Saturday 23 September 2017

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 9

As I sit writing this it's hard to believe that we've only got a few months of 2017 left to go. The older I get the faster life seems to accelerate, taking into consideration that I'm still writing up my Winter 2015 sessions. I've got a hell of a long way to go to get to where I am now. Writing about the distant past is a strange thing, especially when it comes to angling, I know that since 2015, my viewpoint and thoughts have changed drastically. I feel like I'm living two lives, the angler I was then and the angler I am now. Many people get in touch asking how I manage to remember my sessions in such detail. It's pretty simple really, I have a very tattered old notebook that I use to scribble in, parts of what I write are in great detail, others are sentences and bullet points that conjure up certain emotions, feeling and memories. If you add all the photos and images that I capture along the way, I end up having a crystal clear recollection of the time, the session and what I was both thinking and feeling.

On the day of my escape I was up at 6am, stumbling out the front door, the sun was yet to fully rise. I packed my tackle as fast as I could and got the hell out of the city. I had limited time before the 'gridlock' would do its best to keep me contained. Snaking through the roads of SE7, motionless bodies stood like statues at bus stops, all waiting for the large, red double-decker hearses to arrive and take them to their resting place. The lights of the pedestrian crossings where flickering ominously, the liquid color of red, amber and green looked somewhat psychedelic in the half-light. Closer and closer I got to the motorway, my own personal 'yellow-brick road' that would see me out of this god forsaken place. London is the city I hate to love, many a time I've detested its unforgivingness. However I realize I'd be lost without it, the stark difference between its brutality and that of the peace I find by the water, is a 'polar opposite' that I need to have in my life.

Finally on 'the road to oz', it certainly wasn't the tin man or Dorothy that I had on my mind. It was the carp, if I could get a few more fish under my belt, then I'd happily tap my green ruby 'Skeetex' boots together, and get myself back to Kansas/London. I was cruising at a steady speed, with the sun now rising, the sky was lighting up with the embers of a new day. I was at the complex in no time, with the barrow now loaded I walked through the morning mist making my way round to my own 'resting place'. The morning dew on both the grass and branches looked like tears yet to weep. Arriving at my swim, I took a moment to take it all in, it's as if the world had 'flatlined' and the only pulse to be heard was mine. There's nothing quite like an 'anglers dawn', it's something very few witness and experience. Being up at sunrise and on the water early evokes a strange sense of isolation, this is a feeling I fully embrace. 

I got on top of everything fast, my swim was built, the rods were clipped up, now I just had to get some bait in. Because of the success from last time I was going to stick with extending my baited area a little further. I was now going to be using 4 large handfuls of squashed boilies instead of two. I wanted a thin layer of bait to cover at least 4 rod lengths either side of where I was planning to put my hook baits. It was commonsense that spreading the freebies further afield was going to up my chances. The priority was to make sure it was spread lightly and evenly, I didn't want to risk the possibility of over feeding. I made the long walk round to deposit all free offerings, along the sodden pathways and up through the cages I walked. The sun was still low, I had a sense that the lake was beginning to open its eyes. I increased my pace, I'd love to get a morning bite, having not been down this early before. I was intrigued to see if any fish were going to visit the spot earlier in the day.

Subtle Color

Peering through the overgrown bushes that shielded my secret spot, I stared intently into the water, it looked ghostly. I very carefully, spread all my freebies along both the margins to the left and right of where I was planning to put my rigs. I watched as each bait 'plopped' through the waters skin and started to 'flutter' out of sight. I legged it back around to my swim and got both rods out quickly and accurately. For some reason, when the casts hit the clip, it felt far more satisfying than usual, with back-leads on and bobbins hung. I welcomed the wait, sparking the stove up, everything was silent, the only noise, that of my kettle, occasionally creaking as it began to contort and expand from the heat. The air was sharp, the world was clear, as the steam from the boiling water drew smoke signals on the 'canvas' that lay before me, I felt pretty dam rich, I was existing perfectly within the moment. The lake was rising from slumber and I was ready, watching, like an apex predator ready to strike.

The peace of the morning started to fracture with the sound of coots and mallards, there appeared to be some kind of dispute going on with both parties. My mind began to wander, I started to wonder what it would be like to have wings, I certainly wouldn't be hanging around on some freezing stretch of liquid. I'd take every opportunity I could to soar high up above the ground, determined to reach dizzy highs, to push further and fly faster. I'd be chained to no one, my home would be where ever I chose to rest my head. However, I couldn't help but think that if men were to really have wings, it would probably end up being a catastrophe. The skies would be forever occupied, they'd be collisions, people randomly falling back down to earth 'drunk', and, knowing the human race, it would be used for no good. Wars would be fought differently, they'd be no control or jurisdiction on who can go where and why. It would be chaos, it's bad enough already. 

