Tales of an Autumn Angler by Miles Davies

We hope you enjoy this article written by Miles Davies. It is highly observed and Miles is undoubtedly a lover of the natural environment offered by the Park. He’s writing a book on angling. No doubt, as a Friend and contributor, we will be letting you know when this is released.

There was a definite feeling of change as I walked with my rod and tackle bag through the Park this morning. A change that every year creeps slowly upon us and though as yet not fully revealed, tantalises us with some wondrous sights indicating late summer is giving way to early autumn.

Barnwell-Country-Park-Fishing2I was at the Park fairly early today. Before the air was full of the sounds of laughing children playing on swings, and families having picnics in the now waning summer sun. This sun however was still rising to the east when I arrived, and I could see its rich yolk yellow form burning its way through the misty shroud that clung longingly to the damp, dew soaked ground.

The lake was quiet as I strolled by, apart from a skittish moorhen that broke from the cover of the reed mace from which it was hiding, and ran across the waters mirrored surface, defiantly calling as it went. A group of geese also broke the near silence with a series of loud honks, the echo of which reverberated around the trees and bushes of the lakeside banks.

I was heading for a particular swim on the Backwater to try and catch a chub or two. This spot had provided good sport on previous trips, and so I though a revisit was a good idea. The walk to the swim took me past thick hawthorne bushes, bejewelled with crimson berries. The leaves of these bushes however were beginning to look tired and had started to curl and yellow in places, and so the adornment of small red jewels was ever more eye catching, as was the blackbird that was feasting on one bush. His near jet black plumage and vivid orange beak prominent against the golden leaves.

Barnwell-Country-Park-Fishing3To the left of me ran the Backwater. A lovely side flow of the river Nene that runs fast over gravelly bars, only to then drop in to slow meandering bends that are deep and mysterious. As I stood watching the glinting water, I could see several small chub hanging near motionless in the current, just the smallest movement of their tails keeping them from being carried off.

The water is gin clear and fast, and as it passes close to the bank it tickles a small patch of sedge making it quiver and dance, and it is around the feet of this sedge that the chub and indeed a few roach, are holding station. Arriving at my chosen spot, I ready my rod and bait, though not before an impromptu breakfast of fat blackberries pilfered from a very convenient bramble sat behind me. My bait of choice today is a plump slug, removed from my vegetable patch only last night, and ideal for catching chub. The swim is on a bend that flows beneath a small overhanging willow. The water here is deeper and slower, and a raft of broken reed stems and twigs has collected against the willow’s branches on the upstream side, creating the perfect shadowy hideout for a large chub to skulk.

Barnwell-Country-Park-Fishing4I cast my bait upstream of the reedy raft with a resounding “plop”, another good reason for using slugs as they act like a dinner bell to hungry chub. I sat my rod on its rest and waited, fumbling with my camera as a kingfisher landed on the willow, only to take flight as I moved to a picture taking position. As I sat watching the tip of my rod I could hear the “mewing” cry of a red kite circling above me, with his rusty coloured feathers themselves autumnal in colour. His curiosity as to what the figure perched on a stool beneath him was, meant he was getting lower and lower in the sky.

As he flew casually away, I glanced to my rod tip only to watch it bend sharply round. I struck, and a reassuring weight could be felt moving on the end of my line. The nature of this snag filled swim meant I couldn’t give the fish too much line for fear of losing him, and so hastened the fight to get the fish to the net. As he rolled on his side I could see he was ready and so I lifted my prize from the water. In the fold of my net lay a lovely fish of around four pounds, his back dark bronze, and with shimmering gold flanks, he wa s a truly beautiful fish to have caught on an early autumn morning.