaps a pound-and-a-half, the smallest an ounce. Every one of them was a reminder that there is nowhere better than a river in autumn.
As I walked away, the PA announced another clear round. I imagined Crabtree puffing wisely on his pipe and nodding approval. Good show. Jolly good show.
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