Saturday evening, 20th November and I’m with Richard and Alan, watching them reel in as the first stars appear. It has been a good day, with two good barbel and a fine chub, but as the light goes, there is no further sign of action. This is the first time for months that the setting sun has not triggered a last flurry of action, and I can’t help but wonder if this is not the sunset that sees the end of my barbel year. The temperature this morning reached a giddy 14 degrees but by 3.00pm it had dropped to 9 degrees and I’m guessing it is 7 or so now. The next week is forecast cold, and then we are into December, and the ever-present likelihood of floods to come. The Wye is volatile, the winter makes it more volatile still. I have two thoughts as we troop to the cars and I trundle away over the meadows.
Firstly, I might try to keep two, perhaps, three swims alive by baiting at least 4/5 times a week. I’d chose swims least affected by high water, and swims where the snags are, at present, not too ferocious. There’s no point sitting through a winter night wondering if your bait is in an underwater tree. I’d need to think this one through. What would be the best bait to keep introducing? I’m not up on the science of slow oil release and the like, and I have a feeling the marvellous maestro Mr Blair at Nash might be of help here? He will know for sure what carp keep guzzling in the cold, and he’ll know how much I might think of putting in. I don’t want to overfeed, but then I have to keep them keen.
But my second thought is this. I call myself an all-rounder and I pity those who pin their hopes on a single species alone. Does my ‘Passion for Barbel’ become an ‘Obsession’, I wonder? What about Wye pike? I’ve never had a river “thirty”. Now, surely, is my chance? And those mighty Wye perch? And the two pound roach swimming down in Hereford town? Perhaps I let the autumn go and the delights I have enjoyed? I know there is more Wye magic to be experienced… I’ve not even mentioned the grayling up in the wilds of Wales. So, do I let my barbel go, to rest in peace through the winter months?
Whatever, I’ll brood and know the dilemma is a nice one one to have. And of course, if it comes to that, to finish off the season with two fine friends and three fine fish is no bad way to sign off a fine 2021!