Some might say I'm an idiot to be out fishing in early February when it's cold, chucking it down with rain and when the rivers are in the fields due to the rapid snow melt of the last few days.
And insane to try for a Barbel when there's only two hours of light available after work and the river is cold, blasting through and chocolate coloured.
I however, disagree.
I prefer the term half-wit, as it is far more optimistic. Like it's hoping that I can still turn things around if I work on it and perhaps seek professional help.
Needless to say, whether an idiot or a half-wit, I didn't catch anything this evening.
It was 5C upon arrival and 3C upon departure. It was also raining heavily for most of the evening with the skies clearing and it snapped decidedly cold from about eight onwards.
Who amongst us recognises that there is a certain something 'special' about the English fisherman? I found myself building regular safety assessments into my fishing routine this evening. Was the water rising? Confirm the route back to the car remains above water. Is the ground I'm sitting on remaining firm and not undercut and likely to be washed away? Are the nearby power lines sufficiently high for this length of rod!?
Don't misunderstand me. No fish is worth losing ones life for, but there's something satisfying if at the end of each retrieve the assessment goes along the lines of, "Well, I'm still alive and the ground I'm sitting on is still here so I may as well have another cast". You certainly feel like the stakes were temporarily raised, and it's the closest I'll ever come to 'extreme' fishing.
For the record; I fished a large open-ended feeder filled with halibut pellet groundbait with spicy luncheon meat on the hook. This was dropped down the near edge behind a small tree that was holding up the main flow and creating some smooth water behind it. I know the area contains Barbel and I know the bottom behind the tree was hard and clear.
The trick was to get the feeder down to the bottom as quickly as possbile before is was washed away. Once on the bottom a yard of additional line needed paying out to keep it there. If the line was tightened against the feeder the current would pick it up and it would then start to pull downstream. If at any point debris caught on the line then the feeder would again be washed up into the current and line pulled from the reel. I always find I have to recast more regularly in heavy water anyway to avoid the build up of crud on the mainline and hook length.