I'd found a blank that might just turn into my ideal dropper/tree rod with a little hacksaw work and was toying with building it up yesterday evening. But there was a nagging voice in my head. Rather later than usual I was driving towards the river. I'd hedged my bets by taking a route that gave me a couple of options for tracks to follow. As soon as the first turning approached I flicked the indicator on and was pleased to see just one car parked up.
The river was up and carrying some colour. The air was warm and the sky overcast. It could be a nice muggy barbel night. I wanted to try a new swim and after lugging my gear down the bank I droppered in some pellets, using the botched rod I'd cobbled together last week, above a willow. There was a fair depth close with a good flow, so the dropper was the answer. I then took my time setting up the rods, shoving in the banksticks and finding somewhere I could get my chair reasonably level.
There was a strong breeze blowing upstream, but the willow kept it off me and it was quite a comfy peg, if a little cramped, to fish from. The plan was to leave the baits out for as long as possible. A 15mm boilie down to the tree and a 10mm boilie cast upstream. The 3oz leads were holding nicely, but after an hour I recast the upstream rod. A good job too. How long the bait had been missing is anyone's guess. Those 10mm Tuna wraps are okay, but a pellet stop makes them split. I really should have used a normal hair stop. I swapped the boilie for a drilled pellet.
The church clock chimed nine and the isotopes were already glowing brightly against the starless sky. The clouds had merged and thickened. Half an hour later the rain came. It started light at first. It wasn't long before it got heavier. Like a fool I'd left my brolly in the car so I decided to tough it out. Sitting there hunkered down with my jacket zipped up above my chin, the hood pulled low over my eyebrows and my specs steaming up my mind went back to the wettest day I have spent in a boat.
It was on Chew reservoir, and not only did it rain solidly all day but it was windy too. With both anchors down it was still like being on a switchback ride. I was sat at the front and the driving rain was so bad that my boat partner at the stern had to sit with his back to me. Not only were we wet and miserable, we couldn't even lighten our mood by chatting about surreal topics like racing-pigs as we have done on similar occasions. We were 'glad when we'd had enough' that day, but we weren't quite the last drowned rats back at the lodge!
After ten minutes of water pooling on my lap and running up my sleeves I cracked. I went for the brolly. After fiddling around for a few minutes I got it stable, the high bank behind me making the job difficult. On winding in the baits I'd noticed the drilled pellet had gone. Things were not going well. I rebaited both rods and cast out again. The rain immediately grew lighter. Then stopped altogether. I took the brolly down...
The sky now lightened and the Plough appeared. The wind was picking up, not quite creating white caps on the water, but making quite a ripple against the flow. I thought the pace of the river seemed to be increasing too. It must have been, there was certainly more weed coming down and the rod tops were pulled down further. One rig moved. Then the other. A couple of recasts and a snagged lead later it was time to break out the big leads for the first time this season. They did their job. But by eleven twenty I'd had enough and conceded defeat for only the second time on the river since June. It was due.
I'd only fished for three hours but the conditions had been changeable to say the least! The car's thermometer told me the air temperature had dropped from 19 to 13.5. Those chilly single figure, bunny suit, nights are getting closer.