Caught by the River

Opening Day

16th June 2014


On this day of great significance to many of our readers and contributors, Kev Parr writes of the wonders of nature in the build up to the opening day of the coarse fishing season (England and Wales division):

The problem with the Close Season is not the lack of fishing but the fact that as spring turns into early summer there is just too much going on. The world seems quite civilised in mid-March. Celandines popping up one by one, just a trickle of migrants and adders coiled in the same spot every morning. As spring builds and steadily gathers pace I am happy to go along for the ride.

Brimstone – check. Wheatear – check. Swallow – check. Even when the nightingales are breaking into voice over at Alners Gorse I can choose a dry evening to go and hear them.

Then things start to get silly. There are hobbies hawking, smooth snakes skulking, elderflower ready for fizzing. A stroll around the heath can last into dark, especially if I want to hear the nightjars. The final straw this week was the chanterelles. Friends clutching their first basketfuls of the season. Oh lord. Suddenly my daily stroll needs to cover the marsh fritillaries, the reptiles, the bee orchids and that’s before a scout around my chanterelle spots. It’s all too much. I need focus. I have to earn some money amidst all this and there are World Cups and Test matches to squeeze in somewhere.

Then comes the soft scent of hogweed and half-baked soil and clarity. It’s mid-June and order can be restored once more. I can curl up in a little hollow beside a favourite pool and let my eyes focus on a small red dot beside the lily pads. Everything is making sense again now. The birds are still singing and the butterflies busying but from the moment I thread the line through the rings everything else fades, every so slightly, into the background. Like that moment of calm when the speaker finally gains order of the house, there is an immediate sense of relief. The mushrooms will still be there in the autumn and hobbies will be back next year. Right now, I have all I need.

The Idle Angler, by Kevin Parr, is published by Medlar Press.