Oh Happy Days

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

My creel stores many tales and one that springs to mind today happened on the opening day of the course fishing season during the seventies. You know how it is when you have eagerly awaited something or some event, and then it's the next day, well when its fishing I have a terrible job sleeping all night. Somehow I seem to keep waking up to see if its time to go. Sad isn't it? Well anyway its 4.3Oam and I can't sleep another wink. I'm going off to catch one of those legendary Nidd barbel or perhaps a chub.

An hour later I'm parking the car. A blue sky is the promise of a nice day. I've got at least a mile to walk, to get to my chosen fishing spot. I'm well laden too, with my fishing box and a large rod bag containing my brolly, landing net and all my rods. I just take everything I own to cover any style of fishing that may be required on the day. At that time of day too, there's no shortage of wildlife about, as I trudge along the bank. At last I reach the place. A place I'd fished the previous year with great success. The first thing I noticed was a huge tree trunk right in the very spot I was going to fish in. It has probably washed downstream to there, in the winter floods. Never mind I thought, I could still fish there, the right sort of habitat for barbel. Not without difficulties though, because ten minutes later I hooked into a decent fish, which promptly dived for cover, where? Yes the tree, with all its underwater snags. Five minutes later it had managed to break my line.

At about 6am, other fishermen began arriving, and a man with a young lad, took the next peg downstream of me. The man set up the young lad there and set himself to fish one peg further down. I saw the boy catch a nice little roach, which he put into his keepnet. I wasn't doing too badly either, though nothing like the one I lost. Mind you, when you lose one it tends make the others keep their heads' down. I don't like moving on when I've put groundbait down, so it's a bit of a waiting game this fishing, patience is a virtue.

I looked round when I heard the young lad shouting, and saw him smacking the water near his keepnet with his landing net. Quite agitated he was. I realised he was crying too, so I ran down the bank to him to see what the matter was. There were lots of fish scales floating on the surface around his keepnet, and the lad was pointing down into the water. I saw the problem immediately; it was a huge pike, which had attacked his roach through the net. I could see the pike was stuck, its teeth were enmeshed in the net and it couldn't let go. The boy's father arrived on the scene. No messing about with him, he grabbed the keepnet and with an almighty heave, he pulled the net out of the water, pike and all. What a mighty fish! We weighed it before releasing it, twenty-one and a half pounds it was. When I went back to my peg I surprised a water rat in my sandwich box. I'd left the lid off Oh happy days!

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