Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

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Fishwife Tales 5

FISHWIFE TALES No 5 – Darby & Joan


Newland Hall, Roxwell, Brook Lake, Sunday 17th April 2016, Temperature 14 degrees, warm and sunny with a very light North Westerly breeze. 8am. Swim 28.


Yawn, stretch those gills, quiver that tail, surface for a few delicious bubbles of air and let the water ripple through those scales on the dive.

“Morning Joan, fancy a swim and maybe a bit of a forage for breakfast”

“Hmm that sounds good Darby, suspended animation is quite relaxing but there is nothing like a cold splash of water in your face to wake up those muscles.”

Swim, swim, swim, hover, hover, “look Joan, here’s a lucky find, a whole patch of sweetcorn and some pellets on the bottom of the bed, looks fairly fresh too”

“Hmm, nice Darby, you know all the best places to eat”

Suck and blow, tasty, suck and blow, tasty, suck and “whoa, Joan what’s the matter?”

Garble, breathe, garble, faster, twisting body, thrashing, panic, dull eye staring back. “Joan, Joan, why are you surfacing, slow down, slow down, whoosh – silence.

Joan gone, where has Joan gone? Swim, swim, paddle, hover. Must find Joan. Must save Joan.

What shall I do? Yes, the launch, I shall propel myself at lightning speed through the water to the surface. Now, do it now!

Whoosh, gasp, flip, flash! trees, giants, Joan, dangling in mid-air heading towards a large net. Splash!

They’ve got Joan, breathe, garble, hover, oh no, they’ve got Joan, suck and blow, food for thought.

Pretty Joan, golden scales like mirrors, sensuous barbules, lips so soft and kissable, lean fit body, fins like gossamer, suck and blow, suck and blow, swim, swim, hover, Poor Joan, gone from my gaze like a beautiful dream.

Ripples, turbulence, “Joan! You’re back! What happened? I saw the giants got you, how did you escape?”

“Give me a minute Darby” hover, breathe, hover, breathe. “Joan, your lip is all swollen, if they hurt you, I’ll….”

“No, I’m ok, it looks worse than it is, it was more a shock than anything though my mouth is a bit sore”

“Look swim over to the reeds with me, tell me all about it, we can eat later”

Sitting back in the comfort of his chair with a contented look on his face Howard takes a satisfying long draw on his menthol cigarette, his suggestion that I try method feeding has paid off. “Looks like it’s going to be a good day; they’re biting already, we’ve only been set up for 10 minutes, I can hardly believe it, 13lbs 4 ounces! you must be so pleased. That was a very pretty Mirror Carp you caught, not a mark on her.”

After a quick lesson from Howard on how to load the bait into the silicone mould, I’d squeezed two Robin Red pellets through the band, opened a tin of mussels and squashed one in the middle of the ground bait with a kernel of sweetcorn for good luck before casting a decent 20 or so feet into the lake. “Well done, why don’t you put some more pellets on your hair rig and then make up another weight with your ground bait, I’ll chuck in some more pellets and sweetcorn, you must keep the swim fed.”

Howard is in very helpful mode; he has been watching videos on ‘you tube’ and fearing that my lack of catches recently may deter me from his re-kindled hobby, he wants to make sure that my interest doesn’t wane. I was absolutely thrilled but trying to supress my delight somewhat, aware that Howard was still waiting to catch a double figure fish. It didn’t help that a guy from the adjacent swim came to admire my catch and was engaging me in conversation about what bait I was using.

After re casting, we were treated to a Tern dive bombing the lake and deftly removing a tiny fish from just below the surface in one fell swoop – the bird made it look so easy. The lake was actually quite busy and noisy today. Virtually every swim was occupied and the sound of a splosh was heard every now and again when a weight was cast coupled with low murmurings of chattering fishermen and a squawking gaggle of Canadian geese which had also helped to disturb the peace.

I had brought with us an old primer camping stove, but more importantly some eggs and bacon. I took advantage of the hubbub to cook breakfast, after all I had caught my fish, now I could relax. The delicious aroma of bacon frying hailed the appearance of Ian the bailiff, who A) raised his eyebrows as Howard proudly told him of my Mirror Carp catch and B) was even more surprised when the tip of my rod quivered then nearly pulled the whole lot into the lake before his very eyes. I ran to my rod and just grabbed it in time before it disappeared. Howard took a hold of my arm steering it carefully, teaching me firstly to raise the rod up higher to give a good bend then telling me to lower it gently and reel in a couple of revolutions. The result was a magnificent 14lb Common Carp. I couldn’t help but laugh as Howard, the bailiff and the guy from the next swim all discussed the luck of the female pheromones as I returned the fish to the water.

I went on to catch another small Mirror Carp as well, but it really was just a baby, no more than 7” long – one for future years hopefully.

Final result…Howard …Nil, Dynamite Di ….3.


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