Now, I’m not one to fish stillwaters very often, preferring the cheery bubble and chatter of running water to the mysterious depths and unfathomable silences of lakes. However, if you are invited to fish a rather grand estate lake, steeped in history and normally reserved to a few dog biscuit hurlers and maggot drowners it would be churlish to refuse.
We arranged to fish two afternoons on the lake, to take all our fly gear and just see what was there. Turns out that fishing in the unknown is actually allot of fun. We had no idea what to expect and as such no preconceptions of what we would achieve. To come away smiling, having caught pike, perch and trout on the fly was a pleasure and I feel I may develop a fascination for hidden stillwaters, shrouded in morning mists and still as a photograph, silent as the moment after an insult at a wedding.
Right, now I’ve distracted you with my stillwater adventure I can just slip this little snippet in at the end. Like a government announcing that they’ll cut child benefit and then slipping through some other more contentious stuff while the baying hounds of the press look the other way. Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up…
I was sat working from home yesterday, reports to write, emails to email, phone calls to divert to answerphone and I decided that an hour on the Nadder was a fitting lunchtime treat. Waders donned, rod lifted down from the backdoor and off I go as normal. Except this time I’ve changed my mind and gone back in to pick up the 9# rod and the pike gear, thinking that I’ll just do some spot sampling of the canal like stretch to see how the pike population is doing.
It’s a beautiful Autumnal day, a light breeze ruffling the yellows and oranges as they cling to the branches overhead, a temporary defiance of the coming winter. A few casts are met with a follow or two by smallish 5-8lb pike and in one hole a very large trout decides he fancies lunch in the shape of a fish supper. He’s on for 15 seconds, then shakes the hook – somewhere in the region of 5lb at a guess.
I move up 20 metres or so and have another throw, thinking that it must be time for diverting more calls or something. Almost immediately, the fly is hit by an explosion of brown spottiness. As is always the case, I’m caught with fly line wrapped around meadowsweet at my feet, then it’s caught on the gravel guard on my waders, then a nettle. Eventually, the fish is close enough to net.
Arse, the net is back where I lost that big trout, no choice, I’m going to have to carefully lift him in.
I lean over, balanced precariously on the bank, line tight, the joint between fly line and leader caught at the top rod ring. Just as I’m about to emerge victorious the fish decides on one last run and overextended as I am, I unfortunately have no say in the matter and I follow the fish – head over heals, arse over tit – into the drink. I manage to get myself upright before getting water down my waders, those new Orvis sonic weld waders are a bit of a revelation as they actually fit and thus don’t billow out like a sail. My jacket however is soaked. My hat bobbing on the surface. Face covered in tingles from the nettles that I went through on my journey downwards, like a piscatorial Alice Vs rabbit hole moment.
The fish however, is still connected. I’ve done a somersault, righted myself, checked myself for water damage AND still kept the line taught. Genius
The fish turns out to be 3.5lb’s of mishaped finned stockie from somewhere else on the Nadder. Having taken a soaking and gaining stings all over my face and hands I decide I’m having BBQ and administer the last rights to my fishy quarry. This rare occurrence gives me an opportunity for a cheesey trophy shot! A fisherman’s tale indeed…