Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections – Jeff Barrett

31st December 2007

2007: Lots of good fishing. Having more confidence. Not necessarily catching more fish but realising that I do know what I’m doing.
Special company & memorable fish; Jan 3rd, the Kennet at Barton Court, Matt’s 2 lb 9oz Perch. Happy New Year; The first visit to a lake in Hampshire, with Justin. Not really knowing what was in there and he caught a crucian within ten minutes. I like surprises like that; Jakub getting a carp out of Osterley Park lake in his first season fishing there. Not easy. His face was a picture (it’s up on here somewhere). A truly joyous moment; my Brother in law, Mike, putting me in the swim that gave me my first Barbel. The gesture of a gentleman. This had added resonance by it being from the Trent, the river of my childhood; Backgammon at dawn, in a caravan on the banks of the Dorset Stour with Andrew, back in July. Woken up by rain on the roof. It didn’t let up the whole day but Andrew was insistent he would catch a Barbel, from a cauldron below the weir. Top marks for attitude, but it wasn’t to be. I didn’t have his belief and following a tip I left the rapids for a (semi) sheltered bay where float fished lobworm gave me two perch at 1 1/2lb, my first ever at over a pound. I was soaked through and smiling;

With (John) Andrews of Arcadia and other good mates at The Old Mill at Aldermaston. The River Kennet. More good perch from the mill pool and an impatience to return; Carp into double figures for the first time. A common just under 11 and a mirror just under 12. Shame they were from a Colne Valley pit, next door to a recycling plant, and not from a haunted estate lake, but coming as they did after a 5lb tench it made for a cracking afternoon. A day on the Thames in Oxfordshire with my best mate Martin. His first day fishing since Punk. We caught Perch and Roach and I got Martin a rod & reel for Christmas. We went out yesterday and he was the only one of us that caught.

On reflection, I should be surprised at just how big a part of my life fishing has become. I mean, shit, I’m even writing about it. It’s funny. But, I absolutely love it and, as I hope you can deduce from the above, the time that I have with my mates and the experiences that we share, well, I just know that I am very lucky.
Fishing begat Caught By The River. Already another big part of my life. Starting something from scratch again feels just like it did with our record label all those years ago. The New. Thinking differently. Relishing the challenges. Even just learning how to work the Mac for things other than i tunes, e-mail and the internet has been fun. And the writing. I’ve still a way to go in the quality department but getting a lot of pleasure doing it and tons more from reading the contributions.

The way the site is evolving is amazing. I spent the first few months of the year rolling the name around my mind waiting for the definition to drop. From the moment that Andrew told me his great idea, which was that we should do a fishing website and that it should be called Caught By The River, I knew that he was on to something but I wasn’t sure what exactly. It started to come to me in April.
We were in Dorset. Wendy (my wife), our two boys and me. We were staying in a caravan on a site near to Christchurch. It was the Easter holidays and I wasn’t even supposed to be there. It was a three-day break for Wendy and the kids, I was expecting to be busy with work so planned to stay at home. Unfortunately, in the weeks prior to this, Wendy’s Mum had been very ill and she had to spend a lot of time at her parent’s home in Lancashire. It was a very sad period and when the short holiday came along it was much needed. I decided to join them. It was a time to be family.
Against all odds we got lucky. It was mid April, dressed up as July. It was warm and dry and sunny. The caravan was fine and the site was on the bank of the Stour. The Dorset Stour. A beat or three down from Throop. It was closed season so I couldn’t fish. But I could look and learn and dream about going back after June 15th. (As mentioned above, I did go back in July, with Andrew).

We would drink tea on the bank in the mornings, and then in the evenings, on returning from a day spent on the deserted beaches of Studland Bay we would take a bottle of wine and go sit and watch the water. It was a good place to be with loved ones and it provided me with the inspiration that I had been looking for. I lay on the bank and realised that, although, at that moment I was indeed Caught By The River, it was in fact a metaphor. It was how I FELT at that moment.
So, the “fishing website” became a reality. It wasn’t gonna be about rigs or records, it was gonna get straight to the point and deal with the feelings that you get from special experiences. You can read about fishing, either in the genius that is Letters From Arcadia or the daft, enthusiastic ramblings of us and our mates but you can also discover why certain records, books, film, art or, as in Ted’s “Shadows & Reflections”, football, have the power to stir a passion.
As Andrew mentions below, through the site we got to meet Chris Yates, a man we greatly admire. If you don’t know, he is an angler and a writer. The best. He has written many great books. Have a read. Go back to May, you’ll find the intro to his last book. If you like it, go buy “Casting At The Sun”. We spent an afternoon with Chris and it was very special. He is a man who still believes in magic. He’s got knowledge and stories and wisdom and he is happy to pass them on. Seeing him sat at the bar of the French House, our local, is a treasured picture. Chris is going to be writing something for us early in the New Year and is taking us fishing on a secret river. Unbelievable.
This year, there has been sadness in my family life and uncertainty in the music business but Caught By The River has been good for me. I hope it lasts forever.