November and those first Thames Princes….

It`s been a quiet couple of weeks for me – on the Barbel front – and I have not been out since having that first Thames Barbel on the 12th. This was partly due to being busy with other things, but mainly due to the unfavourable conditions for Barbel fishing! So…. A tale of that adventure on the Thames.
I had only tried the Thames once before last season, much higher up the river above Oxford where the fish were said to be very few and far between, and so it proved as my friend and I looked at a perfect looking environment for all fish and left biteless! Being told by a dog walker that “no-one really fishes here anymore, though they used to, lots of them.”
I had agreed a year or so ago with Gary Lucas to meet up on the banks of the lower Thames near where he fished, at some point this season. I had been watching for weeks for a favourable time to try, and when we arranged our meeting the river had just started to fish quite well. Though this was going to be a “window” of opportunity as the temperatures were set to drop the very evening we were to meet!
Arriving slightly earlier than our arranged time, I just had time to have a look at the river near Hampton Court Palace, it looked daunting and deep and had a lot of boat traffic. A cup of tea and a walk and the air temperature was dropping with the afternoon sun.
I knew Gary from his site, Barbel Fishing (The Prince of the River) and could tell his enthusiasm for all things fish was going to make for a good afternoon and evening. And so it proved, a very genuine guy and now (I like to think) friend of mine. We started out in a likely pair of swims and fished them into the setting sun (which my photography did not do justice to) but alas, moved on to our next swim with only a tremor or two on our rods.
But that all changed on my first cast, as I was moving a lump of meat through the swim a definate indication from a fish was met with my lifting strike, and my first Thames “Prince” was on!!
This fish put up a good account and we had little idea of its size until it was up for netting;

My first Thames Barbel!

My first Thames Barbel!

After this, all would be a bonus, the night air temp was dropping like a stone, and we roved to a couple more areas before returning to our first swim where I had a Roach of less than 1lb on a medium sized pellet!! Quite a surprise. We were going to give it until midnight, so I decided to have the last hour in the “Barbel” swim, first cast again and a pick-up, another Barbel was on but, I could tell it wasn`t a monster right away, beautiful none the less at around two pounds…Thames Time 003
So after this fun fish we settled back for the last half hour or so, and just as Gary was arriving to my swim with hands he could no longer feel. I had an indication which I struck to nothing, and so it was that midnight was here and I would have that One Last Cast….
The bait had been out for just a couple of minutes when the tremors started and I struck into the third Barbel of the evening, another very pretty fish of around 3lbs this time, what a warm finish! Little did I expect that after catching my first Thames Barbel of 5lb 8oz any Barbel that followed, would be smaller!! The frost was down and ice shining and we were leaving.
My great thanks go to Gary for showing me his river, it is a wonderful feeling to catch from a new river, these Barbel truly are Princes.

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