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.




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