This week I met up with a fine group of barbel catchers in a Derbyshire village pub for a spot of lunch followed by an afternoon into evening session on the river Dove.
I traveled down after work on the Friday to find my intended peg taken which was a shame as I'd planned to setup for the night around 50 yards from the car and walk to an area where I'd spotted two fish with Bruce last week. I loaded the barrow on the other side of the stile and headed off across the field trying hard not to startle the cows who'd settled down for the night.
I arrived in a sweaty lather after a good 400 yards plus and found a shale beach area just upstream of where we'd spied the fish previously.
By 10:30pm I'd cast the first rod out into the darkness, it was shallow on both sides of the river with a deeper channel running down the middle and with hardly any flow I decided not to try the usual block end feeder and micro pellets but instead a grippa lead, one I'd made myself, plugged with a bit of paste just to get a bit of attraction in to the swim to start with. I was making the second rod up when the first started to strip line at a rapid rate and I quickly lifted into a hard fighting barbel, this was a great start to the evening but as I gained some line back it all went slack and the fish was gone. I reeled in to find the 15lb braided hook link cut clean in half, not frayed like it had rubbed against a snag and to be honest I didn't feel it snag but it must have cut across something sharp and ping it was gone.
I knew that would be it for the night my one and only chance blown but I recast both rods and got my steak on the go as a consolation prize.
I was woken by the crunching footsteps of the local bailiff who said the swim I was fishing holds some big fish but more downstream towards the next bend and I was lucky to draw one up so quickly, a mental note was made for next time.
A hearty breakfast was cooked and consumed before packing down and trudging back to the car, I had barbel catchers to meet at 12:30pm. The sun was at it's highest point and the car recorded a sweltering 32 degrees so the first pint of ice cold cider didn't touch the sides.
Now this select group of barbel catchers know a thing or two about barbel so I listened intensely as they recalled some magnificent captures both past and present and we each had a delightful pub meal from the menu, mine was a mixed grill with all the trimmings and it certainly hit the spot.
Once day tickets had been bought we headed off for a beat I hadn't fished much last season. After a considerable walk in unbearable heat we arrived at the river mid way along the beat, I was glad to offload the tackle and have a wander downstream peering into potential swims, the river was very low, very clear and very barren of the normally abundant streamer weed. The sound of the weir was persistent and raised hopes of barbel sitting off in the oxygenated water below it.
I settled on a swim around 100 yards downstream from the weir, I had relatively little cover in the margins so I'd have to wait until darkness to stand any chance of drawing a barbel into the swim. One of the lads downstream reported having three barbel feeding so they were definitely in the area but for now I setup the float rod and started trotting corn down the middle glide, it was the perfect pace and a long run so I was a little surprised when nothing came of it.
Eventually it was time to set the barbel rods up, it was 7pm and the clock was ticking as I needed to finish at midnight. I put some loose feed into the near margin and mid river and intended to cast out and wait. No feeders again but a grippa lead plugged with a bit of paste, at the business end the ever faithful Hook Bait Co. Spicy Fish Pro was lowered into place and so began the waiting game.
It was at this point I noticed the clouds, with the sun setting behind me the clouds in front of me took on an unusual appearance, incredible skies are just one of the reasons I go fishing be it early morning or sunset it never ceases to impress me.
Into darkness we fished and after speaking to Richard who was just upstream of me I decided to bring in the rods for a recast, the mid river rod was bare and I had no indication but something had nicked the hook bait.
At 11pm a couple of the lads came to say goodbye and I discovered that not one of us had caught a barbel and only one chub had come earlier on to another angler. It looked like it wasn't to be so I agreed an 11:30pm finish with Richard and I sat back ready for the predicable blank.
At 11:20pm the mid river rod started dancing then took off at a rapid rate of knots, I lifted into it and felt a good pull back, a barbel, a small one maybe? But no it surfaced quickly and revealed itself to be a feisty little chub of around 3lb.
Not the best of photo's but a blank had been avoided and at 11:30pm we packed up and headed home. I'd had a great day out with like minded anglers and can look forward to many more socials and fish-ins with this merry band of barbel catchers.