My favourite spot on the stretch was pulling through too quickly to hold bottom but a few yards downstream a small slack area had appeared behind an old reedbed which looked tempting. I cast out a bit of breadflake and let it swing around into the slack. As soon as the rig settled i had a sharp rap on the tip which i struck and missed. This happened again on the next cast and i hit into and landed a small Chub of about 2lb which was encouraging as it meant that the colour wasnt putting the fish off too much.
No more bites came from that spot so i had a wander downstream, the river was carrying about a foot so most of my usual areas were quite unfishable. On the flipside however, the extra water usually creates new swims which wouldnt even get a second glance under normal conditions and it was one of these which i decided to fish next. It was a small bay, under normal conditions its totally dead water and full of reeds but on this occasion there was a fantastic looking crease where the main flow passed across the mouth of it and the water was eddying around nicely.
I made a cast to the crease and sat back to await events. Before long i had a couple of small taps followed by a kind of tremble on the tip, something was obviously playing with the bait so i struck. The rod hooped over and i thought i was snagged, that is until i felt a heavy kick on the line and found myself backwinding furiously! The fish headed out into the full force of the floodwater and seemed intent on staying there, this was no Chub, the way it was hanging stationary in the main flow meant it could only be a Barbel surely. I kept the pressure on as much as i could, i was only using 5lb line so i couldnt bully it too much. After about five minutes of stalemate the pressure began to have an effect and i finally coaxed the fish out of the flow and into the slack. Despite this it still kept deep and it was a good few minutes before i got the net under it. I peered into the net to see a very odd looking Barbel, It had a bit of a twist in its back and had the fattest belly of any Barbel ive ever caught, in fact it was more Carp-like than anything else! It went 9lb2oz on the scales anyway, my first Barb of the year and the first ive ever caught on bread.