I watched in horror

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

Back in the 60s my fishing appetite was really developing and it was this dedication to the sport that led me to being asked to form a fishing club at the firm I was employed at. We as a club found that if we became affiliated to an organization known as The Leeds Amalgamation we could buy their Year Book and reserve match lengths for our future club matches. As an affiliated club we were obliged to send our delegate to their monthly meetings. These meeting were run by iron men who ran the proceedings to the exact letter of the constitution. For instance if your club failed to attend a minimum number of meetings in the year; your affiliation to them was put to the vote and unless a convincing case was put forward you were excluded. The Leeds Amalgamation had lots of excellent water, and our club took full advantage of this.

As the keenest member in our club and a car owner, it usually fell to me to go out to the match venue on Friday evening to peg it out for our Saturday match. Of course if you didn't do this on the evening before the match, you could arrive on the Saturday and find someone fishing in your length. Because you hadn't done it by the rules you could not ask them to move.

Its Friday evening and I'm pegging a length on the river Nidd. I usually took my fishing tackle with me and fished for an hour or so, my reward I told myself. I chose the best looking peg and settled down to fish. I was using all brand new tackle that my wife had bought for my birthday. It wasn't my birthday really, but she spoilt me.

The rod was 13ft long the latest design of the day, and the reel was an Abu a new concept design where the line disappeared inside and was considered to be tangle proof. I baited with a nice ball of cheese about the size of a marble and cast in. An hour later after casting to various areas I still awaited my first bite. I decided to change my bait to meat and put my rod into the rod rest while I stood up to prepare the meat. With my back to the water I became aware of a movement at my side. As I looked round I saw my rod, my new rod, in mid air and disappearing tip first down into the water. You can imagine my dismay, my new rod and reel just gone in a moment, and all that time I had waited for a bite I got one when I wasn't looking.

I watched in horror as my rod disappeared under the water and realised just how deep the water must be. To do this a large fish had grabbed my bait, it had detected the resistance of the line, and frightened, it has lunged off pulling my rod after it. The fish is most likely to be a Barbel, a powerful bottom feeder. These fish sometimes grow to 10 or 12 lbs in this water.--- I'm searching the water nearby for signs of my rod for with a cork handle it should surface when the fish stops pulling. Sure enough, there it was, I could just reach it by hanging out over the water from the branches of a Willow tree. I managed to get a hold of the rod and I was trying to pull myself upright when a tremendous pull snatched the rod out of my hand and back under the water. Goodness me! The fish was still on. I was just beginning to think I'd seen the last of my new rod when it reappeared again just within my reach. This time I thought, I'll release the reel to allow line to pull off, in case the fish dashes off again. I managed to get back to my seat paying out line as I went. Now I thought I had a chance to land this fish and started to wind the line in. As soon as I got the tension on, the fish made a savage run downstream and I had some 25yards of line out. After 10 minutes of give and take everything came to a halt; I couldn't give and it had stopped pulling. I realised that it was snagged, probably round a tree root. There was nothing I could do except break off. I was exhausted after that and as I packed up I thought at least I've still got my rod.

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