On the Second Day
Friday, August 31, 2007 Filed in: rivers
The advantage of picking one's mum up from Luton airport is that it's then possible to squeeze in a second fishing trip on the way back home. Haviing scored so mightily with the barbel the day before, I didn't need to persuade myself too hard to try again. Having negotiated another early rise I arrived at the car park at about 6.30am. No-one there but myself and a man who appears to be living out of his van with two enormous shaggy dogs.
It's colder this morning and the blister from the Doc Martins is playing up on my right heel as I wander down the road to the track. Turning the corner, two tiny farm cats come pelting through the gate and stop dead right in front me. They both spring vertically into their air and then one cuts off left while the other goes right. It's like finding yourself suddenly in the middle of a cartoon.
I know where the river is now, so there are none of yesterday's geographical distractions. I head straight for the right swim and tackle up exactly as yesterday. First cast I get a hilarious chub bite. Second cast I get a nice little chub - about 2lbs - and then nothing. The swim goes dead and I wonder if I've put everything down by returning the chub into the water at my feet. I try different parts of the swim and start to pick up bites. At around 8.30 I see a kingfisher zipping low across the water, heading downstream and shortly afterwards I'm buzzed by a small flock of finches who take it in turns to be surprised at finding my head directly in their flight path. They settle into the tree beside me and chatter away happily. Then the swans move in and sit right in front of me for 20 minutes. I make a cup of coffee while I wait for them to move on.
Last cast, I drop the bait almost directly in front of me, a few feet out from the bank. The rod is in the rest and then it isn't. I'm striking a solid thump and it's another barbel. It comes up off the bottom faster than yesterday's one but then wakes up and proceeds to take me for a tour of all the interesting-looking snags in the swim, almost getting his nose into the big one in the middle before I turn him away. I'm using pretty stout tackle so it's relatively easy. When he comes in he's larger than yesterday's and is turning to golden brown, the way barbel do when they get bigger. Only one more and it'll equal my best ever tally of barbel in a season.
About the author
Rob Beattie is the other of several popular fishing books. He's also a regular contributor to Waterlog magazine.