My ancient car is acting up. On Monday morning it refused to start which was curious because the previous day it had taken me happily to the river and back. Maybe it was just drawing the line, as I am often tempted to do, at heading off for another week at work at some ungodly hour in the morning.

And then yesterday it failed, in spectacular fashion, its annual technical inspection. It often lets itself down on some little technical defect or other but yesterday it decided to pull out all the stops and fail with aplomb. The man with the torch who lives in a dark cave and inspects the underneath of the cars was so impressed by the defects that he surfaced into daylight and asked me to go down with him to look up. He said “look, see that broken bit?” and pointed to a broken bit and then he said “look, see that crack?” and pointed to a crack. I pretended to be surprised but knew perfectly well that the whole car was just more or less hanging together.

My wife is very likely to tell me we should just put this old crock to pasture, particularly when she finds out how much a new transmission is going to set us back. But I have a soft spot for this ancient automobile, assembled during a simpler era with stone-age technology, and I will argue that we should just patch her up and see if she will see us through another year. Maybe it is because I feel that the ageing process, in itself, should not devalue something that has served us well. On Friday I swam 20 lengths of the school pool as part of a triathlon and it nearly killed me. It is pretty clear that my own transmission system may be failing although I don´t want the bloke at the ITV facility shining his torch up my undercarriage to find out.

Anyway, after the disappointments of the morning car inspection I thought I might head off to the river to cheer myself up. Things didn´t start well. I realised as soon as I got there that I had forgotten my camera and so brought along my phone in case there was something to photograph.

The barbel are in the shallow runs now and where the runs tip into the slower pools. It is just a question of finding them. There seem to be some runs that are devoid of fish and others that have plenty. I started out in a reliable section and it was clear that some fish were present. On my second cast I had one and then over the next hour I took another nine. The fish would invariably turn downstream and allow me to play and land them in slower deeper water. Significantly, they would not disturb their neighbours too much. My plan was simply to start downstream in the fast reach and work my way upstream as far as I could go.

Every now and then fishing seems easy and that´s the way it was yesterday. After taking those fish I felt I had disturbed the water enough and wandered off downstream to see if I could get any of the fish I had been struggling with last week in water that was very fast, broken and shallow. You can hardly see the fish here but sense them as a break in the pattern of the stony substrate.

The nymph sweeps down through the water so quickly here that it passes a fish in less than a second and the movement of the fish may be all you might get by way of an indication that it is going for the fly. The good thing is that your image is largely concealed by the broken surface and it is possible to get reasonably close to the fish. I tend to use quite a long leader to minimise disturbance and cast over and over again while the fish are still there and have not been spooked. A barbel, if it is hooked in water like this, really goes like the clappers and invariably swims with the current and may be landed some distance downstream.

In the slow pool further downstream I had a nice carp and I had another come off just as I was about to beach it. I can´t remember the fishing on the river being better than this, with a carp and 15 barbel to reward about three and a half hours of effort. It certainly took my mind off the mechanic´s bill which will shortly be coming my way!

This carp was the biggest fish of the day.

This carp was the biggest fish of the day.

This little nymph took, tied on a size 14 barbless hook took 16 fish and held together pretty well.

This little nymph, tied on a size 14 barbless hook took all 16 fish and held together pretty well.