The glorious 16th finally arrived and the excitement is still massive for me. I set my alarm for 3.30am but as often happens I was wide awake well before it went off, so I switched it off (before it woke the missus) and made a brew.
I headed for one of my favourite stretches of the Avon and knowing how popular it is I went for the peg as far away from the car park as possible. No one had been down that far for months probably since I last fished it and landed a 5lb Chub way back in February. The path was overgrown and it was not possible to see a peg or a pathway to one. I am 6 foot tall and the nettles were over my head. As long as I did not fall over I would be fine and I know where the steep bit is. I got down to the waters edge and as quietly as possible made a gap in the reeds to fish through. Proper fishing!
This was my view back to the top of the bank and the pathway back to the van. I made the effort for the peace and tranquility but also the swim is faster flowing than the stretch before, and no walkers or other anglers would spook the fish from the high bank in the clear water.
The fish had not seen anglers baits for 3 months so I figured maggot and hemp would be the best to get them competing and more natural than pellet and boilie.
My primary target was Barbel but it soon became clear my approach was working for all fish, it was not specific at all. The first landed was a Gudgeon, a big one but I did not weigh it. This was followed by a succession of Chublets shaking the tip and eventually hooking themselves or chewing the maggots to empty.
It became frustrating but I knew if I waited old Barbus would come along and he did. A typical three foot twitch and I struck into a dead weight. He took a second or so to wake up but when he realised what was happening he powered towards some downstream Willow trees. I applied pressure, as much as I could but it was not enough and as soon as the line hit a snag it parted. I was gutted, opening day disaster. It felt like a good fish but all Barbel do.
The bites kept coming from the smaller fish and I was pleased to land a nice river Perch of about a pound.
A big headed but empty fish, never the less stunning. My biggest surprise of the day and probably the best fight was this baby Pike which took the double red maggot and did not bite through the line.
All in all a good start to the new season, about 30 fish caught, Chub, Dace, Gudgeon, Perch and Pike but the edge taken off it with the lost Barbel.