The river was nicely coloured, had been up a foot or more and was dropping. Not much flow though, but hardly any debris or weed coming down either. Three other anglers were on the stretch but a good peg was free. Arriving after seven I took my time rigging the rods up, and as I did so the resident family of mallards arrived. I'd taken my old maggots-turned-to-casters from last week with me, so I threw a couple of hands full in the margin which they eagerly devoured. Like feathery locusts they were! To try and get the ducks away from me I scattered the rest of the maggots in the next peg and left them to it.
With the baits cast out I set to tying up some more hooklinks using the S5s. A few taps and pulls came to the downstream rod. Nothing positive. Probably eels or chub. As I couldn't be bothered filling a flask I'd taken the stove and kettle along and was soon relaxing enjoying a brew and watching the swallows flying high over the river and the wood on the far bank.One of the anglers upstream landed a small barbel. Another guy lost one - his 'strong' 8lb hooklink having parted.
Then they returned. Not content with dabbling in the edge of the river they were on the march towards me!
True to form it was a one take night, and that take came just before eleven. Not having isotopes on the rod tips I was relying on the baitrunner for indication, but there was just enough light for me to see the tip of the downstream rod pull down slowly and steadily before the baitrunner started to creak. A single 8mm crab Pellet-O had done the trick again. As soon as I bent into the fish I could feel the horrible springiness of the mono. It didn't feel like a monster, but it was a decent one. Half way back it woke up and peeled some line against the clutch. Then it was gone. At first I suspected a cut-off, but no. The hook had come free. I checked the point for sharpness, rebaited and recast. Maybe it's just one of those things, but the S5s will be consigned to the bream/tench box. I have found them good hookers for those species but they had lived up to my suspicions about their shape for barbel. Give me a short shank/wide gape with a slightly curved in point every time.
I suppose it was the innocence of youth, but the ducklings knew no fear. I threw them some pellets and they were clambering over each other to get at them. Once the pellets were devoured they came closer. One pecked at my boot, the others surrounded me. Some spilled pellets under my chair stood no chance. Even the flash from my camera didn't scare them off. I was terrified!
It wasn't long before the same rod pulled over again and some line was taken before I picked up the rod. I knew straight away that the culprit was an eel. A bit bigger than usual at around a pound, and lip hooked so easily released.
The next time the tip pulled down something pulled back briefly, then everything went solid. After a long walk downstream to alter the angle of pull and much heaving against the stretchy mono something eventually gave. The hooklength had parted, but the stop-swivel had pulled through the rubber bead and large eye swivel in the process. Had I been on braid all that would have been a lot easier. Every time I fish for barbel with mono I wonder why I do it. I can't see any advantage it has over braid.
Retackled and rebaited the rod was cast out again. By now it was gone half past midnight, the almost-full moon starting to shine through the gaps in the trees. I doubted the barbel would show up again. One more brew and I was heading back home. Knowing that one take, two if you're lucky, with maybe the chance of a low double is probably why I took different tackle with me to make the session a little more interesting. Time for a change I think.