So… there you go… a barbel every month of the winter, though I accept March might officially be the first month of Spring. Not angling’s greatest achievement ever, but a good thing to have accomplished in some small ways I suggest.
March 1st was tough, as I reported on the day. Low temperatures. A harsh Easterly wind. A totally dead river.
March 2nd, Enoka and I arrived at 2.00pm, and left when her bones were aching at 5.00pm. Yes, it was cold, but the previous night had been 2 degrees, and during the day it reached 8 degrees, so the 10 degree rule had been recorded. The swim, perhaps as a result, did have feeding fish in it. But it was all on the cusp. The tip barely nodded thrice. Just before 5.00pm, it did move six inches, hesitated, and then fell back. Could I have hit that? No. Not really, I’m pretty sure. Still, I drove home actively looking forward to the next trip.
March 3rd. I arrived at 8.00am. Looking at weather forecasts and my diary, I reckoned my window was a small one, and that today could well be make or break. Almost immediately, the tip flicked twice. Nothing to strike at, but a continuation of last night’s encouragement. I decided to touch leger and settled into relaxed pose!
10.00am and the very faintest movement could be felt on the fingers. The line was telling me something, that fish were down there, not summer active but at least showing life. Fifteen tense minutes passed. Again, the slightest of plucking, and out of nowhere a pull distinct enough to show on the tip as well. That was it. I went for it and my March barbel came to the net after an agonisingly brutal eleven minute fight.
Now, at nearly 5.00pm, drizzle has become stair-rodding rain, and I fear the river could be anywhere by tomorrow. Dear friend Simon Ratcliffe won’t worry… he got his barbel two hours after mine. But with the season wending to its ending, I’m a happy man to have inched past the post.
I’ll let it sink in, brood, and perhaps come back to you with any conclusions that might not be a waste of your reading time…