Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Boilies, bedchairs and.... barbel

Led Zeppelin got involved this week. There was a communication breakdown that has resulted in my blanks being scheduled for arrival on Wednesday now... There was me with my Tuesday planned to start work and therefore not waste a day waiting for my courier calling to take some finished rods away. If they'd arrive early enough I might just slip away to a river.

By three thirty I was on the road in time to beat the rush hour traffic. The lengthening days mean I could take my time getting set up. Late season madness is taking hold all right. There were plenty of anglers on the banks. Hardly surprising given the mild, dry conditions. Three vehicles in the car park - and the usual suspects on the stretch I had headed to. All were fishing the favourite pegs, and EH had already landed a small barbel. The river was low and clear, yet warm at 7.3c. I plonked my gear down in a swim between the 'crowds' and went back to get my 'new' bedchair. I wanted to try it out before the tenching starts and I also wanted to put my feet up and relax!

For some reason I can't explain I put some boilies in the bait bag. I don't think I've fished a boilie all season, so why I did that I have no idea. Seeing as I'd got them with me I put one on a hair and cast it upstream and across to the channel, a single 8mm crab Pellet-O going straight across to the channel on the downstream rod. Now to set up the bedchair and get comfy. Front legs extended to level the bedchair and I sit down to relax. One of the legs gives way... I mess around with the offending leg to no avail. Out with the mobile and phone my mate's tackle shop where I got the bedchair from and where I'd left my old one for him to sell. I'd stop the sale of the original and pick it up on Thursday. Ray answers and I ask if he's sold my bedchair yet. Thinking I was after the cash, in a cheery voice, he told me it had sold that very morning. Aaaaargh! More messing with the leg and I managed to get it to grip. I'm not convinced though. No wonder that bloomin carp angler wanted rid of it. You can't trust anyone from St. Helens.

EH landed a couple more small barbel, both brassy scaled and coral finned typical of clear water fish. The star attraction of the river arrived and settled peacefully in my swim. I threw it a handful of pellets. Unlike mute swans this lone, and lonely, trumpeter is well behaved. It doesn't beg or pester you, it doesn't flap about or swim into your lines. After dark it tucked its head under a wing and nodded off, drifting in the slack water near the bank. If only all swans were like that.

Not as evil as it looks!

Out of the blue about quarter past six the pellet rod woke up. A proper barbel bite. A small one was soon returned. Rebait, rebag, recast. I was sorting something out when a few minutes later the rod came alive again. Another reel spinner. This time it soon felt chubby. Sure enough that was what it was. Its white gob was rather large though. In the net it rolled on its side showing, unusually for me, a fat belly. Then it went berserk thrashing the water to a foam. When it calmed down I got the scales ready and lifted it ashore. No fives all season then two in a week. When I get a long chub, it's thin, when I get a fat one it's short. Where are the long fat chub?

Where have they been all season?

I've put a bit of time in on this length fishing with chub gear, in chub conditions, then I land one on barbel gear when the river's right for barbel over a pound heavier than the best I'd managed on maggots or flake. It makes no sense. But that's fishing. When you think you are doing it right, you're not!

Bait back out and time for a rest. One or two rattles and pulls to the boilie rod came to nought. It got rebaited and repositioned. After a while I noticed it pull down and spring back repeatedly I expected another chub, but this was pulling back. Not a massive barbel, but bigger than the first one by about four pounds. Three fish in three quarters of an hour. It might be a good session.

An hour or so later I decided to put my bite alarms on. The bedchair was rather comfy and I might nod off. Just as I was fiddling with my sounder box I heard two short bleeps from the pellet rod. I looked round to see the tip pulled purposefully over. I lifted into another barbel. One that tried plodding a bit and had me thinking it might have been a bit bigger than it's seven pounds. Well, it's a while since I hooked a decent barbel...

By now I had the river to myself - and the swan. Shortly after eight some fine mizzle arrived. Not enough to wet anything. It turned into drizzle. I put up the recently repaired (maybe) brolly and lay back. The air temperature had only dropped a couple of degrees from the 9c it had been when I arrived. I could easily have spent the night there. Just having my feet up makes watching motionless rods relaxing and enjoyable.

The chub rattles dried up. The precipitation moved off as the cloud cover broke up. I couldn't see much else happening. As I packed up the swan moved off too. Not a bad session for an opportunist one. If the weather stays favourable and I can get my work boxed off quickly I might succumb to the madness and fish my head off for the last week (or more) of the season.