It’s hard to convey in words what an emotional roller coaster this season has been so far. There have been times when after many successive blanks i’ve really doubted whether I’ll ever catch another fish and whether or not I should try a different hobby. After a while though, reason kicks in and i’m raring to go again.
I’d planned to go out with a friend yesterday but recent heavy rain meant we put it on hold. The rivers had risen quite dramatically which I was a little surprised about as I didn’t think we’d had that much of the wet stuff. So I went to bed the previous night grumpier than normal at having to miss a day.
The next morning the alarm went off, which consisted of the cat meowing constantly as it brought a mouse in through the cat flap. I checked the time, 4:48am. Well I was awake now so I sneakily checked the river levels on the phone under the cover of the duvet. Still a bit too high but they might come down some more during the day so I decided to get up and go.
It took me a while to get my stuff together and by the time i’d made a crisp sandwich to take with me time was ticking on. I still managed to get to the river while it was dark though. I love this time of day when everything is waking up. The fish seem to be more active compared to the dusk period. Through the early morning dawn light I could see that the river was pulling through a bit more than I liked. I put both rods out with trusty lobworm and cast them a bit further than I normally would. This wasn’t planned, it was hard to judge in the dark and I was trying to combat the strong wind that was blowing straight at me.
I’ve found the first hour of daylight crucial and very often it’s make or break. If I haven’t had a bite in that period then it can pretty much signal how the rest of the day is going to go.
By now it was just light enough to be able to see the quiver tips without squinting and I noticed a couple of knocks on the right hand rod. I paused for all of a fraction of a second to try and let the bite develop before I struck and connected with something solid on the end. At first it didn’t give much away and as I looked to grab the landing net the fish surfaced but I didn’t get chance to see what it was. Whatever it was had woken up though and started to plough through the swim. As is usually the case I started to think it was a Pike. I don’t know why I always think it’s a Pike, probably because they take worms so readily, but it was soon obvious that it was something different. I knew I’d connected with a Barbel or a Carp and I was having serious doubts whether I would land it. The 10 foot puddle chucker was bent to it’s maximum and the clutch on the little Daiwa reel grudgingly gave some line. The fish was desperate to get under the tree to my right and there was very little I could do about it. In all honesty I expected the 6lb line to break. Everytime I gained some line it took it back like a spoilt brat and just when I thought i’d got the upper hand it managed to snag me to my right under the tree. I pulled and everything was solid. Bollocks!!!! I hate losing fish when I haven’t seen what it is. I put as much strain on the tackle as I dared before I felt a “ping” down the line and suddenly the fish was free again. Relieved, I knew that the fish was mine and up popped a Barbel. I quickly scooped it up in the net and I sat down to get my breath and I let the fish recuperate a bit in the net before unhooking it. It was another good double and I guessed it would be about 12.8 and I wasn’t far off as it came in at 12.10.
A couple of quick photo’s before I gently held her in the water to recover. She certainly had plenty of strength left in her though as she battled to release herself from my grasp. I played that fish hard and I mean really hard and it never ceases to amaze me how much stick you can give fish when fighting them on balanced tackle.
I sat down and had a coffee thinking how it had well and truly knackered up any chance I’d had of getting a decent Perch. Every Perch in the vicinity would now be well and truly spooked. By now daylight was fully upon me but I still had a bit of time before what I class as the “best time” would be past. I fished on for a short time but my confidence was low after the fight with that Barbel. I was just thinking about moving when I had another bite that was definitely Perchy looking. I left it a short while to develop but nothing materialised. Thinking I had missed my chance I reeled in to check the bait and sure enough the end of the worm had been bitten off. It’s very rare to get a second bite of the cherry with big Perch but I put a fresh bait on and put it back out in the same spot. As expected nothing happened and the productive time was over. I just started to gather my things up when the tip on the rod pulled over without any prior indication and I struck into something that was obviously very angry at being tricked into taking the bait. It started off with a classic Perch battle but the fish was keeping deep, well about as deep as you can get in 3 feet of water and as the fight ensued I had Chub thoughts. Then just as I reached for the net up popped a huge Perch. Now I was excited and started to pray that i’d got a good hook hold. Not wanting to tempt fate I started to think it could be a 5lb fish. I got it in the net and it was like lifting a dead weight. At first I daren’t look at the scales properly as I weighed her as I hoped and prayed it was a 5. The scales finally settled on 4.14 and although not a 5 was a truly stunning fish. I took a few photos and briefly admired her before I let her go. I then proceeded to jump around like a mad man much to the amusement of the dog walkers on the opposite bank.
I didn’t bother casting in again as i didn’t see the point. I packed up the rest of my tackle and decided to fish another stretch where we’ve been getting a lot of fish recently. Only this time the fish didn’t want to play ball and I never got a bite in the hour I was there.
It was still only 11am so I decided to have a mooch around. I went to a spot where I lost a big fish recently thinking could it be the day where I get two four pound plus Perch. I settled down in my chosen spot and couldn’t get the previous fish out of my head. Just as I was getting all giddy again I had a bite on the left hand rod. I struck into another good fish and for a brief moment I thought it was the lump I lost a bit back before up popped a smaller Perch. At 2.5 it was still a good fish but I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. That’s what happens when you’ve been spoilt by catching bigger fish.
I fished on for the rest of the day and moved to another swim further upstream but no more bites prevailed. The heavens opened late afternoon and I decided to call it a day. I just didn’t have it in me to continue fishing. Catching anything smaller than the 4.14 just felt like an anti-climax.