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Red Letter Days by Giles Armstrong

Extracted from January 2018 Newsletter

I’ve had a very good season on the St Patrick’s Stream, having been a member now for almost three years and learning the club’s waters. I started focusing my attention on barbel about seven years ago, spurred on by the numerous pictures I would see on the club’s Facebook page and in angling magazines.

As a child, whilst float fishing in local backwaters and streams for perch and ruffe, I would always see barbel as the monster of the deep. The thought of getting that monstrous three foot twitch was stuff of dreams for many years as all the prime barbel venues were out of reach until I learnt to drive and could find my way to new venues.

I had always heard of the prestigious fishing on St Patrick's Stream and wondered what it looked like as the perfect barbel fishing venue. For the first five years I really struggled with my barbel fishing and it very often left me doubting my rigs, baits and watercraft/tactics, as well as almost reducing me to tears as I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, so much so that fishing started to take up a lot of my time as I thought it was a case of putting the hours in, and eventually if I did that it would all fall into place. I almost took up golf!

Enter Twyford and District. My first season I spent on the Loddon, not knowing just how difficult it had become and only the select elite barbel anglers knew their hidey-holes. I started with a 10lb 9oz fish on my first ever trip to Sandford, which really was a proud moment for me, especially when I found out that Sandford wasn’t an easy water!

Last year was spent on St Patrick’s Stream as people were catching good fish there and I felt it was where I needed to be. Long story short, I blanked monumentally and all the negative feelings of self worth came flooding back, although I kept telling myself that I was just starting to learn the water and that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Head into this season, collecting everything I had read, experienced and ideas from members met on the bank. So far I’ve had six fish including my PB twice, and lost three (another learning curve!). They were (numerically not respectively) – 6lb 8oz, 7lb 8oz, 8lb 4oz, 8lb 7oz, 11lb 3oz and 12lb exactly.

As for the three fish I lost – god only knows. I can now leave the season knowing that I’m finally where I want to be with my fishing. Here’s to next season!

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