Last week's Barbel has started an addiction to the species again and this week I arrived on the Avon at dawn as the sun started to beam through the trees. I decided to begin in the same swim that I landed the double last week. Typical fishing, it did not go to plan. If it did every week it would quickly become monotonous and boring.
The swim had obviously taken a hammering through the week and was full of litter. Three empty luncheon meat tins plus lager and sweet wrappers. Some people are just plain idiots.
I had taken pellets with me this week to try and I thought my boilies from last week were still in the bag but they weren't. I then remembered that Wifey had asked me to glue one of the kids toys back together and the superglue was back in the house so I would have to drill the pellets. This did not work and I kept reeling in an empty hook. The attention from the minnows and the weed was making me lose the bait stop and therefore the bait also. All was not going to plan, not even close. I had imagined a couple of doubles in the net by now. By ten o'clock I was fed up and staring down the barrel of a blank.
The sun had risen to full height and peering through the clear water the swim looked lifeless so I decided to up sticks and move on. I wandered down stream looking for fish and spotted just a solitary Barbel which flew off when it saw me.
About an hour later I shook my last throw of the dice. The fish must be somewhere and the fast water below the weir looked likely. I was not confident but I thought nothing ventured nothing gained. I had one tin of meat in the bag and I have never tried rolling it down a swim before so I gave it a go.
The swim in question is fast and shallow and the main flow runs under some willow trees. Looks very fishy and gives good cover in the midday sunshine. I rolled up my trousers and waded out to the biggest rock in the photo above. With all the weight off the line I ripped a lump of meat off the block and chucked it into the flow. Bang, unbelievably a Chub took it first cast and it put up a great battle in the strong current. Probably weighed closed to 4lb. I let her recover and she swam off strongly.
A short period of inactivity was the followed by another Chub and then a 4lb Barbel.
I was beginning to suss out the swim and the fish seemed to be mostly under the third Willow from the right in the picture below. Due to the flow I had to cast into the gap between the willows and let the bait trundle down below the trees hoping that it would not get snagged. If I got it right I caught, if not I lost the bait and occasionally the hook too.
I landed another Chub and two more Barbel before I ran out of bait. I was really pleased to have turned the session around and although there was no real biggies it was great fun and the fights were excellent. It must be twenty odd years since I caught fish freelining!
I have read about Barbel clamping down with their pectorals but never seen it happening. I helped this 6lb fish to recover and then it swam into the rapid shallows and held on with it's fins. I watched it for about five minutes to make sure it was ok and it swam off eventually, splashing me in the process.
Holding station but barely moving!