It gave me a certain thrill, I must admit, to arrive at a fishery in a Jaguar with blacked-out windows. However, it could have been even more exciting if Ben, the owner of the pimp-mobile, had not sold his Ferrari some years ago (imagine how incongruous that would have been).
According to Ben, most of his previous fishing had been done "at night" and, let's just say, without all the necessary paperwork. All a very long time ago, I'd like to point out. Newly reformed, he and his wife, Sarah (12ft 5in the pair of them, laid end to end), had come fishing with us. I was heartened by the size of their picnic basket. Always a good sign for a jolly day.
First we went to Sportfish in Reading to try some rods - Ben was keen to throw himself head first into fly fishing now that he had discovered it (he and Sarah had been on an Arundell Arms course in the summer).
This is one of the few places close-ish to London where you can have a go with rods on actual water instead of having to waggle them about on a shop floor. My boyfriend took a selection to the water's edge and Ben had a cast and, in the end, decided the Grey's was for him. I advised him not to buy anything just yet as we had plenty spare rods for them to use. So off we set for nearby Pang Valley lakes, as the lake at the Sportfish shop was closed, which was a shame as there was much fishie action.
It was 2pm by the time we arrived at Pang Valley and I was keen to see what was in Ben and Sarah's picnic basket. We feasted by the water's edge. Someone had thought to bring along a pork pie, the pregnant woman's best friend, which I dipped into heavily while distracting everyone by saying, "is that a fish?"
But there was no fishie action. Occasionally a duck would duck for what seemed like ages, leaving the echo of a ripple, and we would all get very excited and think it was a fish rising. But no. The two lakes were pretty choked up with blanket weed, a common annoyance when the weather's been so hot.
My boyfriend stayed with Ben and Sarah, who had obviously been really well taught as they were casting very well indeed. I went over to the other bank and sat on a bench. The most enormous, red, dragonfly sat with me, too lazy, hot or tired to move. It was magnificent. I cast out a little caramel jointed nymph without much hope, but caught a little perch who was terribly angry. I let him off and then sat and looked out over the lake.
An overwhelming sadness came over me: that this might be my last fishing experience before becoming a mother, and it wouldn't be just the two of us any more. I suddenly felt an incredible surge of nostalgia as I remembered all our fishing trips, just me and my lovely boy, and I started to cry. (And I'm not - in case this isn't obvious - giving up fishing.)
After a while, I pulled myself together and went and sat with the others. An apple turnover made me feel lots better because all my attempts at catching fish had failed. Sarah was relentless in her determination, fished diligently all day, and caught three perch. Not quite the plan, but three wild fish none the less. My boyfriend did hook a trout, but he escaped. Ben didn't catch anything, but at least he had a licence.
Eventually, I braved the loo (despite every instinct telling me to just do what I normally do and go al fresco). Bad move. The smell was so bad I threw up, retching for a good five minutes.
And so ended our trip. We headed back home, to London, in air-con comfort as I envisaged many more days' fishing in the future. The only difference is that I shan't be the only baby any more.Reuse content