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  • Agent 99

For Phox Sake!

The minnow infested month of July.

Week 1.

Wednesday.

An evening match. On first sight I quite fancy the peg I draw, it`s only when I start to fish it that it becomes a pain – I can`t fish along the near bank ( where the fish are topping ) as there is a bush obstructing my float, and my view. I now have my excuse.

Two hours in and I`ve caught nothing more substantial than minnows. Go big, lobworm section on the hook. A bite occurs, a very positive pull, and in swings a ruffe. There remains but half an hour of the match, I stick with lobworm, and keep my fingers crossed for a perch. I catch a few small chublet and another couple of ruffe and, surprisingly, it`s not enough to snatch the win. At least I had my excuse ready.

Sat & Sun.

A raging river. Mother Wharfe is a chocolate torrent. No fishing this weekend.

Week 2.

Wednesday.

Another evening match. I draw the end peg – Crabtree declares it a `flyer`, that`s never good news.

Flyer. My backside !

I catch nothing using a waggler and maggots. Dendrobaenas get smashed to bits by minnows. Lobbies get pulled around but there`s nothing big enough to actually swallow them. I did catch some minnows, but my swim didn`t even have many of those little buggers in it. I didn`t bother weighing in.

Saturday.

I spend a couple of hours with Shed 7, digging and pruning at the Sewage Works. We are just about to leave when Crabtree arrives. I am going home to see my Ma n` Pa, Shed is going on a barbel hunt. Unfortunately for him his conscience kicks in, and he decides he can`t leave Crabtree on his own with a chainsaw and , following “ f`kin hell, he`s ruined my f`kin day… the f`kin f`ker”, he returns to chaperone Crabtree, and quieten his nagging conscience.

Sunday.

I fancy running a float, and hope to avoid the minnows, a tough challenge indeed.

13 foot float rod, 2.6 lb mainline, light insert waggler, and a straight from the packet hooklength – a size 18 to 2 lb mono. All shot bulked under the float, one number 8 down the line and a quick change Cralusso thingy to attach the hooklength and to act as the final dropper. Single white maggot on the hook.

Fully expecting to get minnowed I make my first cast. The float travels 10 yards, which is unusual, before it slowly goes under. I think I`ve caught the riverbed, but the riverbed wriggles, and in comes a small chublet. In the net it goes. Another couple of trots and another one appears, then a chublet turns up every five or six trots.

The bites dry up after a while and I try a different line, again, I pick up a handful of chublet and a large handful of minnows before that line dries up.

I change to a heavier float, and feed a new line. I have a cup of coffee and give Crabtree a call – he is hauling dace out, and, with a few grayling in the mix, he finishes his day with just shy of 10 lb of silverfish.

My new line produces plenty of chublet and the obligatory minnows, and I rotate between it and the odd random cast elsewhere, and luckily I land on a few fish.

For the first time in a while I leave the river with a smile on my face. I haven`t caught any big `uns, but there`s 6 – 7 lb of chublet in my keepnet - I didn`t retain the minnows, I`ve seen enough of them recently.

Week 3.

Wednesday.

Evening match. I am looking forward to this. The stretch produced fish at the weekend, so now it`s all down to the luck of the draw. All the pegs are in; there are two I fancy to fish well, and there are two I really don`t want. Lady Luck puts her steel toe capped boots on and kicks me squarely in the nuts – I draw one of the two I didn`t want. So, in a minor huff, I go to my peg and set up. I position my seatbox, chuck my keepnet in and then notice that somehow I have managed to chuck my coat in at the same time. I fish it out , and leave it to drip dry.

My pre-rigged rod has got into the mother of all tangles, so I have to set up from scratch and therefore miss the `all in`. The rest of the match was equally disastrous. I did catch a small chublet on my first cast but after that it was a tale of minnows and snags, and I packed up before the `all out`. I didn`t weigh in. I wasn`t the only one to have a bad night though, The Doctor had packed up early too. We have a quick chunter, curse our luck, and await the weights – they`re not great. Crabtree is as disappointed as the rest of us having expected it to fish well, and we had had a good turnout tonight. A frustrating evening; I did get my net wet but that was when I rescued my coat. I should have stayed at home.

