I walked upstream from the parking area and the first thing I noticed was how overgrown the bank side of the river was, a few willows were down over the path from high water mixed with high winds and the fact that a majority of the club membership had not trodden the banks way before June 16th because of the conditions was all too visible, great for me I love it that way!
I started at the top of the section of river I was on, the same peg I fished on June 16th when there was around 4 feet of extra water pushing down the river, the picture's below hopefully demonstrate.
I started the session by casting a pellet with a feeder under a recently fallen willow in the hope of one of the stretches seemingly diminishing stock of Barbel, these fish have never been easy to catch but the past two seasons they have become ghost like and captures have become few and far between. Rumours have been heard of corpses of both large Barbel & Chub found up the bank with various parts of their anatomy ripped out but I am yet to witness this so I am unsure to the accuracy of those tales. While the Barbel rod was out I slowly tackled up a stick float rod as I intended to float fish for a few hours today as it was a method I had yet to employ on running water this season, I fed casters into the float run as I tackled up whilst leaving the Barbel rod in place for an hour. It was then time for the float and the Barbel rod was brought in and packed away until later, first trot through and the float was under and a small Dace was swung to hand, second trot through ended up the same, I was enjoying this! I fished this swim for a further hour and 6 Dace were caught, a Chublet and a few (yeah right a few) Minnows.
Plump Avon Dace
I then moved downstream to float fish a further 3 swims with varying degree's of success, a couple of Chublets were caught and a few more minnows before I arrived at the last swim which I planned to fish to dusk. The plan for this peg was a two rod approach, the river runs over gravel at about 5 feet deep and then drops into a 9 feet slack area that had produced nice Perch & Chub for me in the past, a rod for Barbel would be fished in the upper part of the swim and a float fished lob would be dropped into the deep hole down the edge.
I changed the float from a stock to a Chubber and was soon in business, a few chopped lobs and casters were fed into the swim and I then set the Barbel rod up cast that into position and sat down to chill out and taked the evening in, as I did that the float slipped away and the first of 3 Perch were brought to the net, nothing big, all between 8 - 12oz but welcome nonetheless.
Where is your mother?
It was just after 9pm and dusk was drawing in when the float simply disappeared, no warning just wham, I struck and immediately the rod took on an alarming curve, not a lot happened at first but then I felt a head shake or two and then whatever it was took off like a rocket, I gave line and initially I thought even though I was attached to a nice fish on just 5lb line I was happy with the way things were going, then I started feel a grating sensation coming back through the rod and the fish stopped dead in it's tracks, if I exerted any further pressure I was in danger of either snapping off or pulling the hook and if I reduced the pressure I started to feel kicking so I knew I was still attached to the unseen leviathan, for now. Stalemate ensued so I stood up and walked downstream slightly to see if a different angle would free the beast, it seemed to work and I felt more kicking before that sickening gut wrenching feeling as the rod sprung straight..............................
Gutted, I swung the remainder of the rig in and the line had parted about 12 inches above the hook, the line above that was also showing signs of abrasion as the fish had ran through some underwater cabbages to break me off, Carp or Barbel are the only two fish with speed and power as I felt, both fish are noted to haunt this peg also so the quest continues.........
I set up again and cast out but the damage was done, the rain then started and quite heavily too so I started to pack the float rod away, then the Barbel rod that had remained motionless all night. I walked off the stretch in the rain, the battle with the lost fish running over in my mind again and again, could I have done anything further, probably not, I am putting it down to the experience and sitting here typing this I am already thinking about a return to the monster's lair.