You naughty little minkie
Imagine the scene. You carefully approach the bottom of a pool, and are about to make your first cast, when you hear an almighty commotion from deep inside the bankside vegetation. It gets louder, and you wonder what is about to happen. Is this a covert operation by an employee of the Environment Agency? Or are you about to come face to face with some crazed lunatic, who also happens to be a fully paid up member of PETA? For me though it was neither. Instead, tumbling through the nettles came a small black mink.
I stood motionless, and so did he. Only, he didn't know I was there. He stared into the pool I was about to fish, probably considering his chances in much the same way that I had been. For twenty seconds or so this continued. I was only about five feet away. In fact, I could probably have had him in the landing net. And then he caught a whiff of me. He panicked and dove into the water at my feet. And he was gone.
They trap mink on this stretch of the river, no doubt because of the number of trout they take. They don't seem to have a very good press on the whole, often seen as fur farm escapees, visciously taking our beautiful wild trout in a land they don't belong in. But I find it hard to be too hard line: I'm sure they take the trout; I'm sure their ancestors were jailbreakers, but then some of the brown trout don't really belong on this stretch of the river anyway. They might be indigenous to the UK, but most are stockies, raised in some fish farm some place else.
For those twenty seconds I was very close to a wild (OK, wildish) animal. I find it hard to be cold hearted. Unless, of course, it had made a grab for my best fish of the day. Then I would have had to give it a taste of Greyflex across the chops...