Ebisu

Heavy rain all month had kept me away from the river. After a very dry summer, which saw only a third of the long term average rainfall, the Autumn had been very wet. Nearly every day had seen rain. A visit to the lakes at Little Bognor was in order. I’d checked the lower lake last week. The water was a little coloured and there was quite a lot of leaf debris on the surface of the water. The springs at the top of the lake were flowing well and water poured through the overflow grill.

My un-christened Ebisu rod beckoned to me from under the bed. The wooden box looked like it should contain a snooker cue but had protected the rod for over fifty years. The rod was probably made in the 1960s by the Ebisu Company Ltd. which was established on 10 August 1954 in Japan. In Japanese mythology Ebisu is one of the seven Gods of Fortune. He is said to be the God of fishermen, working men and good luck, a great combination. Ebisu’s festival is celebrated each year on 20 October and it seemed fitting to use the rod rather than the Hardy.

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The North wind had blown the leaf debris towards the overflow and most of the lake surface was clear. No fish were rising, the prospects looked bleak. I decided to use the 3# Rio line because I didn’t want to overload the old cane. The rod worked well with about ten yards of line outside the tip ring. It came to life when loaded and I confidently side-cast through the slot between the marginal ferns and the drooping branches of the Beech trees.

I started with a black spider, visible to cruising fish, under the branches to my left. I concentrated for about thirty minutes and then lost the plot during a series of hooked twigs, tangles and poor casts. Time to move on.

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I crept along the bank towards the dead Chestnut tree and flicked the fly into the margins in preparation for a roll cast. A big fish swirled but I was so surprised I froze in disbelief. I rolled the fly out expecting an immediate take. A sunken branch grabbed the fly and put up a good fight. Time to move again.

I leant against the trunk of a tree, backcast into a holly bush, kicked the landing net over and flicked the fly into a particularly tough fern frond in the margin. Hilarious laughter followed and I moved to the open bank and deep water. Trout were cruising along the line of the leaf debris taking buzzers but they were not tempted by my offerings.

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I moved around the lake looking for feeding fish and ended up where I’d started, under the big Beech trees. A deep sunk red and black spider was ignored and my casting deteriorated, tiredness was a distraction. I swapped my fly for a black Neoprene Buzzer with white Neoprene breathers, it was a last ditch attempt at deceiving a fish. I suspected that the tiny fly would be invisible in the coloured water. As the leader drifted in a curve from right to left it appeared to stop, a possible sign of a fish disturbing the water around the buzzer. Not enough to lift into. Several casts later the leader dipped gently no more than an inch and I instinctively lifted the rod. The fish fought long and hard, I couldn’t revive it in the landing net and took it home for dinner.

The rod was a revelation, the slow action threw tight loops to a maximum of fifteen yards. I couldn’t push it further. It will be great for buzzers and fine tippets next season. I hadn’t been particularly lucky but I had worked hard and caught a fish. Two out of three Gods were with me.

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