Gudgeon are a dreadful distraction. There I was, happily inching a float along the far OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbank, a couple of worms on a size 6 hook, when a shout came from further upstream.

Garry had caught himself a gudgeon – and almost immediately, Chris was reeling in to tie on a size 14 in order to catch one of his own. I gave it one more cast on the worm, but couldn’t let them have all the fun – though I would go a step further and dig out an even smaller size 16.

As it turned out, I had been unknowingly casting into gudgeon soup. The water was thick with them. And though this meant Chris’ float soon found its way next to my own, the size 16 and reflexes that are 25 years sharper meant I was soon crowned the undeniable gudgeon king.

It was great fun, and though none of them would have topped an ounce and a couple were considerably smaller than my little finger (though I do, admittedly have quite pudgy digits….), I caught enough to stop counting.

Of course, by the time I remembered that I was supposed to be fishing for perch the afternoon had all but gone. Still, I had to have one final gudgeon cast, but as the float dipped again, so the inevitable happened.

The rod tip thumped down and rattled as a lumpy perch shook its head. I played it carefully and eased it in towards me but just as it came over the net, the fish made one final head shake and the size 16 flicked free.    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Later, in the pub, as Garry, Merv and Chris all chinked their glasses to celebrate their own striped success, I reflected upon another chance missed.

I had to slip out elsewhere for my own perch, and it came just as the light was fading. Not huge, but big enough and certainly beautiful enough to put a smile on my face.



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