As I neared my goal I spotted another angler and stopped for a chat. He and his mate were in a couple of swims I'd have happily fished as they've produced plenty of autumn fish to me before but these guys were biteless. It turned out they were on their first visit to the Wye along with one of their's father who was nearer their car, and had found the learning curve to be very steep. I had a long chat about tactics - which they were pretty close to anyway - and wished them well. Hmmm, it could be a tougher day than I thought.
I dropped into another favoured swim and introduced four feeders full of a mixture of pellets, boilie crumb and optimism. This was followed by a couple of 10mm boilies wrapped in paste. The wait begins.
Just fifteen minutes later the rod nodded. I lifted into a fish that pretended to be a chub and ran close to the bank where it turned and convinced me it was indeed a fit barbel. It fought like a wild cat but eventually waved the white flag and hit the net. Job done - right time, right place, that's all you need for success.... Mind you, finding that time and place can be a tad trying.
A bit of free bait, a cup of coffee and I was casting again. The river was definitely rising slightly but was so clear that the margins were like an aquarium. I fed much of my bait to the minnows - like I always do. Fish have such a hold on me I can't resist watching them no matter what size they may be but my attention was soon drawn back to the rod. Was that a nod? I lifted it and felt the fish moving away and again I was given a right old scrap. Barbel number two was banked.
It was getting cooler and I pulled my coat across me for warmth. A kingfisher peeped loudly as it passed whilst long tailed tits twittered through the hedges. A wren passed in front of me and dipped into some scrub imagining it was as invisible as it was silent and a robin provided the only reminder of summer's bird song. I don't have a favourite season but autumn is certainly atmospheric and seems to have 'cleaner' edges than the manic hurry of spring and the heavy air of summer. Leaves caught on the line apart it's an awesome time to fish.
I checked my watch, 5pm. Two hours since my first cast. I couldn't help but feel I'd done enough and was about to reel in when the rod bounced and I was in to barbel number three, a genuine bonus. I enjoyed the fight as it made some impressive runs for a modest fish but took time out to watch a swan flying noisily overhead. They really do like to announce themselves when aloft compared to the comparatively silent goose. Anyway, barbel rested in the net, hook slipped out and back it went no worse for its adventure.