Spooked by Roy Young

Over the years , I've done most of my barbel fishing in the hours of darkness. Probably due to my early angling years living near the Thames at Windsor. Fishing was always better when the boats moored up for the night.

Moving down to Thatcham and the night fishing restrictions at RDAA waters and Thatcham AA's Rainsford Farm, I soon learnt to fish with confidence in the daytime and had many good bags of barbel, but I still felt more confident in the dark. More peaceful, less crowded and not having to use so many days holiday as it's easy to do an evening fish after work, especially if you are fortunate enough to live just a mile or so from the river.

With this years quest for my first double figure barbel, I tried so many after work sessions, in different locations, mostly on my own, sometimes fishing till 1.00am in the morning. During these escapades I never got spooked, until one evening in early September 2005.

This particular evening I went down to the Newbury AA venue at Brimpton. I parked in the lay-by. There was already one car there, as is often the case, so I knew I wasn't alone in my night time pursuits.

It was about 8.00pm and the sun had set. A thin slither of mist rolled across the field and as the light faded I set myself up in my chosen swim, under a willow. It's drooping branches reaching down to the ground.

As the light faded, the mist increased and the owls started to call. I had never heard them that vocal. They were all around me it was unreal. Was every owl in Berkshire out tonight around me?

As I settled into my evenings fishing, I heard the cows mooing in the field opposite. This was added to by some deer or whatever crashing about in the woods between my swim and the road. I also heard a horrible screechy bark, which I knew was from a fox. The pheasants then started calling.

As the evening progressed the noises increased until about 11.00pm when a strange silence descended around me. It was then I started getting just a little bit twitchy. Every noise I heard from that moment on was magnified. There were tiny little footsteps behind me and I actually got up out of my seat a couple of times and shone my torch into the undergrowth and called out. The branches of the tree dangling over my face as I peered into the darkness. The footsteps went away and I tried to get these scary thoughts and feelings out of my head.

I heard a couple of plops downstream and assumed it was my fellow angler recasting. But the plops were not the splashy type that a fishing weight makes. It was weird and getting weirder. Again I heard movement behind me and to my left there were more rustlings in the trees.

That was it I'd had enough! I was well spooked.

Collecting my tackle, I departed the swim and walked back to the car, looking over my shoulder all the time. There was nobody fishing the swim where I'd heard the plops.

The moon had risen and was shining through the trees. Looking towards the railway, the mist hung in the field and I watched a train go by, swirling the swathes of mist as it travelled along, the yellow lights of the Bath Road behind the railway exaggerating the plumes and swirls of this disturbed layer.

I couldn't get to the car quick enough. I was well scared, and as I packed the tackle inside and departed this weird location I noticed that the other car was not there.

I was alone down the river that night

. .or was I?

Roy Young

orig Sep 2005
re-gererated Feb 2007