Even here at Drove Cottage life gets in the way of living from time to time. I’ve been dashing from the single-dad chaos of washing uniforms, school runs and standing on touch lines watching rugby matches to a hectic schedule at work thats seen me up on Exmoor, over to Brownsea Island, in the Cotswolds and causing trouble in Bath. It’s amazing sometimes that I haven’t dropped too many balls with all the juggling that’s going on but one thing it has meant is that although I’ve been writing for the chaps at www.caughtbytheriver.net and I’ve been taking plenty of photos I have been neglecting my fishing and writing here.
Well, I spent the Wednesday and Thursday this week doing long days up at Dyrham Park near Bath looking in septic tanks, basements, sheds and attics so having looked at the weather forecast I decided that a half a day off was in order. I haven’t fished with Mr Kozak for months so we managed to fix it so we would both take a run down to Wimbourne to have a look at the Dorset Stour. It hadn’t rained for most of the week and the charts on the Bearmead reserve website were showing a river that, although high, had dropped back considerably from the spikes in river height of the previous few weeks. Optimism fairly high we grabbed kit from dusty corners, pulled line from reels and wound it back on, checked fly boxes and patted pockets to make sure that all that stuff that an angler collects and convinces him or herself that is really, definitely, absolutely required is in place and we headed off into a sunny, cold November day.
Arriving in Wimborne, the first and most important ritual of any fishing trip is observed as we both peer over a bridge. Now bridge peering really should be an activity in its own right, a timeless activity, an activity of idleness and curiosity. An activity of optimism and childish glee, of expectation and anticipation. Is the water up and coloured? Clean? Are the gravels shimmering like wet autumn leaves? Can you see any fish? Are they holding the bottom like pig iron in a bath or are they magically shifting, on the fin?
Today the river was not looking particularly promising, the levels had as the website mentioned, dropped considerably, but it was a good two to three days off fining down enough to make fly fishing particularly effective and for this using a inflatable fishing boats which are great for any fishing trip. Still, the sun was making a rare appearance, the wind was kind and we were stood on a bridge looking into another world so what were we to do?
Slowly we both fished likely slack water and back eddies as we waded upstream from Julians Road Bridge. We cast into a weak autumn sun, we cast into deep shadowy corners, corners the colour of ink and we cast into the fractured reflections of autumns magical colours. Flashes of gold, orange, green and red, smashed into a thousand fragments, dancing across the rivers surface at the whim of the current.
Leaves floated around our legs as we waded, a colourful flotilla of miniature boats, pirouetting silently on their way to the sea. A million tiny viking burials of autumnal glory.
As often seems to be the way with fishing, it was these small details that stay with us. Sadly no toothy critters were in the mood to play properly today, a few mischievous grabs at the fly, a couple of green swirls on the surface, but nothing stuck. Such is the lot of a pike fly fisher…
As we climbed out of the muck and onto the road bridge at 4:00ish however I didn’t mind the lack of fish at all. As the road behind our backs thundered on, thousands of people intent on getting from A to B as quickly as possible in their metal boxes only to ultimately be transferred to smaller wooden boxes, I realised how lucky I am and how important it is for us all to pause and take a breath. To enjoy the life we have instead of constantly trying to have a different one. Ignoring the traffic noise I peered over for one last look, a quick peek at the other world and I renewed my vows, promising to pause more. Breathe more.