Hitching A Ride On The 3 o'clock Wind
My thoughts were pulled down instantly from above the clouds when my left rod rocketed off at speed, the screaming alarm made me jump out of my skin. I lifted my Ballista up, 'as if I was raising the Olympic flame', battle commenced. The fish bolted so fast off to the left, at a speed that would of made 'Usain Bolt' look like a loser. I held on, connected to the wild, trying my best to pacify the possible beast I had covertly outsmarted. I was patient, only giving line when I had to, slowly I gained ground, a minor tussle occurred close in, I lowered the net, a cluster of scales got engulfed in the mesh .... first fish ... result!. Peering down and lifting the net up slightly, I was witness to an incredible looking mirror, the scales were lovely, complimenting its winter skin perfectly. A few snaps were taken, goodbyes were said and the rod went straight back out.

A Morning Visitor 
Taking into account that the fish came off my left rod, I decided that I'd wait before applying anymore bait. I knew my right rod was still primed and ready for a bite, if I was lucky enough to get a fish off of it, then I'd go and top the swim up. As mid morning came about the clouds broke and some very needed sunshine started beaming down. The slight warmth on my face was a nice relief, the landscape lite up in washed out pastille colors. A couple of hours past with no action, a few liners occurred but nothing came from them. A few more hours crept on by before my right rod flew into action. Connecting with the fish, I instantly knew it was a better one than the first. As expected, it bolted towards the post, side strain teased it away. Now out in the open water, it lumped around slowly, it wasn't taking much line but the slow plodding was constant. Now at short range, a fully armored common carp kissed the surface of the water. Once witnessed, poisonous adrenaline seeped from my stomach up through every orifice of my body.

There were a few tense moments when it came close in, a few early 'panic lunges' saw the fish fire off down the shallow margin to my right. It was a battle of wits, there were more than enough marginal obstructions for the carp to do a 'hoodini' on me. Eventually I manged to entice her into the waiting net mesh, I was both relived and ecstatic in equal measure. Staring down at my prize, I'd bagged myself a lovely common, it was long, lean and had a dark jet grey tinge on its back and shoulders. Holding it up with the suns sporadic rays firing off its scales was an awesome feeling. I'd manged two fish and I still had plenty of time left, if I could manage a few more then it would be a session to remember. Gently easing the fish into the water, I watched as it rejuvenated itself in the sanctuary of my sling. I gently placed both hands either side to steady her, I was waiting for 'the kick'. That message that every carp we catch gives us, that everything is ok, it's an acknowledgment that 'maybe' it has forgiven us, understanding that 'us anglers' are a breed that mean no harm. We just want to have a fleeting chance at witnessing them up close and in the flesh.

Fully Armored
I watched as she drifted away, I was on a roll so I wasted no time in getting round and topping the swim back up. It was obvious to me that carp were in and around the area today, I wasn't doing anything particularly different to my last sessions. It goes to show that if you're on or near fish, and they're feeding, you can catch them, sometimes it really is as simple as that. Back in my swim with both rods out, I readjusted a few things. Firstly I was now going to be fishing a super tight line on my right hand rod and I was going to lock it up. I'd still be using a back lead but I wanted to try to pacify the initial bite, giving me a few extra seconds to steer the fish away from the post. Secondly - and something I do all the time, is change the position of both my camera and cradle, when the sun goes in front of the camera 'so it's behind me when I take a picture' both me and the carp come out as shadows. It sounds bizarre but I always move or rotate the camera so the main light source is in front of me. - it doesn't get more anal than that !

Lunch time came and went, the clouds crawled back overhead, and the chill started to cut once more. My rods had remained static since my last fish, not one liner had occurred, maybe the fish had moved on?, or maybe they'd had their lunch and were going to have a bite to eat come dinner time. Either way, I was going to sit it out, the swim was primed and ready, the kettle was back on, I was now back to watching the water and trying not to let my imagination run away with me. I started thinking back to the start of this Winter stint, I'd stuck to the plan and hadn't deviated. As expected, it had started off relatively slow, but with perseverance, there was no doubt that the number of fish I was catching had increased. As mentioned before, sticking to the same plan and swim is fine for a while but I know I'd get bored if it was an approach I adopted on a regular basis.
I sat in a trance like state, my eyes would shift from watching the water to focusing firmly on both my rod tips and bobbins. The universe around was irrelevant, I was waiting for that 'magic moment' when the peace, solitude and silence is irradiated by the sound of a screaming alarm. It could happen at any moment, in my head I started counting down from 10 to 0. Wondering what number the run would come on, eventually it ended up going on 6, the left rod was away. After an initial run the fish came towards me fast, I was reeling in the slack like a madman. In true 'Burrows Carp' style, it woke up close in, I stood there letting my rod tip do the work, due to the rods I use, the tip action is second to none, watching and feeling the tip compressing and contorting is a rather profound experience. As the carp went up on its side I knew the show was over, I'd been rewarded with yet another lovely plump looking mirror. It was deep bodied with a long tail section, I had a feeling that it had all the trademarks of a potential future king.

