Opening Days

By 'Opening Day', I mean of course June 16th, the first day of the coarse fishing season. Although still waters are not obliged to implement such, the rivers, mercifully, retain such a break for the benefit of the fish and their environment. To those who insist the closed season makes no sense in terms of the breeding season for the said fish, I would suggest that no fixed season ever would. In these terms the closed season is of course a fudge, a 'best fit' one might say. Myself, I think that one only needs to consider the rivers and their denizens as a renewable natural resource and then consider a closed season as 'conservation of that resource' to make an argument for its retention.

There is enough over fishing and pollution in the world. That we should add to the problem by adding a 12 month burden to the rivers, even at the angers' near-insignificant impact, seems unnecessary.

Be that as it may, the closed season also allows for the rejuvenation of the angler - we are hunters and hunting is a seasonal occupation is it not? Even our modern homogeneity doesn't erase millennia honed proto-human instincts and I believe a seasonal break from fishing is good for our long evolved souls, just as I believe fishing 52 weeks a year is bad for them.

All this is probably why, along with the Mandela effect meme of A Passion for Angling’s opening day celebrations, that the 16th June is still special for many of us and a ceremony day.

So here are mine:

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2006 JAA16th June 2006. The Stour, Blandford Forum. Official first day of the season and a good start to it. On general principle I decided to fish today and as 'working for a living' plus a 'crucial top level' tenth birthday party at the weekend will intervene with the serious business of fishing, I took a couple of hours 'au crack sparrow' to fish the Blandford weir-pool. So, rolling up at 4:45am OGGTEOh Good Grief That's Early, I check the depth, fling maggots and get cracking. Cunningly I set up the Avon and 3BB stick float the previous evening and leave it in the car. The morning is hazy and cool, the sun is just making an appearance and the water looks fabulous, which it always does, but that's no guarantee of fish.

The River Stour Blandford Weir The River Stour Downstream from the weir The River Stour Blandford Weir

Ten minutes later I have a 3oz chub, then a slightly larger dace. Magic. I trot the swim in front of me and catch several more small chub and a few minnows, while thinking that the centre pin might have been a better bet. This is simple fishing - fling in a few maggots upstream every trot, let the float run, tracking it with the rod tip in the corner of my eye, and on reaching then end of the line, take the finger off the spool and swing the rod upstream and start again. I get another bite and thinking I have a largish dace or roach, I am gobsmacked to find a grayling in the net. Not huge, ½lb at the most, but what a great fish. I didn't know they got up this far...

This unexpected bonus compliments the continual torrent of sound from the weir and the early morning haze. A few more chub and minnows, a lost small perch, then another thump at 5:30am and a decent fight yields, again to my surprise, a large bronze bream, maybe 3lb. In a fast flow even the bream gives a good account of itself, kiting across the fast running stream pulling line off the reel as it goes. More mini chevins and at 6:10am or so the gentlest of bites provides another good fish that makes it across the flow and into the pool proper, but is eventually steered to the net, a 1¼lb perch. Well well.

The River StourProbably the best of the dace The River StourJAA's second ever grayling The River StourThe large bronze bream The River StourA very decent perch

A couple more chub, and at about 6:20am the magic fades almost perceptibly and despite feeding and trotting for the next hour and a quarter, I catch only minnows. I guess the sun, now over the trees and shining directly on the water is too much for the fish here in the clear water (it's a bit much for me without my hat).

The River Stour trotting the stream The River Stour Sunrise proper

That's the way to start the new season.