I must confess, this last couple of weeks since I lost those two big fish a couple of weeks back have chewed me up and really got under my skin, not often I feel like that. To have a change of scenery to take my mind off it I dropped onto the Kentish Stour for a shot at a Barbel, however after 5 hours I came away with another blank, things haven't looked particularly rosey of late on the fishing front.
The recent low pressure and incessant rain has had a good impact on the rivers down here and upon arriving on the muddy banks of the S.Ouse I suddenly felt confident that I'd get a chance, not that the river itself is prolific, anything but is probably more accurate but I was fishing with bait that I have become quite comfortable in using and a tried & tested approach that have caught so many Barbel for me over the years.
After a swift drive into Sussex from my nice warm house I began to setup the rod and once that was ready I under arm threw a small offering of freebies and side hooked a small PVA bag of the same garlic nimrod pellets and 15mm garlic nimrod dumbbells crushed up. Now ready and raring to go a short placement of the hookbait on a gravel run was all I needed as any fish downstream would hopefully find my hookbait in the mild murky water.
The setup I have began to employ is a 15lb braided mainline and an 18" 15lb IQ2 hooklength fished with a size 4 continental wipe gape barbless hook and a 2oz lead. It may seem a bit heavy and certainly heavier than I normally tackle up with but wanted to make sure that if I got another chance I didn't want to lose it, failure once again was not an option.
As Arsenal played the last of a lousy 90minutes of football I opted to turn off the phone and watch the stars appear just as a large storm cloud eased away, which had dumped alot of rain during my opening thirty minutes on the river. Not to be deterred I put the hood the up on my new Daiwa bib & brace set and focused on my rod. Not long after the skies cleared another bank of rain headed straight for me, roughly 50 minutes after setting up and recasting with a new PVA bag I got a couple of very delicate taps which got me hovering over the rod, ready to pick it up the rod started to just pull round but very slowly and then stopped. I wasn't sure what was happening, for about 30 seconds it held firm in that position by which point I decided to lift the rod and give it a firm strike, to my surprise it wasn't a bunch of leaves, but didn't feel like a fish for about 10 seconds as it held solid, that was until I tried to gain line on it, then it moved!
I cranked down on a fairly tight clutch and I don't think the fish realised it was hooked as it came towards the bank really easily and thats when I saw it in the torch light, a NEW PANTS PLEASE moment! It was a very big fish and just as I thought about mugging it "she" used one stroke of her large tail to soak me ( luckily donning my suit ) and she tore off downstream, stripping line off the tight clutch, more than 30 yards! I was powerless to stop her and could only out some side strain on to halt the charge!
As she approached the next tree line I started to get worried that she'd shift my hook into the branches like the previous lost monsters of the night did, so I had to go for broke and tighten the clutch even more and pray my gear was up to the task, as having seen the fish I knew what was at stake. Mercifully, she started to slow up and found that lifting my rod up in the air rather than side strain got her to turn quicker, from that point on I didn't let up at all and just kept up the pressure and making the odd yard of line. Not before long I leaned back down with my awaiting net and this time, she was ready and gently slipped in. Cue the fist pumping and cheesy ear to ear grins!
Not even the rain that started to hammer down by this point could dampen my excitement! The scales settled on a mind boggling, personal best breaking, Sussex river munching machine 15lbs 12ozs!
A quick few images were taken and hoped for the very best as I didn't want to damage the camera.
I recast a couple of minutes after releasing her once a nice long rest was completed for both the fish and I! But I couldn't focus, so I packed up and went on my very merry way! River number 4, completed.