A Potential Future King
A few snaps were taken and back she went, the rod went straight back out, just like before, the right rod was still primed for a bite so I held off on topping the swim back up. The afternoon was well and truly on its way now. The day had flown by, it's that strange 'time hypnosis' that only happens when carp fishing, there's never enough time. We wait on the moments, the minutes and the seconds for that next bite to occur, and before you know it, 12 hours have evaporated in a time frame that feels like 10 minutes. I was sitting there trying to suss out how I could slow time down, if only for an hour or two. It turned out that I didn't have to, the right hand rod  bleeped, fidgeted and then fired off, the tip was 'yanked' aggressively round to the right, due to it being locked up, my buzz bars were doing their best not to collapse under the strain. 

I lunged and lent into a ball of energy that was clearly careering towards the post. I held on tight, doing my very best to turn the fish out into the open water, reeling frantically I steered her clear. She continued to power off sharp to the right, the rush was immense, the chill that had implanted itself in my body was soon melted by the sheer adrenaline rush I was getting. The battle continued and when I eventually gained some ground, it was clear the fish wasn't prepared to give itself up easily. Now wallowing in open water, the powerful pulls from before dispersed, teasing her slowly my way, the white flag was waved as the fish retired herself up on to its side and cruised over the waiting net .... result!. I was met with the sight of a beautiful grey colored common carp, everything about it was perfect looking, I felt honored to of caught her, her slate grey appearance compliment the landscape perfectly. 

The Grey
This fish signaled the end of the session, and unexpectedly the end of my winter stint down on Burrows. It worked out that my work would take up most of my days up until springs arrival. It was now time to move on, my Chelmsford waters would open back up in the next few months, so my focus would be on them. Looking back through all of my winter sessions, I was really happy with the result. I'd stuck to my plan, persevered, and managed to catch some lovely looking fish. It had worked out well sticking to both the same swim and the same spot, it was a stark difference to how I had approached the water the previous Winter. I packed up slowly and by the time I loaded the barrow, the light was fading behind the 'dead wiry trees', everything was in hibernation. I knew that when I'd next pay Burrows a visit, everything would've woken, the banks would be breeding new life and the world both around and within the water would be very different. Pushing the barrow around the muddy path back up to the van, I gave the water one last salute and thanked it for keeping me company over the past few months.




Sunday 17 September 2017

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 8

"The Only Source Of Knowledge Is Experience" ... Albert Einstein 

A good few weeks had evaporated since my last successful session, I'd made a few trips out, unfortunately they all resulted in blanks. Flicking back through my incredibly creased and soggy, 'carp-data' notebook, there weren't any definitive patterns that I could see forming. Bites appeared to come sporadically, the blanks I'd recently endured were interesting though, that told me that the spot I was targeting wasn't an area that the carp visit on a daily basis. The one constant throughout was the weather, it had remained the same, give or take the odd rise or fall in temperature. This made it clear to me that the conditions didn't really have any bearing on if there were any fish present or not. I felt they were either going to be in and around the area or they weren't. My original plan was to persevere, targeting the same spot through thick and thin, and that's exactly what I was going to continue to do.

Going back to the subject of 'blanking', it can be a sore subject for some, I find it's to easy to take it as a negative. The only time you ever really learn anything is through your mistakes. Blanking isn't necessarily a 'mistake', it's simply part of the process and if you make sure you learn something from it, then it can end up being a valuable lesson. Blanks can force you to make minor adjustments that can end up paying off in the long run. You learn by watching, listening and doing, we go through a process with everything we do and 'in many ways' the end result isn't always the most valuable part of it. To me, the end result is determined by the process that you go through to get there. The learning comes from the journey, if you proceed to do the correct things, then you should get the desired result. Through time I've found that most things have the same process, it's just a different product at the end of it.

