A fairly routine trip up the M5 towards Worcester was about to become one of those very special ones which I have been fortunate enough to have had a few times before, a real stellar day!
The rain had been falling lots and the river had risen with leaves aplenty and a reasonable water temperature too. Little did I know that today I was going to catch my barbel PB!
Upon arrival I checked the above details (temp, level, etc) and decided upon an area that may produce bites in these conditions and had done for me before. The approach would be mobile, no bites after 40mins to an hour, move on! It was noon and the first swim showed no signs, so I left for the next swim. The day was set to be showery & mild, and the river 6 feet of extra water and flowing hard with a water temp around 8C. The next swim drew a blank, so off again, I was a good walk away now.
Except for leaves, the conditions were good, so I just had to find the fish…First cast in the next swim it was not long before the rod banged and pulled. A good scrap in the flow and a barbel was netted 3lb! It was a start and if one was willing, more would surely follow.
With leaves a problem, another move was needed. Next area, not a sign!
So by 3pm I arrived at “the” swim. By 3.15 the mid-river rod in my hand had dropped back, and before I could lift, was pulling “very” hard, then steamed off on an unstoppable run! The rod was bent to the butt with the drag set as tight as I dared, yet the line kept peeling off, two hands holding the rod and trying to pull back at the leviathan under the depths to no avail. Could this be a carp? A catfish even?
I tried to regain line, but the rod was bent double with line still peeling off. The fish then kited inside a hundred yards or so downstream into the bank side overhanging vegetation and all locked up! I could`nt believe it, so as I slackened off the clutch to try and allow the fish to free itself, the upstream rod positively pulled!!
The fight was similar and hard going, but this fish stayed out in the torrent of flow, and I kept the rod up to guide her away from inside trouble! After an epic battle with several long powerful surges, the big framed fish rolled into the waiting net. She was massive, and I knew she`d be close to my best ever. Shaking, the scales read near to 17lb in my net, so after checking progress on the other rod & resting the biggy, the weigh sling was out and settled at 15lb 5oz! My PB by an ounce!!
It was twilight & the other fish was still attached, so with a rest before pic`s, and total intrigue as to what was on the other rod, I tried again. I recast the upstream rod also because it seemed like “they were having it”. They were, because after just 10mins trying with the phantom huge fish downstream, the upstream went again!
A dogged battle ensued…. and another determined double figure fish fell into my waiting spare net! 10lb 12oz.
The “catfish” seemed to be nodding now & trying to pull out, which eventually – in darkness – she did. This time it was like I was dragging a tree against the current deep down & barely movable against the fully bent 2lbtc rod & slipping drag. As the “thing” rose from the murky depths below, and in darkness all around, my headtorch followed the line with lustre, what was it going to be?
Thinking “catfish for sure”, the silhouette rose gaining size & strength diving away again, it was a………”barbel”!! Foul hooked in the dorsal fin, no wonder it took me on such a merry dance! How did it get it there? It was 10lb too!
After photo`s and releasing these 2 beauties, two more followed at 8lb & 9lb. It was time then – with frost on rods, nets froze (unhooking mat solid too) – for a nice cuppa before the drive home. This really had been a “red letter day”