Thursday, 3 February 2011
Notes from the Riverbank with Tarrant & James
This weeks highlight has been a very surreal trip indeed. Going fishing with not only Bob James but Chris Tarrant is hardly your average day out. In fact, throw in the Nelson Mandela and the Irish Football team and you might have the start of a very strange gag. But there they both were, brewing tea and discussing rivers and roach, baits and methods. In actual fact though, fishing is a great leveller and once you forget the screen presence of these two characters they are simply a pair of enthusiasts who enjoy a day out. Well, almost!
The River Test looked wonderfully inviting as always, but for me this was a day when words and pictures were the priority, rather than casting a stick float or swim feeder. Both these chaps have fished a vast array of waters, but the Test still takes some beating. "It's so beautiful you almost feel like a poacher" confesses Chris.
At the start of the day had wondered whether the two would act like perfect gentlemen or whether the air would be full of banter and gamesmanship. It quickly poved to be the latter. "I taught that Bob James everything he knows" was Mr Tarrant's opening shot. Funny that, because I'm sure Bob swore exactly the same.
The day was a relaxed one for our anglers, a quietly frantic one for a writer aiming to capture everything from Bob's insights on river fishing to Tarrant's own love of the sport, from winter pike to far flung adventures overseas. Like me, he also spent a while as an English teacher, discovering that fishing was one of the few things to interest disaffected school boys. Talking of school boys, perhaps my abiding memory of the day will be these two trying to prod their hapless photographer with rod tips and grinning like they should know better:
The Test and it's carriers are full of history and this day was no exception. By one of the Test's many beautiful riverside houses we saw a great eel trap, where in better days for the species men would work well into the night knee deep in the creatures. More strange still, we found a communal outdoor toilet with three neighbourly seats all in one little room. I thought this sort of thing was mainly confined to the Westcountry? Fairly disturbing!
And amisdst all these distractions were beautiful dace and grayling, fine chub and some beautiful if accidental trout. I must say, Chris Tarrant held his own pretty capably on a day of many species and it was perhaps only Bob's late catch that won the day in the shape of a beautiful roach of well over two pounds. So, two stars, some truly idyllic waters and a fantastic catch; how's that for a day's fishing?