After a busy few days with site meetings with the WCSRT, EA, landowners, local clubs etc regarding our BS habitat works on the Avon and Stour, it was good to have a day free to go fishing! As I wandered expectantly towards the river, I passed beneath a tall oak tree, a large and ancient specimen that is probably a few hundred years old. Something fell from the tree, and landed a few feet in front of me, with that soft, sickening thud that can only be made as a dead body hits the ground. It was a large rabbit, with no head, and a few entrails on show. My first thought was that it was lost prey from either a leopard, or a buzzard, both of which will stash a kill up a tree for a while. I quickly discounted the leopard, not common in the Avon valley, although there are tales of large black cats that could be escaped mountain lion. It was likely that one of the buzzards that I often saw perching in the oak had accidentally dropped a meal from a feeding branch above my head; I imagined it cursing to itself about a lost lunch, but took the dead rabbit as a bad omen, and fished with not much confidence.

The rabbit turned out to be lucky, though, and I had a couple of clean sprightly barbel of seven and eight pounds within a couple of hours, who had moved in on the bed of hemp I had introduced a day or so before when I last fished the swim. A quiet spell followed, then, as dusk approached, the slow purr of the centrepin suggested a better fish had taken the bait. It was a strong, dour, determined fighter, and was clearly a good sized barbel.

At 13lb 8oz, a fish that proved that an almost entire dead rabbit can be as lucky as the foot alone.