Finally the new season was upon us and with it my week off work, how I'd been looking forward to that! I still had a bit of peg strimming to do on the Saturday before but this also gave me chance to check out my fancied area of Trent prior to Sunday nights grand opening. The river still had a tinge of colour from the previous weekends rain and looked bang-on, I couldn't wait to get stuck in!
On Sunday, After a day of prepping tackle and bait it was finally time to get myself down to river and I gotta say I actually had butterfly's in my stomach as I made my way to my swim! It was around an hour before dark so I spent a fair bit of time getting everything sorted tackle-wise and making sure everything was just perfect ready for the big cast-in at midnight.
After watching a couple of DVDs I checked my phone and the magic time was upon me. It wasn't a dark night thanks to the bright moon and soon enough both rods were in position with minimum fuss. Within minutes I had a couple of hefty bangs on the downstream rod before it eventually buckled over. Unfortunately this was no barbel, instead it was the ubiquitous 4lb chub which follows me everywhere but a fish is a fish and I wasn't complaining!
I could hear some hefty splashes out in the darkness as fish crashed nearby and I was well charged up with anticipation. Even so I was still caught a little off guard when the downstream rod signalled a brutal take which actually bounced the rod off the delkim! This was no chub and after a typical turbocharged Trent barbel battle I finally had the net under my first Boris of the new season, well chuffed!
9lb was a great start and I retired to my bedchair a happy man. I must've nodded off because I was suddenly jolted awake by another downstream take. This fish proved to be a pretty decent river bream of 8lb4oz and I was surprised to catch it from such a fast paced, shallow and boily swim.
By now I was pretty knackered so I retired to bed proper and drifted off to sleep until around 4am at first light when a drop back bite registered on my upstream rod. I wound the reel like mad to catch up with the fish and it must've been 10 yards downstream of me before I made contact. The rod hooped over and I commenced battle. This barbel was bigger than the first at 10lb10oz and I was pleased to record my first double of the season.
Shortly after recasting I received another take on the same rod and the fish powered off upstream taking line off the clutch, my excitement was short lived as I felt the line grating on an unseen obstacle just prior to parting. No more action was forthcoming and I packed up with plans to try a different area the following night.
Upon arriving at the new area that evening it was obvious that nobody had been along there for a very long time, the place was overgrown to the point where I almost wasn't going to bother. The sight of a couple of barbel bow-waving across the shallows soon changed my mind however and I got stuck into a likely looking spot with my sturdiest bankstick.
After about 20 minutes of frantic thrashing I had a precarious but fishable swim, the bank was very steep so I would need my wits about me should I hook a fish in the night. Soon enough I was fishing and it wasn't long before darkness began to descend. After a couple of hours I was starting to get a little concerned at the total lack of activity on my rods, I hadn't even had so much as a chub-bang on the tips and I was surprised that my confidence was starting to ebb away rapidly.
The hours of darkness ticked by and eventually I managed to land a couple of chub, that ever faithful 4lber and a smaller sample of around a pound, but the barbel were conspicuous by their absence. I hadn't even heard one crash out in the river which was most unusual for the Trent.
Whilst fishing has a tendency to kick you in the balls when your down there is the odd occasion when it works the opposite way around and tosses you a great big glorious bone when you've all but given up hope. The dawn chorus had just started and the sky was just turning from black to blue when my down streamer hissed away. I found myself in right mess, I accidentally kicked one of my shoes off Into the bushes somewhere as I jumped out of the sleeping bag, my glasses and head torch were nowhere to be seen and the angry barbel on the end of my line was going through every bush and reedbed for 40yards along my downstream margin. All I could do was hold on and try to gain line when I could and it took a good ten minutes to coax the fish back through the foliage into a nettable position. Unfortunately seeing as my glasses had disappeared I couldn't see a thing and I just had to aim the landing net at the white splashy thing against the dark background of the river (yes my eyes really are that bad). It took three attempts but I got there in the end and once safely secured in the net I set about getting myself together.
Glasses, headtorch and shoe recovered I hoisted the fish out of the river and onto the mat. My first thought upon looking at the fish was PB, it was a beast of a fish, a massive frame on it and looked to be easily 14lb+. I was slightly disheartened when the scales spun around to 11lb4oz and had to weigh it a couple of times to be sure. Upon picking it up for the photos however it was obvious the fish was freshly spawned out, its belly was really soft and the fish felt hollow. Oh well, still a quality fish and one I wouldn't mind catching again in a few months when it's back up to its fighting weight!
That was to be the only action for the rest of the session and I decided to head to yet another area for my next trip the following night.
That day I started to get a bit of a tickle in my throat but didn't think much of it until I got fishing that evening. By then a sore throat and cough had kicked in and I was starting to get a little feverish and I was in two minds whether to pack up or not but seeing as I'd given Phil a lift and he was fishing away upstream I decided to put up with it. That night proved to be a bit of a nightmare, I was desperate to get some sleep but the small barbel and chub seemed to be on the rampage and I managed three barbs between 5lb and 7lb4oz and not a wink of shuteye!
Finally daylight was upon us and I was just nodding off when my phone rang and it was Phil asking me to come and photograph something special for him. I headed upstream and Phil lifted the fish out of the water and placed it on the mat. Make no mistake this fish was a proper chunk all 14lb of it! There was no soft bits and hollowness on this fish it was as solid as they come. A new pb for him and a fantastic capture, well done bud!
By then whatever illness had befallen me had really taken hold and I felt like I'd been run over by a truck, my bed at home beckoned urgently and Phil and I decided a night off the fishing the following evening would be a good idea.
After sleeping most of the day I felt much better that evening and after speaking to Phil we decided to have a break from the barbs and head out for a relaxing day with the lure gear the next morning..................