Thursday, 11 February 2010

OK- how about best two out of three...

Mike and I drove to Dever Springs to do some fishing yesterday. The lambs came too, so we could give them their 4-hourly feeds. We put them in a dog crate in the back seat. They were good little travellers, better than children (no whining 'Are we THERE yet?)

It's about 2 hours' drive to Dever. We got up early, and the sun came out for a change, but it was below zero with a serious wind chill. Dever is on Salibury Plain (not far from Stonehenge), and the winds howl across the flat land. We got there and headed right to the lodge to warm up with a cup of coffee, and catch up with Neil and Stuart, who run the fishery.

Warmed up and ready to face the fish!

Neil and Stu were in the middle of re-stocking the fishing lakes, moving the fully grown fish from the nursery ponds into the lakes, and putting the almost grown ones back in, to finish growing.  We agreed as payment for my fly-fishing lessons with Neil (teacher extrordinaire) that I would help them with the restocking process by running the almost-grown fish back to the nursery pond. It was fascinating (and tiring).

First the fish were rounded up in a seine net:

Then Stu scooped them up in a hand net and Neil sorted them by size.

Isn't it easier just to keep one, rather than put it in the lake and fish it back out? 

Neil throws the big ones in the tank - literally:

Good aim Neil!

And I run a netful of too-small fish back to the stock pond (the one farthest away!):

The worst idea for an olympic sport ever

And tip them in, making sure they were oxygenated and ready to swim away. Neil says "Give 'em a poke with the net - that wakes them up!":

Once the big fish were separated from the little fish, we drove the tank to the lake, backed it up and Stu fitted a fish waterslide to what looked like a catflap. The lever opened and it was like the log flume ride at a fun park:

If you listen closely you can hear the fish go 'WHEEEE!!'

At this point Mike came back with the first fish of the day:

Check out the manly beard!

Normally I would be competetive, but Mike snuck off to see if he could still cast a fly. His arm movements are restricted from his skin grafts post-accident. He had been a very keen fly-fisherman and was quietly fearful he wouldn't be able to cast the line anymore. When he came back with the fish, I hugged him and we both shed a little tear, but that quickly gave way to laughing, and the competition was back on.

Mike went back to fish. Neil and I took up a spot across the way and Neil gave me a great casting lesson. The trick is timing (let your line stretch out behind before you cast forward) and to relax and let the rod do all the work. My casting improved and Neil was full of kind (undeserved) praise.

Mike caught another fish while I was having my lesson. DAMN! By this time we were all succumbing to the bone-crushing cold winds, and took to the lodge for a quick coffee and defrost.

Once I'd thawed out enough, Neil sent me back out on my own with a rod and fly. Three hours' fishing, as the sun was starting to set, I caught my very first trout on the fly:

My 5lbs 4oz rainbow trout
Coincidentally, I took this trout in the exact same spot that Mike landed his first Dever trout. He claims his first trout was bigger, of course.

Mike decided to have 'one last cast' which lasted nearly another hour (he lost his fly to a good fish and was determined to get both the fish and his fly back). Not even a nibble. I told him the fish was full from the meal Mike had just provided.

His form's changed a bit, but he can still get that line out there!

The final score was Mike's 2 trout to my 1. And he had the biggest fish at 7 1/2 lbs. Most importantly, he can get back to a hobby he really enjoys. And I've got the feeling back in my fingers, so it's win-win. I will practice my cast in the back field, and be back for a rematch. When the weather warms up.

When we got back home it was snowing.

We left them in the back of the truck last night and they're frozen solid!

Mike's got one more post-accident hurdle - using a shotgun. We worried the recoil might be too much for his shoulder, but after yesterday's success, he wants to pop up to the clay pigeon ground with my 20 bore today. I'm happy to endure the cold weather for that.


Poppy Cottage said...

Fantastic beard!!!!

Brilliant that Mike can still cast, a fishing widow you may well be!!

Found a pattern for Jasper's jumper (chunky so a quick knit)

Still enjoying the peace of no Jose, just wish I wasn't working so much in the evenings. Never mind. Off to try and book jasper in the C.P for some shooting lessons.

See you soon.

Me xx

Paula said...

Good for you! You got your own fish, by yourself, after just one lesson!

Smoked trout, anyone? Mmmmmmm!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Nice fish! But isn't fishing in a hatchery unsporting? I did it once, and my husband told me it wasn't fishing, it was shopping.

Unsporting or no, I can't think of a better place for a fly-fishing lesson.

Jennifer Montero said...

Colette - we've told him the beard makes him look like Captain Birdseye!

Paula - We have a place nearby that smokes meat & fish for you. That's a great idea! I'll tell you how it turns out. I wonder if I could make gravdlax (not sure I can spell it...)

Tamar - I thought that too, until it took me 3 hrs to catch one! It's not as exciting as sea fishing. More a peaceful, contemplative kind of fishing.

Ask Mike about the time he helped the UK host of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' net his trout at Dever, and couldn't resist saying 'You want me to net it now?..Is that your final answer?' They landed the trout but Mike got a withering stare - well deserved too!

Pomona said...

You are a heartier woman than me, Jennifer - I just want to stay inside by the fire at this time of year!

Pomona x

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Mike -- The "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" thing? Now THAT'S funny.

Jennifer Montero said...

Pomona - That's because you're a sensible woman. I'm still trying to warm up from that day! It's -3 at the moment, and the wood stove is eating fuel.