Over the years, I've often heard people say they had lost the urge to go fishing but I've always found that hard to understand until I fell foul myself a couple of months ago, I really couldn't understand what was going on but I needed a break and so rather than flog a dead horse as it were I got stuck into some hill walking and even contemplated doing a few jobs around the house, contemplated I said!
A couple of weeks ago I decided on the spur of the moment have an evening’s barbel fishing on my local river Derwent and although the end result was a blank in terms of fish caught I did enjoy being back out on the river and was looking forward to my next trip. A week scaling mountains in the Lake District put that trip on hold but after a great week’s holiday I was back and raring to go.
Initially I planned to return to the scene of my previous blank as it has been a generally reliable spot for me over the years but as I headed up the motorway I had a last-minute change of heart and carried on driving a few more miles. I half expected the car park to be busy and had decided that even though darkness would soon be falling if there were too many anglers present I would revert to plan A and drive back to this other stretch, fortunately there wasn't a car in sight so it was game on.
I don't feel the need to chop and change tactics much when it comes to barbel, I've got a rig and method that works for me so unless I feel that I should be getting bites and aren't, which is rare, I stick to the standard approach. A dozen bait droppers full of hemp, spicy sausage pellets and broken Code Red boilies are lowered on to each of two spots around two rod lengths from the bank. The rig comprises a size 6 or 8 Korum Xpert Specimen hook on around two feet of braided hooklink, a two or three ounce lead is attached to a Korum running rig kit and I'm ready to go. The final touch is a PVA stick of broken boilie and pellet nicked on to the hook and then smothered in Sonubaits Lava, along with adding attraction this stops the PVA dissolving quickly allowing the bait to settle on the river bed where you want it.
I got both rods in place just as dark arrived and sat back to enjoy a glorious clear evening. The mist was already starting to roll across the field behind me and dampness soon started to coat my kit so the umbrella came out sharpish. I've started to use the new graphite brolly with sides this year and it's a cracking bit of kit, you can remove the centre pole and support it in two long banksticks giving ample room yet still being compact enough for the river angler.
I hadn't been settled more than twenty minutes when the downstream rod whacked around like a thing possessed as a whiskered warrior attempted to reach the Trent. I had preplanned two different netting positions depending on which rod action came to so I stuck the net handle under my arm and moved ten yards along the bank and down a now extremely slippery piece of mud whilst keeping the pressure on before commencing battle proper and it was a battle too. Straight away it felt heavy and solid, not the frantic speed and banging around of a smaller fish but that plod, plod, plod that always makes me just that bit more anxious! Eventually the net came into play and I propped it against some bankside foliage to give the fish a rest before lifting it out which is always a good idea with barbel. It wasn't a bad fish at all at 12lb 4oz and had certainly got the old ticker beating nicely and put a smile on my face, forget all that no fishing business I was right back I to it now!
I had it in mind to fish till midnight before retiring to the van for a few hours sleep and then off to work in the morning and at gone 11pm I was starting to think my chance had gone although there were barbel around as I kept hearing the odd substantial roll on the surface and just as I started to think about tidying things away the same rod was away once more and again I braved the ski slope like bank without ending up on my backside.
In contrast to the first fish this one, although undoubtedly powerful, kept the rod top banging around which as a rule tends to mean a spirited 8lber rather than a tubby 12lber in my book and it wasn't until I lifted the net out of the water that I realised my mistake and that this one was bigger still! At 13lb 14oz I'd got a brace of barbel for over 26lb, without a doubt my mojo was back!