Such an event has happened today and I found myself delving back to a post of February 2015 in order to reacquaint myself with the writing, and photos, that had been the catalyst to the comment.
Wow, how much has changed in just three years? Favourite was written during the doldrums of some dreary weather and inspired by reading John Everard's Barbel chapter in "The Big Fish Scene". To re-visit the topic today has to have a very different slant. Is it possible to up-date the original, probably not? So here's my 2018 offering -warts "n" all! John's observation that "the favourite species was the one currently being pursued" is as relevant today as it was in 1979!
Absolutely no way that I could claim anything less than this magnificent species to be number one on my angling agenda, however set? For more than forty years this apex predator has been part of why I go fishing. I can make no guess at how many of these superb creatures have graced my landing net, but it will be many thousands! Once upon a time big was beautiful, not so today, I just love the challenge and un-blinking stare of a pike on the bank. Man, I've been very lucky!
A bittersweet experience which I have to acknowledge as being successful despite, never once, feeling like I'd learned anything? For two seasons, on the Kentish Stour, these fish provided the most extreme test of my angling nous. I smashed my PB and caught some wondrous fish, yet can't derive the pleasure I should, because I don't know why I caught them ? To have experienced such trials has to place these fish right up there at the top of the pile! In the background is my apprenticeship under the guidance of Fred Crouch - surely I couldn't have been that unreceptive? Did I really learn nothing whilst under Fred's guidance? I find it amazing that I have experienced such success without once feeling that I deserved it. I'm probably being hyper-critical, but barbel have such an important role, within my angling journey, that I feel I've let myself down somewhere along the line. I take great pleasure from the fact that Benno was part of this adventure and he also caught some magnificent fish. Maybe that was Fred's influence? It made me a very proud man to place the net under his PB barbel.
|This is not Benno's PB - a Kentish Stour barbel all the same and, as such, very a special fish.|
What's to say? When I stopped speccy hunting, in 1993, fishing for perch was a waste of time. The UK population being decimated by some devastating disease and any perch, over a pound, being covered in sores and suffering extensive fin rot. To have the chance, not only to catch perch, but very big and healthy perch, is a revelation. I still await my first three - but I've witnessed a few and they are magnificent fish. At some time in the, not too distant, future I hope to spend a prolonged period targeting this species.
In the year of "Our Lord" 2018, there are catfish in excess of 100 lbs swimming in the waters of UK fisheries. Not something I find particularly pleasing, but a fact of life in modern Britain. That I allowed myself to get swept up on a whim, by Luke and Benno, shows that these fish still have a place in my heart. I didn't catch one, but the boys did and I was there - special times!
EEL (Anguilla anguilla)
Never did I think that I would spend a moment, of my life, writing about the merits of eel fishing? Just goes to demonstrate never say never! That winter project of 2015/16 provided the challenge and, ultimate, reward which I have never previously experienced. Eels had (have) always been a pest. Learning of their "global demise" was trigger to that project and under-pinned the satisfaction at my successful conclusion. March 12th 2016 is a date which will remain etched in my soul - a job done!
I'd be hard pressed to convince anyone that that this species played any part in my angling - yet the accidental capture of a single fish, whilst perch fishing, blew me away. Transported back in time to the banks of Wilstone Reservior; yet to see an ugly one!
How things have changed over three short years? The species which I hold totally responsible for the demise of freshwater angling, within the UK, but now find myself caught up in the most engrossing project. Was it the gift of a B James & Son Mk IV split cane Dick Walker carp rod, or the fact that I found that carp could be caught from wild venues away from the mainstream? Probably a combination of the two? I now find myself embarked on a mission to catch a thirty, using sixty year old sticks and I'm absolutely loving it. I've already caught more carp than I had when I spent time in 1983/4 chasing the fish of Stanborough Lake, in Welwyn Garden City. Having the freedom to pursue my dreams at very intimate and un-fished venues, within the crowded SE is rewarding enough. When I finally achieve my target, and I will, carp will very firmly be established as my favourite species - for a short while.
To have been able to use my angling skills, as developed over a lifetime, to outwit such stunning creatures has been extremely fulfilling. That these same fish are magnificent to behold, like carved mahogany, ensures that I will never fail to be happy whenever I manage to put one on the bank. Having taken that amount of effort to catch, under no circumstances do these fish not deserve a visit to a weigh sling in order to be correctly recorded (for my own records!) Guesstimation has no part in my angling.