Nothing like home comforts and familiar territory. With my challenge in full swing and learning many other rivers in much shorter spans of time I returned to a river I know better than any other and can always be confident of finding and catching Barbel, even on a cold winters day!
I made a conscious decision to not fish this particular river as it's something I've been and done for 25 years, but seeing as my van was in for MOT and service for the day I could not think of anything better to do than go fishing. I had about a pint of maggots left over from last week so I opted to take the float rod and see if some Dace could be found, problem was, there was about 4 miles of river between my start point and where the Dace reside and within that 4-miles there is a dearth of Barbel areas, most anglers would think, targeting Barbel on 4.4lb Drennan float fish line, size 14 hook and a float rod would be suicide, however I can confirm that played correctly you stand every chance of landing big fish, even if it may seem very much an under-gunned approach.
I have complete confidence in using light gear for Barbel, especially in the winter when 5 mins are not uncommon as the battle of wills between man and beast play out ( in the summer I use more conventional methods to shorten battles as oxygen levels are much lower and recovery times are more of a concern and in hot conditions I cease fishing for the species entirely).
After dropping the van off I got to trotting the river with my good friend Stu, as we chewed the fat we looked into the gin clear water and it wasn't long before we saw a decent Barbel which unfortunately didn't fancy committing to a bait, so it was onwards and downwards as I sought areas that I know do produce fish. Next stop was a nice deep sweeping pool which normally produces a fish in the winter and yesterday was no different as on the very first trot the float bolted under.
|Hide and seek...|
A strong steady fight in the deep pool was very welcome considering I have accrued 29 blanks in 41 trips out for Barbel this season (most have been 1-3hr after work sessions but it still counts). As she slipped into the net I could feel my arm ache (these Barbel can do that, some exceptional fighting fit in the swift current).
|This beauty of 7.1 was a good start to the day.|
As we continued the search Brian and later on Richard joined us as we searched for more bites, but it was becoming very apparent that it wasn't going to be a manic day and would really have to work for opportunities. Apart from missing one hell of a bite about an hour later things were pretty slow going. It wasn't until about 1430 that I managed to find another fish after getting stuck into some seriously massive Minnows! yes possibly opposite ends of the piscatorial scale but awesome fish with some just a matter of a few grams off being British record fish!
|Latched into a fighting fit Barbel.|