Friday 26th September 2008
My 4 year old Barbel PB was finally smashed last night on the River Dove with a fantastic 11lb 5oz Barbel my first ever double. This has increased the old figure by an impressive 2lb 6oz !
With the help and guidance of an old friend, Tom, I have been fishing a couple of new stretches of the river for the past two Fridays. Last night being my first successful Barbel session since starting my Dove campaign back on opening day in June! Not that the blanks matter now as it was worth the wait just to catch a magnificent fish like this.
It was quite a battle to get the fish in as I managed to let it find a bolt hole (which I now think might have been a thick weed bed) shortly after connecting with it. The swim was shallow on my near bank and gradually dropped away into deeper water on the far bank under some overhanging willows ( classic barbel territory really). It was just a case of casting as near to the trees as you could.
The bite when it came was pretty un-dramatic, after about 10 - 15 mins from casting in the tip just tapped forwards twice then pulled steadily forwards with more purpose, giving me enough reason to strike. The rod hooped right over and I was met with very solid resistance. The fish moved off downstream at a steady pace stripping as much line off the clutch as it wished at first, I could do nothing about it for a good few yards! I did manage to turn it though as I knew I couldn't just let it find itself a snag downstream. Soon after turning it and attempting to steer it my way I felt the fish head for the far bank, by this time I was giving the call out to Tom as I knew I was into something special here. Tom was round about 30 seconds later net in hand, but by now it had all gone worryingly solid ! Disaster I thought at first, but then I didn't feel as if the line was grating on a branch or any other obstruction, it was just a sheer solid unmovable resistance!
The stalemate continued for a while, then Tom suggested I try letting the line go slack, which I agreed might fool the fish into coming out of its sanctuary. I let the bale arm off and let some line out but nothing changed. Tom then said try changing the angle of the rod, so I moved to my far right along the peg into some stingers to apply pressure from that side, but still nothing. Trying not to let my growing despair take a grip I hooped the rod over pulling at the fish from my left side now instead, and as I gave it some hard side strain I felt the rod start to thump again! The rod, still fully arched, slowly began to move backwards and I could feel that the fish was free! I just heaved it across to my side of the river quickly and it was soon surfacing as the fight drew towards its end. Tom instructed to "just bully it in now" I didn't need telling twice, and a few seconds later it rolled over the rim of his waiting net. The fish looked massive to my eyes and I thought surely it had be a double? If not then I wondered just what would the fight be like from such a fish - scary ! Tom suggested it will most probably be a 10, so when those magic figures appeared on the scales of 11lb 5oz, man, I wasn't expecting it to go round that much. We quickly took the photo's and then returned her safely back to her home. I was physically shaking after and although I had another cast I was in too much of a daze really to concentrate on the fishing until we packed up about an hour afterwards.
My thanks must go to Tom for the guiding over the past two sessions and indeed letting me in on his baiting secrets by kindly supplying me with all the bait I needed on this last session. To put things into context Tom caught 7 fish that day with 2 doubles both 10's followed by a number of 9's and an 8. This just wouldn't have happened to me without him generously sharing his knowledge with me.
I must note that on this session we had started off in a different peg further upstream, where Tom had caught all his 7 fish earlier in the day. I arrived in the evening about 6:30 so Tom let me drop into his in form peg while he moved into the next one down. Unfortunately a shoal of Chub had moved in and the Barbel seemed to have gone off the feed. I caught two chub at about 3lb each on the first two casts but then it all went quite as darkness fell.
After dark a heavy mist had descended in the fields around us and coupled with the pitch black darkness due to there being no moon it became quite difficult to see where you were casting to. We sat it out there for an hour or two before we decided to move downstream near to a source of artificial light which thankfully enabled me to get in on the Barbel action too, again Tom kindly insisting I had the 'choice' peg.