It was another late start to the weekly fishing trip, the alarm had long since fell silent. Eventually I was heading south as was everybody else in the north west or at least it seemed that way.
This was only my second visit to the beat, the first had been an after thought and not very well planned but a few weeks prior I'd arrived in complete darkness and left fishless 6 hours later in 2" of thick snow.
I had a deja vu moment whilst trudging back to the car, head down and snow seemingly driving horizontally into my hooded face I came across a set of freshly trodden foot prints surely not another angler? No they were mine and I'd managed to walk in a complete circle back on myself, Robinson Crusoe did the same so I didn't feel entirely stupid.
Lessons learnt from the snowy trip I arrived for the second session better prepared and this time headed for an area I had yet to see. The river meandered around a field at the top of the beat and came back on itself creating a horse shoe. I like fishing in areas like this because it allows you the freedom to move away from your base and wander without feeling like you've abandoned your tackle and will come back to find it's been nicked, not that anywhere these days is totally safe but like a hill top fortress you can at least see 'the enemy' coming into your patch and make a judgement call on whether or not they are friend or foe.
I setup on the downstream exit of the horseshoe mainly because the river was pushing through at a healthy pace and I wanted to chub fish in my preferred mode of light ledger and moving bait. This technique is not one I'd recommend for strong flowing straights as it'll simply lift a 1/2oz bomb and carry it downstream until you close the bail arm where upon it'll pull the tip around to an un-natural curve. The run off just before the last bend to my right showed a natural line to the far bank and I wanted to be setting a bait just on the inside of this to ensure any resting fish would take advantage and think the bait was a free offering that'd come down in the main flow.
Quite satisfied with my base swim choice I settled down into a regular recast every 15 minutes, flake at first followed by a lump of garlic meat as a change bait. Neither tempted any plucks apart from one definite pull just as I lifted to reel in, maybe a greedy chub seeing the tempting morsel move decided to strike but it was already in motion so unlikely to result in a conversion.
With an hour of light left I gathered the roving kit and headed some 30 yards back upstream, this put me on the start of horseshoe and right in the main flow however the recent floods had deposited a tree midstream creating some slack water so a pinch of flake was cast just behind it and wandered off on a steady glide. It had the desired effect as I felt a slight pluck followed by a violent tug, with no room for error I bullied the fish away from the sunken tree and caught my first glimpse as it flashed on the surface. A trout not a chub and a decent one at that probably pushing 2lb, although a blank saver it wasn't the target species and certainly not caught using the correct method.
Moving further upstream again I switched to garlic meat, the water was still fining down and carried more than a tinge of colour so a smelly bait would be prefered. The first cast was made and the rod placed on the make shift rest. I don't recall exactly what I was doing some 2 minutes later but whatever it was it wasn't holding the rod as it pulled around and proceeded to fall off the rest, I lifted into a half-hearted strike but whatever had given it a good tug had let go leaving a bare hook.
As we do I rebaited and recast almost believing the fish would be there in the same spot to give me a second chance, this time I held the rod like an expectant pelican perched on top of the bank. I crooked a finger over the line and felt the bait settle to a stop possibly halted on its travels by a remnant of weed of winter debris but that's how I wanted it act and then, as if on cue, the familiar tingle through the line and another firm pluck.
This time I was already striking before it registered to do so and that familiar solid resistance was all the reassurance needed to confirm my gut reaction. I'd recently retired the Mitchell reels in favour of some retro Shimanos simply because they had a clutch and for chub fishing I'd opted for the smaller Shimano Match reel with a super smooth clutch and high retrieve rate. None of this mattered as I'd been that use to back winding I'd forgotten to engage anti-reverse so as the unseen fish headed for the roots of the nearest tree I fumbled to take control of the rapidly spinning handle.
It was well and truly snagged despite eventually sorting out the reel and at 30 yards the give in the soft tip made little difference to the state of play. I decided that if the mountain won't come to Mohamed then I would have to concede and go to the mountain. Grabbing the net I wound down to keep the pressure on, the 8lb mono sang in the breeze and at first I felt certain I'd been 'done' but a faint pull said otherwise. I managed to extract the fish away from the snag and out into open water, I knew this wasn't a chub, it gave one last dive for freedom before drifting downstream into the net and lay still, its white belly the sign of an exhausted fight.
The end result, a well proportioned Dove barbel and one very happy piscator.
Very pleased with my first barbel from this stretch I settled back into the base swim but unlike my usual fish well into dark approach I decided instead to call it a night and treat myself to a well earned MacDonald's on the way home.
And my 'Retirement Plans' well that would have to wait for quite some time if our current government force me to wait until I'm 67 to draw my pension but at least it'd give me some time to save up for my little piece of Derbyshire countryside.