• Agent 99

On a Mission

Week 1.


The New Year brought us a low and clear river. The weather had settled in to a pattern of predictable unpredictability. Would the fish be wanting a feed, or would they all have made resolutions to diet ?

Our mission today was to put Trueman in a peg with the chance of catching his first grayling. Mission Impossible ? He was going to run a stick float for the first time, but opted to start `on the bomb`. I started `on the stick`, and was rewarded with a minnow on my first run. A New Year, same old sh.

My second trot produced a gling of a pound and three ounces, and then another `pounder` followed, and then it went quiet. The tranquillity broken only by the splosh of Truemans feeder, and a very noisy crow on the far bank.

Another trot, and a very positive bite, the float disappearing in the blink of an eye. Something was in no hurry to be landed, and I played the fish cautiously. It took a leisurely tour of my peg before I got it within netting range. The grayling had a final thrash as it nestled in the bottom of the net, shedding the hook in the process. I quickly transferred it into a wetted carrier bag, and the dial flew round to 1 lb 13 oz. Still not as big as `the fat one`, but a great scrap, and a lovely fish nonetheless. I could go home now, and still be pleased with my haul. But I couldn`t go home, I had to find a gling for my pal.

I fed my swim, had a coffee, and texted Trueman – no grayling yet.

My swim was still producing fish, and I made the acquaintance of several more chunky gling, a solitary dace, and `chublet no mates`, before taking a walk to see Trueman. He had caught plenty of fish – a load of small dace, and too many minnows. A switch to a stick float, a brief demo of technique, and he was happy to fish without supervision ( he is a big boy, after all ).

I caught a couple more decent grayling, and two tiny ones, and called `time`.

I had seen splashing in Truemans swim. He`s new to the river, and angling in general, and thought he might have caught a decent dace, he wasn`t sure, but he had taken a photo.

Dace my eye !

Mission accomplished. A gling of about 12 ounces was captured in his photo gallery. He was chuffed.


No Tonto today, I was the Lone Ranger.

Being decisive, I chose a swim. I either chose poorly, or fished poorly, or both.

After two minnow packed hours I moved. I got a peg slightly upstream, but not the one I wanted – five other anglers were present – Izaak, Crabtree, and the Guvnor among them.

I caught two small grayling in three casts, the move might have paid off.

It would appear that the minnows followed me. I cut out all feed for the next hour and managed another brace of small grayling, and then it went quiet again. Sh or bust. I fed three pouches of maggots on two different lines, and went for a leg stretch.

I returned and put a caster on ` cos minnows don’t take `em` - they bloomin` do, a better stamp of minnow, but uninvited guests nonetheless. Then came a gling on caster, then another, and then it appeared that there was an orderly queue forming. Whether the feed had paid off, or it was coincidence, or sheer spawniness, I knew not, and frankly I didn`t care. A minnow infested day had just come good. Several more gling came my way, and the usual solitary chublet. Nothing big graced my net, but it was better than bagging minnows all day. I did have a `one that got away` fish. I got it within 20 feet of me and then it let me know who was `the boss` in our little contest. It wasn`t me. The fish bombed off downstream, and the hook pulled. It was probably a 4lb minnow.

Todays lesson – if your peg is pants, move !

Week 2.


A spot of gardening on the banks of G.P.

Big boys toys were used. Banter was exchanged. Things were pruned.


The river was boiling. We arrived, took a stroll, inspected the pegs, got back in the car, went home.

Week 3.


An appointment with the Doctor.

We went `off piste`, treading where others fear to tread. The `bank less travelled`, and all that. Angling for fish that never see a hook – travel light, bag up……

Well, that didn`t work. We both caught loads of snags, and the Doc caught one small dace. We moved.

We had found some fish. Mostly it was grayling coming my way, but the solitary dace had some mates with him today, which was nice. The Doctor had found grayling too, and a brownie of a couple of pounds. We only fished for a couple of hours, but were both pleased with the results.

Fishing new pegs is a great idea, but if it doesn`t work, move – todays lesson.



The venue on the menu was up, but fishable. Just.

It was cold, the water was cold, my toes were going to be cold. This was going to be a grueller. The phrase I kept hearing was `rock hard`. The omens were poor. Only two pegs produced, and they didn`t produce much. I finished third, with a single grayling to my name. The winning weights weren`t great, but congratulations go to the two recipients of the prize money, and to the other nutters that toughed it out all day. Rock hard, as they say.

Week 4.


A new venue for me. My wingmen are the Doctor, and the Guvnor.

We had a `tip off` from Baloo, he had had a huge haul of grayling from the same stretch. Action guaranteed.

“I`m wearing my boots, I`m not going in. We`ll catch from the bank”. Ooooh, the big fibber !

The Doc set up in the river, as did the Guv. I fished from the bank, under an umbrella of branches, not kitted out for sitting in the river.

I caught the first fish, a grayling, our target species. The Doc, and the Guv were finding it tough. After an age, the Doctor was finally in, but he only caught a few, and nothing spectacular,but he did get a grayling. I added a bullhead to my haul. The `star` fish fell to the Guvnor, his first on his new rod. A clonking chub, but slightly deformed. Birds of a feather etc.

We moved to Grange Park.

The Doctor did well, catching some chunky dace and a few grayling.

The Guvnor had a couple of grayling and a couple of trout.

I didn`t do so well, landing only a couple of dace, and a couple of chublet, and the ever present minnows.


Mexican standoff with a blackbird. It had sneaked into my tackle shed and did not want to come out. Every time I approached the door it went berserk. I didn`t want it to get hurt, but I did want my seatbox. The flapping, leaping, and screeching continued. I finally charged at the beast, my patience expired. It threw a couple of punches, stole my dinner money, crapped on my seatbox, and then flew out of the shed. It had also left me a little `present` or two on the floor of the shed, perhaps that`s how it got its `latin` name ?

The day could only get better.

I did catch. I had a mixed bag of fish including dace, grayling, and chublet. A couple of reasonable specimens amongst them, and plenty of minnows. However, the cormorants were on patrol and the fish were understandably evasive. I had long pauses between bites, and even then they were tentative when they came.

A quick check with Crabtree, and he had struggled too, catching only two fish. One of them, however, was a proper chub, his first in over 40 years of fishing on that stretch. He even managed to crack a smile.

Happy New Year.

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