Saturday, 1 August 2009

Five Feet High and Rising...

I woke at dawn, the rising sun burning my eyes out through the open door of the tent. I tried to marvel at the beauty of it all but my hung over brain couldn't deal with such highfaluting idyllics for more than a few seconds and demanded more sleep before it was prepared to even consider allowing me to enjoy the day. When I did wake it was an hour or so later and to the business like sound of Kev getting his act together in preparation for a second day of fishing.

When I'd managed to drag my reluctant frame from pit I found that the day was actually rather pleasant, mild and promising with no sign of the predicted rain. I hoped the weatherman was wrong, that the rain would miss us altogether, even though I knew deep down that he is rarely very far out with approaching anticyclonic systems the size of Europe - give me a global satellite and a bit of seaweed and I could do just as good a job - they usually do come as he says, but never quite on time.

We fished a couple of adjacent pegs along the faster shallower water out the front of the island - Kev trying out float and feeder tactics on one rod for whatever swam and with a sleeper rod out on the killing bait that had produced fish for me the evening before. I was all out for barbel with two rods baited with three grains each over a light bed of hemp and hookbait samples. Kev got the first barbel, indeed his first ever. A cute little thing of about a pound!

The good weather of early morning was gone by now, the sky was turning, a smooth battleship grey in the far distance meant only the one thing, approaching rain and plenty of it. When it came it was light and constant but increasing in volume by the minute. After an hour it was torrential and looked like it was in for some time. Drat!

My brolly was pitched precariously in the deep bankside hole that was till recently a just fishable peg, the water falling in cascades off its canopy and puddling my footwell. By the time I'd had enough of it and decided to pack up for a move to more comfortable accommodation I'd found out that I was stuck fast and unable to scale the banks! I fashioned a couple of ice picks out of bank sticks and clambered out after chucking all my gear upwards to wherever it would land.

I went to fish off the tip of the island and Kev followed on a little later. He'd caught perch, the barbel of course, and a half pound roach that fell to three grains of corn on his barbel rod! Roach are odd fish - very, very odd! Theses three extra species took his count so far up to an impressive eight species catch! I couldn't see what else he might tempt to increase it without putting out deadbaits for predators or even an eel, or spinning for pike or zander.

The day passed away under brollies and the bites slowly dried up as the water levels slowly started to rise. By six the water was beginning to push through tinged brown and by eight, when Kev and Kate left for home it was becoming difficult to hold bottom in the increasingly forceful flow. The rain finally broke at dusk.

When I woke next morning two fellas had arrived and pitched on the tip of the island in the swim I had intended for myself. They were from Kent, had booked in for three days, were hoping for barbel, neither had fished a river before in their lives and were now faced with water rising fast and visibly, currents to test the heftiest tackle and weed enough to make a grown man cry in frustration...

What a way to start off on the streams!

The water was over the banks and rising, a fact that they found, 'interesting' but I forecast that it would be falling again by midday and if they stuck it out they would certainly catch their intended species at some point. I went off in search of manageable water and suggested they do likewise, but they wouldn't budge from the comfortable grassy pitch that was causing them such hellish trouble. I found a place where a nice back eddy had formed and cast in there, but had nothing in the way of bites.

When I returned some hours later the two river novices had decided to up sticks and go fish puddles for tench and carp, or rather one of them had bludgeoned the other, who wanted to stay on and stick it out, into agreeing to this move. I felt sorry for the both of them, sorry that they had come all the way from Kent to fish this magnificent river and would end up doing just exactly what they always did back in Kent, sorry for the whinger, that he just had to catch fish no matter what and sorry for the bloke who would have stuck with it for having to miss out on what would certainly have been a post flood barbel feeding frenzy! A river fining down from a flood is the best of all summer conditions, I tried to reason with them, but the whinger was set on a puddle and a puddle it would just have to be.


I fished on and off all day, the water began to fall around one O'clock, but nothing doing. Eventually it was time for bed, a good kip and an early start for home.

I got in an hour or so, just before we left for home - well you have to don't you ?

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