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Posts Tagged ‘Barbel fishing’


Perhaps September is one of the greatest fishing months in the barbel angler’s calender.  It often produces bigger than average fish, as they start to pack on weight ready for winter.  Added to that are the array of colours on the trees that can make a beautiful place into a simply stunning, breathtaking place.  I don’t think there’s a better time to be on a river for the sheer, dare I say, cornucopia of colours of varying hues and shades.  You just can’t get bored of it.

I had arranged with Geoff to pop up to the Trent for a couple of days fishing.  We wanted to try a couple of day ticket venues, one of which has produced a number of very large barbel.  The first stretch is well known to us but the word on the fishy grapevine was that the fishing was very slow.  The Trent, like many other rivers, was suffering with low water levels and flow.  The river was as low as I’ve ever seen it, which didn’t bode well.

The Trent

The Trent

I headed upstream and found a suitable looking spot.  I like this area of the stretch as it’s a long walk from the car park and therefore lightly fished.  I’ve had some memorable captures here and it rarely fails to produce good numbers of fish along with the occasional double.  Nothing big mind you, they tend to be scrapper doubles to be fair.  I started off in one swim but after a few hours without so much as a twitch, I opted to move into another very productive spot.  I like to get some bait out, so two rods armed with big feeders are cast every few minutes to get some bait out into the swim.  I’ll keep that up for about an hour and then recast every 15-20 minutes, depending on the action.

Well as the light started to fade so the rod top started dancing and soon the rod top whooped over and a nice feisty Trent barbel fought for freedom.  This action continued and I ended up with a number of chub and barbel.  I think 5 barbel in all to nearly 9lbs.  Not a particularly productive session but good fun and perhaps not a bad result considering.  I tried a few baits but the Lone Angler Caviar Pellets seemed to be working the best.  They have proven to be a very effective bait this season taking a large quantity of barbel and chub.  I must say I’m very impressed with them.

Meanwhile Geoff fared slightly less well, although he still took a couple of barbel and a chub or two, plus a few bream I think.  The next day we decided to try a different stretch famed for it’s very large barbel with fish to well over 17lbs reported.  On arrival we chatted to a couple of local guys who had been struggling recently.  Again the low level and lack of rainfall seemed to be the cause.  Perhaps the highlight of the day was seeing a couple of guys with swimming caps and goggles swimming up the river on the far bank.  I guess they were heading to the English Channel!!  Still that’s a new one on me.

It was pretty quiet when we arrived and the fishing was in the deep boat channel close in, just a couple of rod lengths out, which on the Trent makes a nice change.  Unfortunately as with all big fish venues, things started to change as the day wore on.  By late afternoon cars and vans started arriving and it felt like Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn.  We were slowly being surrounded on all sides by an army of barbel hunters and some didn’t seem to mind about fishing almost in our laps.  We were obviously in the popular swims.  One guy could have almost held hands with Geoff, had he been so inclined, as he was that close.  Geoff of course didn’t take too kindly to those intimidation tactics and simply cast right at the point the other guy was casting.  Eventually the bloke got fed up and moved blow me, luckily far enough away so as not to disturb my fishing.  Mind you not that it made any difference as I never had so much as a twitch.  With all of those anglers there, I think I heard of 1 bream being caught!

C’est La Vie!

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At long last an opportunity came up at work to get out and fish.  It’s been a few weeks since I was last out and come hell or high water, I was going to fish a river somewhere.  Talking of high water, it seems that most rivers are still incredibly high and really pushing through.  I suspect the heavy colour has dropped out a bit by now and with it some of the nasties that get into the river system during floods i.e. oil, untreated sewage etc.etc.  So if its safe to get access to a swim then its well worth a go in these unseasonably mild conditions.

After much deliberation Kevin and I opted to fish the Lea in Hertfordshire.  We hoped it wouldn’t be too seriously affected by the recent deluge of rain.  We arrived early and found we had the place to ourselves.  This particular stretch contains some very big roach and dace and it was with these in mind that I set up a light float outfit.  The 14ft Drennan Matchpro Light, Bob James (am I allowed to mention his name still?!) 2.5lb mainline, 1.14oz hooklink with a 22 barbless fine wire hook.  This was fished in conjunction with a 6xNo4 stick float.  Bait was single red maggot and loose feeding maggot and hemp, with a small pinch each and every trot through.

