Monday, 4 September 2017


The crow quill fell flat on the surface, laying snug between beds of lilies. Meanwhile, unseen, shot plummeted to absolute depth, taking with them an appetising bell-shaped bread-flake with clouds of white fluffiness around the gape and dough clenched tight to the shank of a small wire hook, causing the float to cock, standing slowly to attention; simultaneously gaining mine.
A year had passed since last I sat beside these waters, during which in my mind, fantasies played out frequently of my return. The revery had haunted me so often that now it was almost impossible to tell if this was dream or reality. Reflections of weathered red brick, softened further by the perpetually restless rippling of the water became further obscured by trademark bubbles betraying the secret presence of tench. I had watched the float disappear with my eyes firmly shut many times before and this was no different until the tangible response, as my cane connected with tinca tinca, told me that this was no longer a passive fiction but a reciprocal reality. I had indeed returned to The Moat.

My thumb, pressed firmly against the rim of the pin, could not prevent its turning as this dark purveyor of power peeled line from spool and heart to mouth. The swims' serenity shattered as this tench tore through it in a fine display of masculinity. Any hope however of encountering a quiet crucian faded with the light whilst this gladiator from the depths submitted to my net at dusk.
Perhaps in an attempt to reenact triumphs of the past, I settled for the night in the place of my previous tarriance. This however, proved to be a foolish endeavour as the carp I tried to tempt thought best to let me sleep! I woke with the dawn, birdsong, strong coffee and Full-English nourishment, ready also to devour the day.
I set out from my place of slumber for a tree-lined stretch, thick with weed and waterlilies only sporting the occasional clearing through which to post a line. I had intentionally taken the long route here in order to invest some time and conversation into friendships old and new, as is my way and of at least equal importance to the pursuit of fish. Here however, I was sufficiently removed from the melee of anglers and felt a sense of solitude and serenity- a sensation to be savoured by a new father!
Stealth, watercraft, patience and good luck came together in something of a hurry as my first cast accompanied by a small ground bait appetiser remained undisturbed by me until the float began to twitch. At first, only subtle ring-shaped ripples emanating from my homemade float were distinguishable but as the surface fizzed with pinprick bubbles and the archetypal gentle lift ensued there was no mistaking this for the delicate bite of a crucian carp. Every hypothetical scenario that had paced in circles anxiously around my head regarding when to strike was rendered completely irrelevant as autopilot took over and before I knew exactly how I had done it, a weighty crucian carp caused my rod to arc over as it spiralled down in search of sanctuary. Noble though its bid for freedom was, it was also thankfully short-lived and before long the sense of elation every angler lives for consumed my being.

Two further fish flirted with my float, each giving themselves up with relative ease at the thought of free food but neither were so uncanny that they would succumb to my net. Late morning swiftly slid into an afternoon lull and though not negating the enchantment of this Crabtree paradise, I had to create a little magic of my own. While persevering with cane and quill, an additional ledgered offering of worms watched over by my ever faithful optonic quickly conjured a plump tench to break the silence by triggering the alarms' distinctive tone. With demonic drive the doctor fish charged, relentlessly wreaking havoc and testing my tackle beyond comfort. Without fail each near submission was followed by yet another 'last' bid for freedom. The fitness of these moat fish is in my view unparalleled.

Nightfall denoted the final hours of my stay. I watched the stars circle slowly in the sky as the hours passed waiting hopefully for a final fish. As it became too dark to see without the assistance of a torch, line tore hurriedly off the spool of my left rod and I lifted into a hefty specimen. I anticipated the danger of nearby snags and held on for dear life, attempting to kite the carp to open water with side-strain. The line suddenly went slack and my heart sunk. I sulked back to bed and so began the dreams of my return to settle this unfinished business...

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