Air and water temperatures are falling, frosts are on the way, and the clocks go back tonight. The end of easy barbel fishing is imminent.
Hoping that the rain of Thursday had fallen in the right places, and with the encouragement of petrol being less than £1.00 a litre when I filled the tank, I set off down what proved to be a congested motorway. A sunny Friday afternoon made sure of the slow progress and a later arrival at the river than planned. The popular pegs were well staked out, but the Rat Hole was free. I thought I'd give it another blast having finally caught a barbel from it last Sunday. Unlike Sunday the swim lived up to its name with rustlings and squealings, not to mention splashings and swimmings. Roland wasn't on his own.
Unfortunately the rain must have fallen in Spain, or somewhere else away from the river, because the level was low and the clarity good - if you like clear water. The temperature wasn't too bad, but lower than earlier in the week. There would still be a chance after dark.
While I was setting up an angler I had met before stopped for a chat - he'd expected more coloured water too. After a few minutes set off and set up somewhere well away from me, unlike the bloke who arrived shortly before dark, tramped noisily up and down the bank and ended up fishing on the downstream side of the willow I was fishing to. There were only three of us fishing this bank...
Shortly before Kermit arrived a kestrel had dipped over the river, up over the willows and down onto a patch of dried mud where it started to have a dust bath until it spotted me and flew off over the recently seeded field behind me. The willows are almost stripped bare now meaning that the flocks of long tailed tits working up and down the river are easy to watch. They are lively little birds and soon flit away. Wrens are lively too, and surprisingly noisy for such tiny creatures. One entertained me singing in the branches for a few minutes. I'd have taken a photo but I'm rubbish at wildlife photography, as the picture of a merganser (or goosander?) below illustrates perfectly!
There was a bit of weed coming down the river, but not enough to cause problems like the leaves did the other night. Not enough to dislodge a three ounce lead in fact. Unfortunately nothing fishy dislodged the leads either. About half past eight Kermit packed up (noisily) and wandered off bemoaning the fact that 'they weren't having it'. Maybe I'd have a chance after the swim had quietened down after another hour or two now?
Despite logic telling me I was wasting my time I had a feeling a barbel would make an appearance. It wasn't to be. Although the sky was clear and the air temperature down to just six degrees I stuck it until my flask was cold at half past twelve. I wasn't surprised to find the river deserted as I walked back to the car.
There might be one half decent window of barbel opportunity before the forecast cold spell arrives next week. I think it will only open a crack though.