Work, the curse of all fisher folk cannot hold my attention.
I am fishing this evening & the anticipation has been building since a 5 am Three-and-Two breakfast [three fags & two teas]. The waders & boots go into the boot, carefully stowed alongside the rod, net and vest that are permanent residents. Just before I turn on to the main road I realise that my briefcase & laptop lie forgotten by the front door and I have to go back to retrieve them. This is silly. Get a grip man.
In between meetings and crisis management I sneak a look at new posts on the forums, desperate for news that the river is fishing well, that it’s clearing, that there will be fish. Somehow I manage to make it through the long morning without causing any disasters and at lunch I wander over Bristol Bridge just to gaze at the thick brown sludgy flow beneath and offer a prayer to Sabina that my river won’t look like this.
The afternoon is taken up with meetings until 3, which provides a much needed respite from my mental anguish. At 3:05 I switch my ‘phone to voice mail; the last thing I need is to get involved in something that will take me past my 8.5 contracted hours. Now I have one eye on the imperceptible progress of the minute hand as it moves, achingly slowly towards the half-hour and the other eye on the minutiae of the daily administrative tasks that need to be done before the day is out. Then it’s here – 3:30 & the laptop is closed & thrown into its bag as I’m heading to the door.
“Leaving early Adrian?”
“Cheeky bastard. I was in here before your alarm went off. I’m outta here.”
Thankfully the evening rush hour is some way off & progress out of the city is swift. Worryingly, as turn into the narrow lane with grass growing down the middle I realise that I cannot remember the drive on the motorway at all.
My heart is pounding and my hands shake as I tackle-up. Too early for a hatch, the go-to nymph goes on while I curse my eyesight and the need for magnifyers Finally I trudge off towards the river, fighting my way through eye-high Nettles I finally catch a glimpse of her and the earlier fears evaporate as I find her perfect, gentle, welcoming.
As I slip into the current my pulse slows to a plod, my breathing steadies and my hands cease to shake. My eyes, too long peering at a monitor seem to clear, and I begin to see, rather than just looking. There is clarity too in the sounds that envelop me, above the musical note of the river I can hear the sibilant shuffling of some unseen creature in the brambles a few feet away, a Wren adding a lyrical counterpoint to a Willow Warbler, interrupted by the raucous ‘cocking up’ of a Pheasant three fields away.
Despite the bright day it’s dark in here. An almost unbroken tunnel of Alder and Sally pierced here and there by dazzling shafts of sunlight that illuminate a thin layer of haze hovering over the water and lights the iridescence of the damsel flies as they court and kill among the Water Hemlock and Nettles fringing the stream. I watch the surface for tell tale dimples and swirls, more in hope than expectation that I can fish dry at this time of day. I observe the seams, the creases and the lanes, watching to see what natures conveyor belt is delivering to my feet that might be considered edible by my spotty prey.
The anticipation is still there but it’s taken on a calmer, less desperate form as I roll my first cast upstream. I watch the leader transfixed as it heads back towards me, tense and relaxed in the same moment, feeling, seeing, expecting the take.
All too soon it’s over – time to pack up and head home. Where did the evening go? Surely I’ve only just arrived, it can’t be dark so soon. I’ve no idea who runs this universe but whoever it is needs to sort out this time thing.