Friday.

Title race tension. Surely Leeds can`t cock it up this time ?.

To avoid the result ( and the stress ) I head for some peace and tranquility on the river, barbel my quarry. Meat, pellet, boilie, other ? I opt for a pellet ; something pulls it from the hair rig within minutes but I struck in to nothing. I replace it with a boilie. Then I realise my rookie error, but too late – I have brought my phone, and it glows white hot as several thousand texts arrive.

Leeds are up !

Thank you, The Terriers.

The fishing `Gods` will surely supply me with a `promotion` barbel, tonight.

The evening wears on. I ignore my phone and its insistent chirping. I get a quick visit from `the Boilie Baron`, we have a chat- we talk football, we talk fishing, and he requests notification if I catch one. If ? When ! Leeds are up, I`ve got to catch.

The bats weren`t yet out, so I thought bite o`clock would be in about half an hour. I checked the time - ten past nine. The rod hoops over, a savage take. Two really strong runs, and a dive for the nearside bank later and I had the barbel in the net - after slipping squarely on to my backside in the process. I cursed myself loudly, and took a peek at my prize. I rested it, weighed it, took a photo ( the Baron always wants proof ), and eventually returned it to Mother Wharfe, where it swam nonchalantly away.

It wasn`t a particularly long fish, but it had something of a beer belly on it , and it weighed in at 9 lb 10 oz.

So, a Bielsa barbel. The trick to catching them is to check the time, and go fishing on a day that Leeds get promoted, combine these two events and you can`t fail.

I head home for a few celebratory drinks, and to watch the promotion celebrations on TV.

Saturday.

Hangover.

But now we are Champions.

Thank you, Stoke City.

Sunday.

Match.

A brown river. Agent Orange looks puzzled – his app says that the river is rising in Collingham but falling in Tadcaster. Rising or falling, the river doesn`t fish well.

It is another dire day for me. I catch less than my normal amount of minnows, but that is scant consolation, and the weigh- in is something of a non-event for me.

Week 4.

Wednesday.

The final evening match of the season. I question my sanity for attending it, but I do like the competitive angle to Match fishing, and it supposedly keeps me out of mischief .

The match follows a familiar pattern. Minnows turn up, to avoid them I try bigger baits – nothing turns up. I go back on the float and catch some more minnows and four small chublet. Within minutes I can no longer get through to any willing chublet because a swarm of minnows have arrived.

I don`t weigh-in, I`m not the only one.

Saturday.

We are at the Sewage Works in preparation for some bank repair work ( volunteers are more than welcome ) and, as we walk the path we see fish everywhere – hordes of dace and chublet are present along the whole stretch. A few big fish rise or roll, a couple leap.

Sunday.

A quick evening session for chub or chublets – I`d be be happy with either.

I use `meat` for bait. No hair-rig today.

I had a witness !

The Baron saw it all !

I make my first cast and, as I am putting the rod down I tell him I thought I just had a bite. I put the rod down and the tip swings round. Could this be the chub I seek ? It feels like a decent fish. It`s not a fish, it`s a snake.

I land the eel, and I reach for my scissors, but they are buried in my bag. I try a disgorger, but the eel does not want to be unhooked – the Baron is enjoying this. I eventually get to grips with it, and discover that the hook is in the bottom lip, and I manage to unhook it. The Baron finally stops laughing. He takes a photo of the slippery blighter and we release it.

Fresh bait on.

I then discover I have left my headtorch at home, and my ancient phone does not possess a torch. This could shorten the session somewhat. As we debate the situation the rod bends. I grab the rod and the Baron laconically announces “ that will be a barbel, then”. For a six and a half pound barbel it certainly put up a spirited resistance, making several runs, and a series of determined lunges before the Baron netted it for me. My first ever barbel caught on meat.

Hometime.

A month of mixed fortune – a harrowing run of matches was sweetened by a couple of barbel, and the well overdue promotion of Leeds United.

I can`t encounter as many minnows in August. I don`t think I could cope with that.

Agent 99

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