Wednesday 1 June 2016

Not as Good as it Would be if it Were Better.

It was my first day in grammar school.   Being a "fresher" I had to stand, with other first year students, right at the front of the school assembly hall.   I positioned myself at the back of the organ, and joined in at the first hymn.  I wasn't an atheist then, probably because I had never heard of atheists.   After the first hymn, the teacher playing the organ turned around and said:
"You boy, what is your name?"
I told him and was instructed to remain behind after the assembly. He then told me that my caterwauling had severely upset him, and quite put him off his notes.   He had no idea of why a benevolent God would have ever allowed me vocal chords. The tirade continued awhile, and he finally banned me from singing...FOR LIFE.   I was quite proud to have been banned in such a way, and probably boasted about it to my new classmates.    Sadly the teacher suffered a fatal heart attack a few weeks later.  Although I am fairly sure that my singing was not instrumental in causing his death I have actually, partly in memory of him, but mainly because his assessment was entirely correct, never sung anything since.   The teachers in the school were well practised in the art of the put down.  School reports were littered with juicy comments. I would like to have been able to say that "lamentable progress" had been written in my report by that music teacher, but it was from the art teacher.    He also used the phrase:
 "This work, boy, is not as good as it would be had it been better." 

Those two phrases adequately and accurately describe my tench angling to date this season. 

   Plenty of tench from the smaller venues, during short sessions, but nothing over about three or four pounds.   A few carp and crucians have slotted themselves between those tench.  Delightful fish, all of them, but not entirely within the plan.   I even resurrected the Sunday Challenge: you may remember that, in the 45 minutes of my wife's church service, I challenge myself to drive to the water, tackle up, catch a fish, and get back in time to drive her home.  ~~The result this time was two tench, a carp and a roach. 

None of these challenge fish would have weighed as much as four ounces, but there is something quite wonderful about tiny clearwater tench. Nice to have a moorhen for company too. I understand that the seasonal yellow tip of its bill acts as a target when the young are pleading for food.

 My longer sessions, after bigger fish, have so far resulted in seven consecutive blank sessions.   I came close, contacting a fish that shed the hook, and my best guess as to its identity is that it was a good tench.  But I don't give up that easily and expect my final school report for the year to have some better grades. 

The blanks did give me a chance to test out my theories on line twist, and I can say, certainly for short casts up to about 30 yards, the process for removing twist does indeed work well.   On longer casts the twists do not seem to  equalise along the length of the line quite so easily, but results there have remained encouraging, if not quite so good. It may be that I need to allow more time for the twists to disperse along the line, or else perform the process on land, rather than in the lake.

The birds have been rather more co-operative, the herons in particular have posed quite shamelessly for me.

 The bird below was catching quite well, swallowing something every couple of minutes, but they seemed to be very, very small and although he had to turn his take-out prey items, I was unable to determine what they were.   The pond abounds with tiny rudd though... and tadpoles. I shall make no further comment about this heron's photograph in the blog. Work it out for yourselves.

 The local pair of peregrine falcons are again nesting on the old mill by the river.  I understand they already have two chicks, but these have yet to be visible when I visit with the camera. The birds are of course nesting quite high up, and having to stand some distance back means that I cannot  see any of the actual nest site, just the cavity containing it.   Distance is a problem too: my camera even in bright sunlight cannot really capture the majesty of these birds at such distance, and so the shots remain slightly blurred. I have not seen them catch any prey yet, although there are numerous local feral pigeons that seem rather keen to get themselves eaten. I shall remain hopeful on this one, and visit as often as I am able to.


 As I drove to the pond one morning, still a couple of miles away and on a main road, a female mallard was walking along the middle of the pavement, trailing, in a line behind her, six quite small ducklings.  Right down the middle of the pavement, and so confident and law abiding ( no jaywalking here!) that I expect they would have been aiming for the nearby pelican crossing.   Unfortunately due to traffic, I was unable to stop and take a photo.

Reaching the pond had minor compensations: a couple of morning trips ( back home before 9) led to
Plump Little Common
 a total of three tench, a couple of nicely coloured middling roach, a rudd, a perch, and a carp. I don't mind common carp so much, they do at least look like proper fish, not some oddball creation designed by man for the food or aquarist trade.  All the fish on the centrepin which was quite satisfying. A second hooked carp headed along the bank, passing through two stands of lily pads.   With the 4 pound line I was a little restricted, but managed to get the carp back through one set of pads before the hook pulled free.   Better than the day before when, during the Monday Bank Holiday, I had taken a tour around the pond.   A few picnickers and non serious anglers were around, together with a group of guys passing the time of day.   One, who was a little worse the wear from drink, pleasantly enough, but he greeted me as "Pops".   Never been called "Pops" before, and I admit I hated it.   I know I have a few miles on the old clock, but having told my lad to keep it in his trousers and not make me a grandfather any time soon, and struggling with the "pensioner" thing anyway, I really detested being called "Pops".  Especially by a drunk.  I keep thinking about it: it being one of one's life defining points when you are first called "Pops".  I knew I should have worn my woolly hat,  that would have prevented being called such.   Anyone else calls me that and I will hang, draw and quarter them, not necessarily in that order.    

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