Saturday, 15 September 2012

Avon Barbel - Rock Eel & Chips

How often do you venture out, all full of yourself, tooled up, and ready to do battle with the monsters you imagine, only to be brought down to earth with a bump? Given the brief but hectic hour we had last time out, an hour when bites from barbel came thick and fast (but actual catches were admittedly, a little lean) we thought we were in for a session from heaven, Well, at least I did. Martin was suffering a hurt knee and dented pride after a work accident in Stratford, and I know what that does to quell enthusiasm, having recently suffered in the legs department myself.

However, it's bites that matter most, and I thought we'd get loads.

In the end, we did. Martin hobbled back across the sheep field to get his betalights as evening approached, and I was left tending four rods. Nothing had occurred in the first hours, so I was sure I could handle them all at once, having two nets between the two sets to handle events. About as soon as I imagined he'd reached the car ( half an hour?) my right hander pulled down to the water as if weed had gathered round the line. I picked up the rod and was attached to something that looked just like a fish, but fought just like the clump of weed I'd thought it to be. A bream, of course.

Actually, it was very tricky getting it across the fast current near bank, where it put up an impressive display of slab-sided heaviness, but somehow I got it across and up and in the net. I was hoping it would beat my river PB of 5lbs 12oz, but it was short by a quarter pound. I rested it in the net and looked up to see the left hander bucking in the rest. Now this had to be a barbel, surely?

Nope, an eel is all it was, and my third from these swims thus far. How disappointing! I do like eels, but when they are this common and you fish for something else, then they start to become a pest. When Martin returned, I had a fish in each net. I wanted to weight the eel out of curiosity. What a bleedin' faff that was! Amazing though, how large an eel can seem, when it weighs only a pound.

Covered in various snots, I untangled everything and went back to fishing thinking 'now we'll see something.' And we did. We saw the sky turn from blue to black, the stars come out to shine, the kingfishers zipping by, and a brave little doormouse who'd taken a shine to the groundbait tin, too. There were all kinds of lovely natural things to see, except fish.

I did have another good bite some time into dark, but it was yet another eel, taking my tally to four but with barely an ounce between any of them. Thereafter the rods started to bounce and buck with the attention of even smaller eels and we knew that it was a lost cause. This rocky place would be 'Eel Pie Island,' if only we could put them in pies, and remain within the law.

Of course they love the rocks, don't they? Barbel might well love them too, but they seem to love them a whole lot less than the slippery buggers do. I think we threw in the towel at that point, like the many before us who came and saw, but failed to conquer.

On the way home we'd decided we'd get some hot chips from the village. Could we find chips? NO. Could we find chips in Stratford town? Could we buggery — they'd just closed, but it was only ten O'clock!

Can't buy a bite from a bab, can't buy a bite from a chippy...

About sums it up.


  1. I had the same trouble in Yorkshire one evening. My son and I were both starving, and town after town did not have an open chip shop. We could have resorted to kebabs I suppose, but there are those days when fish and chips are almost compulsory. It became a standing joke, and we often use the lack of chip shops as an excuse to go anywhere but Yorkshire.

  2. They're going the way of the British Pub, I reckon — closing down all around. Shame really. What can you do though?