This was a game of two halves. There had been a flurry of big fish to almost all the group during the morning, so amongst all the smiles and backslapping there were a few photo shoots to take care of once ‘bite time’ had passed. It was whilst squatting down for one of these that I felt an all too familiar twinge in my groin. I say familiar – one I’d thankfully not had the ‘pleasure’ of for a few years, but there could be no mistaking it. One or more kidney stones were about to wreak havoc on my poor pipes.
A freshen up and a quick trip to a patisserie and my old mate, the colonel’s and things were looking up. The strange sensation had eased and I thought I may have dodged a bullet. No such luck. While having a quick toilet visit on our return to Abbey and prior to going back to the swims for the night, I experienced the searing pain that only a fellow sufferer will know. The sweats started and I just wanted to curl up in a ball on the floor and maybe have a cry. Sadly, I also knew that wasn’t going to help matters either.
I shan’t go into too much detail but with one of my bodily fluids not being a particularly pleasant colour, the hospital staff wasted no time in whisking me into a side room. The morphine was suitably forthcoming and I was subjected to a relatively painless procedure that left me with a handful of mini asteroids to deal with, instead of the initial planet-sized 12 miller that was threatening to make for mission impossible! As I sit and write this from the comfort of my sofa, many of them are still in orbit somewhere within my system but occasionally the sweet tinkle of calcium on porcelain affords me a wry smile.
Upon returning to Abbey, Sean saw my headlights cutting a swathe up the far bank and rang to inform me that I simply had to get the rods out as fish had been showing over all three baited areas in my swim. I really wasn’t in the mood but perhaps due to the last remnants of morphine coursing through the veins, I went through the motions and got two rods out just as the last rays of the sun disappeared behind the trees.
As I sat down to tie up a fresh rig for the third, the rod fished close-in to the right let out a flurry of bleeps, hooped over against a tight clutch and I hobbled out of the bivvy towards it as though someone had tied my shoelaces together. The fight went the same way as those before. A bit of give and take in the weed just my side of the spot and then a tussle to control the fish and prevent it going through the other lines at the front of the swim. Thankfully Jak had moved off Heron in my absence and was now sat a few yards behind me, fishing on Fox. A quick call saw him hop into the margins armed with a net to deal with “another bloody 20” – that grew, a lot, as he rolled it over in the net. It was a fish that Ash had caught on our earlier trip in the summer – a lovely, thickset common with stunning colours. It was just the sort of fish that has made Abbey a standout fishery amongst its peers across the channel. We didn’t bother to weigh it, I rarely do, preferring to get a few quick stills without the necessity of a flash, but it had certainly filled out and I was happy to settle for a mutual guesstimate of 50-something.
ABOVE TOP The doctor will see you now! My largest of the week came just 20 minutes after I returned from hospital
ABOVE BOTTOM Ash was intercepting a few as the passed from one end to the other. This was his biggest of the week at 57lb