We are now being taunted and teased by the expectation of summer but we must not be impatient. Already there is much to see and enjoy. Today it is early morning beside the faithful river Wissey. The very first indication of a sunrise slowly peeps over the horizon as a red glow. Soon the full colours will appear and hopefully herald yet another fine day. There is a feeling of complete contentment and peace that is overpowering. In fact there is always that same satisfying feeling when alongside a river or lake. It is something peculiar to water!
On the far side of the river a large black mass moves about just under the surface. A fin shows and then another confirming the presence of a shoal of bream. It also means that as the fish are on the surface that they are not feeding but just enjoying the moment. A fisherman would now consider mixing up a bucket of groundbait and lob ball after ball into the river to get the fish down to the bottom to feed. A shoal of bream is a great find for any angler and providing they can be kept interested large numbers can be caught and provide excellent sport.
We now hear the croaking and grunting of a company of toads. The warmth has rallied whole armies of them. They have travelled over fields and under hedgerows to be at the river and they now mate in a frenzy in the margins. A large mass of spawn stretches into the beds of lily pads which have broken the surface within the last week. More and more toads join in the happy chorus and soon the entire length of the riverbank will be alive with them. Their pleasure and delight is a sure sign that the season is progressing.
The sunrise is now fully alight with a backdrop of yellow and orange streaks and makes the perfect setting for a large flight of Canadian geese who are about to arrive at the river. As the formation nears we hear the loud flapping of wings. They fly in very low honking away making sure that anyone still asleep is immediately fully awake! They land further down the river with wave after wave of splashes and then all is quiet while they prepare and carry out their morning ablutions.
The disturbance has prompted the swans and ducks to join the show for they now make an appearance. The swans glide along with full majesty and grace whilst the ducks merely tangle with the chick weed as they are mere commoners and carry out their business without any etiquette. Not wanting to be overlooked the resident morehens also show themselves. They are very vocal to each other and then dive away to resurface again across the other side. They meet and greet each other over and over again only to bicker and constantly confront just like a married couple! Thus within a few minutes the waterway has changed into a busy high street!
Circling above the proceedings is the curse of all fishermen. Like angels of death, the cormorants, forever watch for any signs of fish or in their language - food! Then they will dive and dive again to satisfy their insatiable appetites. The bream shoal has gone but anyway they were too big to be of interest to the cormorants but the smaller fish are always at risk. Alas rivers with large silver fish stocks can easily be lost in a matter of days as these birds have an undeniable reputation for depleting whole fisheries. Whilst we must always accept the ways of nature no other predator takes away in such large numbers.
The sunrise has almost been and gone. A mere wisp of red is all that remains. It has provided a real spectacle to start the day but alas is witnessed by so few. An early fisherman could now easily go home for breakfast having already enjoyed an hour or so of the very best of his sport. However whether you arrive at the river early or late there is always a lot to behold and the coming of summer will bring even more to see. Whatever the season there is always a full programme of events alongside the river for it is similar to sitting in the front row at the theatre with a whole show waiting to intrigue you. Such riverside entertainment can bring a mix of humour and tragedy, ongoing sagas to follow and with good fortune perhaps an 'always to be remembered moment'. You don't have to book a seat or buy a ticket. It's just a glorious place to be!
By Ivor Hook