Lets take this right back to the obvious, you could be a master craftsman who is an artist with a mortarboard, you build a house from the ground up. You take your time, you're specialty is laying bricks, all in perfect symmetry, once built you finish the interior off to perfection, creating intricate and detailed patterns with tiles and mosaics. You install lovely wooden beams and staircases, beautiful bay windows that let the brightest of light into every room. Once finished you stand back and admire your handy work. The completed house now stands like a work of art, ready and waiting for a family to move in and call it home. After a number of viewings you start to notice a few things, a small crack in the plaster has developed on both the ceilings and the walls. Outside, on closer inspection you notice a few cracks in both the bricks and cement. Something is clearly wrong, how could anything be wrong with a house that looks so perfect?. That's simple, you didn't consider the foundations.

When you laid the houses foundations you didn't fully understand the process and all the elements that were involved in making them correctly. You had limited understanding in this area and you brushed over the finer details, through time the cracks grew, the walls split and eventually one side of the house fell down. It got to the point where the whole thing had to be demolished and started again from 'a strong foundation' up. It didn't matter how perfect and 'correct' the house looked on the surface, without the right understanding of the foundations, all of the thought and perfection you put into everything else meant nothing. The above example, for me, is a strong metaphor for life and how we live it. I've mentioned it before but there are so many metaphors in angling that run seamlessly into everyday life. Going all the way back to 'blanking', we would learn nothing if we all caught all of the time. When we go through a period when we can't seem to catch a carp, we need to understand why - and build on it.

This thought process stands when we're going through a stage where our catch rate is up and we can't seem to put a foot wrong, we also need to understand why this is. Focusing on both these points gives us a strong understanding of the 'whys' and 'hows' of, not only carp angling, but everything we do. I believe the consistent anglers out there that steadily put fish on the bank are the ones that have built their 'understanding' from the ground up and continue to work on it every time they get out on the bank. Their 'foundation' of experience is so solid and there's a complete affinity as to why this is, and it's obvious why they're getting the desired 'end result'. Stripping it right down to the bone, you can't just turn your hand to angling, buy all the gear, 'look the part' and then wonder why you aren't hauling 20's and 30's.

It just isn't that simple, these types of people have no experience to build a foundation on, experience is earned and it takes a long time and a hell of a lot of effort. Primarily you need to have the willingness to learn and listen, not instantly think that you know it all because you've watched Korda Masterclass 6. We live in an instant world where we can obtain the things we want by a touch of a button. We're living a life where tomorrow is just too long to wait, most want things 'NOW' and some feel that they're entitled to it. To a degree some in the angling industry have tapped into this, providing venues where large amounts of big fish to the acre provide us with the chance of catching a 30 or 40 without a huge amount of effort. These venues are all very well but do you learn as much from them as you do fishing an old mere containing wiley old 'double figured' carp - I don't think you do.

So let us go way, way back to the beginning ...

Next time you're going through a stage where nothing seems to be going right and you're 'drawing blanks', don't get annoyed about it. Realize that it's all part of a process, look into what you can do to change things and work on building both a strong foundation and an understanding. I've had to learn this and continue to work on it every time I cast my lines out, after nearly 28 years of chasing myths, I'm still learning, and will continue to do so. Secondly, don't put pressure on yourself in regards to the size of fish you catch. A lovely looking double from a hard water is worth so much, it shows that what you are doing is right. Consistency is the key, I know that with consistency eventually the bigger fish come, and when they do it's a real special surprise and an achievement - it's this that keeps all of us venturing back to the water time and time again. 

The morning of the session arrived and I was up and out early, I was having extreme deja-vu, again, the weather was identical to my last few sessions. It's as if the season had fallen into some kind of trance. I'd been thinking a lot about my last few trips, the fact I hadn't caught had my brain on overdrive. Today I was going to pretty much stick with the same approach, only this time I was going to spread a little more bait further afield. Up to now I'd been keeping everything pretty tight, if I increased the area I was baiting up then surly I'd stand more of chance at attracting a passing carp or two. As mentioned in the start of this blog, in regards to 'learning from a blank'. What was the point of going back down to do exactly the same thing when both the past few sessions had been unproductive. Sometimes changing the smallest link in the chain can make all the difference.

Home On The Landscape
Once at the water I went through the usual 'rigmarole' of getting the swim set up correctly, I'd upped one handful of bait to two, all freebies were meticulously squashed - it was a strangely therapeutic and satisfying feeling. All the boilies that had taken on the most glug squished between my fingers like over ripened grapes. Now with the sweet scent of both the Banana Cream & Honey Nectar emanating from my finger tips, I made the ceremonial journey around the lake, smelling my hands as I went. Arriving at my target area, I crouched down and peered into the murk, I couldn't see a thing. I could only hope that a carp or two may come and pay it a visit at some stage during the day. I put some of the bait in the usual area and then spread the rest further up the margin towards the sunken post. My thinking behind this was simple, if any fish move in and hold by the post, my bait trail might just lead them up to my carefully placed hook-baits.

