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Archive for August 25th, 2011


This is far from being just a barbel fishing blog, but big barbel have been somewhat elusive so far this season.  I think my best to date has been 10lb 1oz from the Trent.  The Kennet doubles have proven to be even harder to come by.  We normally take plenty of big fish from the Kennet. I think my best day was 3 ’12’s’ two seasons ago.  A season where I managed 14 doubles from the Kennet.  This season has been the hardest start on the Kennet I’ve had in 5 years.  It’s strange because everywhere else I go I seem to catch plenty of barbel.  I’ve had the best part of 140 fish this season and only 15 have been from the Kennet.  Still hopefully it will get better…….!

So it was that Geoff, Kevin and I packed up the tents and moved to Aldermaston.  We know this stretch well and in past seasons have fared well here during daylight hours.  Rather than fish during the day on the other beats, this week we had swapped around a bit.  Fishing the evening and night at Dalston and today here at Aldermaston.  We hoped that this change in tactics might just produce some fish.

Base Camp

The water was still quite coloured and the river an inch or two up, maybe.  The river looked good.  We each headed off up river in search of some likely spots.  I ventured in to a very boggy swim.  Luckily I was armed (or legged) with my Simms waders.  So if I did have to wade into a few boggy spots, I could.  There is a lovely deep gully in this swim.  It’s flanked on one side by beautiful, flowing ranunculus and on the other by lots of overhanging trees and bushes.  It looks perfect.

I started off by putting out about 3 pints of hemp and caster.  Leaving the swim to rest for half an hour whilst I got organized.  The swim was certainly boggy, but I managed to find a firm spot for the chair.  Once that was all sorted a cup of coffee was in order and then I tied up a new rig.  The previous week I had fished casters on the hair, but due the the colour this week I opted for pellets for bait.  Hoping that the additional smell might make it easier for the fish to locate them.  A 3 foot braided hooklink was tied up with a 12 hook and 2 large elips pellets superglued to the hair.  The feeder was a 3 ounce Andrew Witham cage feeder.  This was packed with a mixture of pellets and Hinders ‘barbel bomb’ groundbait.

The bait was swung out into the gully and I sat back to await events.  I took this opportunity to nose through the weekly fishing papers.  A 4lb 10oz crucian carp had been caught from a Verulam AC water.  The picture looked good.  The fish, at a casual glance, looked like a true crucian.  They are not easy fish to identify.  The colour looked pretty good: dark bronze and orange tints to the fins.  The mouth didn’t look quite right, but it was open and extended, so nothing conclusive there.  I didn’t do a scale count, I think I’ll leave that to the experts.   I hope it is genuine and well done to the angler that caught this beautiful fish.

Anyway back to the barbel.  At last I had what looked like a persistent chub bite, so decided to hit it.  It was a chub, about 3 1/2lbs.  Then  a little later, another persistent chub bite, so I hit this one as well.  This time though it was a chub on steroids, 3 shredded wheat and a tin of Popeye’s spinach.  What is technically known in fishing circles as a barbel.  Not a big fish, but a really good fight.  A fish of about 6-7lbs.  Later on I had the full on 3 foot twitch.  It felt like a good fish on the other end.  It stayed deep and thumped around for a few seconds before snagging me on some unseen obstruction.  Steady pressure from numerous angles and plenty of swear words usually does the trick.  Sadly though everything went slack and the hook had pulled out.  At least I got all of the tackle back and the fish had escaped safely.

The rare Wasing lesser spotted Kookaburra

The warm weather was having a soporific effect on me and I kept drifting off into a world of naked women and British record barbel.  What a combination! Luckily, this was interrupted by the phone going and an excited Kevin on the other end informing me of a very good barbel in his landing net.  Assuming it hadn’t swam in there of its own accord, I hurried down ready to do the David Bailey impression, although I was sober!

Kevin lifted the fish out of the water and we were confronted by a very big, fat barbel.  It looked about 12lbs and this was confirmed on the scales, as she went 12lb 2oz.  A new PB for Kevin and the smile said everything.  Well done buddy, great result.  It was nice to see a big fish on the bank at long last.

