Is it just me, or do the last few weeks of the river season fly by in a blur? All those plans I had will have to wait for another few months at least.
With spare time at a premium this year, I managed to sneak in a last gasp evening session just before the March 14th deadline. I wanted to do battle with a barbel so I headed for the River Trent, despite the freezing overnight temperatures. When I arrived at my chosen stretch I was surprised to see the river a couple of feet up, with a good bit of colour too. The temperatures weren’t favourable, but the water levels were. At least I had something to give me hope! Those hopes were almost extinguished by the bailiff who arrived out of nowhere.
He went on to say that no barbel had been landed from the stretch for a while, despite plenty of anglers targeting them. This made me change tack slightly. Instead of doing what everyone else was doing, I fished a couple of big baits right in the edge of the river, just a few feet from the bank. All kinds of negative thoughts clouded my head, but I was just happy to be in the fresh air, having time to reflect, whilst having a nice mug of coffee.
Those tranquil thoughts were interrupted as my downstream rod was yanked round by a barbel,. By the time I picked up the rod I think it was on it’s way to Gainsborough it was running so hard! Rather than pump it back against the heavy flow, I walked downstream with my landing net and soon landed a beauty of a winter barbel. As I struggled to lift it from the water I realised that it was obviously well into double figures.
When I placed it on the mat, I noticed that the hook had fallen out in the net, which shows how small things can make the day a success or not, fish wise. Just before that last cast, I noticed my hook wasn’t as sharp as it should be, so I changed it. With the new sharp one falling out in the net, would the blunt hook have had such a good hold? Would it have been the one that got away? Of course, nobody will ever know, but it’s nice to think these small things make a difference.
The scales gave a pleasing weight of 13lbs 7oz which more than made me happy, especially as everyone else was struggling. I stayed on into dark, despite the temperatures falling to freezing. As I sipped the last dregs of coffee from my flask, the upstream rod started bucking in the rests and I was doing battle number two. Sadly this wasn’t to be. A grating sensation could be felt in the fight as the line rubbed against a snag. After a few seconds, a feeder whizzed upstream as the hook link parted. I threw the rod in the car and packed the rest of the gear away. It had been a bittersweet ending to the season………Roll on June the 16th!!!!