Once back in the swim, rods were clipped up to 13 rod lengths, both hook baits were cut down, hairs were baited, both rods went out cleanly. Because I'd fished this swim so much now, I felt I was being very mechanical about things, in my head, all the sessions were slowly blending into one. It's ok for me to fish like this for a short period of time as an experiment, but there's no way I could do it for the long term. I've never got on with just fishing one lake, or just one or two swims. I like to get out and about and try to suss out a number of waters all at the same time. This keeps things fresh, and it always keeps you thinking. I find over time, once you've found a series of things that work for you on a variety of waters. You're never short of places to go and specific spots to target.

Target Area Extended
With both rods positioned it was now time for the inevitable 'wait', followed by 'as expected', the coffee ritual. I was going to hit it heavy today, three large scoops went into the cafetiere - if you're going to do it, do it properly. I sat impatiently waiting for the kettle to boil, I couldn't properly relax until I had a good dose of caffeine firing through my system. Sitting watching the water I felt like I was at a repeat viewing of a theater performance. Just like last time, the same trees stood wiry and the same clouds hung in the same sky. It was as if everything was just repeating itself over and over again. I started to think how strange it would be if in fact, it all simply stopped and came to a complete stand still the minute that I left. How weird would that be? if in fact everywhere you left simply paused and waited for your return to carry on. 'I suddenly had flash-backs to my parents old Betamax video'. Back in those days, being able to pause a video tape was a major technological advancement - pausing time might be asking to much!   

                              The Wait 'Time Hypnosis'

It didn't take long for the action to happen, the bobbin on my right hand rod lifted very slowly up to the blank and stopped. The excitement flooded every inch of my body, I felt like I'd received a short, sharp adrenaline shot to the heart. Even though the clutch didn't kick in, I knew a fish was on. I gently lifted the rod and wound in the slack, I was greeted with a ferocious energy. The fish kited hard towards the post, steady force guided her back my way. Once in open water, I tinkered with the clutch accordingly, it was addictively ticking. Slowly tweaking it counter clockwise and back again, I felt like I was maneuvering a dial mechanism on a combination safe, desperately trying to find the right calculation to land the fish safely. Just when I though I was gaining ground, it would find a new lease of life, after a good 10 minutes I finally started to feel that I was winning, eventually I slipped the net under a pristine common. It was one hell of a battle and it looked to be one hell of a fish. 

Scale Perfect
Its proportions were perfect, there wasn't a single scale missing, draped in its winter skin it was raw, pure 'nature' in the hands. After a few photos I gently eased her back home, within seconds she'd disappeared. I reeled my left hand rod in and decided to go and top the swim up with another few handfuls. Arriving at my spot I thought I'd do my customary 'peering into the murk', looking closely, I noticed a couple of streams of bubbles. They were very small, I continued to watch, they'd stop for a few minutes and then reappear having moved only a couple of inches. If there were a few fish down there I didn't want to be dumping bait right on their heads. So I decided to shuffle back quietly and make my way back to the swim. Now I had the conundrum of getting my baits back out without spooking any fish that 'might' be feeding.

New Bait Positions
Back in my swim there was some head scratching to be done, I had to get my rigs out in the most 'covert' way possible. I wasn't 100% sure if what I'd seen was feeding fish, however I was going to work on the basis that it was. The kettle went on and I delved into the cobweb ridden recesses of my mind to find an answer. After procrastinating for a minute or six, I cobbled a master plan together. I decided that I'd drop down from a 3oz lead to a 1.5oz, one rod would be fished short, the second, at least two rod lengths along the margin. Firstly, I was thinking that the smaller leads wouldn't make so much of an impact when they hit the water. Secondly, if in fact there were fish feeding, I wanted to place my hook-baits far enough away where I wouldn't spook them, but keep them close enough, that they still had a chance of coming across them. I opted to use 'brown weed' inlines, due to the material that they're made from, they're great for glugging in flavors and attractants. Anything to add pulling power to my hook bait was a bonus and this is a tactic I've used to great effect in the past. 

Brown Weed Inline

The left hand rod was clipped to 13 rod lengths, the right hand rod was going to be a measured 'pub chuck'. Both leads were dunked in a sticky combination of both the Honey Nectar and Banana Cream glugs. Both casts were made, each landed where I wanted them to. Now it was time to sit back and hope my 'tactical' change was going to get me the result I wanted. All expectations of another quick bite soon vanished as I sat behind static rods for a vast majority of the day. I'd been staring intently at both the water and my rod tips, urging for something to happen. Watching the water with such focus was hypnotic, the gentle breeze was drawing and sketching shapes on its skin. Every so often it would change direction, the water has no defense against the wind, it simply does what it's told. Stretching, contorting and continually morphing into different versions of itself. When I looked away and fixed my eyes on something static, everything appeared to be bending at distorting. 

