Tuesday evening I met up with Keith for an short session on the Avon. Like Keith I intended to fish a couple of rods with different tactics in the hope of latching into ether perch, Zander, eels, or pike by fishing with lob worms on one rod and a dead bait on the other. Upon hearing my intention to use a swim feeder full of leftover halibut ground bait to attract perch or eels to my lob worm Keith gave me the standard response of 'it will be a bream you catch first chucking out that stuff' The first fish that picked up my bait however turned out to be a small chub of 1.5-2lb which considering I hadn't had a single knock till then was very welcome.
The high light of the trip came just after the light faded when Keith saw and heard a splash near a snag between us and yelled down, and when I looked up I could see a bow wave going past me. When it came out of the black shadows into the lighter shaded water I could see a round head. Flicking on my head light I got a glimpse of two reflective eyes before my first ever otter seen on the Avon splashed under slapping its tail as it scarpered.
Understandably my swim went a little quite after this but with a few more feeders full of halibut going in it wasn't long till my tip slowly bent round and Keith was once again validated by my capture of another chunky Avon bream of 5.5lb.
Another one of a similar size bream followed about half an hour later but my dead bait rod remained inactive the whole session. Though I am not to worried about predator fishing as we still have the whole Autumn and winter to get those points under our belts.
Thursday I had the day off work and with a slight case of the barbel bug in my system the river Avon was going to be my destination come hell or high water. High water it turned out to be as over night we had a reported 40-50mm of rain. Before getting to the river I got stuck in traffic on my way to drop off Jacky at work as one of the roads near the university where she works had a tasty looking pond formed over one of the access roads. Soon enough I arrived at the Avon and standing looking down at the river from the foot bridge I could see it was swollen and angry. Not that long ago I would have taken one look at the river like this and ran straight back to the car but not today - it looked just right for a bit of barbel fishing.
The main current looked a bit too savage for me but a more sedate run above the main flow looked perfect for a pull or two. Above me the weir was thumping some real water onto as well as over the bank and where I was the concrete and steel lined bank edge was six feet out and well underwater.
About five minutes after I cast out Rob arrived with a look on his face that said 'are we honestly fishing here'. With four rods out we sat back and watched as every kind of debris flowed by. It didn't take long for my rod tips to bend slowly round as the summer weed that had been torn from its delicate footings collected around my lines. After making several recasts my lead rod which had been sitting down stream piggy backing of the feeder rods bait stream screamed off. My strike was met by powerful resistance and at first I was convinced a barbel was hooked. But! half way in the fight suddenly became rather surface based and through the murky water I caught glimpse of what I suspected was a carp. Sure enough once on the bank a solid common of about 7lb began to give me some proper grief, firstly by flipping every where when ever the camera was pointed at it then by sticking the sharp ray of its dorsal fin in my hand, then if that wasn't enough it gave me a face full of water as it shot back into the river.
I had staked my bank sticks into the soft ground about six inches off the water line and by lunch time I had noticed that the river was still rising as the water got ever closer to the bank sticks.
Around dinner Rob had very surprising capture of a tiny barbel of 14oz -1lb which can only be a good sign for the river if you actually catch little ones, though sadly we never a took a picture of this little fellow. But it didn't matter as after catching two eels on meant Robs rod tip went round with some real force.
A slow sluggish fight from a heavy fish in turbulent water on lightish gear is enough to get any ones arse going but once we had both sighted a good barbel roll in front of us we both began getting even more nervous. I wasn't really helping as I stood knee deep in front of Rob begging him to try and keep the line of the submerged concrete bank as I tried to shield the line from it using the net head.
Finally it was in the net and Robs statement that he didn't think it was a double soon changed when I lifted up the net from the coloured water to revel a whopping barbel.
Out the water and on the mat its true girth was reveled and once on the scales the dial went right over ten pounds and stopped 12.6lb a new PB for Robert 'pinkie' Williams.
As I know Rob loves people naming fish so much and it had such a distinguishing feature of a large scar on its side I hereby name this fish 'Big scar'