Back at John’s house following my day’s fishing for chub we discussed the possible venues for the following day. My thoughts were for either perch or chub, while John fancied trying for a shoal of barbel he had recently found, to meet both ambitions was easily done, we went to the river length where the barbel were to be found, and I followed John’s suggestion as to a known chub swim.
Meanwhile John, fishing some half a mile downstream of me reported he had caught his first barbel of 2012, not a big fish but a good sign the shoal was still in place and feeding. His tackle would be similar but with a longer hook-link and heavier rods and line, it is difficult to better maggots or caster in low, clear water conditions. By 11:00am I was beginning to wonder why I was not getting any action, conditions were good and I was in a known chub swim but it seemed dead. I bait dropped with hemp and although that method would not be used here too much I felt sure the fish would know the sound was a dinner gong – where were they?
Over the years I have been fishing I have had some very exciting events, battles with big fish and the sight of monsters in my landing net, the next five minutes would easily fit into this list. The tip indicated a bite with just the lightest quiver; I struck and immediately dropped the rod to water level since if the fish moved upstream as I thought it would, I needed to avoid getting caught in the lower branches trailing in the water. Sure enough this fish move up and I had the rod bent as far as it would go, past the 90 degree mark and all I could do was clamp down and hold. This fish tested the tackle to the limit and the fine line would have parted in seconds, the braid seemed to be holding and I could feel the typical pull/ relax, pull/relax so often experienced of a fish trying to reach sanctuary in snags. This stalemate was kept up for probably 3minutes or even longer and I was convinced that I had hooked one of the Kennet’s big chub. Seven pound fish are a definite possibility and even an eight could be about – it seemed I had hooked one and as the minutes ticked by I thought I was going to land it! For all this time I had been unable to reel in line, just hold and wait but now the pressure began to tell and slowly the fish came out and into the pool. Still out of sight in the deep water my excitement mounted since now I felt sure I would land it, but then it came into sight and it was a barbel! Talking to John afterwards he did not know of a barbel ever coming from that swim but now I had a fish of maybe 6lb laying in the net and my dream just evaporated.
Meanwhile John had taken another two barbel himself and then a phone call came to say he had hooked a better fish so I made my way down to his swim for a photo, it was not as big as he had thought, but although not a double it still was a pleasing best of the day for him.
John's best of the day.
The last day of my trip we both did a little bit of exploring, it was a stretch that is known to hold big barbel and chub but my only fish of the day, a thin chub of about 4lb was the only sign of life. I fished through to 6:30pm to allow the traffic to diminish and made my way home. No big fish but a nice day with the chub and an exciting time with that barbel added to good company, it is always true that there is more to fishing than catching fish, this was such a trip.