Trip one was with Graham Drewery and conditions did not look that good. The Trent was well up and pushing through a bit faster than I would have liked. It was backed up by a big tide, we could have picked a better day, but Graham has a business to run and has to get a day’s fishing when work allows rather than when the conditions are perfect.
We were fishing The Hull and District AA stretch at Carlton on Trent a length of river we had done well on in the summer, but not mid-November, so it was a bit of an unknown quantity. Although Graham has caught plenty of barbel from the Trent so far a double had eluded him, but that wasn’t on our minds as we made our first casts, in the prevailing conditions any take would be good!
We kept feeding the swim with scalded Nutrabaits Trigga Ice pellets laced with hemp and maggots, but after three hours or so there was no signs of a take. Then out of the blue my left hand rod hooped over and I was in. A steady fight against an angry barbel and a heavy flow kept me anxious but eventually it was near the net, when the hook pulled, it was not my happiest moment!
A few moments later, I was still sulking, when Graham was in and this time things did not go wrong. As the fish got near the net it was obviously a good fish. Graham manoeuvred it upstream a little then let it drift back into the billowing net, brilliant. On the scales 10/12, I knew how long it had been that Graham had been trying for a double, it’s fair to say he was a very happy angler!
A week later and I’m back to the same stretch but this time with son Martyn and his friend Mike who has never caught a barbel full stop but would dearly love to. An experienced carper Mike had heard us talking about the fighting powers of river barbel and was very keen to find out for himself.
The river was looking perfect, two or three feet down on the previous week with a steady flow, after the previous week I felt confident that we could help Mike catch his first barbel. Tactically we fished the same as the previous week with regular feeding with the scalded pellet mix. Rigs wise we were using 4oz open ended feeders and 4ft long combi rigs. Baits on the hook were either a banded pellet or a small glugged boilie.
Mike was using my Infinity Barbel rods and at first it’s fair to say he was a bit nervous about casting the big heavily loaded feeders, but that soon went and he really worked at it, all day in fact for nothing, not a single tap. It was turning out to be one of those hard to explain days when everything looked perfect but no one had told the fish! As the sun started to set we discussed calling it a day. It was Martyn who made the call, they’d travelled a long way so it was worth a bit longer. In truth I didn’t expect anything to happen but dusk can be a prime time so what did we have to lose, the feeders were loaded and cast back out.
Mike and I stood staring at the gently nodding tips, as the clock ticked on. It was time to pack up, when there was slight knock on the left hand rod, but nothing followed. Just as we started to think it was nothing another tap on the tip. I walked the short distance to Martyn and said “let’s give it another fifteen minutes”.
I turned back towards Mike, just in time to see him grab the rod. I could hear the urgent click of clutch as a barbel headed off downstream!
If watching Graham play his double the previous week was tense then this was taking tension to a new level. All three of us really wanted this fish to stay on, but this barbel was happy to stay mid river and use the flow to make it difficult for Mike to gain line.
Behind Mike, Martyn and I exchanged glances and crossed fingers, gradually Mike made progress, until the glint of a barbel came into view. I stretched the net to the limit and it was in, another magic moment. Lots of handshakes, big smiles and high fives!
After the long day, those last few moments were a bit special. For the record it turned the scales to 6lbs. I’m sure Mike will go on to catch bigger barbel, but I’m certain none will have the impact that this one had.
We called it a day, packed up and made our way back to the cars. As I drove home I reflected on two very different sessions, but both producing moments of joy that made two anglers very happy, hopefully it will be my turn next.