Fishing lines: Forget fish - I can't even catch mice

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Those bloody mice. So far, I've been using humane traps and freeing them in nearby fields. But now it's war.

Those bloody mice. So far, I've been using humane traps and freeing them in nearby fields. But now it's war.

They've eaten the guts out of three landing nets, a keepnet and my tackle bag. They've scoffed nearly 56lb of hemp seed (for bait, not medicinal purposes) and chewed the cork handles off two rods. They've even turned my collection of random feathers and furs, used to make the world's worst-tied flies, into bedding. So no more Mr Nice Guy.

I keep most of my tackle in the house. The overspill lives in the garage - or it did until the Pied Piper dropped by. Now the place smells like a pet shop that specialises in rodents.

Discovering the enormity of their damage this week, I was tempted to lock Carby in there for a few days. But the thing would just mewl for hours to be let out, and I'd have the tree-huggers round, accusing me of cruelty to cats. It's useless, anyway. When blackbirds rape my cherry tree every summer, Carby just sits and watches.

The dogs would be a much better bet. But the idea of leaving two springers in there for a few hours would be unwise, to say the least. They would probably get most of the mice and scare the survivors to death, but they would also destroy or eat anything that wasn't made of titanium.

They have already devoured three review books, unwisely left by the postman outside our back door. It's not easy to judge a book's merits when the largest remaining piece is about an inch across. Last week, they ate the cat flap in the outhouse, enabling them to break in and eat their fill (about 10 kilos, judging by the cowpats they deposited for the next two days). Is it any wonder that I hold The Field Naughtiest Dog of the Year award? But to set them on the garage's mice population would be a bit like sending in a cruise missile to get rid of a noisy pigeon.

Mice are the bane of an angler's life. Some years ago, I caught enough fish to win a competition easily. But when I pulled out my net, only those fish too big to escape from the mouse-enlarged holes were left. Cost me £200, those holes. On another occasion, I netted the largest trout I had ever caught from a small, secret river, only to see it drop straight through the net and escape. Mice at work again.

Maybe country mice are bolder than their townie cousins. They certainly don't scare easily. They seem to enjoy background music from those allegedly infallible sonic scarers, gambol through the garage rafters with impunity and ignore all proprietary mouse poisons, preferring to dine on the stuff reserved for fish. One even travelled in my fishing bag all the way to the River Kennet last week, nibbling my sandwiches on the journey and jumping out when we arrived on the river bank.

Still, I haven't yet had the joy of finding them in my car, as one friend did. Curious about the noises coming from his seats, he put in a trap - and caught 18 mice. His car? A Minnie van, of course.