I normally try to get on the water for the last day, so what was strange now? This year instead of 14th October, the season went on until the 31st October, and it goes on for another month for the bank anglers. I have had some pretty poor end-of-season trips, as the weather can be horrible in mid-October, so the thought of a day afloat on Hallowe’en was not too comforting.

I met Paul at Chew as we had decided to have a breakfast in order to get the day off to a proper start. Whilst we were chatting, Bob Handford came over and asked us if we would like to transfer to Chew as one of the pike anglers had telephoned to say that he couldn’t get to Bristol. Paul and I jumped at the chance, for during the past four weeks Blagdon has really gone downhill. I was not too pleased that I had left all my pike gear at home, and Bob himself had taken his to his house, as he knew that he didn’t have another chance to get out after the toothy fellows!

I put that disappointment behind me and set up for trout. The bank has been far better than the boats as the fish are in close, feeding on the huge rafts of corixae. We fancied trying the false island, but the wind was far too strong to fish there. We opted for Villice to start and thought that we had made the right choice when Paul had his rod wrenched round after only three casts! Unfortunately that was it, even though we tried many spots around the bay. The wind was strong enough that we felt that we had to anchor. At this time of the year you can be sure that the fish are not going to go far, so if you don’t get much, it isn’t worth staying put too long.

Next we tried Woodford and here we were amazed to see a trout moving on the top. It even persuaded me to put a dry on, but I cannot report any great revelations! Paul had one good take in that area, but we soon moved on.

I suggested trying for the fry feeders around the jetties. Unfortunately, when we arrived there, there was a youngster casting out from the apron on which the rangers haul the boats at night. This meant that we had to drop our anchor further out than we could effectively fish, and time slipped past without too much more action. One last stop before lunch saw us trying in front of the sailing club and here there were also a few fry-feeders. Paul had a couple of small perch and then caught a lovely three-pound trout that was gorging itself on roach fry. I just caught perch!

We pulled up the boat on Walley bank and had a most lovely leisurely lunch. Paul as usual had brought a bag of marinated tiger prawns and some excellent cheese. Along with a pleasant bottle of wine the fishing lost its attractiveness. We chatted to pike angler Pete Gregory about all sorts of aspects of fishing. Pete had heard about the large freshwater eels of New Zealand and was amazed that I had actually spent a lot of time in my year out there actually fishing for them. Pete has an exciting trip to the Amazon coming up shortly; he has been there several times before. Even though I am off in a week’s time, the thought of the Amazon made Australia almost "tame".

Eventually we decided to see the season out by fishing rather than talking about it! Now the wind had eased and we headed for our first choice: false island. Within five minutes Paul had a beautiful silver fish, not much more than a pound in weight but a bar of silver! Then, as we drifted in to Denny Island, he rose two and had two more serious offers. I then had my first fish of the day and what a trout it turned out to be! Three pounds and thirteen ounces, solid and a great fighter! That was enough for me, I would happily have packed up, but there was more.

Here we were, October, drifting without a drogue and both using floating lines, and on that one drift we caught three and moved another five. That would have been good in the summer, never mind so late in the year! I caught a lovely brown trout of about one and three-quarters, and then, next drift, another lovely trout.

The light slipped away fast and as the moon came up over the trees on Denny, we decided that we would close our fishing for the 2001 season. What a splendid way to go out! Six trout more than I really hoped for, a lovely lunch, beautiful day…what more could we expect?

Bob has promised that he will let me have the final statistics for the pike fishing on Chew, so I will report on those as soon as I can.

Next Monday I set off for a very exciting adventure: I am going to Tasmania for five weeks. My friend Malcolm Crosse, the former captain and then manager of the Australian trout team, has arranged for me to take some courses in Tasmania. Things have worked out in such a way that it is an opportunity I cannot miss. So for the next couple of months my writing will be from "down under".

Tight lines,
Martin Cottis