Sometimes the reward for effort comes from an unexpected direction; this
capture was such a time. As mentioned in the previous blog I travelled up to
Wetherby to give a talk to the local Barbel Society members and that seemed to
go down quite well. I had generated a new presentation and this was the trial
run, so it was very pleasing to get several of the audience approach me when it
finished saying they both learned a little and enjoyed the talk as well.
A big advantage of the bed fitted in the van is that I can stay anywhere
without a problem, just a short piece of level ground that is out of the way -
job done. I had been given the chance to go onto the River Swale, not a new
river to me as I had fished it on a one day trip onto the then Barbel Society
section at Topcliffe, on that occasion both I and my companion for the trip
blanked. This was a fair number of years ago and I welcomed the chance to try again if only to catch a barbel of any size.
The following morning I met up with the angler who had made the offer, Sean
Meeghan, and then we made our way to a local tackle shop where we got the
appropriate day ticket for the stretch we were to fish. The tackle dealer did
not give much encouragement as he described very poor recent results off the
river, but hope springs eternal. Following a trip that ended by going along a
number of small, narrow country lanes we arrived and I got the first look at
the intended section we would fish. It looked terrific with trees lying alongside
the bank to give good looking snag swims but not too many to spoil the effect.
Sean mentioned that the heavy rain of the previous afternoon and night might colour
the water and sure enough as the day progressed I could see the peat effect
showing in the flow.
Typical of the swims I fished but I blanked in this one.
I had taken both pellets, and maggot/caster with hemp to cover the chance of
extra water or low water conditions. As it was I felt happy that the maggots should
work and I bait dropped several droppers of hemp along with a mix of casters
and maggots across the river to my chosen tree snag. This rod would be my main
attack and get most of the attention, but I also used the second rod to put a bait out well downstream
with pellet on the hook, and a mix of pellets held within an open-ended feeder
as described in previous blogs.
My first cast produced a perch of about 1lb but that was it for all my
efforts. Both Sean and I had decided that the best approach was to bait up
several swims and then try each in turn in the hope to find a swim with
resident barbel. By early evening I began to fear the tackle dealer had been
right and I would be returning home following a blank on this river yet again.
Then about 5:30pm after several different swims I finally got a bite off a
barbel. This time my rods were slightly different in that I had the maggot
feeder on the inside line and the pellet bait presented more in the middle of the
river. This was because the opposite bank was definitely dangerous being one
long snag just waiting to give the barbel sanctuary.
When I hit the fish I thought it was a hard fighting good sample and just
held on as it tried very hard to go into the tree opposite. I could see the
water surface boiling just off the branches that reached into the water and
feared that any moment I would get that sickening feeling as the fish got
around a branch, fortunately he failed. Once away from the tree he made less
effort and was content to swim up and down in front of me just resisting the
pressure to come towards the net. Then at last he slipped in and I could call
Sean as I had already seen that he was a very good fish. As he arrived
the scales and camera were made ready, the usual guessing game was more a case of
dropping the weight down as I convinced myself that he could not be as big as I
had initially thought, but he was. At 12lb-2oz he was also one of the best the Sean
had witnessed off the river and obviously well above anything I had expected.
This now means I've taken double figure barbel off 23 different rivers, and
since it was not one of my target rivers I still have the Ribble and Goyt to try this
What a beauty at 12lb-2oz.
I had been listening to the Olympics on the radio to sports men and women
getting gold medals but I'll this gold medal specimen anytime as my reward.
When I slipped him back into his watery home I said goodbye since with a 150
mile trip to the river it is unlikely I will return. I would like to end this
piece with a big thank you to Sean who made the capture possible by taking me
to the right stretch on the day.