Late afternoon arrived and I was starting to lose hope, being Friday, a few anglers started to show up carrying buckets. I didn't want to hang around to much longer, I knew that when leads, spods and bivy pegs started to fracture the silence, it was going to kill my chances completely. I started to pack up the essentials, reluctantly, I reeled my right hand rod in and proceeded to pack it down as slow as possible. All my hope was no pinned on 'last knocking', as I was just about to admit defeat, my left rod was off. I was almost in disbelief, sliding and tripping down to the rod, I grabbed it and was instantly connected to a 'hard fighting' invisible force. This was a heavy fish, it became apparent quickly, my ballista bent double, I swear I heard it scream out in agony as it did its upmost to cushion the chaos. I held on, the fishes initial run was extreme, metaphorically we were 'passing the parcel', I just hoped when the music stopped, I was the one holding the prize.

Very slowly the fish began to tire, closer it came, still trying, occasionally, to make one last dash for freedom. Only a short way out, the fish surfaced and wallowed under the surface, it looked to be a chunky light blue-ish mirror. Easing her my way, I lowered the net and made the lunge of a lifetime, in she went ... what a result!. I took a few seconds to realign my thoughts, peering down into the net it became apparent quickly that what I'd just landed was an old friend. It was a carp I had from this exact same swim back in the summer - what are the bloody odds?. I remember it because it was the largest carp of an 8 fish haul, she weighed about 24IB 5oz, it looked like she'd lost a little bit of weight and looked all the more healthy because of it. I recall she had a fair bit of mouth damage that I treated with propolis, it appeared it had all healed perfectly which was brilliant to see.

An Old Friend
It was the perfect way to end the session, the spot was really starting to produce now, what I'd set out to do at the beginning of winter was really coming together. I believe all the minor tweaks and changes I'd been making was certainly helping things along. I got all my gear together, chucked it on the barrow in an 'undignified' fashion, and made my escape. True to form, spods were starting to fly, bivy pegs were being tortured and someone already had a radio blaring. I feel so blessed that I can get to the water when the majority can't, some just don't understand that their actions, from the minute they turn up, play a huge part on how their session is going to turn out. I've mentioned it before, you have to become the water and mold yourself into the universe that surrounds it. You can't bring 'the modern world' into something so beautifully primitive, it spoils it.         

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 7

"Here on the inside, outside's so far away"

Life appeared to be moving at a crazy pace of late, I felt like everything had been accelerating around me. It was like I was on a carousel and I couldn't seem to get the hell off of it. It's hard to feel grounded when your feet barely have time to touch the ground. Through recent weeks it had become clear that I wasn't going to get as many winter trips in as I first thought. This made it all the more important to make the most of the time I did have. My job is chaos and being self-employed you have to take the work when it comes in, however heavy the schedule is, you've just got to get your head down and do it. To help me through, in my mind, I always picture the waters, the stillness that they hold, and the solitude that they offer. I know that however hard things get on 'the outside', they'll always be waiting for me safe, on 'the inside'

For me 'the outside' is a place that's unrecognizable to the one I grew up in. It represents constraint, conditioning and a constant attack on the mind. I guess its always been that way but I was to young to realize. It's as if we're all part of some 'twisted theater' passed off as real. I get a very strong sense that we're all, 'unknowingly' following a script that's been written for us years ago. You only have to look on both TV, social media, or open a paper, to realize that the troubled times we live in are breeding hatred to epidemic proportions. I find it very hard not to get caught up in it all. But, I truly believe that's what 'the hidden hand' that controls every aspect of our life wants, I refuse to play their game. A population living in fear and fighting amongst itself is a population that's open to manipulation and control - both of these things are happening on a daily basis.  

I try to find a very fine balance between being aware of what's happening around me, but also understanding that it's always going to be a mess. It's either a big one or a small one, but, a mess it will always be. All we can do is try to live our lives the best we can with what we've got. It's realizing what's important to you and holding it close, trying not to let the bad things around you change you as a person. In times of unrest, we've got to hold on to both ourselves and the ones closest to us. I yearn for clarity, the clearest of moments I've ever experienced have been when I'm fishing. Applying your mind fully to the water creates the perfect head space to refuel and realign your perspective on everything in your life that has been giving you a hard time. 