Now with the weather being so mild I thought it prudent to take a second rod and reel set up a little heavier in case the barbel were active.  So the second outfit was made up of a 13ft power float rod, Fred Crouch aerial centrepin and 6lb mainline.  The hooklink was 5lb and I used a strong  size 14 barbless with 2 or 3 maggots.  This was fished with a much larger float which helps to pull the thicker line through the rod’s eyes and enable the float to travel downstream more freely.  Well that was the idea anyway.   To be honest due to the tight confines of the swims here, an 8 or 9lb low diameter mainline used in conjunction with a 7lb low diameter hooklink would be much better but I was still confident it would suffice.

As the light slowly began to filter through the gloom, I ran the stick float through a nice deep glide.  The float continued downstream in a lovely unhurried fashion and I eased back on the stick so the bait fluttered up and ahead of the floats passage.  With each trot through, a few maggots and hemp were flicked in to travel along with the hookbait.  After just a few trots the float buried and the strike met with a solid resistance.  Whatever was on the other end soon realised and was off on a powerful run.  I bent the rod into the fish and allowed line as sparingly as I dared.  The fish was just too powerful and it straitened the tiny fine wire hook.  It was obviously a barbel.  Shortly after another barbel took the bait, followed by another.  It was fairly obvious at this juncture that roach fishing was going to be pointless .

I now swapped the roach outfit for the heavier rod and reel in anticipation that only the barbel would be active from this point on.  After just a couple of trots through, the float buried and this time I was able to subdue the barbel comfortably with the stronger tackle.  It was a barbel of about 5lbs.  Several more followed before it went quiet.  I decided to return to the roach fishing as it appeared the barbel had moved out of the swim.  Er big mistake.  A dozen or so trots through and another barbel was hooked and again lost to some unseen snag.  So it was back to the heavier tackle.

Mud, mud, glorious mud.....

Mud, mud, glorious mud…..

This went on pretty much all day.  I ended up with 8 barbel to about 6lbs but lost quite a few too, which I always feel bad about particularly if I’ve left a hook in them.  Luckily they were small, fine wire hooks so wouldn’t take long to work free.   The rain started early to mid afternoon and it all got a bit messy.  The banks were sticky with wet mud and most of my equipment was soaked through.  As the light faded both Kevin and I were more than happy to call it a day.  Both Kevin and I also had one chub apiece but sadly the roach and dace didn’t put in an appearance.

 

 

 

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Yes rumour has it that Tina Turner dedicated this song to Ray Walton and I can well believe it.  Geoff and I headed to the Kennet for the afternoon and evening and I was hoping to try out my latest acquisition:  the new RW rolling pin MKII.

Ray Walton Rolling Pin MKII

Ray Walton Rolling Pin MKII

It was a very pleasant day, overcast and with maybe an outside chance of some rain.  I tackled up the Torrix with the pin which was loaded with 20lb Power Pro braid and tied directly to this was a size 2 Korda hook.  I had molded some extra heavy tungsten putty onto the shank and covered it with some shrink tube.  This would hopefully mean that less plasticine would be required.

So off I went fully of expectancy, the mad fool that I am!  I tried numerous swims and failed in all of them.  For those that haven’t tried this method I shall try and explain.  Basically you put on a large piece of luncheon meat, by simply pushing the hook right through and then turning the hook and pulling it back into the meat.  You then cast upstream and put a large bow into the line.  This means that the bait can then trundle downstream, bouncing along the bottom, in a straight line.  If you keep the line too tight to the bait, it will obviously pull it off line and create an unnatural path down the river.

