For my first few years the challenge was to catch a bigger barbel. I haven't had that fifteen pounder yet, but that particular goal has become less important. Last season I ended up trying to catch as many doubles as I could, and as many barbel in a season. Having done better than I expected, even allowing for the cold winter that brought my quest to an end, this season has seen my motivation to catch barbel diminished. I've turned up, cast out, and not been surprised to catch barbel. It's become as simple as I tell people it is.
Although I hate blanking and enjoy catching fish I find I need to be learning and/or improving my results to maintain my interest. Which is why I fished a new swim last night. It's a spot I've had my eye on for a couple of years and someone had cleared a nice area to plonk down in, so, despite having a swim I know well available, I gave it a try.
It's quite a long chuck to reach the pacier water on the outside of the bend, and I had no idea what lay between the nearside slack and the faster water. With the river back to summer level but carrying a slight peat stain, not desperately low but low enough, I reckoned the water coming off the shallows above the bend might be better oxygenated and attractive to the barbel. As I set up I discovered that I had no leads with me, only 2oz feeders. I'd removed the leads last time out to lighten my load on the long walk because I was fishing feeders that time. Never mind. The feeders would do the job. They'd have to.
There was hardly any wind and it was warm enough to sit out in a t-shirt until gone eight. The sky had been the blue of a warm summer afternoon when I arrived but was starting to fill with clouds, dark ones out to the west. They approached at a snail's pace. After losing one rig on the downstream rod and a couple of recasts the air chilled. I put on a sweatshirt as a brown hawker dragonfly arrived, circling my swim picking off flies and midges from above the balsam. Then the rain came. I had just go the brolly up as the drizzle began when the upstream rod was a way.
The first of four similarly sized fish
I played the fish in, a hard scrapping fish of about six pounds - give or take, and netted it as the drizzle stopped. I wasn't too wet. I recast, then the rain set in. It turned into that heavy rain that flattens the river's surface, forms a hazy curtain blurring the trees on the other bank and makes so much noise on the umbrella that the radio is drowned out. It was still pleasantly warm though.
In the next hour I had two repeat performances from the upstream rod, which I had cast much further across after the first fish. The thirds fish coming as the rain eased off around quarter to ten. It's getting quite dark by ten o'clock these days and the stars began to sparkle in the clearing sky. A lone shooting star burned briefly before the downstream rod, which had snagged a second time and been recast well out to try and avoid whatever the snag was, was in action. Another pea-pod fish in the six pound bracket, the first to the S-Pellets rather than the boilie.
I was surprised that the action didn't continue at the same rate. By eleven I'd had no more indications when I noticed a light mist forming over the water which is never a good sign for barbel activity. I decided to leave early, packing away at half past to lose my bearings in the mist on the short walk back to the car.
It had been a fun few hours, but not much of an achievement despite fishing a new swim. The barbel were where I expected them to be, and fell for the usual trick. There is more to fishing than catching fish, and it's not the flowers and dragonflies.