For once the weathermen got it right, and I snatched a couple of days before the temperature dropped. Saturday afternoon saw me, pursued by frisky bullocks, heading for the bend I'd looked at last week. It was late on by the time I had done some depth finding with my Smartcast fish finder and scouted out the glide downstream of the bend. Certainly an area worth more attention, and it did look as pikey as I thought in my last blog post. In fact as I retrieved my 3oz gripper lead from my first exploratory cast to check the depth and feel the bottom make up a pike of four five pounds grabbed it! I'd thrown a few small curly shads and a wire trace in the rucksack in case I fancied trying for perch, but not wishing to miss an opportunity for what was obviously an easy pike I cut off the barbel rig and tied on the trace. After a dozen or so casts the lure got nailed, and after a surprisingly lively fight in the fast flow the fish was in the net.
Small but in good nick, apart from a chunk of its upper tail lobe being missing, it was my first pike by design for almost twelve months!
After returning the pike I put the barbel rods out. The air and water temps were encouraging, but the wind was strong and with more than a hint of the north in it, and a little rain. Definitely brolly weather. Not long before dark the upstream rod started tapping out it's chub message and a three pounder was landed. For whatever reason my heart wasn't in it and I packed up at seven to head for a more sheltered spot. The rain showers got heavier after I settled in to the new swim, but apart from an odd chubby rattle that was my lot. It was still a mild 11 degrees when I got in the sleeping bag at eleven.
The river was up a good few inches on last week and carrying more colour so I was confident of a fish or two early doors on the Sunday. But again they failed to materialise. The cloud cover had broken up and although the clearing sky brought sunshine it was still fairly cool. I jacked it in at eleven and decided to head for home. A few miles down the road I changed my mind and called in for a look somewhere else. It was sheltered from the wind, which was easing off anyway, and quite pleasant. More importantly the river looked to be quite well coloured. A quick bacon sandwich in the car park, to the envy of a couple of dog walkers, and I was off down the bank.
The swim I picked to start off in was a sure fire chub swim, a lovely crease with a good depth under the rod top, but I had caught a barbel from above the bush on the opposite side of the river a few months back so I knew they liked the area. Things looked good. I tried to fish a bait to the bush but there was a lot of weed coming downstream, some big clumps too, so both baits had to come in close. Pretty soon a chub came a knocking, but didn't hook itself. However I knew it wouldn't be long before it made the fatal error. Which it did in good style, really banging the rod tip. It was small. About a pound! But it saved a blank!
I made one more move before dark, but as the light faded and the air temperature started to fall I lost what little confidence I had left. I'd tried to make the best of the conditions before they took a turn for the worse as far as barbel are concerned, but failed. Accepting defeat I headed home watching the air temperature plummet from 4.5 to almost zero by the time I pulled off the motorway.
I can't see me fishing again for over a week now for various reasons. What I'll be fishing for next will be decided by the weather.