The Warwickshire Avon looks nothing less than resplendent in its summer finery at the moment, but contrastingly the day time fishing is pretty dour. Frankly you would have more luck targeting a cup of tea on a day session than you would the Avon. It's not that you wouldn't catch anything, but if you want to catch anything bigger than a tiddler you really have to go nocturnal to do it.
So Sunday morning I practically got up before I went to bed to be on the trickle well before the sun peeped up in the east, just to be able to fish those few hours when I would realistically have a chance of connecting with a lump. Lucky for me I didn't sleep that well sat night and by three I was ready to get going. I was on the bank just before four and in the dark nearly walked straight into someones bivvy that was set up a little down stream of where I wanted to fish. Though I tried my hardest to be quiet as I passed the mere presence of someone on the bank roused not one but three anglers from their tiny shelter. I could see the burning glows of one of their cigarettes through the dark as I set my rods up and although they obviously spent the entire night next to the river no rods were actually out fishing.
I fear putting on my headlight when casting just in case the sudden appearance of an alien light source on the bank should freak out any fish happily moving around in the dark. So both rods were cast in total dark using only memory to guide them towards the hard gravel area amongst the masses of summer weed. Feeling the leads down on a tight line both gave a satisfying donk as the made bottom on something hard.
With now two rods both on areas I was happy with I sat back and stared at the hypnotic green glowing tip lights that were attracting the attentions of some feverish bats. I was just thinking how hard it is to tell the bat strikes on the lines from any tiny hints of fish when my left hand rod carried off! Luckily I always fish for barbel with baitrunners on as I've seen many a rod lurch perilously close to going in without that bit of extra time the baitrunner gives you.
I knew that most of the water right in front of me was clear of snags even though it has some very serious flow. Taking my time with the fish I opted to stick with stealth mode and kept the lights off in case I should be lucky enough to get a second shot at a fish in this swim. Playing a fish in total darkness is a strangely satisfying sensation as makes you rather aware of how much you actually watch where a fish is going then react to it rather than feel were it is going and react to that.
Most of the fight took place right under my feet and whilst I gingerly held on the three anglers from down stream came over to watch. As soon as the net slipped under it all three had a quick look before running off into the dark. Moments later the sound of big feeders sploshing into the water could be heard down stream.
Unhooked I slipped the fish back into the net to regain some strength whilst I phoned Andy who I knew should be around somewhere by now and he was; just walking upstream from the car park. He ran the last hundred metres fully laden with tackle.
It wasn't the monster berty I was after but on my first proper barbel session on the Avon this year a 6.9lb fish will certainly do to open up my account.
As I previously mentioned the rising of the sun heralded a turn in the sport and after that initial excitement where I think I may have sent any other Barbel flying into cover it was very quiet. We did get a bream each for our efforts though but as the day grew brighter our chances of any more barbel faded along with the ripples of the topping tiddlers.