Predator fishing was the order of the day for the first two sessions. A couple of jacks was all I managed in the first outing though, despite plenty of endeavour.
I did connect with a couple of small zander on the next brief visit, but both slipped the hook. Some promised persistent rain curtailed the session. I can take my share of the wet stuff but not when it's freezing and the fishing is dire. Starting some decorating made better sense!
Next up was a session with a cool north-easterly breeze, but the river had received some extra water earlier that week. Crucially it emanated from a brief milder spell and I quite fancied my chances of a few fish.
The pike were conspicuous by their absence. Not a sniff for me, so that was 50% of my attack nullified. The other rod managed a few roach and a couple of bream to save the day.
And then there was more decorating! My window of opportunity the following week coincided with more poor weather. Reluctantly I took the sensible option and started attacking the last of the remaining wood-chip. Thrilling!
On to this week and things looked distinctly bang on. A healthy, almost unseasonal, temperature and the river was dropping nicely following a good rise earlier in the week. Pike gear banished. Barbel / chub gear out!
I headed back to the peg where I started the season. I just felt confident it would deliver, although in fairness I think that optimism could have applied to any number of other pegs too. It was a lazy start just beyond midday.
I've consciously gone back to basics with my approach to barbel and chub. Still the same running leger rig that dominates most of my on the deck attack, but using large chunks of luncheon meat rather than boilies or pellets. I've also shortened the hair.
First cast and I took the opportunity for a quick photo with the rod tip as the focus. With camera in hand there was a sharp tap on the tip. Then it banged round and the freespool kicked in. Just a small chub though.
Next up was the main event around an hour later. A solid bite and very stout resistance. The initial run was powerful and I had to concede plenty of ground. Luckily the fish stayed clear of a downstream snag and I began to gain control gradually and patiently.
Another five minutes or so of give and take and I assumed full control. With the fish now directly in front and in clear water, I got the net ready. One more powerful run was stemmed and the prize was there to be grabbed...
Then it went solid. Just like being attached to a parked car. From nowhere it managed to find a snag that I didn't know was there. A fair and honest fight (that I was about to win!) had suddenly turned dirty!
We parted company and I was left gutted. It was certainly a pb shaker and maybe something even more special. Certainly the toughest battling fish I've been attached to all season.
A series of odd unhittable bites followed, but the slimy perpetrator slipped up eventually.
Two further chub completed the day. The last one being the best of the bunch at 4lb 1oz and a degree of consolation.
No progress towards my river challenge scorecard and I can't seem to get past low 4s with the chub. Time is running short, but I'm feeling more positive for the last few weeks of the campaign now.