The morning of the 16th arrived and i was out of the house at first light with a swim already firmly in mind. The rivers were still carrying plenty of water from the recent rain and the swim i was headed for had plenty of previous floodwater form, i was really looking forward to a good day, doh! first mistake!
I parked up and made my way across the fields, they were very overgrown and the going was pretty tough, so tough that i got to the point where i literally couldnt get near where i wanted to fish! the nettles and other foliage were up to around 7ft high and proved to be impassable, nobody had been near the area for months, not even the farmer. Reluctantly i turned around and headed for another area on another river .........
As i departed in the car i could smell petrol coming through the air vents and by the time i got to my new destination i had all the windows down as the smell had got really strong. I popped the bonnet and was shocked to find oil all over the engine and the oil filler cap completely missing! the car had been in for a service during the week and the garage had obviously not replaced the cap, aarrgghhh! Fortunately it was a Saturday so i was hopeful of being able to get a replacement. It was still early so nowhere was open and i made a half hearted attempt at fishing whilst i waited. Nothing happened on that front and soon enough i was able to ring around to find a new cap. After several dead ends I ended up sourcing one at a Ford main dealer and a phone call to my better half explaining the situation and how she could find me soon had things on the road to recovery. I had to meet her on the nearest main road and by the time id cleaned everything down, topped up the oil and replaced the cap it was mid-morning, not ideal but still plenty of time to fish though.
I headed for a spot on a bend with an impressive crease that screamed Barbel and got setup. I sat down and realised that id put my bag down in a fresh pile of Sheep shit and everything now stank, at that point the heavens opened up and left me wondering what id done to deserve it all! After an hour or so i had a belting take and hit into something heavy, straight away i could feel it grating through an unseen obstacle and soon enough everything locked up solid. After a bit of serious tugging the hooklink snapped and so did my patience, i packed up.
The next day was fathers day and after spending a leisurely and enjoyable morning with the family i was given a pass for an evening session on the river. Keith showed up mid afternoon and we headed for an area that neither of us had fished before. We setup around 50 yards apart and straight away i was getting some very Chublike knocks which didnt develop into anything. After about half an hour a whistle from downstream told me Keith was into something and i headed down to assist. A fine Barbel of 10.12 was soon posing for a pic and provided a great start to Keiths season.
10lb12oz, well done mate!
I still couldnt get any solid takes in my swim and soon enough i was ready for a move. I went over to tell Keith and just as i did he had another bite but the fish came adrift within seconds of hooking up. We headed downstream to recce a few more swims and found several good looking options.
After settling in it didnt take long for Keith to get into some more action and a small Barbel of around 5-6lb was soon netted. Not long after, i caught my first fish of the new season in the shape of a 2lb Chub, maybe things were starting to look up!
Keith lost another fish in his swim which killed it and mine had gone dead so we decided on another move. My next spot had a great looking overhanging tree downstream and i wasted no time getting cast in. I was having to use 4oz of lead to hold bottom and the rod tip nodded hypnotically in the flow. After about 20mins the rod buckled around as an angry Barbel made a bid for freedom. I had to lock up to stop it getting under the tree and fortunately it turned towards mid-river and the full force of the flood. Id forgotten how hard those things pull but the combined forces of my pulling and the power of the river soon had it beaten and ready for netting. At 8.4 it was a pleasing start to my season and the previous days tribulations were forgotten in an instant.
Off the mark, 8lb4oz
I tried another couple of swims in the run-up to darkness and other than a couple more Chubby knocks nothing was forthcoming. I made my way back upstream to find Keith in my original swim and was just in time to see him land a cracking 5.8 Chub, the fishing gods were obviously smiling on him tonight!
We packed up as it started to get dark with plenty of food for thought on some future trips to the river. It was nice to get some early season action and after opening days misfortunes things can only get better!