I fished a swim I have never fished before today, and used the old watercraft to try and work it out. Not difficult to do really, since there is very little serious weed yet and hard to spot weedbeds, let alone any fish, as the water remains very coloured with algae/diatoms, whatever.

I just leaded around in an area of strong even flow, upstream of a normally very weedy area, and baitdropped a bit of hemp and crumbled boilie into a likely clear spot. Lots of drifting weed was coming down, so a heavy backlead and sunken rod tip avoided most of that.

Three fit chub came in the first three casts, then a bit of a quiet spell, but with a feeling that there was life in the swim, I sat back with a sort of inexplicable confidence, as the hot sun slowly began to lose the fierce intensity that had made fishing almost unbearable that afternoon.

The chub would have rattled any barbel, but it was not long before the firm, continuous purr of the ratchet signalled a bite from something more substantial than a chub. It fought like a chub though, and came towards me shaking its head, and only when it carried on upstream past me and started to take a bit of line did I decide it was a barbel after all.

A good solid ten and a half pounder, and a satisfying fish from the new swim. An hour later, the pin really did scream off, and a fish that simply would not stop had me convinced it was a carp. It hurtled off downstream and across, burning my thumb on the spool, then did it again for good measure before burying itself in an unknown snag or thick weedbed. It was solid, unmoving, and on the end of a long line, maybe thirty yards away.

Even worse, with bankside trees to my left, I could not get any further downstream to shorten the line or pull from below. I prepared myself mentally to lose this fish, and decided I would always be of the mind it was a bloody nuisance common carp.

Steady pressure and the advantage of tough thick 15lb mono, and it kicked free and slowly swam upstream towards me. Strands of weed and sticks hung from the line like dirty washing as I cranked the fish closer, turn by turn on the reel. When I saw it under the rod top and the long brassy flank of a barbel, not a carp, came into view, I was impressed and a tad nervous. It was a big barbel.

It eventually and inevitably tired, but fought like a vundu, right to the very end, and played merry hell with the tendonitis in my left arm as I lifted it from the water after the initial breather. A couple of ounces under fourteen, a really healthy, clean, fit and powerful fish, and a most respectable third double of the season.