About an hours drive away lies the low flowing sinuous abode of gold. Through humid field and o'er five bar gate, I go to prospect.
The chatter of the magpie, shrill call of the 'fisher welcome, as the mallards argue. The grass moist, seeps, as the evening sun begins to fade.
The water runs low and fast at the top of the beat where small unknown birds dart for grubs and insects amongst the rampant reed growth. Thin, fast, shallow?...No, not here..onwards to the grasping, rasping snags and depth, today.
The crunch of pulled balsam beneath my feet betrays my presence to wood pigeon and noisy pheasant and startles us all.
Well away from the flow I tie the simplest of rigs, then stealthily edge riverside concealed behind reed mace as the nettles brush my forearm.
Vehicle noise is now just as distant as my memory of the home time traffic, once more I enter the heady world of the evening barbel fisher..
I prime three swims with just two pieces of bait each, which today is meat, and then a moment of contemplation, no rush now, everything has slowed, a time to savour before that first cast.
With an underarm flick to the faster midstream flow, it sinks unseen, to where in my imagination the barbel are stacked like pure ingots..
|He who dares?|
On the opposite bank, murderous squealing, something was being killed by a predator..I was quietly glad it was still a bit light..spine chilling stuff, I don't usually get spooked. However, the unseen does play tricks.
Suddenly, the rod whacks over with such ferocity that I jump! The tip almost hitting the surface of the river as the Speedia check screams.
The strike is immediately met with aggression from upstream, not down....Upstream being where the snag is and the fish has gone straight through it still taking line...I'm in trouble, eventually I gain a small element of control but the line is grating awfully.
I come to a position where the fish is tight to other side of the snag..With no other option, I am set to go in.
Hand-lining slowly I think that the fish though not in view, could indeed be nettable, alas the line goes limp and with a great boil whatever it was, is gone. It seems that he who dares doesn't always win.
My first thought is carp, but I'll never know...It is time to move swim.
After the addition of a couple more free offerings a cast is chanced towards a recently fallen willow.
There is streamer weed and depth here and I am able to see the baited hook fade in to the depths before sitting back in what can only be described as a bog.
I need the chair in this swim but I still have that 'Titanic' feeling.
The sun has peeped back round from behind the evening cloud prompting a festival of midges who seemed to want to party the evening away... in my eyeballs! It is whilst trying to extract one of these eyeball headliners that my rod pulls around again. My strike is late, but not too late, the fish hasn't yet reached the sanctuary of the fallen branches, though the intention is certainly there. I give no line, my thumb pressed firmly against the narrow drum and the trusty Chapman 500 holds firm. This rod has taken some punishment over the years, it is dog-legged with numerous 'sets' but I like it that way..It bares the scars of battle well and soon has a small, spirited barbel with a tail grown for fighting ready for the net..I have struck a little bit of gold.
No messing about with the roll mat here, there is no man made substitute for natures unhooking mat of moist, lush grass. Fish dealt with fast and efficient and back in the net to recover a while before release...and so, it is time for the next swim.
A deepish bend with no real feature other than it's bendiness! I feel that with the sun beginning to fade it will give a better chance of playing and landing a hooked fish.
First chuck produces a bite and results in another 'dart' of a barbel, released without photo.
The light fades and I'm now fishing by touch as the tawny owls call to each other from distant trees . The mallards strolled off over the field and have now fallen silent.
Heat has become cool and the whole scene has taken on an air of expectancy.
I've cast into the slower water and can feel chub plucking the bait, so move back to the faster mid flow and add another few morsels of bait.
The line is yanked from my hands and the drum whizzes as a fish takes the natural chicane and tries unsuccessfully to ram itself into the downstream reeds, the rod is perhaps at it's limit now but the fish is turned, yet not beaten. Using the flow to it's advantage it evades the net, perhaps four or five times before eventually succumbing.
These fish are lean, wiry beasts with big tails. They know their home well and are a great match to the tackle I use.
It is time to leave this wonderful world, time to join the traffic once more...and dream of future gold.