That's the PAC Convention out of the way for another year. Getting up at four thirty and driving 126 miles reinforced my dislike of early starts. The only good thing is watching the world appear from darkness - and the relatively quiet motorway system on a Saturday morning. As usual it was a good day to meet people you only see once a year. Being on your feet all day after getting up at daft o'clock takes it out of you, so Sunday was a lazy day of tidying my stock away then having an early tea and heading for the river.
With the warm dry spell continuing I was expecting to find a few cars in the car park and their occupants fishing where I fancied. Like a lot of anglers they were fishing to office hours and getting ready to pack up when I reached them. All too often these nine-to-fivers tell me I'm arriving at the right time as they put their gear away and head home. Especially when the river is showing its bones. If they know this why are they going home? Ah well, they had baited a couple of swims up for me. As they'd been there all day and caught a few I elected to cast out baits with no PVA bags attached.
The remaining two anglers, fishing the beach, were starting to pack up and I was thinking of moving there as they hadn't caught any barbel but had been putting bait in regularly. Cue the upstream rod hooping over! Two 8mm crab pellets had been picked up by a smallish barbel. Stop where I was for a bit longer.
It was still light when I heard a sound like a herd of heffalumps moving through the wood opposite. Then I heard the cackling of badgers arguing. They really aren't the most stealthy of creatures. I tried to get a glimpse of them but most of the leaves are still clinging to the branches. Just as soon as they had started their racket it stopped.
After twenty minutes more I could feel the beach calling me again. The downstream rod arced and the baitrunner spun. A slightly bigger fish, and a well proportioned one too. I stuck it half an hour longer then went to get grit in my tackle. A chub attacked the boilie almost immediately, without getting hooked, but it was nearly an hour before the upstream rod lurched round on it's rest. The fish was on, then it went solid. I kept the pressure up and it moved, the line grating on something before it came free. A similar sized barbel to the previous one. I checked the line and hooklink for damage before recasting.
For some reason I couldn't settle here, so decided to move again at ten. On winding in the upstream rod it snagged. A good steady pull felt as if the rig was in weed, which seemed unlikely given the depth. Things moved but grudgingly. I found out why when my rig left the water with another hook attached - and some nylon. I freed the hook and commenced to wind the lost line around my hand. There were yards and yards of it. At least as much as it would take to cast across the river. I'm sure that was what the fish had taken me through.
My next move was to a swim I hadn't fished before. In the dark it was difficult to get my bearings, not least because the feature I wanted to cast to was now invisible... Whether I fished the right swim or not I'll know next time I visit in daylight!
It was comfy peg to fish from and sheltered from the breeze that had died down after dark. The only disturbance being from the drying balsam pods showering me with their seeds. Clouds parted and reformed. Stars were peeping and hiding. Yet again it was a warm night with only the fleece required. A grand night to have been bivvied up somewhere. While the dry spell is forecast to continue there are frosts predicted for later in the week. After an hour I was getting drowsy. My eyes were shut when I heard a baitrunner and looked up to see the downstream rod bent over. It felt like a barbel for a few seconds before metamorphosing into a chub. Chub always seem to fill out later than barbel and this skinny four pounder was no exception.
Midnight came, the house lights in the valley were going out. I set off back to the car wondering why someone who was never fit in their youth and whose knees and hips are wearing out would be clambering about wild river banks in the middle of the night. Driving along the narrow, high-hedged, lane from the farm I came across one of the reasons. Minding its own business was a roe deer buck that slowly turned and trotted ahead of me. Ten yards further up the road I noticed movement lower to the track. At first I thought it was a rabbit but when I focused properly it was the rear end of a badger leading the deer to the lane. Badgers always look to me like they've forgotten to put their arms in the sleeves of their coats, their fur seeming to be draped over them. At the junction brock turned right and found his way under a fence, the deer turned left and began to panic trying to get through a thick hedge. I stopped the car to let it take its time. At the third attempt it found a spot where it could push its way through. Normal people, and nine-to-five anglers, don't have experiences like that.