Once again work kept me away from the river until Thursday, and then I still left it a bit late. The clocks changing has really messed my timing up. I fancied a crack at a stretch I haven't fished yet this season, but as I was running late and the walk involved is long I changed my mind and headed for the last length I fished. With just three days of the salmon season left the desperate rod wafters were out in force. There wasn't much space in the car park. Only two barbel anglers were in evidence and one was getting ready to leave. There had been a few barbel caught during the day, and the guy who was leaving even landed one while I was waiting to jump in his swim.
The river was back down, and no nasty leaves were coming down. Looking in the margins they were forming a carpet in the slack margins. Next time the river rises they'll be on the move again making life difficult. The warm weather was continuing, and while it was a balmy 16 degrees the sky was overcast, the wind coming from the opposite side of the river I was sheltered by the high bank.
It wasn't long before a chub rattled the downstream rod. I was guaranteed a good session. The baits had been out an hour, the light gone, when I had a proper bite to the same rod. There was nothing there- except a bit of twig on the hook point. After removing the wood I was attaching a fresh bag of pellets to the hook when the other baitrunner whirred. Everything was solid so I left the rod in the rest while I recast the downstream rod. When I returned to the snagged rod I could do nothing with it and had to pull for a break.
A further hour passed, with another rig snagged and lost, before I connected with a barbel of eight pounds to the downstream rod fishing a 15mm boilie. It wasn't as hectic as I had expected. At eight I moved upstream and had the baits out again fifteen minutes later. It only took fifteen more minutes for the downstream rod, with a 10mm Crab and Crayfish boilie on the end of the rig, to lurch over. A good scrap ensued and I netted a chunkier fish than the first. It was twenty minutes later when the other rod, with the bigger bait, nodded as the lead bounced down the river bed. A bigger fish was landed after another good fight. This proved to be a fish I had seen earlier in the season. The marks near its tail were recognisable, now healed but unsightly although no longer red raw.
Every so often the wind would swing and I could hear it rustling the leaves, many evidently falling to the ground - and no doubt preparing themselves to leap into the river when it rises again. That wasn't the only sound to penetrate the darkness from the far bank. Next there was the cackling of badgers squabbling. This was followed by incoherent shouting from the small house tucked into a fold of the bank at the side of the wood. I was glad to have the river as a barrier. Everything returned to peaceful silence after that interlude of insanity.
The sky cleared somewhat and the moon, heading towards full, shone brightly. The air wasn't damp. I was wishing I was out for the whole night. As my eyelids drooped I really fancied crawling into a sleeping bag in my bivvy and putting the kettle on - maybe frying a slice of bread. Despite the conditions there was no action on the rods for ages. It was twenty past ten when the tip of the downstream rod, which I had cast further down river, twitched repeatedly. I wasn't sure what I had hooked, either a chub or a small barbel. I'll never know as it fell off as it neared the net. Twenty minutes later I had a more positive bite to the same rod. That one fell off rather sooner.
By now I was considering giving up, but I was listening to something on the radio and decided to stop until Today in Parliament came on. With ten minutes to go the downstream rod was away again. This time the fish stayed hooked and proved to be a really baby of just a couple of pounds or so. By the time I was on my way back to the car the sky had clouded over again. This weather pattern is supposed to continue for a few more days yet. I'd better have another barbel session or two while it does.