Its been way too long since Martin and I fished together. To be honest, its not something I would recommend to most, certainly not without a safety net as Martin is one of those people that attracts 'events'. His life is a collection of hilarious tales - all of which are true. The one about donning chest waders that had been laying on a red ant's nest then his hopping and dancing moves as he tore off tackle and clothing had me chuckling all afternoon. Between him and the other perennial victim Carl Salter there's a book just waiting to be written.
We arrived at the river early in the afternoon full of fried food and optimism. My choice of swim was all about ease of access but I put Martin nearby where I thought he'd be in with a good chance as that swim gave up several barbel earlier in the week. I put some bait in and hobbled around for a chat.
Back at my spot half an hour later, I lowered a pva bag in place with a long hooklink and one of Dave Mason's latest concoctions on the hair. Barbel baits are a mute subject but I'm always game to try something new and it was quickly accepted by a hard fighting fish. It was a chub with the look of a fish that has circumnavigated the block a fair few times. It was easily over 5lbs but I'd taken the batteries from my scales to replace the dead ones in my radio and, as Arsenal were losing - again, I didn't want to miss the action. I slipped it back and sat there wondering whether to rest the swim or fish on.
I fished on and soon the rod folded again. This time the fish ran upstream at pace and I instantly felt the weight of a good barbel. I bent into it and the rod arched into an impressive curve until eventually it stopped and I could feel the line grating against a sunken branch. I backed off to allow the fish the next move which was instant and I leaned into it again - this time I got the upper hand and the fight moved to open water.
Safely in the net and Martin came to photograph my prize. I was happy to swap the batteries back for this one, it went 10.1 - just over the magic number and I was feeling quite content.
Martin moved into my spot and I went to his. He got the better end of the deal with a smaller barbel later on whilst I sat writing my diary and playing Angry Bird on my phone whilst sheltering from the heavy showers.
Despite him staying for a second day's fishing, I wimped out and left him to it, I don't know if he's caught yet, I certainly hope so.
I doubt I shall get out again until Friday which sees day one of the great annual fish-in. The Northern and the Midlands crew combining to attempt to drink the Red Lion dry whilst catching a fish or two along the way. Being a sober, sensible type I obviously don't approve of such behaviour but I'll go along anyway, just to keep an eye on those naughty boys. ;-)