Monday, September 14, 2009

One more time for luck

With the weather holding I simply couldn't resist another barbel session. Getting to the river after tea with enough daylight left to sort myself out in is becoming a tighter call every day. It won't be long before I'm having to pack some grub along with the flask so I can set off before the rush hour traffic builds up. Sundays aren't so bad and I left home around six to arrive in time to get some bait in the water around seven. This time it was pellets I spodded out to the deep run I had almost moved into last time out.

The sun was bright and low, my shadow long across the field as I walked up river. The leaves are really starting to turn to their russet and earth colours now. A few martins were feeding high above the tree tops. It won't be long before they are gone and it'll be time to start looking out for redwings and fieldfares.

Autumn's under way

The feed was put out directly in front of my fishing position. Then I took my time arranging things so I'd be comfortable and able to reach the rods easily. One rod, with a 15mm boilie and a bag, was cast upstream of the baited area. A smaller boilie went just downstream. I missed the first five minutes of the Archers while baiting up, but I sat down and poured the first cup of flask-tea of the evening to listen to the rest of it before the bag filling ritual was carried out.

My chill-out period was disturbed by an angry baitrunner and a well bent rod. The big bait had only been in the water for ten minutes! The level was down on Friday, the flow minimal. In clear water it's hard to judge the size of fish - they can look a lot smaller than they are in actuality. This 'five pounder' was giving a good account of itself. Hardly surprising as when netted it would obviously require a mugshot. A solid, but not fat, barbel in prime autumn condition. Looking just the way they should.

After unhooking and weighing the fish it was dunked back in the river, the net safely staked. It would be the first time out with my new bulb release bracket. After a bit of fiddling around I had it all sorted, took a test shot to ensure everything worked fine, then lifted a lively fish back onto the mat. Three snaps then in the sling to be carried upstream to a spot where I could safely release her. It was only as she swam away I noticed the slight two-tone colouration

That's supposed to be a smile...

Convinced I was on for a beano with the feed I'd put in I concentrated my attention on the downstream rod, which was now fishing the old faithful 8mm crab Pellet-O. It was nine o'clock before anything happened other than a few chub raps at dusk. The upstream rod had stabbed down repeatedly but everything was solid when I picked the rod up. Feeling the line I could tell there was no fish attached. I could feel the lead bumping up and down on the river bed when I pulled on the line and released it, but everything was lost when I pulled for a break. Over an hour later the bite was repeated. This time there was neither fish nor snag attached. I recast and the culprit was captured. A chub that was probably five pounds long, only four pounds heavy.

Eat more pellets

The sky had clouded over and the night was almost warm. One of those nights I could easily have stayed right through to dawn. As there wasn't much happening I wondered if I should pack in early. I was still there an hour later, still wondering when to leave. The downstream rod, which had been fishing a variety of baits and was now on a 10mm Oyster and Mussel boilie cast well down from where the bait had gone in, came alive. This was a five pound barbel, although it pulled well for its size. I'd definitely pack in at midnight. With five minutes to go the same rod began doing a chub dance. Only a smallish one. That rod was packed away and the other one followed. I battled my way through the balsam, being showered with seeds as I did so, then set off across the fields to the deserted car park.

Although the moon wasn't visible and there was cloud cover it was a light night. I stood and looked back through the trees, over the hedge at the fields and woods, wondering what I must have looked like had an 'ordinary' person seen me tramping in the dark laden with tackle, only using the head torch to negotiate ruts and stiles. It's not a 'normal' thing to do in this day and age. There were few lights on in the houses I drove past on my way home. Fewer people or cars out and about. Even the motorway that had been choked on Friday was almost deserted. Which suits me fine.

The problem I have is that when the fishing is going well I find it addictive, and I'm weak. Oh so weak.