Sunday evening and again the river was all but deserted. A rainbow greeted me as I descended into the valley. Rain greeted me as I got out of the car. That set the pattern for the night. Showers of light rain that took ages to pass over with the lack of wind. It was warm rain though, so not dispiriting.
Arriving around seven fifteen I took my time selecting a swim. I was going to be there for the whole night so wanted somewhere comfy to set up camp. I know it's not the way it should be done... The swim I eventually chose was reasonably flat and grassy, with just enough depth of water in front of me to make netting any fish I might catch easy. It's a swim I have caught from before, so it wasn't purely selected with comfort in mind.
The baits were out by eight and left there for over an hour before rebaiting. The water was still clear so it would be after dark when I expected action to commence. Even with the cloud cover it remained surprisingly light until after ten thirty. Another couple of weeks and we'll start to notice the nights drawing in though. This midsummer period of long evenings is short and should be savoured - preferably by going fishing!
I thought I'd noticed the river level beginning to rise before it went dark. If it was on the up it was a slow rise. It gave me a confidence boost, nonetheless. At twenty past eleven that confidence was rewarded when the red lights started flashing and the bite alarm sounded. As I was doing an overnighter I thought there was a good chance of me nodding off at some point, so the alarms had been brought into action.
It wasn't long before a seven pounder was being returned. Rebaiting the 8mm crab Pellet-O took a while sat huddled under my brolly, but ten minutes later the rig was back in place. I'd hardly got settled in my chair when the same rod was away again. This time the barbel was a couple of pounds smaller. I was now anticipating a feeding frenzy. Needless to say I was mistaken.
Almost an hour later the same rod came alive, but my strike met with feeble resistance and a strangely eel-like spinning sensation was transmitted up the line. Luckily the culprit was a small, but scale perfect, chub of about a pound. At one o'clock the upstream rod, fishing an S-Pellet was in action with a tapp-tapping bite. This also felt like an eel, but a bit bigger than the usual bootlaces. Then it fell off. The slime all over the rig told me it had been an eel. I'd been saved the trouble of wrestling with it by torchlight, thank goodness.
My eyelids grew heavy. The alarms didn't disturb my slumber and I awoke as darkness was ever so slightly beginning to retreat. I'd been asleep for some time so I rebaited both rods. Just before four, with the dawn chorus in full flow, I was thinking that this period of half-light might be the last chance when the downstream rod slammed over. This had to be a barbel. It wasn't. It was another chub. Again scale perfect, but somewhat bigger at a shade under three pounds. Half an hour later, with the rain well and truly gone, I packed up. The river had risen, but only three or four inches at the most. It will take three or four feet to really get the barbel going at the moment I think
The drive home was along deserted roads. Deserted apart from magpies and wood pigeons. What the attraction of tarmac is for these birds I don't know, but there they were, dozens of them. The magpies hopping and the woodies waddling. If they weren't on the road they were perched on the street lights. Not everyone's favourite birds, but both have remarkable plumage when you look closely. I could see the sun in my mirrors, breaking out from behind fluffy clouds. A great time to be out and about.