The dim head torch supplied just enough light to pack away. I must remember to change the batteries. A triple check was observed to make sure I had not forgotten anything. Although later it turned out I had indeed forgotten something. I began the walk back to the car. A time to reflect on the day. It had certainly been a memorable session. One that I might have played out in my head before starting fishing. It would probably go something like this.
I made my way to the area of the river I fished last week. Thoughts of chunky chub still firmly rooted in my mind. I hoped I might encounter another fat bellied chevin before the end of the season. The water was fairly clear and the level lower than my last visit. I was sheltered from a moderate wind by the high bank in front of me and the temperatures were on the up. On the whole then pretty favourable conditions. Once more I would use pellets. They’ve served me well so far on this river and there is always the chance of picking up a bonus fish too. I didn’t mess about this week. Straight away I fed two bait droppers of mixed pellets. I now had plenty of time to set the rods up, tie the rigs, and have a ritualistic cup of good luck tea.
The morning gave way to afternoon and although I had not had any visits from the chub, time had not dragged. I cast every hour and fed small helpings of pellets via the catapult on a more regular basis. There was plenty of wildlife to warrant my otherwise fixed gaze be shifted. For a few moments at least. Geese, mallards and a pair of swans drifted by on the current. Plenty of gulls and a maligned cormorant flew overhead. A kingfisher darted past twice and I even saw my first swallow of the year. Of course, it’s presence doesn’t guarantee summer but it is certainly a step in the right direction. By late afternoon a few clouds rolled in and the sun began to bow ever closer to the horizon. I recast the rods again and poured another cup of tea, holding onto the notion that the next hour might present me with a reward for my efforts. Secretly though, I resigned myself to simply enjoying the last moments of a fulfilling day spent in beautiful location. Cue the right hand rod hooping over. And the spilling of my tea.
A heavy weight hung across the river. In the deep water, it felt particularly chub-like, prompting me to take my time. Steady pressure saw the fish ease to mid river. Then into slightly shallower water but this was not to the fishes liking. A screaming clutch ended any belief that this fish was a chub. With a little pressure on the spool, the run was thwarted but not before the fish was pretty much back where it had started. I went through the process again. Steady pressure and deliberate movements of the rod. Coaxing the as yet unseen fish into the margins. Another devastating run. Pace and power. Unstoppable. Gradually the runs became shorter and I began to gain the upper hand. Energy sapped, a bronze and brassy flank revealed itself as a good sized barbel turned on its side, allowing me to carefully draw it over the outstretched landing net.
A beautiful, sleek looking barbel. Perfectly conditioned and full of fight. It was not the intended chub but I was not complaining one bit. My first barbel from the river. Certainly a fish to remember. Time for some quick pictures. It was then a case of resting the fish and sharing a few moments before watching it swim strongly back into its magnificent home. The sun had now dipped below the horizon. I recast the rod and waited for darkness, and maybe for the first time ever, I didn’t want to catch anything else at all. I just wanted to take in the moment under the burning orange sky.
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