So finally the rivers are open again and for the first time in ages I was positively champing at the bit to get out and get amongst them; rigs tied, tackle boxes sorted, reels re-spooled, bait made. For the first time in a few seasons I was up for it big style.
Of course the weather had other plans and the cold spring, resulting in a much delayed barbel spawning, meant that I felt it was not really ‘proper’ to fish for them when they were still going through their nuptials and in the immediate post-spawning period. So it was into July before I met up with Steve Pope on the banks of the middle reaches of the River Kennet for my opening session.
Conditions were such that the barbel were still not where they ‘should’ have been for the time of year but Steve’s information was that there had been a few fish out to low doubles from the beat earlier in the week so there was certainly a chance of finding a fish, a good one at that.
The session was as much a social catch up with Steve as one to put a fish on the bank and I have always found that the two are uneasy bedfellows. Social sessions mean anglers in close proximity, talking, noise and staying put rather than moving – and so it was as Steve and I planted ourselves in a likely swim and I fished whilst he sat beside me and chatted.
The perfect approach to the swim in high summer would have been the caster feeder; priming the glide with a few droppers of hemp and caster then presenting a couple of Enterprise rubber casters hair-rigged on the hook but this season I’m going back to my barbel fishing roots and fishing milk protein paste. I knew I would catch on casters if I fished them but I’m a stubborn so and so and this season I want to catch them on my own terms!
Using milks is an approach which will out fish most other methods when applied correctly but to do so requires a little bit of pre-baiting to get the fish to recognise the bait and it also involves moving swims regularly – 30 to 45 minutes maximum in a swim before moving on.
My first session of the 2013 season saw me on a section that had not seen the bait before and fishing, none too stealthily, in one swim. After some 45 minutes I knew I was unlikely to catch and I simply chilled out and enjoyed Steve’s company before packing up before dark.
It was not the script I had imagined for my first session but hopefully by the time you read this I will have made amends. If I have then I’ll tell you about it next month!