I looked up as I placed the car park ticket on the dashboard to see a pair of anglers trudging off across the dam to the fabled Point. I can't tell you which Point, and on which water, even though the signature buoy stands out on Google Earth like a homing beacon for the Space Shuttle. They'd done me by 15 minutes. So much for an hour of hitting the snooze button. Unencumbered by a (mislaid) cooking stove and the now redundant 4 litres of water glinting balefully alongside the butane refills I strode off purposefully after them, breathing in the crisp October air and wheezing out extra strong Locket fumes by way of return. A pause to view the tableau laid out before me, acres of still, mist wreathed water destined for the as yet unwashed of Tractor Town. Grebes, several of the resident black death squadron and pockets of roach pocking the mill pond surface. Of along the activity trail (8.2 miles in total I read) and the now as tradition would have it Lucifer defiled Michaelmas blackberries and ever closer to the autumn Nirvana.
Mak Morris ex pat and now naturalised Canuk had returned to his native Devil Dog Land for a couple of weeks so the Essex Scribbler and I were meeting up with him somewhere over our respective county boundaries for several hours of deadbait drowning and tea drinking. Fortunately the Scribbler had bought his West Country survivalist burner and billycan along so tea drinking was still very much on the list. I was a bit surprised not to see a phalanx of cleverly slightly different rods, set at cleverly slightly differently positioned rods all over the hard won Bureboy hotspot. Scribbler had slightly misjudged the positioning of our usual beach like location, probably because the distinctive buoy had cunningly been repositioned by the sailing club but soon we were set up for maximum tea drinking and squit and an array of smelt, joey mackerel and manky sardines were carefully positioned at several depth ranges to intercept our intended quarry.
Local lore has it that the venue is finished as a silvers water, and only good for an injection of mud pigs and the bivvy brigade. The bream have had it and no one sees any skimmers. Well, this morning the still surface on our arm of the big water showed much evidence of good sized roach and bream rolling, and in attendance the afore mentioned grebes and black death merchants, along with a regular fly by kingfisher.
First rod to go, placed just over the first drop off was that of the host, Essex Scribbler. Airborne a couple of times and clearly a good fish.
It was about now that we realised that our Canuk ghillie had not though it prudent to include a set of chesties in his excess baggage limit.
Still it wasn't long before the lure of the forceps had him back to his unhooking best. Well, from the pike anyway. Seems the Scribbler's large meshed net is equipped with treble attracting knots in the mesh. I wasn't going to get my net wet to fester in the car in the long journey home and my unhooking mat was just perfect as a seat. This set the precedent for an increasing display of incompetence throughout the day. Assume the position.....
Next to get the incompetence bug was the Scribbler himself. In an attempt to demonstrate to the massed ranks of the East Coast Breakaway brigade the correct way to hold a fish to show its actual size by ensuring hands are on show he steadfastly refused to place his left hand in the gill cover to hold the fish securely for its photo. Rank incompetence man. Pull yourself together. A very plump for early autumn fish of just over 13 (14.08 in the net) and a good early result. Note he has decided not to give the Vince Cable leather homburg a run out. The mahogany tan is gained from a lifestyle that begrudgingly allow about 10 hours work a week to be squeezed into his hedonistic lifestyle and most that "work" is undertaken on his smart phone whilst digging rag or having a nosh up in Manningtree or Dawlish. Or the West Coast of Ireland, etc, etc.
Obviously this fish fancied a cup of tea as it gave us the evil eyes in the clear margins for some time. Well, till I incompetently splashed about a bit anyway in my faux Hunters. Have hung the non -existent Derri boots up to dry.
Two billycans of tea down and a recently recast sardine was the next of our offerings to go, and whilst the fight was not as spectacular as the one put up by the Scribbler's fish the rod did take on a healthy bend and had me backwinding a couple of times. Really should trust the clutch on these Shimanos but old Mitchell habits die hard.
No, that's not piss on the ghillie's keks above, rather camera man Scribbler has decided to let his fat heed shadow photo bomb..and note that the ghillie has now discovered that the net handle extends. In the onion bag first time. Or as Partridge says, "Back of the net."
The hooks came out in the net, with horrendous knot finding results and much gnashing of Morris teeth. In the net at 13.08 but in Scribbler maths that is 10lb when deductions considered. It was a much leaner fish than his but I think that makes it about 11lb? That's how you hold a fish for the camera Scribbler, hand in gill cover and show the breadth across the back and head. And stand on a ladder to take the picture.
Another fish takes a liking to one of the Scribbler's smelt, this time out into the bay and our old dependable ghillie is once again pressed in action. And that's not the giveaway buoy by the way. Just one that looks like it and is about 200yards away.
This one goes around 8 we reckoned. Mak the Ghillie Morris having dispensed with formalities and returning it quite quickly before weighing. Touch of the DI Burnsides there I reckon.
Another one for the Scribbler and as it happens the last take of the day.
By now the knotty problem of the knotty mesh had led to a more direct intervention by our Trans -Atlantic ghillie who jettisoned the atrocious net and taken matters into his own hands. This fish had been ottered recently.
I stayed on for another couple of hours and despite some chop and lower light the fish did not switch on again. And the deadbaits had all thawed out showing just how warm it remains. The Scribbler has been instructed to check out the insurgence of "large Essex herring" ( big roach) in this lovely water as reported very recently and our ghillie is being lured out on to the wild East Coast for a session before he heads back to Winnipeg and channel cats and carp from the Red River at the end of his back yard. And six months minimum of -30C