What on earth is this? It looks like something from Alien vs Predator - the answer is somewhere below.
Back to the 16th June 2011
48 hours after the event, I've still got a warm glow coursing through my veins and a broad grin across my face. Nothing to do with the plate of Gorgonzola and biscuits or the lovely bottle of Rioja that Lucia had waiting for me on my return home, but all to do with yet another amazing day spent in great company on the banks of the Ribble.
After a pleasant drive with Tony through the Lancashire countryside, we ended up at the farmyard car park - two fellas bursting to get down to the river and do some fishing. We were delayed by some entertaining cockerels - really crowing their hearts out - and the farmers wife who wanted to stop and chat. I think she could tell that we werent really interested in stopping for a chat and wished us all the best for the new season.
Walking over the footbridge, we were pleased to see that there was no -one else about other than Tonys pal from the tackle shop, and that all the best swims were free. So we dropped our tackle down next to Phil-Ks favourite swim (where were you Phil ? we missed you!) and started to tackle up). As always boyish enthusiasm doesn't take long to surface when I'm out with Tony, and he was soon after his first fish of the season - searching out bullheads from under the riverside shingle.
Once tackled up, and in mid river situ Tony soon started to catch a succession of Dace, Trout and Grayling - but the big barbel which have graced so many opening days on the Ribble proved to me elusive. Later in the morning - Tony momentarily hooked a big fish - but it used to extra flow to its advantage and threw the hook in the heavy water.
My day started off, at the head of a long shallow run of water over a shingle bank. A sharp bite on my first run through briefly raised my hopes of a good day but I couldn't seem to get any other response from the swim no matter what I tried.
So a quick change of plans saw me walk to the bottom end of the beat, to fish a consistently good swim which has a fast run of water going into a deeper pot of a swim which always holds good trout, grayling and dace. I must have had a fish every other run through with the stick float for about an hour and a half. Great fishing and a great way to start the season off.
After a while i sort of half expected to see Tony walk downstream to see how I was getting on, so kept on checking upstream over my shoulder. He never materialised - but I did manage to spy a deer out of the corner of my eye, and had the great pleasure of watching it for about 10 minutes as it dithered about attempting to cross the river.
After a couple of false starts it finally made up its mind and went for it through the heavy water - what a privilege for a "city boy" like me to witness a scene like this. It made my day.
So after having bagged up at the lower end of the beat - I decided to walk back up to see how Tony was getting on and grab some lunch. He was still in situ - Phil-Ks position A - but the big barbel which so often reward those brave enough to wade out to this spot - weren't playing ball. Tonys best barbel of the morning was only a couple of pounds.
While I was mooching around eating lunch, i came across a sea lamprey which had just died after spawning, washed up in the shallows. I'e never seen one of these amazing prehistoric looking creatures before - bloody hell they're ugly.
I really wouldn't like to have to put a disgorger or my finger near there!
After lunch i had another half hearted attempt at the fast shallow fun where I'd started the morning off, but my heart wasn't really in it. So i decided to set up a swim feeder rod, and settle back on my unhooking mat for a post lunch snooze on the sandy bank just upstream of the footbridge.
Bait runner on and relax - I wish! The rod tip didn't stop bouncing until late in the afternoon, more trout and dace, three or four eels, and an absolute rod bender of a bite which saw me hook into a freight train of a barbel which snapped my 6lb hooklength as though it were gossamer.
Tony came along mid afternoon and joined me - two anglers - knackered from a working week and a mornings wading in fast heavy water - lay back chewing the cud - great company - delightful surroundings. The fishing slowed somewhat, but the chat didn't. The afternoon flew by.
As the fishing had slowed down somewhat - we decided to pack up and fish a section of river both of us had previously walked but never fished. Again our usually set up for searching the river, stick float and maggots brought us a constant return of small dace and brownies but we couldn't connect with any thing bigger.
The evening was becoming more regularly punctuated with heavy showers but also some big rising migratory fish to keep us alert. The last of which we saw was a magnificent double figure fish leaping a good 2 or 3 feet above the surface of the river before crashing back like a mini whale breaching. WOW I think I should move house up here - am going to take some worming tackle with me next time.
All in all - what a day - great fishing - great company - deer crossing a river, a sea lampreys gnashers - entertained to acrobatics from BIG salmon and sea trout, followed by a lovely plate of cheese and biscuits washed down with a lovely big red wine -
Could a day so eagerly and earnestly anticipated - really deliver as much as that, if only I could bottle and sell this warm glow............and some people just "don't get" fishing.
Sorry the blogs been quiet recently but I've been spending alot of time fishing the lakes in the park behind my house - entertaining and convienient for me - but not the stuff blogs are made of.
Now the river season is open - look forwards to the return of the Irwell barbel quest.