At last the much anticipated time had arrived to fish some running water! I finished work at 12.30 and hurriedly made my way home to collect my kit and have some dinner before heading to the Derwent to hopefully do battle with some of its Barbel.
I had an area in mind already and because its a good hike from the carpark i was extremely confident of having the whole stretch to myself, i wasnt to be disappointed. A couple of fields away from the carpark and it was fairly apparent that nobody had been this far down for months judging by the thick undergrowth encroaching the barely visible path. Fighting through heavy foliage in search of that perfect Barbel swim is all part of the exitement for me, i was in heaven! Eventually, after about 20minutes of walking i came to some open fields and my fancied area.
The first swim i setup in was one of those spots that really jumps out at you, a really obvious one with a fallen tree in the water mid-river and a deepish looking run down the inside of it which screamed Barbel! I got setup, cast a boilie alongside the snag and sat back to await events.
After a short while i began to get a few bangs and taps on the rod-tip before eventually hooking and landing my first fish of the new season, a nice Chub of 4.8.
I couldnt get another pull after that so i moved on and tried a couple of other swims. During this time the weather closed in and it began to drizzle. No more bites were forthcoming so i looked for a swim i could settle in till dark. The spot i decided on was fairly shallow but had some nice overhanging trees which looked like they could be hiding a fish or two.
After around an hour or so my rod-tip absolutely buckled over and the bait-runner hissed. I lifted into the fish only to find myself backwinding imediately, i applied some side strain in an attempt to steer it away from some snags on the far bank downstream but unfortunately it made it and transferred my hook into a branch.
The rain had really set in now and did nothing to improve my mood as i re-rigged and re-baited. The river looked dead, nothing was showing whatsover so i was quite surprised to recieve a couple of taps on the tip which turned out to be the prelude to a properly savage bite which lifted the rod butt off the floor!
I hit into it but i could feel the line grating on an unseen snag mid-river and i was no surprise when the line parted shortly afterwards. I packed up after that, i know when ive been beaten and this was one of those occasions. To add insult to injury, my car went tits up on the way home and its looking like i might have go and get another one sooner rather than later, bugger!
Sunday 19th June
I was Trent-bound for my next trip and my mate Keith joined me, it was his first time on the stretch we targetted so i was determined to try and get him a Barbel. We had a walk to recce some likely looking areas and i was surprised to see that nobody at all was fishing this popular area on the first weekend of the season. The was a chap upstream in the distance but that was it so we had our pick of the pegs.
The first swims we setup in proved to be quite difficult to fish mainly due to the amount of drifting weed coming down, This stuff was the bain of my life last season and it seems to have shown up even earlier this year. Anyhow, we moved upstream to swims where we could fish down the inside margin and have a realistic chance of a fish or two.
Keith got off the mark almost imediately with a couple of smallish Chub but i couldnt settle and after an hour or so i was on the move again. I was drawn to one spot in particular, its a favourite winter Chub spot of mine but this time it looked cock-on for Barbel. There wasnt enough water in front of me for two rods so i concentrated on just the one. The weed was still pretty bad but i was fishing upstream and the bait was holding position for much longer than in the other swims.
Eventually the tip sprang straight and then nodded violently as a heavy fish made off with my boilie. I knew it was a Barbel straight away due to its ability to hold station in the heaviest flow before taking line as it swam upstream in it. The thing pulled my arm off for a bit before i finally netted it and after weighing it at 9.10 i knew my season had begun proper.
After returning it and recasting i sat back to watch the sunset, the river was absolutely alive with fish of all sizes and the scene was in complete contrast to the other night on the Derwent. I just knew the action wasnt over yet and it was no surprise when i had another take and found myself connected to another heavy fish out in the main current.
The first run had me thinking Barbel but then it calmed down and thumped away in the depths in a very Chub-like fashion. I got my first glimpse of it under my feet and it turned out to be a small Carp! It weighed just shy of 10lb, A typical Trent Common.
As the light faded i had quite a few more taps and bangs but no more hookups and i suspected that Chub were responsible. After packing up i walked down to Keith and it turned out that he too had some nice fish under his belt. No Barbel on this occasion for him but six Chub to nearly 6lb was a good result i thought. Anyway, thats the first weekend of the new season out of the way, its good to back on the rivers again, onwards and upwards!