It sounds a ridiculous thing to say, but fish swim! The reason I state the obvious is that I fancied fishing a stream that flows into a well-established barbel river. Hence, although most anglers wouldn’t perhaps give the tributary a thought and just concentrate on the main river, I had been thinking for a while that I would like to have a few sessions on the stream to test the water, so to speak! There is no reason why barbel won’t have made their way in from the main river, hence my opening statement that fish move around.
The venue in question is quite shallow; on a bright sunny day you can clearly see every mark and indentation on the bed. However, because fish travel then my logic was that there is no reason why there shouldn’t be barbel in this particular stretch. Well, you can think about it, do the legwork and try to evaluate the situation, but the best way of testing any theory is to put it to the test.
Hence, late evening found me setting up at the edge of the stream, ready to fish through the night. The one very clear conclusion I had drawn was that if there were any barbel around, then the hours of darkness were definitely the ones to fish through. I baited up with seeds, and due to the size of the venue, there was no need for a bait dropper. I could have put them in by hand, but as there had been a little rain and the flow was slightly quicker than normal, I used brown crumb as the carrier.
Once I was set up, prior to putting a boilie on the hook and casting out properly, I dropped the terminal tackle into the water to see if the lead was sufficient to hold its own in the flow. As I did so, the rod pulled over! I had hooked a small pike, which was firmly attached to the hook! After a second or two it came off and thinking to myself what a bizarre incident I flicked the lead out again, this time a little further downstream.
Imagine my surprise, when on the retrieve, I found myself again playing the pike, which had snatched at the hook. Again it came off after a few seconds, but this happened a third time, when I had it on for a while before it eventually went into some reeds and shed the hook. Well, at least there are some fish around, I thought to myself!
As darkness set in, I was very keen to observe the stream for signs of fish life. I did see one decent fish top but it was difficult to say what it was. Hopefully a barbel, but probably a pike! I did get a run though, in the early hours. As soon as I hit the fish I knew it wasn’t a barbel, but a chub. The fish weighed exactly 4lb, which is very good for the venue. Many of our smaller streams and rivers hold some good quality fish, and we certainly shouldn’t neglect them.
I had a second chub just as it was getting light, this time I didn’t weigh it but it was about two and a half pounds. By 6.00 am with the sun dominating the sky, it was time to pack away. No barbel, but it is the sort of venue that definitely needs a few more sessions before a verdict is reached. To round off the week I headed for a river that is synonymous with the species – the Severn. It was an extremely hot day and as I sat there at the edge of the river, the sweat was literally dripping off me.
I’m not a ‘sun person’ and as I sat there my mind began to wander to those long winter nights chub fishing! I must be one of very few people that would prefer the ‘cold’ to the ‘heat’. However, I must qualify that statement and say ‘not too cold’! Even as the sun set it was still a muggy night, in fact one of those that it is more comfortable outdoors than in. Speaking to my wife on the telephone, she said that she was going to sit in the garden to cool down!
It proved to be a very slow night (I was doing an overnighter) and the only fish came just after 11.00 pm. It wasn’t a particularly large barbel, and after taking a couple of photographs I returned it to the water without weighing it. Of course, as we know, targeting larger fish can be hard going at times. They don’t give up very easily, and on venues like the lower Severn – which are temperamental to say the least – it can be a challenge. But as long as the angler knows that, and accepts the facts, there is no problem.
Again, as with my session on the stream, the sun was high and bright quite early on, signalling that it was time to depart for home. I actually made it back before the rush-hour began, which was a blessing, although I’ve never figured why it’s called the rush hour as no-one seems to be moving anywhere very fast. And where I live, right on the edge of the West Midlands conurbation, it definitely lasts longer than an hour! Which is more than can be said for my barbel sessions this week. Rush hour? More of a go-slow!
(Originally published July 2005)