Thursday, December 10, 2009

Back to the river

If I had got the morning's jobs finished sooner I might have gone roach fishing again, but time had run out. There were things I could have been doing but they could wait. I knew I really should have been on the river last night when it was warm, nonetheless I grabbed a belated chance to try for a December barbel. Three weeks is a long time in river fishing and not only had the trees now lost all their leaves making the ridge-line of the far bank visible through the veil of fine branches, the only greenery to be seen being ivy covered trunks, but the river bank had altered yet again with the floods. This can make finding exact spots to put the gear down and to cast baits to difficult.

It was a glorious blue-skied and fluffy-clouded afternoon. I left my fleece off under the bunny suit as I walked upstream past raddled and incontinent ewes. The river was carrying some colour, was up a foot or maybe slightly more and was warm - 7.1C. The chances of a barbel looked good. Even so I had hedged my bets and packed the quivertip rod and the remains of Sunday's maggots. An S-pellet went upstream on a barbel rod and then the feeder rod was put into action. I cast the empty feeder out until I found the distance where it would hold, then I put the line in the spool clip. Next cast the hook was baited and the feeder filled. On hitting the clip I gave the reel handle a couple of turns then set the rod down to let the tip settle. A few quick casts to get some maggots in the swim then leave it a bit longer.

When I can't be bothered tying up hooklinks for this sort of fishing, and my stillwater roaching, I use hooks to nylon. Kamasan B611s as a rule. They're a strong hook and tied to stronger nylon than most.

Lazy man's hooklinks

After half an hour I decided I wasn't happy with the S-pellet and wanted to swap it for a boilie. Unfortunately the rig was snagged solid. Either I'd judged the cast badly or a new snag had appeared in the swim. To save time I got the other barbel rod out and baited it with an Oyster and Mussel boilie before casting out to a slightly different spot. Then I rebaited the maggot rod and set to retackling the first barbel rod. I wanted to fish two barbel rods after dark.

With that sorted I wound in the feeder for a recast. The red maggots were a pulpy mess. I'd had a bite and not seen it. At least there was a chub around by the looks of those maggots. Cue greater concentration on the quiver tip. It only moved when debris hit the line. There wasn't enough coming down to dislodge a 3oz lead, but the 30g feeder would move. I would have put money on getting a few more bites.

By four o'clock it was starting to grow cool. The light was fading, but not as quickly or as soon as it does when sat indoors at this time of year. There's less than two weeks to the shortest day now, that turning point in the season when things slowly begin to feel more optimistic. It's no wonder there are festivities around this solstice. It was time to pack away the feeder rod and get serious about the barbel. The second barbel rod was baited with an S-pellet and cast downstream and well across.

There was now a narrow band of mist hovering over the river giving the water a milky look. A thin veil that was also creeping over the bank. My confidence began to ebb. I was twenty-four hours late and I knew it. The mist wasn't for making its mind up. It cleared for a while, raising my hopes. At five I picked up the boilie rod for a recast. The line plucked off something then I began to drag some rubbish in. Half way back the rubbish wagged its tail. In the torch light I could see a chub making a feeble attempt at fighting back. There had been no indication. I returned the chub then the stars appeared and the mist closed in again. The beach beckoned. On retreiving the boilie rod I saw a chunk of the bait was missing. Another chub attack with no movement on the rod tip. When the chub are feeding delicately times are tough.

As I rounded the bend the river was clear. Maybe there was a chance. By the time I had the baits out and was settled down the far bank was gone. The mist had become a fog. There seemed little point packing up and hitting the rush hour traffic. Another hour wouldn't hurt. Maybe a breeze would spring up and clear the air.


Fat chance. Half past six seemed as good a time as any to finish. That way I could listen to the Archers in the car. The walk back was weird. The Petzl light was reflecting off the fog making it hard to see more than a few feet ahead. There were no lights visible in the distance to give me any sense of direction so I had to use the headtorch. Even so I nearly managed to stumble into a fence that I knew was there but couldn't see!

The car's thermometer read 5.5c, down from 10 when I had arrived, and it fell further as I journeyed home. The forecast is for more of the same. Sunny days with night-time frosts. Maybe one more try for a barbel tomorrow, when I have the afternoon free, before something more serious over the weekend. One thing's for sure; the bivvy won't be involved.