Barbel of around 3lb 8oz landed on my first roll of the season, well there's no point warming up as I didn't get a chance to, the take came totally out the blue and my first Barbel from that part of the river in 7 or 8 years, over the closed season I have been lucky enough to spot a small shoal of Barbel to around the 8lb mark which was something I didn't expect to see for a few years yet, due to the fact they were only stocked in early 2008, truly amazing.
But when I arrived at the swim I was gutted to find it was totally void of the dense vegetation that I carefully crouched through to watch the Barbel and what they were doing, needless to say the disturbance that was caused by this put them on alert and they wouldn't respond to my rolled bait, two different fish did go up to briefly and backup away from it, which shows a minute interest on their part, so I will be back to try and extricate one.
On my way down I did see a few fish and had a 2lb Chub rolling and a missed take off another, about a mile or so downstream I did find a shoal of 6 Barbel sat on a gravel run at the front of a depression which had a nice run of weed either side of it, perfect Barbel swim complete with an overhanging tree to give plenty of cover, on my first roll down the bait got caught on a stick that was wedged in a piece of weed and as I flicked the bait up to get it off the stick a beard came straight out from the shoal and snaffled the meat, oh how I have missed the scrap of a Barbel.
Biggest of the season so far at 7lbs 5ozs.
Off to a Barbel anglers heaven.
3 Months is along time in angling and I hadn't forgot how well they fought but it reminded me of the power they possess, truly brilliant. I left the swim alone for a while and headed down river about a mile and half to find some more fish and it took along time to accrue another fish, with swim after swim being rolled through without a bite when I got another tug on my finger tip I struck into the fish and a small Barbel made off with the bait, within 2 minutes I had Barbel number three on the bank and yet another small Barbel of about 3lbs, good fun and they were certainly moving around but the bigger Barbel were hiding away more.
I decided to head back up to where I had the 7lb Barbel from and giving it another go, it wasn't long before I got an enquiry on one of my first rolls through, but a take didn't materialize and it took about another half a dozen rolls until I got a take which firmly took the bait but it didn't feel like a Barbel as the fight was weaker but it knew where the snags were and did its best to snap me up but after a couple of minutes I finally saw it and a large Chub appeared from the overhanging tree and all but gave up, heading straight to the net, a proper warrior of a Chub with plenty of scars, I couldn't wait to put her on the scales to find out just how big it was.
On the scales she weighed 5lbs 6ozs, a big Chub for a system like this, on the Great Ouse it's an average fish or even a little above average, I was extremely happy to have caught this fish, a proper Chevin, I hope to catch a few more of these this season and one off the Ouse would be great, after releasing this great fish back I did have another Chub of 4lb 1oz but nowhere near as impressive as the 5.
For the evening I fancied having a go on another stretch and just sit behind a rod an hour before dusk and fish through to about 10pm which is the perfect time to have a bait out, but for the time I spent in my chosen swim I did get a reel turner on my centre-pin but struck and nothing, probably a Chub rap, so after a couple of hours I packed up but as I finished that my mate Stu called over who was in a swim above me so I went up to see him and watched the last 2 minutes of his battle, so I readied the net and did the honours, a nice slim spawned out Barbel slipped into the awaiting net.
Stu's first of the season at 7lb 7oz, fully spawned out and showing a few scrapes from spawning.