“You spend more time looking down there than you do at me. Look at you, still looking down there. I could be anywhere and you wouldn’t know because you spend all your time looking down there.”
“Have you caught anything mate?” came the voice. “Are you still looking down there?” Eventually the miserable hag caught up with her husband just as I was explaining to the hen pecked man that I hadn’t caught anything. No wonder he’d got the hood on his coat pulled as tight as possible, it was probably to try and drown out her constant whining. Turns out the man in question used to fish that stretch quite a bit and I would like to have found out a bit more but all the while his wife was tugging at his coat to chivvy him along. She was so annoying, even I wanted to tell her to “shut the f**k up and leave him alone”. As they tottered off I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor bastard as she continued to chip away at him. If she’s like that in public what must she be like at home? I don’t care if you look like Nicole Kidman there is no way I could put up with listening to that until I took my last breath.
Anyway, relationship advice dispensed, back to the fishing. With the weather still on the mild side I thought i’d go and try and winkle out a Barbel while having a sneaky Zander rod down the edge. Not knowing the potential I put the two Barbel rods mid-river and didn’t bother with the Zander rod for a couple of hours until I got a feel for the area I was fishing. Casting around I found a couple of snags so adjusted the line I was fishing and put in a bit of bait.
After a couple of hours without any indication of a bite I decided to setup the Zander rod. A quick under arm flick to the crease and I put the rod in the rest. I sat back in the chair to keep an eye on the rod tip and immediately it was tapping away. My first thought was, is there an underwater obstruction that is catching on the line so I got up out of my chair when the tip pulled round. The bait had only been in there seconds and there was a fish on. It was a proper little scrapper too and fat and although I didn’t weigh it I put the weight at around 6.8. It really was in mint condition.
I couldn’t believe how quickly the bite had come and I cursed myself for not getting a bait out as soon as I arrived. Thinking I might be onto something I got another bait out as quickly as possible but as is usually the case that was the only action I was to see for quite a while. The Barbel rods remained static and then out of the blue the Zander rod was away again. It didn’t feel very big at all and I expected to see a little schoolie pop up but it turned out to be a Perch around the 2.8 mark. I’ve never had a Perch on frozen deadbaits before and I often wondered why they weren’t keen on them. I’ve had quite a few on fresh deads though.
Again everything went quiet and as dusk approached I expected to see the odd fish move and expectations were really high. If I didn’t get a Barbel I at least expected to get another Zed. I’d decided to fish until 8pm to give me a few hours of darkness and maximise my chances.
Eventually, when it was fully dark, the odd fish started to splash out over my rods. Thinking they were Chub I was hoping they would get their head down and start feeding. Twenty minutes later the right hand rod tip started to tap away and I was on it like a rat up a drainpipe. Whatever on the end felt a decent size and with maximum side strain got the fish away from the other rod. It felt odd though because it wasn’t fighting back. All the time it was coming in I kept thinking it would wake up in a minute and pull my arm off. Then when I got it under the rod tip I thought, “this is it now, it’ll go mad,” but it never did and then I knew the reason why. Up popped a slab of a Bream. Well I say slab, it was actually about 8lb. It never even entered my head that it might be a Bream which under the circumstances is odd because I always seem to get the odd one.
I recast and had a quick time check and realised i’d got a couple more hours of fishing left. I really wasn’t feeling as if I was going to get a Barbel but everytime I thought about packing up, a fish would roll over my baits. I was pretty certain they were Bream though after catching that one. Expectations of a Zander were still high but again the tip never moved.
The evening ended with that solitary Bream and although the day hadn’t been a disaster I was slightly disappointed that I hadn’t caught more. Where were the Chub? I normally pick one of those up. The Barbel are few and far between on this stretch but I was fishing ok and my baits were decent. Looking back now I don’t know if I could have done anything differently although maybe I picked the wrong peg. Who knows, but I will be back for another crack at them in the near future.