Thanks, Mother Nature – you never fail to spring a surprise

Dave Gaunt with his fabulous 13lb Wye barbel.

Dave Gaunt with his fabulous 13lb Wye barbel. - Credit: Archant

So much to say, so little space to say it in – but here goes.

Thanks to the excellent Mick Munns, our bailiff at the Kingfisher Lakes, for alerting me to the tragic demise of a massive tench there. Mick's assessment was 12lb minimum, and in all probability quite a bit bigger than that. I think there is a rascally part of Mick that likes to taunt me with these tales of lost monsters, but it's always sad to report the end of a fine fish like this. Interestingly, a very big tench was hooked and lost a couple of days, I believe, before this Moby Dick of a fish washed up dead.

You just wonder if the strain of a long and stressful fight proved too much for a fish obviously well on in years. And, once again, this fish proves that you just never know what the fish stocks are down to the last fin in any size water, never mind a large one like Kingfishers. I'm a great believer that nature can always spring her surprises.

Like she did on a River Glaven mill pool just the other Sunday. As you'll have guessed, I'm completely in love with this beguiling river and totally in awe of all those people who are caressing her every curve and meander. The excitement for me this particular day was espying a shoal of mint-perfect, albeit small, roach playing in the autumn sunshine. Going back 50 years, I used to catch big roach in big numbers down by the sluice gates at Cley and the stocks have miraculously clung on through many years of neglect, predation and downright abysmal river management. Now the Glaven is having the life breathed back into her, who knows what the future is for these lovely fish.

And thank you, John, in Melton Constable, who not only runs the most superb and efficient garage there but also hears what goes on aquatically thereabouts. Interesting that a little pond opposite his very petrol pumps has been pretty much denuded of its duck population by a visiting otter. Otters in Melton Constable, eh, feasting on mallards. But nothing should surprise us. Just the other day, walking around a Wensum pit, I came across a hedgehog torn apart and pretty much devoured, almost certainly by a badger. Badgers I tend to love, but never overlook the fact that they're destructive. A bees' nest is nothing but a snack to it and just the other day, I heard about a kingfisher nest, dug out from its high sandy bank by a badger and the three babies eaten. Just elevenses for a hungry animal.

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I love it when readers write in with their tales and so a big thank you to David Gaunt, informing me in the most amusing terms of his massive barbel successes down on the Wye. It's with great pleasure, David, that I publish this photograph of your 13lb-er for EDP readers to gawp at. We will fish the Wissey together in the coming winter, I promise.

And thank you, finally, for all the nice things people have said to me about the second series of Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr Crabtree. Sadly, I don't have a Sky dish and I'm always working at 5pm, so it's very unlikely I'll see any of the programmes myself! Whatever your reaction, if you have watched any of the programmes, know they were made with love. Love for Mr Crabtree himself and the cartoon characters created by Bernard Venables. The love of fishing and, particularly, the burning desire that more and more children take up the rods and discover the delights of the riverbank. If there's a better sport out there, one you can take into your old age, I've yet to find it.

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The final high of the week must be the osprey I saw for a full five minutes hovering over the mid River Wensum, combing the shallows for food. Its sighting coincided with an achingly blue sky, a blinding autumnal sun and the bird simply shone.

To repeat, who but an angler sees sights as glorious as these?

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