A change is as good as a rest, or so the saying goes and I must say that whilst barbel fishing has been whispering to me and lurking in my thoughts, I have been enjoying not targeting them during the majority of this season, in fact I have fished the gentleman's river only twice this season and that has made for a rather refreshing change and allowed me the chance to head to a waterway that I only really started fishing thanks to a friend whom has also fallen in love with it.
It shares many features of my local waterways, beauty, intimacy and a resounding feeling of timelessness, in fact the two trips I have made to this particular river have both sped by far too quickly.
After quite a bit of groundwork and google map pondering, Tom and I decided to head to a new area of the river and do a spot of light roving. The day in question was a hot one, blue skies in every direction and pushing 30c, I came prepared with a nice thick fleece and even though I really did not fancy the idea of baking like a pig in blankets it would at least allow both of us access to the more overgrown areas of the river.
It became evident straight away that the trout were going to be very active, almost suicidal in their attempts to save any of the better chub from picking up our baits, mine especially as I had decided to opt for a mixture of link legered lob worm and maggot as my main approach and it was not long before two trout including a tail walking maestro graced my net.
|One of many chub bodyguards that were caught|
After a few trout and some very apprehensive chub that really were not in a very forthcoming mood we decided to head downstream, the river slowing in pace and once again crystal clear. By now I was overheating to the extent that you could have nicknamed me chitty chitty bang bang, a welcome bottle of liquid refreshment (thanks Tom!) was downed and instantly sweated back out.
Tom suddenly motioned to me to join him, he had spotted a carp laid up in a sunny marginal weed bed and kindly offered me a cast, a quick flick and the link leger was settling just above said fish, its reaction was one of casual disinterest as it decided to drift off downstream and rest in a shadier area.
We decided to stay in this particular spot a tad longer, Tom deciding to try and offer this fish a piece of link legered bread, the next moments were filled with that tension as an angler waits to see what happens next, all of a sudden the river erupted, Tom shouting "yes Mark I've got her!". The fish bolted off downstream before diving into a nearby weed bed, by now I was next to Tom and wondering if this fish had found a bad snag downstream, thankfully this was not the case and with some steady pressure she came free and was soon resting in the net.
I smiled "feels like a double to me 10 maybe 12lb mate". Sure enough on the scales she went 10.15 Tom's first river carp and he was clearly overjoyed. Warm comments were aplenty and a hearty pat on the back was given.
|A triumphant and elated Tom with his perfectly conditioned river ghostie|
By now the swim had been well and truly disturbed so we made for another area of the river, both of us really wanting to pick a few of the better chub up along here, but alas they were acting rather wary and not wishing to come out from the confines of snags and bank side coverage, I gestured to an area of the river with a nice bit of flotsam, suggesting to Tom that he might chance his arm there with a piece of bread and after a few wary taps he had slipped the net under a healthy chub of 2lb.
Meanwhile I had headed downstream and made a cast to some overhanging trees, the link leger skimming in underneath them, this resulted in a near instant, full blooded bite and what looked a better stamp of chub, but alas resulted in a hook pull and me letting out an anguished cry of "argh noo!".
We moved on and found this area of river to have denser weed growth, it looked perfect for any chub to hold up in such bright conditions and looked worthy of a cast, so one was made to a tiny gap in the weed, my fingers settling on the line, waiting with suspense for any subtle plucks.
Sure enough there was the odd pluck but this was very noncommittal, so I decided to tweak the bait in hope that the extra movement might tempt this weed bed occupant to take a more decisive course of action, it did and the rod tip lurched round violently with fish heading off downstream, this felt like a better chub and after a healthy scrap resting in the net was a nicely formed chevin and more the kind of stamp we were seeking.
|A hard earned better stamp of chub (3.4)|
After this fish Tom and I decided to stop and have a bite to eat under some most welcome shade, food was shared and swapped as we recounted the days fishing, it certainly had been a varied and enjoyable trip thus far and with a few hours fishing left we were rather looking forward to what we might uncover next.
The river became shallower, in places no more than 18 inches deep, the water gurgling as it caressed the gravel runs, riffles giving way to deeper pools, the kind of features that gives an angler too many options that he might be tempted to cast to each and every one.
I quite fancied one of the deeper pools along here and whilst Tom was upstream unhooking a trout I decided to roll the link leger through and see if anyone was home, pluck pluck came the positive reply, as I set the hook the events that then proceeded were a bit of a blur as a rather powerful fish simply steamed off downstream, my tiny reel purring in despair as I tried to slow said fish down. Sadly it made for the next bend in the river and across some stoney shallows, the inevitable happened hook and line parted, I had a pretty good feeling that I had just lost a carp and conveyed the news to Tom.
As we chatted about it we spotted another carp moving up past his swim, Tom tried a couple of casts toward this fish but it became fairly obvious that it was not going to be hanging around, instead skulking along the opposite bank before disappearing upstream.
By now evening had come and it found us fishing a slower reach, Tom and I were both thoroughly exhausted but content, we sat together and chatted as I chanced my arm in this slower area of the river.
A subtle tap here and there slowly transformed into a more positive affair, the rod tip swinging round, little did I know that deja vu was about to strike, I was met with a large commotion as the water erupted, followed by fish bow waving downstream, I had little to no chance and little had just about left town! Within a few seconds of the clutch going into overdrive I was left sans hook and a tad gutted to say the least, a mental note was made to come back with the option of some stronger tackle on the next trip, as it was now becoming fairly evident that there was some larger fish lurking in the shadows.