Friday I took a day off work to go on a day trip with Jacky to Warwick castle.The fact that the river Avon ran right beside this popular tourist attraction was a happy coincidence for me but more of mill stone to my beautiful companion. It was also lucky that some medieval geezer thought it would be a jolly good wheeze to build a hundred foot tall, billion ton viewing platform right next to the gin clear river so us anglers could drag our partners and families up five hundred plus steps to have a look in a river that we spend as much of our spare time staring at any way.
As Jacky toured the attraction taking in hundreds of years of history I looked for every opportunity to peep out of any window to get any glimpse of the river and it's occupants below. What I saw when I got onto the turrets over looking the river was unbelievable. Near the old bridge I could see five double figure carp feeding near the crumbling ruin, three commons and two koi one of which was orange and black and the other pure white. Below the weir in a slack by some lillies a shoal of proper bream numbering at least fifty fish. Above the weir a second shoal of bream that easily out numbered the other by 3-1.
The bay in the lily pads on the left was where the carp fed and the white sign on the right was right on top of the big bream shoal. After taking this picture I looked down and saw two huge bream holding in the flow beneath my feet both of which were close if not over 10lb.
This looked a cracking chub run.
The smaller shoal of bream hung in the water just of the lily pads at the top of the picture.
There had to be barbel in the weir pool and notice the perfectly placed fishing peg right on the left.
As we walked down this stretch I spotted a group of good chub slowly moving up the left bank.
Looking over the bridge I could see several chub just below the surface three of which were over five pounds. Though I took loads of photos of them, only this one showed a single fish.
It's always the case that where anglers cannot access, fish will always gather.
Sunday afternoon I arranged to meet Andy at LAA wasperton top meadow stretch to do a bit of barbel fishing. Barbel have become my jinx species over the years and have lead me on numerous merry dances that have nine times out of ten left me fishless and pissed off. If something is going to go wrong for someone whilst barbel fishing it will be me. I've had a huge shoal of fish from five to twelve pounds right infront of me and a mink popped out the bushes dove straight into the swim scattering them. I've spent hours sitting in nettled filled scrub waiting for a single large fish to move onto my bait and when it finally took the bait the top section of my rod snapped like a twig. On another occasion whilst fishing in perfect barbel conditions I had eight whacking bites on the trot and every one snapped me off. It got so bad that on one occasion I was fishing with a old friend and we were both peeping over a small hillock that was masking us from a feeding shoal of barbel when a hornet came buzzing round my mate who naturally had a morbid fear of wasps. I don't know what was worse, his reaction to this giant orange wasp or my threat to beat him to death with a bank stick should he break cover. He did eventually run off scaring the fish and as he danced round the field desperately swiping at his own head I followed brandishing the afore mentioned bank stick. The last part of this terrible run of barbel luck happened when fishing a very tasty looking fallen tree on the upper Avon that I knew had some very shy but large barbel hidden under it. After baiting up just up stream of it I had cast a bait into the shallow clear water and secreted myself behind some tall grass with my rod lying on the floor. After two hours of waiting the fish finally began to venture out just as another angler very considerately crept up behind me to ask if they had come out yet. In a anglers whisper I communicated that they were on the move and with baited breath we both watched as a large fish moved towards my spicy luncheon meat. The rod whacked round and in a desperate attempt to stop the fish going under the snag I applied maximum force. Only for a second did I feel the pressure of this monster before my hook pulled and my rod sprung back with some serious force knocking my companion clean on his backside as the rod connected with his face.
I suppose I should have been honest with Andy regarding my barbel buffoonery before arranging to go out but if I had have told him he may well have turned me down, or at least brought a video camera with him to get his £250 off you've been framed.
It seemed a good time to use my brand spanking new waders and after donning them and getting all my kit set up I waded into the cow drink to begin. I knew full well that the fish weren't residing in the shallow clear run when I arrived but my idea was to gradually build up a bed of pellets and ground bait through the late afternoon using light feeder outfit whilst trying to get he dace point, then swap over before the light started to go to a heavy rod and see what moved in as the light went.
At first the plan went well with my first cast throwing up a 6oz dace, then not long after this 4oz fish.
After that the minnows went to work. But persistence paid off when my rod trembled with some force and a bigger 8oz example took my maggots.
The dace became impossible to find and my constant stream of maggots attracted a small chub to take my hook bait which proved an interesting fight on my super light outfit. After this I gave up, missing the dace point by a meagre 2oz, put away the light gear and pulled out the big guns. Keith had taken pity on me upon hearing my tales of barbel woe and had left me a gift hidden in the chassis of an irrigation pump. After grubbing round this farm equipment I managed to locate the present on the floor; two mocking sheep watching as I scrabbled round whilst on the phone the Keith.
With this wonder rig made by a far more experienced barbel angler attached my confidence was high.
So thigh deep in the Avon I watched my tip awaiting the impending arrival of my pb barbel. As the light went the tell tale signs began with slight twitches on the tip. The night crept closer and my excitement grew with a few liners. Then it happened the tip trembled then hooped violently round, as I struck the fish powered off downstream in a seemingly unstoppable charge straight into a thick patch of rushes. There was no way on gods green earth I was losing this fish so after calling for Andy's help to hold the rod whilst I waded into the river prodding my way as I went with the landing net pole.The idea of being bollock deep in cold water on a Sunday night would make most people consider golf rather than fishing but for me it was personal. After spending a while poking the weed with the main line in hand it moved, expecting it to shot off I let go only to see a rather small splash only feet away. Grabbing the line again I pulled the culprit in... It would seem that the Warwickshire Avon barbel may have shape shifting abiltys as when it came closer I could see it had miraculously turned into a 2.5lb chub.
Foiled again I packed up and wadered off across the field with a rather damp feeling in my underpants.
The Barbel jinx continues.........