I braved the elements on friday evening to do the final prebait of this campaign. Rain had fallen all afternoon, and the track to the river ran with muddy rivulets, turning potholes into pools. Everyday for the last week I had made the same journey, depositing 4.5kg of mixed corn, 2kg of hemp and a kilo of sweetcorn beneath the willow tree. Today I had changed the blend slightly, filling the bucket with 3kg each of corn and hemp and 2kg of sweetcorn. The river had not yet begun to rise noticably, but it was only a matter of time...
Saturday had been dry but overcast. I arrived on the bank at 18:30, and by the time I had got the shelter up and the rods out the light had already faded behind leaden skies. The river had risen significantly, around 2ft above the summer level. It would peak at 2m (at colwick) around midnight. This was the first proper flush of the year, and of course, as with any first flush, weed would be a problem.
This peg had been selected particularly because it was so significantly out of the flow, even so a rod length out debris would mask the bait in less than half an hour. Bewcasue bites were so slow i had decided to try three rods, all in the margin, 6-8 ft from the bank, one with boilie, one double pellet and the other with spam. I fed with 2kg of hemp at the start of the session.
A couple of minutes before 9pm the rain started, the alarms remained silent. I had been checking the baits hourly, and although they were picking up a little weed, it was not causing any real problems with presentation. At around midnight the rain stopped, and minutes later the rod baited with pellets screeched off. I was on it in seconds, stopping the run with a finger on the spool before disengaging the baitrunner and taking control of the fight. It was a strong and heavy fish, and I could feel my excitement building in anticipation of what I hoped and thought would be the sought after carp. It wasnt to be, as the fish surfaced I could see it was a big barbel. Once netted it was clearly a double, and the biggest barbel so far this season. yet I couldnt help but feel disappointed. Disappointment then turned to dismay as I found out theat the digital scales weren't working. I placed the net with fish back in the margin and switched the batteries from my spare headtorch into the scales to just check that flat batteries weren't the problem, but the display still didnt come to life. I got the fish out of the net and settled for a quick snap with the cameraphone, no point in setting up the SLR if I didnt know what it weighed. I had a careful look at the barbel to make my best estimate of its size, I reckoned on 11 or 12lb, though it had a monster beer gut (probably stuffed with the particles I had been slinging in all week) that may have edged it a little higher.
It was then pointed back towards the depths of the murky river Trent, shooting off energetically having recovered whilst I changed batteries.
Baits were rechecked and recast and i spent a while stargazing as the clouds had cleared, next thing i knew it was 6:30, though there was no light yet. again the baits were checked and recast and the few remaining pints of hemp scattered over the top. As it became light I could see that the river level had been dropping overnight, probably 6-8 inches down from the peakbut there were no further bites before I packed up at midday.
So all the effort this season on this stretch has finally yielded a decent fish, but I cant say I'm really much closer to really getting to grips with the section. And traditionally once October arrives I'm busier at work and fishing has to take a back seat...