My thoughts of Crimbo fishing had been all about getting some grayling on the fly, particularly as Santa had bought me a 10' #3 fly rod. The rivers though have been in full flow and after flooding last weekend had only just got back inside the banks.
With the forecast for yesterday being a little warmer and the river still way up I reasoned my best chance of some seasonal sport could be the fighting barbel. So I headed off to one of my favourite Dove swims to find a scene of desolation following the floods. It was a real tramp through the mud with plenty of opportunity for going arse over but fortunately I managed to avoid any embarassment. Anyone who knows this farm will recognise this.
There was a bit more water on the river than I'd been expecting and it was rising slightly through the afternoon. I misjudged the amount of overnight rain as I thought it would be dropping slightly, consequently 3oz of lead was required to hold bottom in a swim where normally 1oz will do the job. I intended to fish a couple of swims and after about an hour I had the strangest barbel bite I'd ever seen, just a slight persistent knodding on the tip which resulted in me picking up the rod more out of curiosity. So it was very pleasing to find myself attached to the fish above, my first real winter barbel. Then I decided to stay put and I know many advocate moving straight after taking a fish. I normally stay put as I am always wondering whether we've just got to a time when they really want to feed, ie get a bait back in ASAP, and secondly I'm lazy! It was not to be however and I fished on for another hour before heading off to try the other swim I'd got in mind. The river was really racing through in the second and I ended up fishing in the margins for a biteless last hour.
So a trudge back to the car through the mud but I was very pleased to come away with a fish. Chatting to the farmers kid's whilst packing the car it turned out the floodbank had saved the farm last week from a very wet Xmas with a couple of the local roads also flooded.