Still looking for a bag of tricks to make my summer perfect

Last weekend was glorious wasn't it? Four whole days of pretending that real life was some place else.

Last weekend was glorious wasn't it? Four whole days of pretending that real life was some place else. I started my Easter with a Green and Black's milk chocolate egg which was delicious. The thing about Green and Black's milk chocolate is that it's not as sickly sweet as most milk chocolate, but still creamy. Yet not so totally face-twisty as plain chocolate can be. Anyway, I ate the whole egg while on the slip road trying to get on to the M25.

The plan was to go to a little bit of river in Surrey that you could fish on a day ticket, for a reasonable amount. Such beats are getting rarer and rarer; most often you either have to pay loads or be part of a syndicate. Sadly, when we got to the river we found that, with the new season, the rules had changed and now you could fish only if you were part of a syndicate. Yawn. So we made our way to a little fishery nearby.

I'd spent much of the weekend obsessing about fishing bags. I have a thing about bags. Especially about bags with compartments that do particular jobs. One of the things I don't like is that I stuff all my fishing gear in several bags. Then, when I get to the bank I find myself hopping about as I change into waders or wellies, trying to remember which bottomless bag I put my reel/forceps/flybox/glasses in.

On the Saturday I popped into various fishing shops. At Sportfish I'd sat on the floor and tried to work out which of the 300 bags they seem to have on sale was right for me. I knew I wanted a "box" shaped bag, ie. one that stayed rigid when opened and didn't collapse in on itself (which meant it could also double as a boat bag, because I spend half my life on a boat). But the more I looked, the more I convinced myself I needed the biggest bag ever.

Until I was looking, quite seriously, at something called The Giant that was so big I could see the sales assistant wondering if I were homeless. Luckily I'm not and I talked myself out of it, realising that the medium ("Super") would do me just fine as it would be prudent to get a separate welly/wader bag anyway. But, after having taken out all the tissue paper and bubble wrap they thoughtfully stuff all these bags with – even the rigid ones – I left empty-handed to "think it over".

This obsessing carried on while on the bank. I kept fantasising about what fishing paraphernalia I'd put in what pocket and how organised my life would be if only I had such a bag. There were three lakes at the fishery, one of which held brown trout and was dry fly only. We saw one man into a brownie, which he then lost. The poor bloke went on to lose quite a few others that resulted in him getting terribly cross. For a while I nymphed on the other lake, with no luck. No lovely big pulls that, even if you miss, make you go all fizzy with excitement. I joined the lone man on the brown trout lake and decided to have a bit of early season excitement with the dry fly. Part of the lake was covered with slimy weedy algae – to give it its scientific name – and you could see the brownies cruising around underneath. They knew it was difficult to fish a dry fly through all that surface gunk.

By this point – well I'd spent most of the day at Churchill's old house marvelling at his bricklaying skills – the sun was setting, casting a convenient glow on the lake so that I could see my fly really well as it floated around. I'd put on a black winged thing which I thought looked like some black winged things I'd seen flying round. You can see my approach was well planned that day. Unfortunately the fish didn't seem to see my fly, or if they did they didn't care for it. I cast, I twitched it back, I drew it in. I cast. I didn't feel that confident as the water wasn't so much "gin-clear" as Cup-a-Soup murky and unless by some good fortune I was casting to within six inches of a fish, I had no hope.

Not that it mattered. It was a nice evening. A few fish were rising, making that lovely, lazy "plonk" sound that can turn a fisherman's head at half a mile. Soon, I thought, it'll be time for picnics and specialist picnic hampers with pockets for every conceivable picnic eventuality. Sigh.

a.barbieri@independent.co.uk

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