Caught by the River

Taught By The River

Dexter Petley | 26th May 2008


once more you stalk the concrete brooks, shadow fishing, casting at the moon. is that the thrift shop where i used to get my breeches and elliot symack knitware? in my day there was a tackleshop in kentish town. john’s tackle? for close season junkies, sundries for the vulnerable, beside a petrol garage after a crescent of low-rise, today’s gun turrets for your boy gangstas. has it gone under too? a tackle shop where the maggots came in ectoplasm, reel boxes so bleached by sun in the window there was no writing left. celephane hook packets disintegrated in your fingers. run by a limping biker and his old man in leather jackets. they still had agate rings in the wooden drawer. there are no tackle shops in france. just warehouse sheds on out of town shopping centres, chains without dignity or tradition, or a few shelves in a supermarket, chineese trash with blood on its hands. tackle for dystopia.
i’ve left the carpark lakes alone this week and humbled down with rod and float to black-eyed pools in thunderstorms.

where viking carp make for the ribs of armoured longboats wrecked ten feet down, where they snap floats in two and fight like beurwolf (who never could spell his own phucking name).

and on to where the even humbler river runs through buttercup plain, you wade through lakes of buttercups like i’ve never seen before, on to where long abandoned fishing huts and crumbling pontoons haven’t seen a bamboo pole since 1968:

stephane was downstream fishing the silt under fallen trees with spuds and chickpeas, all for a brace of chub on the chick pea, one a fat half-pay territorial but not the plunder we were hoping to find. i was fishing hard baits on hard gravel, one along the reeds, the other roving every half hour. i pulled the rover back just off the middle late evening, and ten minutes later it took off in a battle cry, body-building in the current, punching twice above its weight, half barbel this carp with its underslung pucker:

we glugged it with a 2000 savenniers blanc which cost s. a tenner from leclerc. angler’s mass for a holy lesson by the river. spoling for a fight now i swung the lead at penelope pit thursday evening where there was post-spawn convalescent laze, a moth or mayfly running the pharangyal gauntlet but nothing solid till one beep before dark had me using up a week’s worth of spinach. i must get a bigger tripod for the camera – i’m hiding a 28 behind that grass stalk.:

friday was poaching night, an overgrown NO FISHING pit with no swims either except the back gardens of four houses along the roadside. a hampstead pond in normandy without brick or privilage, just beige bungalows, the 4-car scum who leave a rod outside with a livebait 12 months a year to fish for itself. there’s a bramble scrub by the last house where i could get the vehicle in unseen and just before dusk i set to work with a hand saw and took out two willows and a few bushes, enough to poke two rods through, swing a lead 20 yards if lucky. i even chopped the cuttings up and stashed them under brambles and in thicket. no one would notice any different. everything invisible from four sides:

nothing got a hook in it but they came, fat walloping carp intrigued by bait, very big fish stumbling into the line and having me hitting line-bites. neither of us used to this and the carp got bored and moved out. this is the view of it from my hide:

back on the train tomorrow, land rover in for a service, going light, 3 rods and a rucksack, 5 days bait, heading west to mike walker’s lake where every fish is billy bunter. comfort feeders, like their tuck in wind and rain, and it’s a glutten’s forecast with a 50 on the cards…i’ll let you know.

a tenner on the birdtable for leclerc