Now I had massive plans for this winter with plenty of plans cemented and targets set, that was until the travel restrictions were put in place to ruin it all. Alone on a bank in the middle of nowhere, travelling at quite times to avoid traffic, travelling on safe routes etc seemed to matter not, so my thoughts of targeting an Itchen, Medway, Kentish Stour and Lea Barbel were all thrown out the window, my only one saving grace is that I'm working a lot around the Colne Valley and what runs through it?
The mighty and hard as nails, River Colne. A river I don't know particularly well but last season managed two in my first visit, both 8lb+, how hard could it be? Early November I went down for my first outing and did half a day in search of a fish, fast forward to the 3rd of March when I finally got a savage wrap that given the fact my rod/s had remained motionless for almost 11 trips I wasn't expecting it but bloody happy I did as I was severely questioning my approach, my timing, my chosen venues, basically everything and knowing the Colne through other avenues I know time is a commodity that is very much required to be successful here, probably more so than many other rivers where Barbel are the chosen target.
So when that Barbel savagely headed downstream I automatically had visions of a huge fish that had evaded capture for years and had achieved biblical proportions and now I was tussling with it, trying to outwit a fish in its own backyard which was littered with numerous downed trees and submerged obstacles to avoid, with plenty of power still clearly on display I tried to get its head up in the torchlight reveal was I was connected to and determine whether I needed to play with more caution or throw it to the wind and mug it! Given the lengths I had gone too to get this far and be connected with one both those thoughts were vying for number one spot.
After a good 3-4 minutes she finally came upstream gently and into view, I have to admit, I thought she was a lot bigger given the show of power, but didn't fight erratically like most Barbel of that size do, my heart did sink a little bit, I thought my target of a Colne double had been achieved, not long after I saw her she was resting in the net and my first Colne Barbel of the season was on the chalkboard.
Not the monster I hoped for at 7lb 14oz but a welcome sight for certain. I spent another three trips after that fish for nothing but the occasional quiver, hard work indeed as 14 trips comprised of 64.5 hours of hard graft for 1 Barbel, 1 Bream and a lost Carp to something sharp.
I will be back in the new season with a new sense of vigour and hope to put this difficult river to bed, it will happen, just when....