Autumnal Barbel

Autumnal hints are clearly showing themselves. Leaves are turning brown already, as we approach late September. This week it was only Geoff and I that headed towards Aldermaston to do spot of coarse fishing in search of those Autumnal giants that frequent the gravel runs here. We have always found this time of the year very rewarding for big barbel. We hoped that this would be the week they showed themselves at last to 2 very determined Kenneteers.

 We set up camp as ever and wandered off for a look. I fancied a swim at the lower end of the stretch (aka near to the car!!). There was lots of cover, a nice flow and a deep hole in this swim. I baited up with hemp and caster and left the swim alone for an hour. Geoff had decided to fish much further upstream. This week we had decided we should give it until much later before calling it a night. We talked about packing up around 2am, if we could stay awake and the temperature wasn’t too chilly. Brave talk for a couple of wimps.

At about 7pm I had what looked like a persistent chub bite on one of my fishing rods. On striking I discovered one of those Popeye chub on the other end. After a really good fight the culprit was drawn into the TF gear landing net, a barbel of around 6lbs. I re-baited the swim and decided to have a wander. As I left the swim, I noticed about half a dozen Roe Deer in the field. I took a few photos, but the deer were a bit too far away. I slowly and carefully inched forward, trying to get closer. The deer were alert and soon noticed me. They stretched their necks high and their ears twitched at my approach. I stopped and then slowly moved forward again, taking a few more shots. Suddenly they were off. That lovely, high prancing movement that Roe Deer do, reminiscent of gazelle on the Masai Mara. I then popped back to the car, only to see two more hinds in the field adjacent to the small car park. Again I tried stalking them and managed to get much closer due to the cover afforded me by the trees and bushes. Sadly though, it was by now getting dark. So the pictures were of no use. Still, lovely to see.

I returned to my swim and carried on with the usual routine of bait dropping hemp and caster every 20-25 minutes. Finally at about 11.20pm the barbel rod whacked round and another feisty barbel was subdued. Again a smallish fish, especially for Aldermaston. It looked around the 6-6 ½ lb mark. I called Geoff. He hadn’t had a touch, but we both felt we should carry on and see whether the later finish would produce. At 1.15am we both decided it hadn’t! We headed back to camp for a well-earned cup of tea. With the kettle whistling away on the stove, we prepared ourselves for a nice hot cuppa.  However, this week I had forgotten something else of course. The milk, eejit that I am. Luckily Geoff had a small bottle of some soya milk muck that sufficed under the circumstances!

The following day we kicked off by going to the small village stores and purchasing a few provisions, including some milk obviously. They do some great chunky sausage rolls here. Heated up, they make a great breakfast. A decent cup of take away coffee finished off our transactions and we headed back to the river.

We packed away the tents, made a flask of fresh coffee. I then loaded up with fishing gear, like some sort of over-burdened pack-horse and headed upstream looking for a likely swim. On finding one, I baited up and read Coarse Angling Today for 45 minutes. I then wandered up to see Geoff, whom it turned out hadn’t gone where he said he was going, so I found an empty swim. Still, the walk did me good….!!

It turned out to be a reasonable day for me. I didn’t exactly empty the river, but did manage 3 more barbel to about 6 ½lbs. They were all in immaculate condition. I also missed a wraparound bite! I spotted a few more deer in the field and again managed to get reasonably close and take a few shots. Geoff managed a trout and a 4lb+ chub. He’s finding it tough at the moment and I know it hurts when other’s seem to be catching and you’re not. I’m certain he will turn it around soon though.

Perhaps one of the highlights for me was watching a Crow and a Kite doing an impersonation of a World War II dog fight. They twisted and turned almost in harmony, as the Crow badgered the much larger and more impressive Kite. They soared and rolled, dived and turned. Occasionally, when the angle was just right, the Kite would suddenly swoop at the crow and they would disappear. We were certain the Kite had engulfed the crow with its mighty talons, but they would just as suddenly reappear and the aerobatics would continue. It was wonderful to watch.

Anyway, next week we are on the Trent for 3 days. So here’s hoping for some decent fishing weather and a few wrap-arounds to go with it.

Written by Nathan Walter

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About Nathan Walter

Nathan has been angling since the age of eight and is now based in Kent, and continues to pursue his first love of fishing in flowing water. An expert coarse fisher and river angler, he pursues all sorts of fish from barbel to grayling and travels to explore new waters and countryside. Nathan has sponsorship with the Lone Angler. As well as contributing to the Fishtec blog, Nathan has written about angling for Freshwater Informer, Coarse Angling Today, and Riffle magazine. Keep up with his fishing diary over on The River Angler.

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