AUTUMN'S HOPE AND HAPPINESS
Autumn, a season of change, of beauty, hope and happiness. And if you’re a fisherman, there’s no season that provides so many exciting challenges.
Tench might be starting to slink away, the trout season fading but barbel are now at their best and wildlife doesn’t get any more beautiful than these bronze beauties - if you can catch them.
Which reminds me of a particularly enjoyable day with good friend Martin Bowler on the River Wye a while back. The barbel were very hungry, grabbing our baits so enthusiastically that our rods needed to be held tight if we weren’t to lose them.
The added spice was the pressure to succeed because Martin was writing one of his excellent Angling Times features about our day and as the sun was shining, the extreme beauty of the riverside ensured our few hours together provided happy memories. You can’t beat sharing a day with a good friend.
Autumn also signals the start of the challenge to find big roach in our rivers and as trotting down the flow with a centre-pin reel and ‘Topper Haskins’ float is my favourite type of fishing, it’s a treat to be doing it again. I tried for the first time last week on a beautiful stretch of the Hampshire Avon and the precision and concentration required is what makes it so appealing.
Bright sun made the afternoon a quest of hope rather than expectation but when ‘the magic hour’ arrived and dusk made seeing the float difficult, the big roach started rolling and in my book, there is little else that is so exciting. Any minute now ... and thump, thump as the float plunges under.
I failed to catch a roach weighing over two pounds and though there seems to be a growing trend that pours scorn on the idea of weight being a measure of the quality of a catch, a two pound roach remains the ultimate prize for a river angler. It certainly does for this passionate angler and as for a three pounder, dream on.
Catching such fish in a lake is somewhat easier, so I have friends that suggest a still-water two or even three pounder is only worth half it’s weight! But in my book, any roach is a good roach. I love ‘em all, whatever their size.
Another species that comes onto anglers radar in autumn is the perch and if only I had more time to go fishing, I’d target a stripy or two every day as they are so beautiful.
I’ve made time to fish for them with Chris Yates in the past and whenever we catch a good ‘un, we always promise ourselves to try for them more often.
But no doubt like us all, I find it difficult to find enough time to go fishing, which is a shame as it's the surest way of escaping the madness of the world we find ourselves in, those endless layers of insanity that keep on piling up and threatening our equilibrium.
I won’t depress myself by listing them all but no doubt you know the score and have your own ways of trying to stay positive against the odds and for me, going out to be with wildlife is one of the most rewarding ... and you can't get any closer to nature than when fishing because you actually get to touch it.
Another added bonus of fishing is that it means you stay out in the countryside longer and being still and quiet, see more creatures than you ever would if walking.
And if you have time to stay until that ‘magic hour’ when the world wakes up and nature forgets to be fearful, the declining day will reveal secrets that lift your spirits and might even make you feel pleased to be alive.
So it's simple - to live happily - just go fishing with friends!