Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Up and down like the proverbial...

I didn't blog Sunday's session immediately because not much happened. The river was dropping, up about five feet and peaty stained, but the newly deposited logs and clumps of leaves on the bank showed it had been considerably higher. The afternoon was sunny and warm, which accounted for there being a few anglers on the banks. Not all had been catching, but at least one had.

I decided to fish the 'flood swim' I'd fished the last time the river was up. Nothing happened, except the river continued to drop. Although the sky was clear it took a while for the air temperature to start falling after dark. I was glad I'd planned ahead and donned the bunny suit when it did though. When I decided to move upstream a hundred yards or so the sky was filled with stars. It wasn't long before the upstream rod started bouncing and I was briefly connected to a fish that fell off. A small one stayed hooked on the downstream rod a bit later, but when the mist rose over the river I called it a night. The car's thermometer read 4.5 when I set off for home, the river had been 10.8.

I was treated to a display of shooting stars while I sat watching the isotopes. One of which was the most spectacular I've ever seen. On clear nights like that I often think of how our ancestors must have stared at almost the same starry sky. With no street lights to cast the orange glow on the horizon, and with no knowledge of the universe it's easy to imagine how myths and gods could be created.

Two days later and I was able to get away after an early tea. On arriving at the car park a departing salmon angler told me the river was rising, an awful colour, and that I'd be better off going back home. I crossed the field eagerly with a spring in my step! The level was down on Sunday by about three feet, the flow manageable to fish on a good chuck, but best of all the water, which had looked like strong, milk-less tea the other day had had milk added. It was a lovely muddy colour with next to no visibility. Taking the temperature it was 11.2. Woo hoo!!

I expected a take as soon as the first bait had settled, but it was not to be. In fact it was almost an hour before the upstream rod jag-jagged and the baitrunner spun. A fish was on, then all went solid. After a bit of heaving and walking up and down something gave. The paperclip had opened out and a small barbel was soon unhooked and released.

Another hour passed before the downstream rod took off resulting in a slightly larger barbel. While I was sorting the rod out for a recast I heard the upstream baitrunner creaking and I pulled into something more substantial. This fish I let run down with the flow away from the snaggy area. It took a bit of effort to get the fish back upstream to the net, and a bit more to lift it ashore. After weighing the fish was sacked and I noticed the stick I had pushed in at the waterline on setting up was submerged. After sorting out the chaos and getting two fresh baits in the water I took a few snaps during a lull in the rain and returned the lively fish.

Note the new jacket...

Two more small, but cute, baby barbel came along later. Then around nine thirty the heavens opened and the wind got up. I was cowering under the brolly watching the rod tips pulling round slowly under the weight of leaves collecting on the lines. When the rain eased I decided to make for home. Both rigs had been dragged out of position and were festooned with leaves and twigs. When I'd started fishing there had been very little 'washing' collecting on the lines. Checking the level it had risen almost a foot in three and a half hours.

Ironically, I had only been discussing with someone the misery of packing up in the rain that very morning as we commented on how warm it was. And here I was doing just that a few hours later. I hadn't needed the bunny suit though. The air temperature was still 12 when I reached the car.

I much prefer a river that is just starting to come up for barbel rather than the much touted falling water level. I think the increase in flow and colour spurs them on to feed. By the time the river begins to drop they are almost replete. On a spate river timing it to hit the rise before it gets difficult to fish is both critical and difficult. The window is a narrow one. This time I'd managed to get it just right. The colour was good, the temperature was up, and I got there before the rubbish started getting washed into the river. Once the debris gets to the stage it had when I packed up it's time to seek out spots where you can shelter your line from the main push of water.

It's a funny thing. You might imagine that a few good sessions on the trot would make me want to take a break, recharge my batteries, even take time out to decorate the kitchen. Not so. It makes me want to replenish the PVA mesh, top up the pellet bucket, refill the flask and get back out there!