Tuesday 2nd March, 16:00 - 19:00. Top meadow at Wasperton with Pete. 10C arrival 5C departure. Very light E breeze.
The clock is loudly counting down the river season and Pete and I are keen to see a Barbel on the bank before the spring hiatus.
On the back of the warm daytime temperatures and improving water conditions we headed to Wasperton with a single species agenda.
I had the honour of swim selection as technically Tuesday was my regular night and I had invited Pete to join me.
We both studied at the water - down substantially from Sunday but still with menacing pace and colour - and reckoned we could hold bottom with a cast into selected holes in the willows on the far side.
I started with a feeder full of lovely groundbait into the willow hole only to see the whole lot swing rapidly out into the current. No feeder configuration within my ken could hold bottom over there.
I switched to a straight 3oz lead and still struggled to pin down, especially with meat on the hair. The flat sided hook bait was simply working in concert with the pull of the current.
I went up to 5oz of lead and found satisfaction in terms of a static bait but niggling doubts as to the likely presence of barbel. This uncertainty lasted maybe twenty minutes until I recalled the ridiculous pace I had caught fish from Arley on the Severn during the summer floods of 2007.
With this doubt wrestled into the mud we sat on our sloping bankside perches, chatted, and fished with our big baits and hopes. I also upped the lead to six ounces because after five minutes or so in the water the build up of debris on the line was tipping the balance and moving the bait again.
Neither of us had anything we could call a bite but it was always going to be a binary session. Unfortunately we just couldn't find the one amongst the zeros this evening.
This evening was like a glimpse through an open dressing room door to the bright lights of something exciting. It brought distant memories of summer sessions flooding back: tips in the air nodding gently. Dusk brought a ground frost and quickly reminded us of the date. This was only my second try for a Barbel this season and it's going to be hard when the curtain comes down in a fortnight.