Flowing water, a living entity in its own right, myriads of shapes and patterns, sculpting features and carving landscapes in its path, creating a vortex of emotions within an angler. From summer through to winter a river evolves, new areas become accessible and old spots have new snags waiting to part angler and hook of their prize.
It was mild and the Loddon looked good again, a touch of colour still and a steady pace, the air filled with a rich intoxicating aroma. After my last trip out after the chub and that trout making a cameo appearance, I decided to chance my arm again and see if I could pick up a few more chub on cheesepaste and feeder. The banks were slippery and akin to treading on a softened fudge cake, my waders slipping and sliding about as I made my way downstream.
Having got to the spot, I realised I had left the baiting spoon behind, I have a memory like a sieve at times and today was no different. The spot being so tight was not an easy proposition, so I ended up leaning to the edge of the bank, rod held far down the butt, before letting the feeder trundle downstream slightly.
It was a quiet start and I had yet again brought my barbel rod along with me, but like last time there was no room to use another rod, once again it was to remain a spectator as the days events unfolded. It was around lunchtime that I had my first bite, a jolly pluck, followed by the quivertip sweeping round, I struck but met only thin air, my face taking on a quizzical look. The paste had pulled through on the strike fine and the Drennan size 7 hook was pin sharp. a fresh egg shaped piece of cheesepaste was applied, cage feeder refilled with a mixture of bread, maggots and birdseed.
An hour passed in a heartbeat, the rod tip moved ever so slightly, a miniscule tap and then swept round, I struck, the same result nothing, no resistance, no healthy kick or bullish thud from a chub, I was perplexed, were they perhaps being a little cute? Maybe so.
About half an hour later, I was dragged harshly back to reality, five workmen turned up, wearing high visibility clothing, high pitched yelling and banter could be heard, birdlife began to scatter, all but the friendly Robin, who seemed to recognise me now and had taken to regularly landing on my rod before stealing the odd maggot. The nearby commotion carried on till dusk, the sound of their quad bikes eventually drifting off into the distance, but the swim was deathly quiet, I pondered should I move swim? Twist or stick?
I decided to stick with it and change bait to a healthy bunch of maggots, by now the rain began to patter, gradually increasing, I sipped a welcome cup of coffee, the steam teasing my nostrils. The rod tip pinged round sharply, before resuming its motionless state, less than five minutes later, the rod lunged forward, quivertip burying underwater and butt beginning to lift, I extended myself just managing to grab hold of the rod butt, I could already feel the power of this fish before even lifting the rod, as I did so the rod took on a serious arc, I cupped the reel in an attempt to at least slow the fish and its progress downstream, I could feel everything as it tried to bully me, slowly I played it back, till it was unseen beneath me, rod doubled over.
Shimano do state that their river purist feeder rod can handle barbel and this was to be a true acid test, as yet again the fished powered off upstream, but the rod reassuringly cushioned each and every lunge it made, my mouth was like leather and I was praying that the 6lb line would hold, as I could feel debris clipping my line and to top it all off, the line got trapped around the isotope as I played her.
Finally I slipped the waiting net under her, tail slapping as she slid into it, a beautiful barbel. After allowing her a good rest and myself time to recuperate, I slipped her out on the mat and realised she was a very special fish, a gold bar, replete with a wonderfully powerful tail, a streamlined, golden torpedo, weighing 13lb 7oz's and my largest Loddon barbel.
After a good rest she was released, I punched the air with delight, my face wearing a very daft grin, when I got home I noticed my hands were still shaking with adrenaline, but boy was I over the moon.