On the river the other day I came across two big fish. The first was a large carp that had been bunkered down in a deep undercut right at my feet. I had been casting to some barbel and had been quite still for a while when this large shape drifted out almost, it felt, from between my toes. Instinctively I dropped my little tungsten beaded nymph in front of it and then everything went rock solid.

This thing hardly even seemed to realise that it was connected to me. My rod arched over and it felt for all the world like I was simply snagged to the bottom. There seemed to be no movement at all until a few seconds later the “bottom” was somewhere else! It looked like snags were going to be a problem and so I crossed the river a short way downstream to apply pressure from the opposite direction. There was no fuss, no running, no swirling just a deeply arched rod. And then that awful moment came. The rod straightened. My little nymph came back, smiling at me. I checked the hook. The hook was fine but the fish was gone.

I doubt if that big carp even knew anything much about the predicament it was in and no doubt it settled back into the recess of the undercut bank as though nothing had happened. I suppose nothing really had.

The second large fish was a gypsy barbel. I saw it from an elevated track but there were tree branches beneath me and the water. Down under the branches he rose steadily to insects drifting on the current. It is hard to put a size on that fish but I would guess five pounds.

I figured that if I crossed upstream and waded across to a sand bar I might have had a pretty good shot at that fish but there was another fisherman there fishing sweetcorn that he was casting towards the opposite bank and I could not have approached without disturbing what he was doing. And so I left the big barbel to feed steadily on whatever the river was bringing his way.

The day after this trip to the river we were all put on lockdown. That big old barbel can now continue to sip flies from the top without the risk of being inconvenienced in any way by the likes of me, and the thought of him doing so gives me a reason to smile during my enforced isolation. When lockdown finishes and if he is still there under those trees I will drift a little dry over him and just maybe he will come up and take it.



If you cut back from the river after working upstream a lovely path leads you back through eucalyptus trees.