River Wissey Lovell Fuller


October 2009

Our monthly tale from the banks of The River Wissey

Our weather is in turmoil. Days are a lottery between summer and winter. We have alternate days of brilliant sunshine and heat followed by high winds and torrential rain. We assume autumn is patiently waiting but our fur and feather friends must be rather confused. For them the months of the year dictate their direction and the all important clock needs winding up!

This afternoon favours the sun again and it is burning. Its reflection sparkles across the river making a glittering silver pathway. The only shadow is under the far away trees and looks dark and inviting. Swifts still circle and dive endlessly chasing the flies although time dictates they should now be gathering for their homeward journey and that the water-born flies be spent.

The river is flat and black. There is no sign of flow but for sure it is there and unstoppable. Silver and red roach occupy the margins in numbers yet until a few days ago were unseen. All summer they went missing and now large numbers enjoy the halcyon weather as they flip and splash and make merry. Mid-water a large shoal of bream is also topping. The mass of black shapes slowly moves across the river with dorsal fins breaking the surface. Text books dictate that both roach and bream should now be seeking deep water but alas few fish read books any more!

As the afternoon fades a squadron of bats replaces the swifts and continues the same circling. A barn owl hovers over the bank-side and then dives for a unsuspecting target. He is unsuccessful so starts his vigil all over again. He is always about and no longer keeps to the traditional twilight or the early hours of dawn so his clock is definitely wrong!

With the exception of the ailing chestnut the leaves all hold their green. There is little sign of any drop. A time-traveller returning home could assume this to be the month of June or July. The only give-away to reality is the height of the sun and the shortening of daylight hours. This is our only reassurance that autumn really is around the corner.

A host of pinprick bubbles break the surface. They continue in fierce bursts and move along the river. The accompanying muddy cloud shows the water even darker than before. The bubbling and fizz is now in front of me. The slabs of bream have gone to the bottom with heads down and stirring up the mud as they feed at long last. If good fortune continues and if geography is correct they will soon find my ground-bait and hook. The light noticeably fades reminding me of the short time remaining. A bream then surfaces and splashes to disappear again. It is deep water so why has he come up again? I suspect he is merely taunting me as fishing is never straight forward and theories change daily to provide a constant challenge!

The owl is still there and a joy to watch. Then (blow me!) the biggest imaginable armada of geese comes sailing round the bend of the river and parks right over the bream shoal. How untimely with my long awaited fish so close! Geese are rarely quiet and this interruption is certainly no exception. I force myself to remain calm as the world is full of grumpy old men so perhaps I am also wrong to judge the lateness of autumn. I will hold back any more questioning for Mother Nature will surely sort everything out with or without my concern. I must remember that my judgement is based on an age of years gone by and that change must be accepted.

Suddenly my float disappears and the first big bream is on its way. At least one theory is working but alas only a few minutes are left. I will stay until I can see no more and then be thankful for yet another enjoyable day alongside the dear old river Wissey.

By Ivor Hook

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