Following a week’s fishing in Scotland there was no big rush to get out on the rivers, but by Tuesday the urge was too much to resist. For my first river visit of the new season I chose the Derbyshire Derwent since it had treated me so favourably last year, hence by midday I was well on the way up to the venue.
There was just one car in the car park, and when I finally came upon the angler he reported that he had caught just one barbel of about 5lb, not big but at least they were feeding. I settled into my swim and with the river carrying about 3ft of extra water decided on my usual Dynamite Monster Crab boilie on one of the rods, while the other had a couple of pellets, hopefully to entice the barbel to feed. I had a chance when the line ripped off, but the fish did not stay on the hook for long enough to allow me to be even sure it was a barbel. I left the river that evening thinking that almost every year my first trips have failed, so this was no different.
With a couple of things to sort out I did not go fishing on Wednesday, but I planned a trip to the River Severn on Thursday, then weather interved in a big way. Very heavy rain and hail stones capable on writing off a friend’s car made going a no-no. As it turned out the rain in Worcester was horrendous, and there were roads blocked all over the place so a good decision to cancel the idea.
Friday I was ready again and very undecided as to where to go, the River Severn as previously planned, the Derwent to try and rectify that blank, in the end I did neither and chose a trip to the River Dove to try for a big fish. As expected with yesterday’s rain the river was well up, but not as bad as I thought it could be. Again with all the recent rain the rubbish that might normally have come downstream on the flood had already been moved on, now the river was comparatively clear of that problem. For this trip I intended to use swim feeders, these along to be loaded with mixed pellet and hemp, my hook baits would be a well glugged Monster Crab Boilie and a chunk of garlic flavoured meat.
It seemed a reasonable day and night for fishing, mild though windy with a little rain that gave a brilliant rainbow, it did go cooler after dark but I thought the rods could have had a bite at any moment, they didn’t. A lad fishing a couple of swims away caught two barbel with one an 11lb double, but I blanked again and left feeling I had missed out on a fish or two. The next day, Saturday, I returned about 3:00pm and was surprised to be almost alone on the bank since this is a very popular stretch. This time I was going to leave the feeders off and bait drop a tin of Dynamite Chilly Hemp, not sure if the chilly bit makes a lot of difference but it certainly does catch barbel. The water level had dropped by a couple of foot, and it was now perhaps a foot over the normal level one would expect, a good colour for barbel and yet again I was hopeful of a fish.
The hours ticked by and anglers came and left, but nothing was happening until I began to wonder if I would have yet another blank. The radio was on, and I was listening to the tennis match with Murray in a very tight finish coming up to the 11:00pm deadline when it must end with the remaining games played out on the following Monday. Then with about 10 minutes to go I got my hoped for bite and the strike hit a solid resistance. The ever faithful boilie had got me the take, now all I had to do was land it. Three times I got the fish to the net and each time it powered off in a run that demanded I gave it line. There is often a fine line between holding a fish or letting it run, the timing of this comes with experience and fortunately this time I got it right and a big barbel slipped over the net cord. The usual delay was there as the camera and scales were prepared whilst the fish was left in the landing net to recover. I had seen it was big as I landed it, but that was just a fleeting glance, now as I lifted it out I could see it was a very pleasing fish that proved to be one of 12lb-4oz. Fat as a pig it had obviously been gorging throughout the floods, and had made the mistake of picking up my single boilie lying amongst the hemp I had laid out to attract him into the area.
12lb-4oz Opening barbel of the 2012-13 season.
I had missed the end of the match which Murray had won, but my prize was far better than his though he might disagree. I gave it until midnight hoping for a repeat performance but as I packed up I was well content with the start of the new season and I’m sure that more and bigger barbel will follow.