The eagerly awaited eve of the new river season was here at last and as I wandered across the familiar field I couldn't help pondering what lay ahead. It was 7pm on Wednesday 15th June as I settled in my chosen spot, I scanned the opposite bank and was pleased to see I had the place to myself. The spate of torrential downpours had found their way downstream and I surveyed a swollen and rather coloured river Dove.
I'd packed the tidal Trent gear just in case and a quick cast around with a lead confirmed the heavier tackle would be needed out in the main flow. I waited patiently until the all in at midnight and cast both rods out to what I hoped was some feeding fish.
My technique was changed slightly to last season, still using a rod on the inside but this time introducing some micro-pellets through a block-end feeder the logic being some of the payload would get lodged in the surrounding stones and gravel and encourage the barbel to root them out and hold them in the swim eventually finding the hook bait.
The chosen bait for this session was The Hook Bait Co. Spicy Fish Pro a relaunched bait for the 2016 season and as the name suggests contains very fishy contents, I was to use the 14mm dumbell mounted length ways on the hair.
I was recasting every 20 minutes to ensure that plenty of micropellet was introduced into the swim and by 3am the rain was falling in heavy showers as I huddled under the brolly. By 4:30am I'd resided myself to the usual open season anti-climax and had shut my eyes for a short nap when the near margin alarm broke into song and I lifted into a very solid fish.
Whether it was the increased flow or my poor memory I'd forgotten just how hard a Dove barbel fought and I was grateful for dispensing with my usual traditional tackle in favour of a sturdy carbon rod and a smooth clutch on the reel that absorbed the lunges of the fish as it made a break for freedom. A couple of minutes went by and I caught my first glimpse, it was a good fish and one I most definitely didn't want to lose. Three passes of the net and I was struggling to hold the fish against the flow but more by good fortune than skill it eventually landed safely in the net.
After a good rest I lifted it into the weigh sling, I knew it was a good double and settled on 11lb 10oz on the Avons, a new PB and a great start to the 2016 season.
A few texts later I was packing up for an early morning meet with the lads and a welcomed full english breakfast.
The day was spent in good company with plenty of laughs and a chance of a really big fish, Rob was first to land a decent chub of 5lb 2oz followed by Mark with a very good chub of 6lb. I waited patiently for dark and managed a splasher barbel of around 5lb and a chub of 4lb 15oz again caught on the HBC Spicy Fish-Pro dumbells.
Happy with our lot we packed up mid-morning and after another hearty breakfast said our goodbyes and headed off to our respective club beats. It was 4pm when I next cast a line, the Dove was still up and coloured but it looked spot on. It wasn't long before the near margin rod was off and an 8lb barbel in great condition was posing for the photograph.
Whilst resting the fish in the net the mid-river rod was away but by the time I got to it whatever had taken a run had gone, a daytime Dove barbel is not the norm but to have two runs within 10 minutes of each other from the same swim could only mean one thing, I was in for a productive evening.
A small trout took the bait at 8pm followed by 3 barbel 2 hours apart at 7lb 12oz, 8lb 8oz and a splasher 5lber at 1:30am.
Less than an hour later I was doing battle again but this time it felt like a better fish and safely rested it went 11lb 8oz, two 11lb Dove barbel was making a good session into a great session!!
It was almost light by 3:30am when the next run resulted in a hook pull so I rebaited and recast settling down to watch the day break in spectacular fashion as it always does. It was 7am and I must have nodded off because the nearside margin rod was away again, I lent over and lifted the rod expecting a gentle pull back but instead it almost lifted me out of my bedchair.
I scrambled down the bank to get more leverage on lt only to see the far bank trees wafting in sync with my rod, somehow it had made 30 yards on me whilst I scrambled down the bank and the pull was like nothing I'd ever experienced at least not on a river. One last gasp effort resulted in the hook pulling and everything fell silent, I was gutted as you'd expect but the optimist in me said I'll be back and one day I'll hook up with you again, literally!!
So far I'd had seven barbel to 11lb 10oz and a near 5lb chub and not forgetting the trout but my tactics remained the same and all fish had come to the near margin rod lowered into position, using micro-pellet in a block end feeder and the Spicy Fish Pro dumbell as the hook bait.
A further seven chub came to the same tactics although one chub thought it that good he'd try it again and again so I ended up catching him 3 times within 6 hours!!
The final morning and again I was woken at 7am by a screaming run and immediately thought the 'biggie' was back to do battle but again the bait was dropped. I hadn't fished with 2 rods during the night as the nearside margin rod had accounted for all the fish and negotiating the second rod whilst playing a fish have proved challenging at times. I decided to place a single Spicy Fish Pro hook bait way upstream in an area I hadn't fished at all and see what happened and sure enough within the hour a chub of 4lb+ had found it and taken the bait, just shows how good the Hook Bait Co. baits are!! Now it was time for my breakfast which always tastes nicer out doors.
The HBC bacon and beans & sausage barms what's not to like?
Whilst packing down I discovered the lob worms I'd brought with me from a previous cat fishing trip a week earlier so removing the feeder and just using a small lead I recast to the far bank and continued packing up, sure enough 20 minutes later and it was off with the final fish of this 3 day session a chub of 4lb 4oz.