Bank holiday, Friday evening on the M6? No not for me I've been stuck in stationary traffic too many times previously so I decided to stay home and head down to the Dove the next day.
A fortuitous decision as it turned out and after a leisurely hour and fifteen minutes drive I arrived at a section of river that I hadn't caught from before. The levels had risen sharply Friday evening, the river was up and very coloured and reports started coming in on social media that a few lumps were being banked.
I made the first cast at 6pm, my usual tactics of a single 14mm dumbell and half a dozen chopped in half and loosely fed in an effort to end up somewhere around the hook bait.
At 7pm a chub of 4b 5oz with an unusual eye decided to be the first to sample the hook bait, don't get me wrong I like fishing for chub on the right gear but not when barbel fishing, the take can be similar but lifting in it's soon apparent you're not into a barbel.
That also killed the swim for the next couple of hours until I was in again, a dogged head shaking fight told me this time it was a barbel and it "felt a good un" too, sadly I'd never know as the mainline was cut clean off probably on a sharp edge as the river bed here is mostly gravel and drops from 6' to over 10' mid-way across. Undeterred by the loss I re-rigged and lowered the trap back into position, a rod length exactly and it was 6 foot deep and the colour of dark tea - perfect for ambushing a barbel.
I proceeded to share my pain on social media and unofficially formed the "I've just lost a big fish club" the only requirement being it must be the biggest fish on the river and you must post a selfie of you complete despair face so here's mine after losing what was probably a new river Dove record.
Well at 11:15pm the despair turned to sheer delight when another strong series of runs resulted in my first barbel of the night and what a stunner he was, not quite a double but ever inch a fin perfect Prince of the river.
I was in the feeding time zone and an hour or so later my first double at 10lb 2oz fell to the same tactics of micro pellet in a block end feeder and back leaded main line.
Two more splasher 5lber came through the night at 2:30am and 5am so I quickly unhooked them at the waters edge, rested them and returned them without a fuss.
It was mid-morning and I was cooking a late breakfast, the night time activity had taken it's toll and I needed a strong cup of coffee and a bacon butty but whilst the kettle simmered on the stove the same rod was off again. Now this really did feel like the mythical 'big fish' and I was a lot more conscious of not pulling the hook so let it run it's course before slipping the waiting net under it.
After last week disappearing net I'd bodged an extension onto the handle using an umbrella spike and some hose clips, sounds ugly but it allowed me to dig the spike into the bank and leave the fish resting in the net whilst I switched the boiling kettle off and setup the camera and weighing equipment.
A day time river Dove barbel deserves a stupid face photo but next time I must try to have something in the background like a bush so it's not over exposed against the bright morning sky.
Apart from a chub at 7pm and a couple of dropped runs which I guess were also chub that was it and as quickly as it'd switched on it switched off so I called it a day.