A steaming mug of tea balanced on the arm of the chair, I'm back from my road trip and reflecting on the happy combination of fishing, friendship and spring rudd that I've been blessed with this week.
True, the itinerary has been pretty uncompromising - up at 4.15 am, three and half hours of driving then straight into two full on days of fishing/hiking/fishing/hiking, but I'm a firm believer in the old adage that what you get out of life is commensurate with what you put in.
And it's good to meet up with my excellent friend and celebrated angling writer Dom Garnett, author of Crooked Lines.
Dom has managed to wangle a couple of days off from his busy schedule of publishing deadlines, guiding and writing to help me in my search for tenkara rudd. So today we are scouring the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal for those elusive hoards of Somerset gold.
For me this water is tenkara paradise. Crystal clear and abundant with natural life and only lightly fished, probably because of its rural location and the distance you have to cover on foot to find your quarry. Ideally suited to the traveling-light tenkara philosphy and in two full days of fishing, covering several miles of water, we see not one other angler.
We see plenty of fish though, the canal is like an aquarium - bream, tench, chub, perch, pike, roach.. and yes rudd. There are some real lunkers in here, proper bars of precious metal that glint and flash as they turn in the water. With claret fins they glow in your hands like the gold of the Celts.
I'm catching on my new Enshou, rigged with Fujino midi mono line and 6ft of 6X tippet. An ideal combination I'm finding, for the finicky biting rudd who can inhale and eject the fly without any signal transmitting up the line. I'm watching the water instead for the tell tale flash of a turning fish, or when the riffle calms, by actually seeing the take. Even then, many hook-ups are missed by simply pulling the fly from the rudd's mouth. It's something to do with their upturned shape I think as I seem to miss more takes with rudd than with any other fish.
My fly of choice is a size 16 kebari with a gold bead head. I'm not fishing deep but I find this tiny bit of weight helps with control of the fly in the blustery conditions. It seems an attractive pattern to the rudd and on our second day's fishing, Dom tries out my kebari on his western fly rod and it does the business for him too.
I'm fishing into the wind and there is no option to switch banks so I have to adapt my presentation. When the breeze stiffens I can use it to sail my line, making the kebari swim with purpose in mid water. If I want to slow the drift down I can lay some of the line onto the water. The Fujino works well for this because its fairly buoyant and doesn't drag the fly down through the water column.
The biggest rudd are proving elusive this trip but some nice fish come to hand. On our first day we are joined by another David, a super chap and a guiding client of Dom's, and we are all enjoying some action among the roach and rudd.
David has to return home so on the second day Dom and I strike out further in search of bigger rudd. The wind is really getting up now though and fish spotting is difficult in the choppy water, but we manage to winkle out a few more nice roach and rudd.
Good company and silver and gold - riches indeed!