I must admit that I was chomping at the bit during the closed season, despite having cast a wet fly, once or twice, to satisfy my craving for casting a line into running water. The period is a curious invention from a time when little was known, and much was assumed, about the spawning habits of coarse fish. Why it’s been removed from stillwaters and canals and is still in place for rivers is one only the marketeers can answer.
With the cool weather (considering it’s June) and a lack of rain meaning a low river – I wasn’t expecting much from my opening session on the Goyt. Further to this, I’d not heard of any fish being caught on the opening day (though I have since). My good friend Mark Roberts posted a couple of videos/photos, however, suggesting the resident barbel had spawned a week ago, so that was a positive. Consequent, I would at least be able to approach the river with a decent level of optimism, especially with the additional feeling of enthusiasm of a new season on the river.
All the tackle was sorted and the bait organised; pretty much the same as last season though I’d picked up a bag of halibut boilies from somewhere (part of a deal that enabled free postage) and thought they might be worth a try. The new Speedia also needed a run out; it’s always good to christen a new item of tackle early in the season. The landing net, bought in February, still hadn’t been put to good use yet either.
The thing about new landing nets is that they can provide a bit of a hoodoo (if that’s the right word?). Merely the fact I’d bought it last season and it still hadn’t seen a barbel kind of proves the point. Having a quick afternoon peek at accuweather, the forecast seemed fairly clement – thus I left the brolley at home and took waterproofs. The smock had been bought from a chap (who shall remain nameless) from BFW (the most popular barbel fishing forum about), however following the deluge of rain the poured down upon me, it soon became apparent that it’s not waterproof (as claimed) and the drenching was pretty unpleasant. Next time I’ll take the old one (which, although it has no pockets, is water tight).
Arriving at the river, I was gobsmacked to discover that there were no other anglers about. I chose a swim which usually produces early in the season. The water fairly quickly runs by a large boulder on the opposite bank forming an eddy. Towards the near bank the depth of the water increases and the flow lessens and becomes a decent sized pool with a sandy bottom. At the tail of the pool the water shallows and again begins to run more quickly over a rocky river bed.
I set up one rod, having thrown in a small handful of elips pellets, and glued a halibut boilie on the hair. Over the course of the next three hours I had five chub (all chunky fish up to about 3lb) but still the barbel eluded me. My good friend, Mark Roberts, turned up to fish just upstream; we discussed the possible location of barbel and concluded there must be some in the vicinity – it was just a question of catching them on the feed. Lo and behold; about an hour later the rod tip whacked round and I had connected with what felt like a good barbel. The enjoyment and feel of playing such a powerful adversary using a centrepin is second to none. The fish was netted after about five minutes; photos taken and the fish weighed. After a couple of minutes of recovery the barbel swam away strongly.
What a great start to the season!