Let me tell you about a fish I caught back in August..
Did it all start on a cold January morning with a phone call to Les Bamford, or when I discovered an obscurely listed fishing rod on ebay?
You know my love for Redmire, blimey, it's taken a bit of a peppering this year. I mind not...for all those that say 'it's finished' 'the magic has gone' etc. do not know the same pool as I. Their loss, would be my gain if I thought of it in a selfish manner, but it truly is their loss.
The magic is still plentiful for those romantics that happen to indulge it.
I also have a fondness, nay, addiction, to carp rods of the MKIV taper, or variations thereof.
Scouring the darkest recesses of that bloomin' auction site we all love and hate in equal measures, I happened across a job lot of old rods. I recognised one of them as an early Constable 'Forty Fore', a rod I'd been chasing for some time. In fact I'd have settled for a later version such is their scarcity.
I messaged the seller, who lived around thirty miles from me and arranged a visit.
On arrival I heard from a lovely old lady of the sad passing of her husband 'Tom' an avid angler in his day, who bought the best he could afford.
I perused the rods on offer, I really only wanted the 'Forty Fore'.
It needed some restoration, but the nice lady was pleased to hear that I intended to have it restored and it would be used again.
I ended up buying all of the rods on offer, most of which I had no use for, for a fair price..it just seemed right.
Here is the rod, at the ladies house, as purchased...
The cane was sound, a testament to the rod building of Cliff Constable, he's truly one of the greats.
The job of restoration would fall to someone else, I just knew I wouldn't have the time. Responsibility fell to Steve Boncey who agreed to take on the task, he came highly recommended by people I trusted.
I have to say that Steve is not only good at what he does, but he is a gentleman too. Always keeping me informed of the minutia of the build and even sourcing new ferrules to match my insistance for originality.
Here is how it came back to me..I'll let the photos speak for themselves...
..and so, fast forward then, to a balmy August evening at Bernithan Pool, Redmire.
It has to be said that there is a fine line between indulgence..and over-indulgence, on this particular evening it was unfortunately the latter.
With rods rested against the shelter and spots primed with free offerings..We indulged in the hospitality of one Mr. Bamford.
Amongst my closest friends, the stories, food..and yes, shamefully, the Napoleon brandy did flow.
Les is now one of the few fortunates to have tasted the delight that is 'Redmire Rissotto!'.
The 'nightcap' was extended and the atmosphere became 'heady' as only Redmire (and Brandy) can deliver.
Common sense did slightly kick in and I made my way tentatively back to the Open Pitch before too much damage was done.
The first rod, The Forty Fore, was cast to a prepared spot..and cast well, all things considered.
I stood back a while as the line sunk, taking in the timeless scene before me, set the Mitchell to 'churn'...and I really was about to turn on the bite alarm...honest.....when my good pal Tony appeared, somewhat worse for wear!
It transpired that he'd arrived at his bivvy, gone to sit on his bedchair...and missed! Now Tony is not a big drinker and had been affected by the evening a bit more than myself..He was scared to fish in such state and decided to come to my swim to clear his head and talk crap for an hour or two as us men are inclined to do at such times.
In reality, we discussed much, a catch up, putting the world to rights, long into the night.
Perhaps, two hours later, the handle on my old Mitchell 300 did indeed begin to 'churn'.
Tony was stunned that I'd not set the bite alarm......I was going to...I really was. No matter, I struck and connected to one of the pool's jewels.
This was my first action on the new rod and it felt awesome.
Standing there in the moonlight Tony remarked, "It's like Walker and Thomas all over again"...The scene could've been sixty years previous..Alas, I'm no Dick Walker!
Now both very sober, the state of unspoken teamwork we both attain at such times had kicked in and Tony set about unjamming the tip ring of weed that was coming up the line in abundance. I did tell him at one stage that, "You're not playing a double bass, you know?" such was his twanging of the line, but he had it all in hand.
The fish was a plodder, staying deep, moving ponderously but determined for some time. The rod performed impeccably soaking up each dogged run.
Slowly, very slowly, we gained line on the fish...Tony grasped the landing net..I had reservations, "You gonna be alright with that mate?"..His reply, " It won't get two chances" and with the fish finally subdued, he was..of course..proved correct. With the fish netted first time without drama we both collapsed to the floor giggling, as we'd done so many times in the last thirty years... In the net lay a Twenty pound plus Redmire common, a fish worthy of christening any rod and another Redmire ambition achieved.
Don't tell me that the magic is gone.
In Memory of Peter Thomas, Eddie Price and 'Tom'.