Fishing can be a funny old sport. As a multi species angler, it can be more on the side of ‘peculiar’ funny, rather than ‘ha-ha’ funny, as you find yourself flitting between venues and types of fishing. For example, all spring and summer I have been fixated on the winter pike fishing. Not that I neglected my summer angling, far from it, but the next campaign was not far from my mind. Now that I am firmly ensconced in yet another year pursuing a monster gravel pit pike, I find my thoughts firmly on spring tench fishing. I told you it was a funny sport!

So, it was with great delight that I found myself talking to a dear old friend of mine who had been catching a good few rather nice, very large barbel of late. I am not going to divulge any details, or even his name, as that is his story which will probably never be told any time soon as he is a very private angler. His suggestion of an impromptu social evening on one of our favourite sections of Thames tributary was eagerly accepted and the barbel rods were, quite literally, dusted off for a couple of hours. Due to one reason or another (a new obsession with feeder fishing for roach and chub!) I had only got my barbel kit out once since the start of season and it was with surprising enthusiasm I loaded the wagon with the meagre kit required for an evening up the river.

Meeting well into dark in the car park, we were side-tracked by a couple of the controlling officials who were leaving the venue. One of the things I find slightly amusing is the number of people who leave a venue well before the known bite times. I appreciate that not everybody can fish up to, or past midnight, and that for many people angling is a thing to be done before dinner is ready, but I can’t help but know they are missing out. Oh well, their loss, our gain I suppose. With one other angler who was inadvertently fishing just below the ‘hot’ area, we had no option but to trudge further downstream and settle down on a nice straight section between two bends, where we could comfortably fish a number of rods.

The river was up and coloured, ideal conditions, so it was 3oz Grappler leads at a minimum just to hold station, with the option to ‘go large’ and add another ounce or so. I opted to drop one next to a known dead reed bed. The other rod got cast ‘middle for diddle’ smack bang in the flow. Bait was my usual double Sticky Krill 12mm with a wrap of matching Krill paste. Post-reel hardware included 12lb Hydro Tuff, 10lb Target Speciskin and a size 10 Target Specimen hook. All more than capable for the task in hand, which for those component parts was to provide confidence in landing literally anything that swims in that section. The other task in hand that demanded my full attention was tea drinking, which was well overdue.

After a couple of cups, the banter was flowing like usual, as we had a proper good catch up. My friend has had some family issues lately, and it was certainly beneficial for him to share his tales and experiences. Thankfully everything appears to be on the up, so it was good news eventually. I certainly benefit from sharing things, with the right people of course, and hovering over a nice cuppa whilst sitting behind the rods is a very personal safe space for me to relax and ponder my existence.

It was whilst drinking the second or third cup of tea, my left rod signalled a typical barbel take. That being fold the rod in half and point the tip somewhere down the river. Fish on! The fight was everything I had remembered about floodwater barbel as it surged from one side of the river to the other. Eventually the pressure I applied gained the upper hand and it was soon wallowing in the net, safe and sound as we readied the mats, sling, scales and camera. It was good to be back.

On the Reuben’s she went a healthy 11lb and 8oz. Not that it mattered, as my friend had also christened his brand new landing net head, therefore lifting any possible superstitious curse that might afflict such a reckless purchase. There was much rejoicing…

Tight Lines, Sam