It's here on 'the inside' where the magic happens, it's forever contained within itself. It's a place that functions perfectly without any outside influence. It's where the sun rises over misty pools, where the glimpse of a dorsal cutting the waters skin stokes the imagination. We watch and wait for the unknown to unearth itself, if only for a second or two. All of us anglers, we don't need the 'outside', we're chasing something far greater, something that those without a rod in hand will never understand. That to me is a gift, it's a gift that can't be taken away from us. So let us all forget the worlds bullshit and concentrate on getting out there and making them penultimate casts - that's what 'the inside' is all about. 

When the day of my session came it was very clear how I was going to approach it. I'd had a great result last time so I was going to stick with cutting my hook-baits right down and squashing my freebies. I felt this subtle change was the reason I managed to tempt a few more bites. The only downside to this specific approach was having to walk around the water and introduce my freebies by hand. As crazy as it sounds though, maybe removing the lines from the swim, if only for a short time, might just work in my favor. I was out the door and on the road by 8am, the weather was bitter and pretty dam unwelcoming. I was cruising down the motorway at a leisurely pace, the road in front of me was clear, I was making my escape, determined to get on 'the inside' as soon as I could.

On the other side of the road the traffic was already backed up to a stand still, hundreds of lives were trapped in strange metal boxes with four wheels attached to them. Each fighting their way through the 'everyday' to scratch their fingers to the bone, trying to earn a living. Each of their bodies, a 'metaphorical cog' in the broken system that helps to keep both our country and economy running. Somewhere within it all 'living' had to be slotted into the equation, but I fear for many, that's nothing but a brief encounter. I feel blessed I have the time to step away from work commitments to transplant myself into something that I enjoy.

Arriving at the gate to the complex, I unlocked the padlock, it felt heavier than usual, it was wet and extraordinarily freezing to the touch. It was clear the season was going to bite hard today, I hoped that the six or so layers I was 'struggling to move in', might just give me a little comfort during my quest to try and land another few fish. This time of the year there is still a very muted voice in my head telling me 'You must be mad', being out in such conditions, not only being outside, but morphing myself into an environment that's doing its best to exclude me. But being 'careless' and utterly obsessed with the adventure, there would have to be a pretty serious natural disaster to stop me from making my casts. I crept up the muddy path in the van up to the car park, it was empty, I was totally alone, it was me, the water and the carp ..... PERFECT! 

Review Of The Swim In Summer 'Red Dot Is The Sunken Post'
Everything was thrown on the barrow in a god awful fashion, carelessly locking it all in place with two fraying bungee straps. I started, what I can only describe as a 'bloody endurance test', trying to push it around the clay ridden, water logged paths to get to my swim. After what felt like a marathon, I plonked the barrow down and before setting anything up, I thought I'd take a wander to deposit my freebies in the usual places. Walking around the top end of Burrows where the cages were situated, the atmosphere was exhilarating. Everything around me appeared paralyzed, just like last time, the water had no ripples and the skeletons of all the trees stood rigid and wiry. I felt like an anomaly, the odd one out, even though there are times when I feel completely dead inside, today I was very much alive.

View Up Into The Cages 'As Spring Wakes' 2016
Arriving at my spot, a swift handful was spread along the edge of the marginal growth. I legged it back to my swim and proceeded to get everything constructed and ready to go. I was using the exact same rigs as last time, except this time my hook-link was a very short 'trigga-link combi'. Using this in conjunction with a 3oz lead was going to enhance its springlike qualities perfectly. Both cut down boilies were threaded intricately onto the hairs, rods were wrapped to 12.5 rod lengths, finally those penultimate casts were made. The lines kissed both clips, both the drops felt satisfying, with bobbins hung I was now ready for the inevitable 'wait'. Despite the harshness of the world around the water, I felt quietly confident that I could tempt at least one bite.

'Trigga-link' Combi
I put my brolly up, got the kettle on and quietly worked on existing perfectly within the moment. Here I was, alone, perched by the water, safe on 'the inside', nothing else mattered other than the mystery below the surface and the life that surrounded me. I sat silently, knowing that beyond the gate to the complex there was a fight for survival. All those souls that were at a stand still in the morning would've now reached their destinations. Each with a different task they had to complete, clocks would've been punched, rotas put into practice, all with endless rules that had to be followed. I hate all of the above, it's as if humans are being moulded into machines, and through repetition, becoming desensitized to what life should really be about. I believe the life style that's forced upon us is contributing to the ever growing problems with mental illness.

