Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ultra Vivid Scene.

My alarm woke me at six thirty yesterday morning. A group of us from work were to visit the Sanger Institute just outside Cambridge. They'd come up to visit us earlier in the year and I had presented to them on that day and so had been invited onto the return leg. I was looking forward to it.

Do you ever have songs jump into your head not long after you've woken up? I do. As I showered and shaved I listened to 'Lust for Life - Iggy Pop' and 'Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus'. The latter made me smile out loud as it describes every teenagers perfect switch-around.

I had a works car at home and set off at seven thirty, southbound on the M6.

Although there are works currently underway at the Catthorpe Interchange they are not part of the junction saftey improvement scheme. The government identified the safety improvements as a 'future scheme' in last October's spending review and these were postponed until some time after 2015.

I entered the average speed camera stretch slowing to fifty miles an hour. I moved into lane one as I was taking the A14. All three columns of traffic were moving at roughly the same speed.

I could see the traffic ahead of me slowing down and so braked gently. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a truck bearing down on me with a significant closing speed.

I remember saying out loud, "He's not going to stop".  The next five seconds are a fractured memory.

There were more trucks in front of me and so once my brain had worked out that a collision was imminent it became about not going under one of them.

I veered towards the hard shoulder to try and get out of the trucks path but it hit the rear of my car shattering the back window instantly.

I remember the force of the shunt, catapulting me off the road towards the verge. I remember branches lashing the windscreen and trying to steer the car out into the open. I remember hearing tearing noises from the underside of the car. I remember thinking "How is this going to end?". I remember the shuddering deafening impact with the trees, airbags deploying, expolding, filling the cabin with dust and smoke, body, arms and head lurching forwards with the deceleration.

The engine had died and in the muffled silence I sat still for a minute or two, the endless roar of rubber on tarmac in the background. My blood pressure felt low from the shock. Adrenalin continued to pump into my blood and after realising I was still in one piece I stepped out of the car and spoke to a witness who had pulled over.


Today my body feels like lead. My neck and shoulders are sore, my forearms are tight.

The grass however is greener than it was yesterday, and the sky is more blue. The hugs from my children last night were savoured. I was lucky.

Tread carefully.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Marsh Farm Crucian Carp and Tench, And A Big Bream. (PB's)

I've visited Marsh Farm near Godalming a few times recently - predominantly after the crucians which live in Harrison's lake. Across those visits I have learned a little about the lake. It has some idiosyncrasies.

A couple of trips have been with specimen angler Phil Smith whose company I've enjoyed on the long journeys with early starts from the Midlands. With my persistent irreverence and questioning mind I'm certain he too has endured my company.

Phil's approach to piscatorial information security would put our intelligence services to shame and although at the outset we seemed to be coming from different directions in relation to openness, I've now thoroughly digested what he said.

Subsequent to our first trip to Marsh Farm and in a light-hearted and good-humoured attempt to illustrate the point of our discussions (and using nothing more than blog clues), Phil set out on foot to find and then catch a  silver bream from the exact spot in my last post. Although he must have walked an eight mile round trip on the towpath I'd been vague enough for him to miss the spot by mere yards. If he had succeeded then that would have been a photo with a sting in the tail.

Our first trip down South was met by an Easterly wind which had the trees swaying like galleons on the waves. The cold gusts regularly blew my antenna float flat to the surface and made delicate presentation a nightmare. Fishing in the margins was the recommended method and in the early afternoon as the day warmed slightly I received my reward for staring intently at a float doing a good impression of a seismograph needle, a two pounds three ounce crucian carp.

2lbs 3oz Marsh Farm Crucian (PB at the time).
The sport 'down the edge' for the crucians in the cool blustery conditions was proving slow to say the least and by mid afternoon I found myself catapulting out some pellets and following them out with a straight lead on the wand.

The bites from the tench were all reel-churners. I had a eleven in total, the biggest went five pounds twelve ounces much to the chagrin of Phil's mate John who's most memorable line of the day was, "Marsh Farm is NOT famous for it's effing Tench!".

5lb 12oz Marsh Farm Tench.

The wind switched to a moderate Southerly the day prior to my next trip and stayed there whilst I fished in the sunshine. Now this was more like it. I had four crucians on soft pellet from close in: 1lb 15oz, 2lb 3oz, 2lb 6oz (a PB at the time) and 3lb 2oz (current PB), and a tench for good measure.

2lb 3oz Crucian.

2lb 6oz Crucian.
3lb 2oz Crucian (PB).

3lb 2oz Crucian (PB).

Off by dusk. Now that was a good day.
Our final outing saw me struggling for crucians once again however Jeff took good advantage and got amongst a few of them.

The weather on this final trip seemed perfect to me for an all-day crucian bonanza. Moderate South Westerly winds and a warm sunny day. By all accounts the fish showed in certain areas early on but then dwindled in terms of bites by late morning. By early afternoon the whole lake seemed a dead loss, noone was getting any action. I'm sorry to say the guttural draw of the bomb rod won out again and I caught and lost a few moderate tench on a pellet.

Last Saturday afternoon I nipped to a local gravel pit to try my hand for a tench or bream. Within thirty minutes of spodding out some 'munga' I had my first indication on the right hand rod. Within forty five minutes I had an eleven pound one ounce bream in the net!

PB 11lb 1oz Bream.

Snot-Ball Heaven.
After this fish I had no end of liners - some of which were so pronounced I struck at - but could put nothing more on the bank. An early evening tench of about four pounds finished the session and I once again went home happy.

Here are the scores this evening:

I'm gunning for a decent tench now to finish May off in style. Looking back over the year to date I've had eight PB's from the thirteen species I've caught so far. Can't be bad!?