This year I have fished probably less than ever before but I have managed to achieve one thing, I built a canoe. Drifting on water would be a new found perspective that had an appeal and the urge to construct something was prevalent. The process of building the canoe and why I ended up doing it is written up in issue 11 of Fallon’s Angler along with a rather good cover but I will refrain from saying anymore while I gently blush!
After a few short trips on the Lea in the summer myself and a friend Greg decided to make one last trip of the year, to paddle along the Suffolk Stour in the autumn, (personally my favourite time of year). I knew very little about the county or the river despite making many visits to Portman Road over the years as a life long supporter of Ipswich Town. For both of us this would be a voyage of unknowns and an opportunity to load up the canoe and try it out before I plan a longer trip next spring.
We set off a day after southern England was hit by the aftermath of hurricane Ophelia which whipped up the Sahara sands, a Ray Bradbury’esk atmosphere cloaked the land in an orange haze as we set off from Bures on the Essex/Suffolk border. Our journey was to be around thirteen miles with a stop off overnight on a small campsite that nestled next to the river. We packed light but made sure we had good provisions; wine, whiskey and food, our campsite had a farm shop and 28 days old steak was offered up to our open fire in the evening cooked on my old steel pan, we were alone, we were the last campers of the season. The night was mild but by sunrise light rain started to fall which slowly became heavier throughout the morning. Over the two days we had the Stour to ourselves aside from the occasional dog walker and one lone angler who sat motionless in the early morning drizzle of our second day. He sat still, an elderly man who’s posture resembled that of a heron transfixed on the water, mutual respect was exchanged in a silent nod as he waited for us to drift past so he could once again be alone with his thoughts as we headed on towards Stratford-St- Mary.