From a Jack to a King by Mick Holtom

I arrived at 7am. The first car in the car park. Good, l have first choice of any swim.

After doing so well in the weir last Tuesday l decided to try there first. My first bite at 7.30am. resulted in a small Jack Pike weighing about 2LBS.

My First Barbel arrived about 8am. as l was watching the fluffy, picture postcard clouds on this, a sunny and warm July morning.

After releasing the small Barbel back into the water, l heard the beautiful voice of a Linnet in the Willow tree to my left. It reminded me of the story of the Shepherds Bush Market when shortly after the war Linnets were painted yellow and sold as Canaries. (My wife's Grandfather was one of many shopper's who bought one thinking it was a Canary).

The weir was making it's normal roaring sound, you would never think there was a water crisis with the volume of water cascading 30 metres in front of me at the moment.

My second Barbel arrived and l weighed it in the net at 8LB.9OZ. I noticed that l was sitting right next to the deadly nightshade plant, mauve with yellow flowers. I still remember my Mum's warnings.

My third Barbel was about 5LBS. and took the largest piece of Spam. It did a belly flop like the John Smith advert and completely soaked me.

To my right, a disused Moorhens nest was bobbing up and down as the current touched it. A dozen or so flies are buzzing around my head annoyingly until a small gust of wind blows them back into the Willow Tree.

I lost a top of the range 2.OZ. sand covered lead in a snag and replaced it with a smaller one of 1.1/2.OZ. inline lead which l found easier to cast.

The weir pool was like a miniature Niagra Falls, but thankfully without the thousands of visitors.

The pair of Doves that I saw earlier, have now returned to the telegraph wire and are continuing their courtship like two lovebirds. A squirrel is bouncing up and down next to the weir and shows its agility by running along the fence, stopping at a brick pillar and standing on its back legs like a dog begging for a bone.

The sun catches the polished fuselage of a jet aircraft high above me and reminds me that l am back at work on early shift at Heathrow on Friday.

Due to tennis elbow l can no longer hold my rod and revert to a rod rest to give it time to recover.

It is now 11.30am. as l watch a bee buzzing by my left ear taking nectar from the Deadly Nightshade (His Mum no doubt would not bee too pleased).

I decided to leave the weir to fish that BREAM! Swim, about 400.mtrs. downstream. There I met another Michael, who has retired after thirty years as a river keeper on the Test.

Whilst we were chatting, his rod bent round and he was into a decent fish. I finally netted it for him and after a quick photo we returned the 9.LB. 2OZ. beauty to the water .Well done Michael!.

I settled into the BREAM! swim and had a small Barbel first cast. Three more Barbel followed in the next couple of hours and just after chatting about the test cricket to Chris Tarrant on the opposite bank, my rod arched round into a big fish.

What a fight l had, having to change my rod angle several times, to prevent her reaching the sanctuary of several sunken tree branches.

At last I slid the net under her and excitedly weighed her in the net. 13LB. on the nose. So she was 11LB. Exactly after deducting the weight of the net. After a quick photo (Thanks Tony), l returned my second double of the season back to the water.

A final view at the swim after all my things were put away, made me chuckle. A BREAM swim my A****!

As l crossed the metal bridge to the car park, a Kingfisher swooped low under it as if in a Victory Roll. WHAT A DAY!. 8 Barbel and a Jack.

Mick Holtom

re-generated Feb 2007