Sunday 24 September 2023

The Tiny River Alne - Gormandism and Gonkatoriums

Of course you don't believe in horoscopes. Load of old rubbish. How can the fact that Mars is in conjunction with Uranus mean that on January 15 you'll catch a 5 lb chub and meet a tall dark bailiff? Having unfortunately forgotten to buy a ticket?

Codswallop.  But it is accepted that people born at different times of the year tend to have different characteristics. Aquarius apparently God's gift to the cadger. If anyone wanders up to your pitch, asking in wheedling tones whether you could lend him a handful of maggots, a couple of worms, a bag of groundbait, he gets them. By the time you've asked what his other needs are, he's loaded up with everything on his first shopping list. 

Plus half a dozen hooks, three floats, an assortment of non-toxic weights in various sizes, the loan of your landing net and a couple of cheese-and-pickle butties on account of he forgot to bring his own. If it's raining, he's gone away clad in your spare anorak. Which you will never see again, but what the hell?

You can be either an A-Team matchman or a top-flight specimen hunter. Sometimes you turn out to be both, which nobody believes. Not that the disbelief bothers you; you're a dealer in truth, and if you've done it you've done it. Otherwise you wouldn't have admitted it. And admitting it is all you do; you certainly don't boast about it.

Yours is the sign of the archetypal absent-minded professor. Far-seeing and inventive, you produce idea after idea for new baits, new techniques and new tackle. All of which you forget to patent or protect. In twelve months' time you're intrigued to see that a cowboy- tackle firm is producing one of your inventions in highly profitable quantities without a brass farthing going to you. You're a bit sad, perhaps, but not too upset; you've got a dozen more ideas where that came from. You forget to patent those as well.

Never a snappy dresser, you wear what's comfortable. You turn up to collect your prize as Fisherman of the Year wearing a bobbly hat, string vest (no shirt) and odd socks. So? You won the prize for your angling skills, not for your sartorial elegance. Leave that to Libra. Just a pity you forgot your trousers.

Your tackle is always in good order. You keep it clean and functional, not in the old- maid fashion of Virgo nor the dog-in-the-manger style of Capricorn, but like a no- nonsense craftsman who recognises the need to take good care of his tools.

If anything's broken, it doesn't stay broken for long. You can take the most highly complicated reel to pieces, clean and oil all the parts, replace any worn or broken bits and - here's the real test - put everything back together again.

You treat your catches kindly. The pain to a fish properly hooked, played, handled and returned to the water is, as your scientific mind has squared with your well-developed conscience, minimal. So you make sure that the whole operation is carried out with care and respect.

You treat people kindly. The biggest bores, the most pompous officials, the most frantic trophy-hunters, the most neurotic matchmen; they're all treated with the same tolerance, sympathy and good humour that you give your best friends.

Friends? Because your standards are high, your principles firm, you don't make friends instantly or by the dozen. But you make them steadily over the years. And Aquarius for a friend is a friend for life. Always there, always dependable, always generous, always a help in time of trouble.

Perhaps the only thing a friend can't depend on is your day-to-day practicality. You're a bit vague, as befits the absent-minded professor. So it was probably an Aquarian who inspired the creaky old joke of the bloke who was sent by his mate to get the provisions for the fishing trip. He returned with two loaves of bread and six bottles of Scotch.

'Hell!' said his mate. 'Can't I leave anything to you?'

'What's the matter?' said Aquarius.

'What's the matter? Six bottles of Scotch and two loaves! What the hell are we going to do with all that bread?'

OK... it's a creaky old joke. But you can't leave Aquarius looking as if he's perfect. It would embarrass him...

Switched off yet ? Now was there any Pike in the river Alne ? well only one way to find out. Yes I decided to fish a deadbait as a sleeper and then fish maggots under a float which I rarely do.

Well the small roach deadbait had no interest whatsoever but the maggots well, after loads and loads of minnows I decided to switch swims and fish a deep swim with some cover. This is where ones fortunes changed for the better. You see after plumbing up and moving the float up the line and again some more I got fishing.

The first fish was a minnow and then a gonk, a really nice one too, some of the biggest I've caught and as the session went on they were queuing up to get the red maggots.

I love a gudgeon Soooooo much character and I must have had at least 40 of them which is pretty mad really considering it wasn't that long. They also seemed to be concentrated in one particular area but it was a bite a chuck with the odd dace and trout mixed in-between. The swim was around 6ft deep and minnows few and far between which was nice.

The light started to go and I'm sure I'd have kept on catching them but I decided to call an end to the session and maybe return with Sam, as he loves a gonk as much as I do.

A bit of a surprise session, gonks in numbers are rare these days especially with pike, zander and perch frequenting the waterways so the Alne could well be one of those rivers where because the fishy predators are few and far between gudgeon are thriving. An enjoyable session and I will certainly fish maggots again because you never know what other surprises will turn up. 


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