I was worn out, emotionally drained if you like. Thursday was a day of meetings and stress. OK so it wasn’t like I was being beaten up by a Tory whip (like some) but never-the-less I felt tired and needed to relax. I’d go fishing!
Now this was sort-of pre-planned but the plans fell asunder at the first hurdle. Our weather here in Ireland has been spectacular this week with thunder and lightening, torrential rain and strong winds battering us since last weekend. On Wednesday I checked the forecast and there was a high degree of confidence that Thursday would be calm, dry and relatively warm. So after work yesterday I drove down to Tullamore, hell bent on buying half-a-pint of maggots. Regular readers will know where this is heading already…………..
‘No maggots, maggots tomorrow’ said the Polish guy in the tackle shop. I was crest fallen and didn’t quite know what to say in reply. ‘Only casters, here – you take for free’ and with that he presented me with a white poly bag containing about a kilo of casters. I shrugged, took the bag and drove back to my digs wondering what the hell I was supposed to do with my freebies. I left the casters in the car overnight, ate a bit and went to bed early. Lightening lit the sky all night and claps of thunder woke me from my slumber but the storm was a spent force by sunrise.
The work day started well but soon I was mired in complex and time consuming issues which lasted all day. I’ll admit I figured the casters were as likely to be emptied over a hedgerow as used for bait but come finishing time I had roused myself sufficiently to risk an hour on the canal. I know casters are very popular over in England but here in Southern Ireland they receive short shrift from the fish in my experience. Rudd will take them but that is about all. There was some sweetcorn in the car too but that ranks even lower in my opinion than casters. I cared not, all I wanted was some time on the bank to unwind so I edged my way north to Ballynacarrigy once again and the banks of the Royal canal.
Once set up, I opened the bag of casters and found mixed in with hundreds of solid red grubs a few dead white maggots. OK, maybe not all was lost after all and I began to fish with a single dead maggot on a 14 hook. Yes, I know that is too big for a single maggot but there was a size 14 on the line so there it stayed. And so I sat there, watching the red tip as the autumn sun kissed the horizon before slipping out of sight. The canal is just behind the main (only) street in the village so there was the occasional hum of a passing car or tractor but little else to break the silence that enveloped me. Mallards squabbled in the distance but that only added to the gentle song of the fading season. To my left a pair of lock gates barely made contact with each other and water gushed through the resulting gap, creating bubbles on the slowly flowing surface.
Casters by the handful were lobbed in, I figured that I might as well feed the rudd if nothing else! The float held my gaze. A hesitant dip resulted in a deeply bodied rudd, crimson fins splayed out as I swung him to hand. I missed a few more tentative bites before landing some more of the species. I got the distinct impression the fish were feeling sorry for me and my miserable bait. A black Labrador came bounding along the far towpath, its owner shouting uselessly after him as she trailed in his wake. They were both quickly out of sight but I heard the shouts fade into the distance. My float wiggled a bit I and I lifted into a small roach. I wished it luck as I popped it back into the water.
The lettuce’s victory over Liz Truss, more death and destruction in the east, reminding myself to call my mate to wish him a happy birthday today – a mix of random thoughts entered my consciousness like bit part actors, only to drift off, exiting stage left…. A bat flitted around my head then disappeared into the trees behind me. All this and much else besides distracted me for an hour or more, perched on my olive green stool by a deserted Irish canal. It really was very therapeutic. I am not a good fisherman. Angling is a sort of balm I apply to the scuffs and scrapes of daily life, meaning focusing on catching lots of big fish is beyond me. I fish to get away from it all and that was what Thursday evening was about. The half-a-dozen silvers I landed were a bonus.
The working week is drawing to a close for me. As I drove home along narrow roads in the half-light after the fishing I could feel the change in me as Friday, for so long a mirage in the distance began to take solid form. This time tomorrow Helen and I will be enjoying a meal washed down with some red wine as we catch up on what has been happening since I left on Monday morning. I will show here some photos like the ones in this post, she will smile and say something like ‘if that’s what makes you happy’. You know what, it IS what makes me happy.