I can sum up this seasons summer campaign in three words: Not enough time.
The lists are pretty short, Me: Five barbel, 3 carp, 2 jacks and a handful of chub, eels and small fish. And Dan's is even worse: Five barbel. Although I should mention one of them was a double of exactly 10lb - fish of the season so far.
Sometimes work just gets in the way of fishing... Need to buy a lottery ticket!
Later today I'm of to deepest Africa* in search of a moray eel. Well, I'm going with my girlfriend so I'm sure we'll be doing the tourist things, but I'm taking my kit so hopefully I'll get a trip or two in!
And when I get back it'll be pike time - really hoping to get some proper time on the riverbank over the winter...
I knew exactly how I was going to fish this weekend if I could string a few hours together, a chat with a couple of locals revealed the barbel really aren't playing at the moment, especially during the day... And not only do I want to catch a fish, I need to do it quickly.
Kit was scaled right back, 5lb line, size 14 hook and a tiny pinch of bread for bait. I thought the gudgeon might be a pain, and first cast I started getting little knocks - until the rod ripped off the rest and made a break for the river... I just grabbed the butt and struck into thin air - how does that happen?
Half an hour later the same thing happened again, you would not believe it's possible to miss two bites like that - I did think about a bigger hook, but I was getting bites and the clock was ticking.
Next bite was against a tight bait runner and fish on - great fight on light line, and at one stage I thought it was curtains when it got snagged but eventually I had my fish beat.
Next problem - one I wasn't expecting, I couldn't reach the water with my landing net! I had to kneel on my rod, use one hand to hold on and the other to reach down with the net - and as I was nearly upside-down my phone slid out of my pocket... I grabbed it, stuck it in my mouth and as I steered the fish over the net my girlfriend rang... It was on vibrate!!
It was ticking up to a month without landing a fish, so with that in mind I got up at stupid o'clock this morning to have a bash before work.
Water conditions were pretty poor and the weather was even worse, and without knowing where the fish were or being able to spot them in the dirty water I set about covering as much water as possible.
I worked my way down the river spending 20-30 minutes in likely looking spots - and arrived at my last peg without a knock! Within about 10 minutes my rod started to tap round, really tiny knocks and just when I thought it was a crab something tried to rip the rod into the river.
I winched it dead-weight to the net before it worked out what was going on and make a dash for freedom, great fight in the flood water - including steering it around a floating tree - before my prize was in the net.
A cracking looking 7lb 6oz barbel to remind me what I've been missing out on this summer... Delighted!
Have you given up fishing? Read the text from James (My Fishing Captures) earlier this week, a question that has been reflected in some of the comments this season.
The answer is no - I just haven't been! The summer is all but over and I've hardly wet a line by my standards. I was pretty lucky with work over the last two seasons, deadlines were fairly flexible and fitted around my fishing - this year it's nose to the grindstone!
Barbel stats this year verses last (by 8th September)
2012 - 28 barbel (incl. 3 doubles)
2013 - 2 barbel (to 7lb 13oz)
Dan and I hit the river yesterday, just for a couple of hours, but without any time on the water it was a quick chuck it and chance it mission - which just resulted in a mitten crab!
My hope to save the season is coming up - pike! Another harsh winter is predicted but I don't mind the cold weather as long as it's not flooded or frozen. I've got my eye on the Thames, a couple of lakes and the Wye...