Kev's PB Barbel 12lb 2oz

Despite a move, on Geoff and my parts, we couldn’t muster any further action.  So we ended the day with 2 barbel, plus the 5 from the previous day. 7 barbel and a new PB isn’t a bad couple of days fishing.  Oh and we also stopped by the road side to watch 2 Red Kites and 2 Buzzards sharing the same air space.  Lovely to watch such impressive birds glide and swoop just overhead.  Ah well, until next time. As Arnie would say “I’ll be back”

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The lure of Kennet roach drew me back to the Wasing beats of this beautiful river this week.  The Kennet was once famed for its red finned inhabitants and it had a reputation for holding some very big specimens.  Well I’m pleased to say that in certain stretches, they are still there.  They crop up from time to time, mainly to barbel fishermen.  I have targeted these roach on just a few occasions recently, having taken them to 1lb 12oz in the past.   I’m certain that with some perseverance the larger specimens will eventually succumb.

So the set-up was fairly straight forward.  I balanced my superb light ‘river and stream’ quiver rod (a TFG rod that is sadly no longer available) with a Drennan reel loaded with 5lb line.  A running ledger link and a 3 foot mono hooklink coupled with a 16 Pallatrax ‘The Hook’ completed the set-up.  The bait was a small hair rigged Hinders Elips pellet, attached by incorporating a small bait band tied to the hair.  This is a nice simple rig, where little can go wrong.  I do like to use a 3 inch length of silicone tubing on the hooklink which pulls onto the swivel.  This just pushes the hooklink away from the feeder, which is then attached to the running ledger link.  It just helps to prevent tangles.

I targeted an area that I know has produced some decent roach in the past and still regularly throws up some decent specimens over a pound.  There is a lovely long glide here and a fallen tree at the end of the run.  On the opposite bank are more bushes and trees in the water, which create a lovely crease.  It screams roach, especially as it has an excellent average depth.

Ah, I can smell roach...or is that my aftershave!

After setting up base camp (where’s Sherpa Tenzing when you need him?) I baited my chosen swim with a little hemp to get the fish interested.  The water was a little higher than of late after recent heavy rains and the river was carrying a little more colour too.  Perfect roach conditions.  First cast out with the hemp and caster feeder, produced instant results.  The tip yanked round from a cracking bite and the strike met with that jagged resistence of what felt like a good roach.  Then, sadly it was off.  Things went a little quiet from there.  It was a lovely warm evening.  As dusk approached the tip pulled round again and this time the culprit found the folds of the landing net.  A fine Kennet roach of about a pound. It was fin perfect and in immaculate condition.  Hopefully this was to be the start of some decent action.

Hemp and Caster - Irresistible!

Well sadly by 10pm, not an awful lot had happened.  Kevin had taken a couple of nice barbel further upstream, the biggest going 8lb 10oz and Geoff had caught a small fish of about 4-5lbs. Then at last another bite came my way.  The dogged, zig-zag fight indicated a roach and so it was.  Another fish of about a pound.  Sadly tiredness was beginning to get the better of me (that’s old age for you) so I decided to have one more cast whilst packing away all of the usual paraphernalia that us anglers take but never seem to use (please tell me it’s not just me!).  Once all that was done, it was time to reel in.  Moments before doing so the rod top dragged round violently and a hard fighting fish ripped line from the reel.  The clutch screamed as the fish headed for the fallen tree.  Steady pressure won the day (a good balanced set-up, even using lightish lines, can subdue big fish) and the fish was drawn over the cord of the landing net.  Well it was obvious by now that this was a roach of the bearded variety. Yes, a barbel. Certainly not a monster, but about 6lbs.

A bearded roach

I popped over to see Geoff and as I stood there his rod whacked round and a feisty barbel of around 4-5lbs was later unhooked and slipped back to fight another day.  I headed back to camp and got the kettle going.  Kevin surrendered to the Barbel Gods but Geoff was made of tougher stuff and after his cuppa, carried on fishing for a couple of hours.  Sadly nothing more came his way and even he eventually succumbed to tiredness.

Not a bad session all in all.

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