First Barbel Trip of the Season.
Since mid March when the 2017/18 season ended my angling has as many of my consistent readers will know has mainly comprised of carp fishing, not something that I have done a great deal of in the last 15 years or so, or at least with any conviction. A few hours spare in the early afternoon on Tuesday last week meant I could do a bit of fishing, however I hadn't packed much and carp weren't really on the agenda truth be told.
I left the house with my MKIV and match aerial combination with a mid summer barbel in mind. A tin of luncheon meat and my polaroids was all that was required, well other than the obvious fact that I had to find a feeding barbel, having not fished for them for nearly six months I was quite excited by the prospects and yes the carp fishing has been great fun and a challenge as I knew it would but to break it up with a short session targeting something else was welcome.
Having parked up after negotiating the already building rush hour traffic a few likely areas were thought of and my experience on this particular river gives me a great advantage, blanks over the last decades have been very very few and far between, local knowledge really is king. I decided to employ my favourite tactic of rolling meat as I feel supremely confident in the approach when done correctly and I didn't have to wait long as on my second trundle through I was rewarded with a fighting fit juvenile of approx 3lbs, not the monsters that I usually seek but a start nevertheless.
After a fast start it became apparent that there wasn't too much to cast at as water clarity was fairly poor which is unusual considering there hadn't been any rain for weeks upon weeks, this meant I had to roll blind which does catch fish but I prefer to stalk my fish and hopefully winkle out the bigger specimens in the shoals. Maybe an hour or so had gone by without much to speak of until I finally clapped eyes on something a lot bigger, something I had hoped for. Underneath a large Oak tree I could see the snout of a very good fish indeed, gently gliding across the bottom between to beds of ranunculus whilst occasionally levitating to the upper parts of the water column to intercept bugs or other foods in the process, this fish was certainly on the munch but its position to cast a bait too was very awkward.
Seven or eight attempts had already gone by without any success as I couldn't get the right angle on my bait and then drop on the rod tip to get the line under the outer most limbs of the tree so it didn't snag, on the first successful cast the bait dropped to the bottom like a stone and then began to ease down the gravels, I thought to myself "this is perfect, she has to go for it!", no sooner did that thought cross my mind she headed straight for the meat, swirled but only to see she had missed it and the bait continued down the run with no follow up. I thought my chance had gone.
Not to be downbeat I could see the barbel wasn't phased at all and continued its constant marshalling of the gravels, it took another half a dozen casts to get it right again, this time however the sheer fact of losing another meal proved too much and the bait vanished from sight and there was no hesitation on my part to set the hook, a powerful surging run against the current made for impressive viewing as I couldn't do much to prevent it, in the pacy current she held firm for well over 3 or 4 minutes giving me very little to do but keep the pressure on, as she tired out I seized the chance to put some side strain on and ease her out of the flow and towards my awaiting net, second time of asking I had a good one, a double, resting up to recover after its strong showing.
I wasn't quite prepared to see the Rueben Heatons settle on 11lb 2oz though!, very surprised by that and weighed it a second time to just to make sure. I was very happy with that and no sooner had I rested her up again after some photos and watched her swim off strongly the heavens opened and the first rains for nearly two months quickly made up my mind, my day was over. A cracking trip and a double figure barbel to wrap up proceedings was certainly not in my mind, however I'll take that!
Back to the carp.....for part Eighteen.