Both the human mind and body wasn't created to be contained, it isn't suppose to be 'mechanized'. A caged mind can only take so much and I feel when people have a 'breakdown', that's the minds way of telling you it has had enough with the constraint that's being forced upon it. I hastily reverted all my thoughts back to the water, what was the point in pulling 'the outside' into a place that it doesn't belong. Suddenly my right hand rod rocketed off, the tip swung round and the clutch whizzed away. I lifted into the fish, it was darting around like crazy, the minor tugs and lunges indicated that it was no monster, I was just happy to get a bite. After a spirited little battle I slipped a lovely little mirror carp over the net.

Scale Perfect
Slipping her back I got the rod straight back out, I decided that I wouldn't walk around and top the swim up. For some reason I was feeling rather lucky, I had a feeling in my gut that, whatever bait was left out there, it was enough to get another bite. Time was passing and as midday melted into afternoon the temperature started to drop, with this came a slight breeze that was gently pushing down towards the bowl end of the water. I was glued to my rod tips urging for one of my alarms to go screaming off, both remained static. After another hour or so I decided to reel in and take a wander to apply some more bait. Along the path and up around the cages I went, the mud and clay was 'squelching' beneath my feet, slowly sticking to both my boots. By the time I got to my spot, both of my feet weighed a ton, walking with a combination of clay, mud, and now sticks stuck to my boots is no easy task. Freebies were once again thrown along the marginal growth, this time tighter than before.

When I got back to my swim I decided to wrap the rods up to '13' lengths, I wanted to be kissing those branches, getting my bait as tight as possible. Both casts were perfect and with a new enthusiasm I popped the kettle back on and proceeded to see out the final stages of the day. Time passed quickly and I was starting to think that maybe the swim wasn't going to offer anymore prizes. I waited .. and waited some more, just at the point I was thinking of reeling in, I got a savage liner on my right hand rod. I was now perched on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, the universe shrunk around me, it was just me and the rod tip, nothing else mattered. Another small jolt on the tip communicated a single bleep on my alarm. Something was going on, maybe there was a monster just inches from my bait.

Morse Code
There was a moment of calm and then all hell broke loose, the rod tip arched around, the clutch kicked in, my bite alarm could barely keep up with the pace of the chaos. I lifted the rod, immediately I was met with a heavy weight, I knew this was a good fish. It raced towards the sunken post but I managed to steer it well clear. However that didn't stop it from pile-driving itself sharp to the right, I was literally hanging on, slowly tightening the clutch as it went. I was managing to slow it down and after a minute or two it started to lose its fire. Now directly in front of me in the open water, I proceeded to edge her closer. A short distance out, there was a massive vortex and I caught a glimpse of a deep colored tail-fin.

Closer and closer she came until she was under the rod tip, I still hadn't got a clear sighting, all the clay in the margin was being kicked up like crazy. I lowered the net into the murk, suddenly it came to the surface and went over on its side to signal defeat. I couldn't quite process what I was witnessing, the fish blew my mind. It was a relatively big common but both its shape and proportions where unbelievable. It was dumpy, short with huge shoulders and I can safely say that I've never caught a carp from Burrows like it before. Once again the water had given me yet another amazing gift, through all the years I've been fishing the place it never ever ceases to amaze me, all the different kinds of carp it keeps hidden. Out of all the waters that I fish Burrows holds a large and unique variety of fish that I just haven't come across anywhere else.

Perfect Proportions
Most know I don't usually bother weighing my fish anymore, I refuse to give such amazing creatures a number. However on this occasion I was intrigued to know what this fish went. Sorting both the scales and sling out, the needle fell to 23IB 8oz, I must admit, I though it might of gone a little bigger, but none of it mattered. Taking pictures of it was challenging because every shot seemed to make the carp look super huge. Due to its shape and build it was tricky to get it in perspective. Once done, she was returned safely, off to become a secret once more. - I just hope whoever catches her in the future takes great care.

 Such An Incredible Carp
It was the perfect way to end the session, it was such an incredible fish and one that I will remember forever. Now with temperatures dropping and the light starting to slip away, I decided I'd pack up and prepare myself to venture off into 'the outside' once again. I'd refueled and refocused enough to deal with whatever it was going to throw at me. I knew it was a temporary visit though, I was already planning my next getaway. Driving home, passing all the strange metal boxes with four wheels attached to them, all us 'metaphorical cogs' were once again on the run, all homeward bound to switch off and rest before heading out to do it all again tomorrow - I will be one of them. The one saving grace though, is, I know that 'the inside' is waiting for me, contained within itself, functioning perfectly without any outside influence, calling for us anglers to make those penultimate casts. It's a world that's only accessible by a chosen few, those of us with a rod in hand and a head full of dreams.

"Here on the inside, outside's so far away"