The first of two sessions this week took place early in the morning. Very early in fact, arriving before dawn, but only just. Time to rain a good amount of bait into an area of the river I thought looked best for a bite. Such a commotion would surely unnerve any fish present, at least for a while, so over the next hour to give the swim time to settle, I ate a tea cake, had two cups of tea and generally took in the ambience of the place. Peaceful, cool and hazy. The landscape tinged in blue. Without a breathe of wind. Nothing dared to move. The river itself only doing so begrudgingly.
Unfortunately, the rod tip followed suit, sitting motionless for around two hours, before eventually giving in. The bite was a spectacular one, rod tip hooping over and jagging ferociously, and it appeared my target species had been hooked. The hard fighting barbel. Upon picking up the rod however, I was met with little resistance, a little head nodding but nothing more. A small chub then, the greedy little thing certainly had its eye on a good meal, in the form of the big halibut pellet I had on as bait. I casually reeled the fish in and netted it, but upon peeling away the layers of mesh, I was shocked to see it was in fact a baby barbel, perfectly formed and fresh from the mould. Quite how it managed to take that pellet I’ll never know.
After it’s picture, the fish swam strongly away, the rivers future for a second literally in my hands, and its a good sign to see smaller fish present. For the rest of the session though, it appeared as if the river was devoid of fish, save that one baby barbel. Dinner time soon came and with the sun now very high, it was time to leave, the drive home giving me time enough to plan a return trip for the next evening.
The next day passed quickly and I soon found myself bank on the riverbank. A session of opposites about to begin. For starters it was evening instead of morning. No longer was the air still, an angry wind gusted from all directions, and the sun that forced me to retreat the day before was hidden from view behind dark grey clouds. Ones who’s bark, I hoped, would turn out to be much worse than their bite. The only thing remotely similar to the first session was the level of the river and its lack of flow. Despite this I decided to fish positively, so in went a few feeders full of pellets, casters and of course, some hemp. Much smaller baits would be used this time, my hookbait changed from pellet to caster, at least until darkness fell.
I ate a tasty pie, had three cups of tea, and set up my camera equipment in readiness. Just in case, and certainly not a show of confidence, but if I was to catch a fish I wanted to keep it out of the water for as little time as possible. An hour soon passed, in fact it was nearer two hours, and I’d still not made a cast. My hay fever played up big style, my eyes itched and I couldn’t stop sneezing. Probably not the wisest move to be sat in the countryside but what was I to do? I also became sidetracked feeding a trumpeter swan some casters. I’d never seen one before and they are huge! On occasions the swan looked lovely, yet on others seemed to have a sinister look in its eye, as if it now knew where my secret bait stash was and would seize it the very moment my back was turned. Unsurprisingly, I now had a companion for the rest of the evening, but I didn’t mind.
My rig was cast into place a little after nine o’clock and remained there until well after eleven. From nowhere the rod tip sprang to life. I sharply picked the rod up and leant into a powerful fish. In the darkness it was a fantastic fight, accompanied by hisses from an unimpressed swan, a long and sleek barbel gave me a real run around. In the end the fish was beaten, and rested for a few minutes before I even contemplating unhooking, which I could do in the margins. It was then up to the mat for a super quick picture, a maximum of thirty seconds later the fish was back in the margins and allowed to fully recover. It took a further five minutes before I was happy enough the drop the rim and let her swim off. Which she did strongly, illuminated in the clear water by my head torch, an impressive sight indeed.
And that was it for the rest of the evening but I left the river a very happy angler, walking back across the field amongst a huge hatch of mayflies, and the sound of ravenous trout taking advantage of this bounty. A perfect end to a fantastic evenings fishing.
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