So I am back at the river by around 4:00pm. My first cast is into Hawthorns 1, a swim I have never had a bite in but which looks perfect and so I fish it most times. It certainly looked good enough to be one of the six swims baited with hemp and boilies anyway.
About five minutes later, the rod loops round and I am attached to something which it quickly becomes apparent, is the most powerful fish I have hooked all year. The fish sets off across the river away from the Hawthorn bush snags, taking about 5 yards of line, but a few seconds later, as I applied some side strain to begin to bring it back upstream, the line goes slack. Winding in, it turns out that one of the knots on the hooklink gave way - the first time this has happened for years.
What a nightmare! I have prepared beautifully, spending five days baiting six swims, then get a bite in the first one I fish, only to lose it after maybe 15-20 seconds. Of course I can't be certain what the fish was. Sometimes chub can start fights like this, but they then soon give up. It could have been a very large and very fit chub. But I have to say, I think it was more likely to have been a barbel. The type of bite, the power of the run. . . . Or it could have been a carp I suppose. There are some in this stretch I understand. For now I'm sticking with the barbel theory as this supports all the work I've been doing to catch one.
Around 4:30 the sun comes out and soon after, my spirits are lifted somewhat as a barn owl flies slowly up the field opposite.
I wander downstream, putting more bait in swims 3 and 4 and moving down to one of the regular chub swims. I am cheered a little more by taking a 4-15 chub here to add to this mornings tally of chub.
Later, a mist starts to appear in the fields opposite. The stars come out, including Jupiter and Venus which approach very close to each other tonight. Around 6:30, I am back in the first swim after the barbel. Two very large bats are hunting over the river. The mist thickens gradually. I don't get a bite in 45 minutes here so move back down to swim 4. By now the mist is thick my side of the river as well. Stars near the horizon are disappearing and soon I am enveloped in a thick pea souper. This is all rather spooky. When I finally pack up around 8:30, the fog is really thick and I can barely see 10 yards with my head torch on - its like driving in fog with high beams on, everything is just white. It takes an extra 10 minutes to walk back to the car tonight.
The approaching mist.