• Agent 99

99 Problems but a fish ain’t one

March 2019

Week one With the advent of Storm Freya, the temperature was down, and the wind was up. It looked grim, but I had maggots to drown, so I headed up to the club's ponds, in search of a bite or three. Crabtree was painting the fence - not an angling term, he was actually painting - so I sanded a few panels before toddling off to choose a peg. Conscience clear, I began to catch a few Rudd before the Swans intervened again. They sat to either side of me, unwanted avian icebergs, which no amount of hissing would move. However, it was only planned to be a short session, and the Swans made sure it was. The Main Event arrived - the delivery of our new fish, all the way from Ipswich. We lugged bucketful’s of Roach and Bream, releasing them into ponds 2 & 3. We could then track their movements through the ponds by the sheer quantity of fish topping and leaping - lively little chaps that they were. They ranged from 1 - 8 oz, and will hopefully provide bites all year round, whatever the weather.

Week two 'Better than a day at work'. I had the day off, and headed for the Ings with Crabtree. I wanted Perch, he was after Dace. Another cold, grey day, blustery and rain laden. A river that had risen 3 feet overnight. It didn't look great, and it wasn’t. We obviously deserved to catch. We were daft enough to be there, so the river Gods should be kind, as a reward for our dedication, surely ? I caught a trout. Crabtree caught a Dace and a Chublet. I got told off for getting my new, pink, yearbook muddy. I got ' swanned ' again - now, I'm no more paranoid than the next man, but I'm sure it was the pair from our ponds. twitch Stalked by a pair of longnecks with attitude ! To cap it all, I went to get my brolly from the car as the umpteenth shower arrived, only to find Crabtree sitting under it, grinning from ear to ear, dry as a bone. He did offer to lend it back to me. Too kind. Discretion, valour etc. We packed up and headed home. Sunday. The weather app said it would be ok. The weather app is a liar. Pond 3. Storm Gareth. It went like this. Tackle up, run into shed to escape the elements,cuppa,run out, catch a few, run back in, cuppa, run back out, catch a few, in, cuppa,out, catch a few, call of nature,in,out, etc..I packed up, probably three hours later than I should have, but I'd managed to get my fix. We then moved some scaffolding poles down to the sewage works for use in bank reparation. Shed 7 couldn't carry any, he'd hurt his shoulder converting his bathroom into a workshop,, so he got the role of Foreman, and seemed to enjoy it a little too much, revelling in our discomfort. I then went home and completed my E A ' close season' survey, paragon of virtue that I am.

Week three. I had the last day of the river season off work, but Mother Wharfe seemed not to care, as she rushed seawards, full of muck and debris. The wind howled, and the rain came in sideways. Storm Hannah was upon us, and she was feisty. She was the third 'named' storm of the month, so naturally it was a good decision to go fishing. I chose pond 3. No bites forthcoming, I moved to pond 2, just as the wind dropped a little. First chuck, roach, and so it followed for the next two hours. Five o'clock is ' beer o'clock' apparently, so the net came out. Crabtree, the human Reuben Heaton, guesstimated 12 pounds of fish, all roach, skimmers, and Rudd. All on maggots and a light waggler. No swans today, maybe I'm safe now ? Sunday. A day with Baloo, and the Doctor. We were first to the ponds, and had the pick of the pegs and yet we still sat in a neat little line on pond 2. I used rod and line, the other two opted for a pole based attack. We had several pints of fresh grubs, and we began our highly sociable session with fish from the off.They were hungry today. Single maggot, double maggot. All versions produced fish. In fact, we became so confident, Baloo instigated the ' single maggot challenge' - catch as many fish as you can on one maggot. We recorded plenty of sevens, eights, and nines, a few double figure runs, and one series of 17. Admittedly the bait got more and more mangled, becoming stretched and translucent , and lead to ever decreasing fish size, but it was fun ( and brought out our scarcely hidden 'inner child' ) and fiercely competitive. Crabtree and Shed 7 were making bird scarers as we fished. I felt guilty, but not guilty enough to lend them a hand. So, karma being what it is, we then caught tiny fish whilst they toiled, only catching bigger fish when they had adjourned to the pub. As mentioned, we had lots of maggots of various colours, and all hues were being gratefully hoovered up. I fished with a single red on the hook, caught a Rudd, unhooked it only to find a red and a white maggot on the hook . eh ? We had a great day despite some horrible weather, and we had over 30 lb of pristine fish between us, and barely made a dent in the million maggots we took with us. They'll keep for another day.

Week four. Saturday. Digging out reeds and lilies in pond 1 . The Sun had his hat on. Waders on, sleeves up. My word ! that black, bottom of the pond mud smells bad. Intensified by the heat, and clinging to everything, there was no escape from the stench. I politely refused the offer of a pint, preferring a cuppa and a shower. Crabtree did a splendid job on the bird scarers and finished the painting of the fence. Great work, as always. Sunday. Another blustery day. Too windy to risk using a brolly. The Doctor and I set up on pond 2, backs to the wind. Too windy to wear a baseball cap too - The Doctors cap took an early bath, got fished out, and was replaced by a snug Beanie. Be warned ! Anything not weighed down may take flight , chickens, nets, sheep, bait tubs, tractors, you name it, it flies. Our cunning 'backs to the wind' plan was scuppered by the ever changing wind direction. It bugged us more than the fish, who were obliging. We had takes from the start, periods of feast, and periods of famine. We would catch a dozen fish quite rapidly, and then wait ten minutes for another bite. Admittedly, not much of a famine. Again, I opted for rod and line, The Doctor choosing a pole. We fished near and far, deep and shallow, and caught on all. No colour of maggot was superior today. No method more effective than another. We did catch one bigger fish, of approximately a pound, but couldn't decide if it was 'all roach' , or a roach/bream hybrid. It wasn't one of our new fish, so there may still be some surprises to come out. I did manage to lose a float with a wind assisted chuck into a tree. My first loss at the ponds. A portent of things to come ? However, the day ended with happy chaps, and wet nets.

Week five. Saturday. Up at the ponds again, trying to catch some Rudd from pond 1. Crabtree was doing the digging today, tackling the Lilies. It was hard going, they weren't interested. I fished my way around the pond to no avail. I did catch four Rudd, two of which dropped off at the net, and a dozen or so Sticklebacks. So, when I snagged on weeds again, and subsequently manufactured the mother of all birds nests, I thought it time to pack up. So I did. And here it comes. The Drennan Acolyte ultra-float rod,13 ft in length, is, according to the esteemed Mr Peter Drennan ' a thing of beauty', and works out at about £15 a foot rrp. So, when packing up in a stiff breeze, cutting line from around the very sensitive tip of your new, favourite rod, with nail clippers, pay attention. My rod is now 12 ft 8, and awaiting a replacement tip section. I can (almost) see the funny side of it now, and have chastised myself ( and the cat ) accordingly, but did I sulk, you bet I did. Sunday. Thankfully I have other rods I can break too, so I dragged the next victim up to the ponds. Hopefully there'll be no catastrophe today, but you never know. Shed 7, the Boilie Baron, and Crabtree were making and installing a fish sanctuary in pond 3, so concentrate when casting or you'll lose your gear ! This considered, I sought my sport on pond 2. All anglers on the pond caught plenty, with bites coming regularly. No bigger fish today, but plenty to 6 ounces, and many smaller ones. No breakages either. Result ! Fish sanctuary installed, with a few comedy moments of course, it quickly became 'beer o'clock', so we retired to the Sports club for a quick pint, and the end to a long month of fishing.

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