Something very special happened last week….
Conditions were good for Barbel, but the rivers were rising too fast, and were soon impossible to fish. We (all anglers) would have to wait until they fell within their banks for a try! The air temps were dropping with the river levels, it became a race….Where to fish? & when? And how to get out from home and family, being fair to all?? With my wonderful wife`s approval granted, I could see the Wye dropping fastest first, so there it would begin, but upon arrival the water temperatures were low 6.5C (at best) and dropping, so roaming a mile of bank high river, it came as no surprise to find no-one else out. But having dropped into my 4th swim, my efforts were rewarded and a fighting fit and freezing cold 9lber was banked!
Pleased with the result so far I went to regroup at the car and cook some warming food, the seeds of plan B had re-emerged and so this would mean heading over to another river which had now dropped within its banks, and was sure to be warmer, as it was not fed by the Welsh hills!
The adventure was just beginning…..
This river was looking good! But looks can often be very deceiving, so I wasn`t getting too excited just yet. I could see my “starter for ten” swim, in my minds eye from my last visit to this area, even though it was a fair walk from the car! Upon arrival things looked good. The swim had a lovely crease and flow, dropping into slacker water above a fallen tree, this would surely be a good place to start. The temperature was good too at 7.9C compared to the Wye…
The first cast was just a light swing and drop of the line into the desired spot, a couple of rod lengths out. Now a little time would soon tell if there were any fish in the area, so I would hold the rod and wait. The wait was not a long one, tap tap, and then a developing pull as the small mouth of this 6lb Barbel was engulfing the meat presented for his pleasure! As soon as I “met him half way” we were in to a good tussle, which saw him take some line and run for cover, before much more of the same in front of me!
Having unhooked, and measured this cold, and delightfully frisky fish, I would rebait and cast while he took a moment to recover. Hardly had his tail said goodbye with a whack and splash away, the rod was off again! This was indeed how it was to be….the next cast/drop in, would not let me put the rod on the rest before pulling round again. The 4th fish was a good one (as they all are), and a double to boot, only just at 10lb2oz, but who`s counting?
I could imagine the fish packed under the surface as they sometimes do – like a bundle of sausages – with them gently taking it in turn to leave the group and feed on the offerings beginning to mount up in the area in front of them…..or perhaps they were out together knocking each other and competing to get the food before the next fish did. Either way, the bites kept coming and after 12 unbelievable casts, I took a break. Not expecting to come back after tea and find them still in the mood!
I have been lucky enough to have sessions like this before where the location combines with the conditions to make for some amazing sport, but this was probably the most surprising as this river has suffered a fair bit from predation, and has never been known for producing more than a few at a time. Although some of those few can often be big, and fished for regularly, the area is also fairly new to me, these factors making the catch what it really was.
So after tea and back in the swim, I tried to speak to my wife, but was interrupted every time with another bite, well, three times running! Then I finished the call with the hook on the bank. The twentieth fish came and was another double, (this one four centimetres shorter than the last & 2oz heavier, probably from the feed she`d gained while waiting to be caught)! But I was beginning to think that repeat captures may come, surely after so many fish they might…this happened once on the Wye when my 26th of a 26 fish catch was a distinct repeat fish from much earlier in the day, (in a swim 150yrds away)…it was time to pack up then, and would be now if repeats were coming. Not to mention of course, I had done my best to empty the river already, and had an aching arm!
It is however, the 2nd hardest thing to do, to drag yourself away when every “one last cast” gets a bite…(The 1st being when you have had no bite at all)! So a couple more casts just to confirm that they were still there and sure enough they were. I would have to tear myself away, with a promise to come back again….as soon as my arm had recovered and conditions looked good for it!
Cold snap on us now, so enjoy what you fish for and look forward to the next front with warming westerly winds..