• Agent 99

` A Tale of Minnows, Maggots & Mink`

Week 1.

Ethics, ethics,ethics.

Right or wrong ?

I went to Grange Park to fish. I only used worms as hook baits, as permitted, but still felt uneasy as I made my first cast. Should I be here at all ?

Naturally, I was hoping to catch Trout, and thought I might have a chance, with a tub full of Dendras and a tub of lobworms at my disposal. There was plenty of movement on the `tip` but no big wrap around from a hungry Trout followed. It came to pass that any worm with less girth than a lobworm got absolutely paggered by the billions of minnows that appeared to carpet Mother Wharfe`s gravelly bottom. I fished near and far, with no result. I missed a big `drop back` bite, and reeled in to find my lobworm gone. I switched to lobworm sections and finally caught some fish, ending a very peaceful day with a dozen or so Ruffe for my efforts.

It was great to be back on the river, the wildlife was abundant [ apart from Trout ] every riverside inhabitant seems to have bred successfully. The Goosander have babies too – they had four hungry chicks to feed. I hope they eat a lot of Minnows.

Week 2.

No fishing at the weekend due to a raft of family birthdays.

Tuesday and Thursday evenings were spent giving the bankside vegetation a haircut, and giving the pegs a bit of a manicure. We chopped, strimmed, and dug, at the Sewerage works, the Stables, and in the dark, dark, woods [ where we spotted an Otter munching on an Eel ]. It also gave me the opportunity for a bit of sneaky pre-baiting, before the `big day` on Sunday.

So with the seasons dawn but a couple of days away, I accepted Crabtree`s offer of bait delivery. Expecting a couple of pints of maggots on Thursday, Crabtree informed me he had forgotten to buy them, but worry not, “ I`ll get them tomorrow, and drop them off”. Ever true to his word, he did just as he promised. However, he left them on my garden table, and, by the time I returned from work on Friday evening, every bastard Starling in Yorkshire had gorged on my grubs. I salvaged two handfuls of bronze maggots from two and a half pints, and I cancelled my subscription with the RSPB.

Panic ! only `two sleeps` til the season starts and I have no bait. A quick text to my Son, and he grabbed me a couple of pints from Tadcaster, on his way home from his Girlfriends house.

By morning, one of the pints had turned, despite going straight into the fridge. The `omens` are not looking good. Is this Karma, for fishing the river last weekend ?

Week 3.

Opening day.

I waited for the downpour to pass and headed to the river. I had casters, maggots, lobworms, and a handful of boilies. The small baits attracted the minnows, but nothing else. I tried a lobworm for a Barbel, Chub, or Perch, but to no avail.

I went to investigate the large splashes I kept hearing, presumably the source of the waves passing me by. Thinking my good friend Strimmer was feeder fishing downstream, I was surprised to come across a fella `magnet fishing`. The magnet was about the size of a hubcap, and produced quite a tsunami every time it was launched. I moved.

Under a bridge I went, and had been there but 20 minutes when I was approached by a visibly upset, young lady. Had I seen her [ ex ] boyfriend ? He hadn`t taken the break-up well, hadn`t been seen for days, had made no contact with anyone, was of a depressive nature, was prone to self-harming, and my peg was his` favourite place`. The young lady left with tears rolling down her face, on her way to check the pubs for him, again. I waited around for a couple of hours, in case he showed up, but he didn`t. I hope the saga had a happy ending.

Tuesday evening, three hours hoping for a Barbel. Not a touch. Too early ?

Wednesday evening, club match. Minnows. Say no more.

Week 4.

Saturday eve. Strimmer and I headed out. He caught a couple of small trout, a decent Grayling, and a fat Chub with a chunk of luncheon meat . I caught a half decent Trout - when the Boilie Baron turned up to bring me some luck - a bunch of maggots proving irresistible. Being back on the river has been great, if not productive. I watched an Owl swooping from perch to perch, a Deer drinking from the river and then swimming across, and had two brazen Mink wrestling next to me. One briefly pausing on my foot, as we stared each other out. It growled at me, before returning to the water to cavort some more.

Sunday, I think.

A few Chublet at GP, and a lot of Minnows.

Weds. Match. Went to the wrong venue. Doh !

Arrived late, caught nowt. Fed up with Minnows I went big or bust. It was bust. Crabtree bagged a two pound Perch on his last cast to claim the money.

Friday. A quick evening session with the Baron. A gamble. A stretch of quicker water, some groundbait, size 12 hook, bunch of maggots. My reward ? A Trout of about half a pound, and my first Barbel of the season, not a whopper, but scrappy nonetheless. I didn`t weigh it, but I would guess at about 3 lb. After a Minnow infested start to the season, I was delighted with this wee Barbel, and it is a start towards my seasons goals: a 4lb Perch, a 5lb Chub, win a club match, catch more Barbel than last season, don`t break any rods. Simple.

Sat. 3 hours at the Wilderness fishing `meat`. Nothing.

Sun. a couple of hours hoping for a Perch, on the Ings. 1 chub, on half a lobworm. A little fat fella, about ¾ of a pound. No Perch.

Week 7. Maybe.??? Too many short sessions, too many weeks, too many Minnows.

So, a reasonably wretched start to my river season. Plenty of fish being caught, but catching the ones you want is the hard part.

Family Fish Day, at our Sicklinghall ponds.

Lots of kids, and parents turned up, and all were made welcome. Many caught their first fish, and many summoned the courage to hook a maggot or handle a fish for the first time too. It was noisy, there was squealing and cheering aplenty, fish flew with regularity, bait tubs were knocked over, bites were missed, but, Tench, Rudd, Roach, Bream, and Crucians graced the banks with regularity. The weather behaved itself,, everyone was happy - even `Shed 7` smiled a couple of times – and the early feedback was very positive, and we may have gained some new members.

A great day, and many thanks to those who gave up their time to volunteer on the day.

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