Nicky and I strolled upstream leaving Neil to drop into a favoured evening swim for a dabble. The evening was warm and the clouds were lifting from the threat of a shower to a wispy backdrop across the broad horizon that the Wye offers.
The river was up a foot or so and had too much colour to spot fish, just the occasional salmon betrayed its position with a swirl or enthusiastic leap. I busied myself along a high, flood swept bank, kicking the turf to remove dangerous overhangs that may catch out our less observant visitors. It was difficult at times but Nick held my hand to stop me from joining the sods in their introduction to gravity, it was strangely satisfying too.
We returned to Neil's position where he was retying a rig having just landed his first chub. I sat beside him and watched as he attached a pva bag of boilie crumb to his lead and, with a Nottingham cast (yuk!), lobbed it back into position. It didn't take long, the rod swept back and a chub of around 4lbs came to the net. "Must be your Dad's turn then"
It shows how his attitude to his fishing has changed over the last few years. Neil said, "Next fish'll be a barbel", handed me his precious gear and, with a hidden smug grin, I Wallis cast to the baited spot. Cane, pin and touch legering, does it get any better? It may not be the most efficient way of angling but, for us, it is the most pleasurable.
I felt a pull, a tightening really. "That was a barbel" i said, the crafty so and so was checking my bait for resistance. I've played this game before.
In came the rig and I shaved the boilie down to its core. Back in position I waited, tense and expectant. There it was again, that little tester. I relayed the event to Neil who opined that it was suspicious because mine was the only bait object that was neither a whole boilie or a flake of crumb. I simply pulled a foot or two of line off the reel to give it some slack to play with. It worked.
I hit the next, more deliberate pull and the rod swept over. I'd only ever caught a modest chub on Neil's Excalibur but now it bent into what was quite obviously a barbel. What a beautiful rod, what a joy to hold and feel the lunges of a lively fish. Okay, it was only a 5 or 6 pounder but I can see why Neil is so protective of his most treasured possession.
I'd been sat there for twenty minutes, had a fish and was prepared to wait for Neil to get another but, he was tired and wanted to get home and have a glass of cider, so we left.
Another special memory.