The beauty of the rolling pin is that you can turn the spool and cast out normally and then return the spool to it’s normal position and keep paying off line.  The idea is that that you feel the meat bouncing along the gravel bottom.  You just keep allowing the pin to turn to give line and allow the bait to travel downstream, under tree and bushes and between weed (if there is any).  If you feel the meat is going through the swim too quickly, then add a little plasticine 5 or 6 inches from the hook to slow its progress down.  Bites are often quite gentle plucks but you’ll know it’s different to the normal gravel bumps that you get.  If in doubt strike and strike hard.

The Kennet

The Kennet

Well as I said after a few bite less hours I decided to move into a swim for the evening.  I had found an area of shallow water but with a deeper margin flanked by reeds and heading upstream to a large bridge.  This seemed a good interception point.  So about 7pm I swung out a feeder and a couple of super glued Elips pellets.  10 minutes later the rod top slammed round and a feisty little barbel fought for freedom on the other end.  It was a nice conditioned fish of about 6lbs.  Thirty minutes later and the rod top did it’s thing again and this time it felt a better fish.  After a good scrap I weighed this one and she went 9lb 1oz on the scales and was a stunning barbel.

9lb 1oz

9lb 1oz

That was pretty much the end of the action for me fish wise at least.  I was treated to a rare sight though.  A barn owl swooped down at the back of my swim, no more that 8 feet or so from me, to grab a mouse.  The only sound I heard was as the owl’s talons as they grabbed at the tall grass.  Then it lifted off silently, empty taloned and worked it’s way along the water line in search of another tasty meal.    I also saw what I think were a pair of plovers in the field behind me.  They walked a bit like an upright pigeon and made a funny sort of call.  Having checked the RSPB book I’m fairly certain they were Plovers.

So, all in all a reasonably successful session.  I will persevere with the meat rolling but it may take some time to become even half decent at it.  Practice is the key.

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After a fairly tortuous wait for the new season to start, it finally arrived and soon the glorious 16th quickly passed .  Sadly I couldn’t get out until the following Tuesday and Wednesday.  I quite enjoy fishing the opening night.  The setting up of base camp, the anticipation and excitement and the company.  As night draws in you begin to feel the excitement grow, finally as the clock strikes midnight, out go the baits.  This year though, work prevented an opening night campaign.

However I arrived at my destination on the following Tuesday, eager to explore a new stretch.   After setting up base camp, eventually I managed to tackle up a rod and go in search of a few likely swims.  Prior to this we walked the whole stretch and I made a few mental notes of areas that looked interesting.  It was quite a warm day and the walk was about 3/4 of a mile,  luckily nothing too arduous though.

The weather of late has been decidedly wet, to say the least.  It does get a bit boring after a while, I have to say.  The upside though is that the river levels were excellent and the general countryside looks so green and healthy.  The bankside foliage is full and vibrant.  Life is sustained by water and when you get an abundance of the wet stuff at this time of the year, everything looks and feel so incredibly healthy.

The Kennet

The Kennet

It’s always great to see a few Buzzards and Red Kites wheel overhead but it’s also great to see the somewhat demure wildlife that abounds the riverbank environment.  I spotted a small bird which I then managed to identify as a Marsh Tit, a first for me and then a Green Finch.  Plus of course the humble Bumble Bee buzzing around.  I was already lost in a world of escapism and the stress and strains of the humdrum daily routine seem to dissolve away very quickly.

Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit

This was a new stretch for us and we were keen to explore.  The first half of the section appeared to be deeper and a little slower.  The levels were good and there was plenty of bankside features in the way of trees, bushes and reeds.  Despite fishing through to around 1am, we had only one lost fish between the 3 of us and that was sadly Kevin.  So the next day I grabbed a rod and started to plumb the river.  I just stuck to the lower half and soon found that a deep channel ran along the nearside margins.  The depth varied but in places dropped to 7 feet.  There seemed to be little depth from the middle to the far banks, so the margins seemed to offer the best opportunities.

The Kennet

The Kennet

It was tough going.  Only Geoff managed a fish, a small barbel of 5.8lbs.  Other than that nothing else really happened.  It was a scorching hot day and both Kevin and I were sporting rather nasty headaches and so we called it a day much earlier than expected.

Overall it was an informative first visit, but just somewhat lacklustre in terms of the actual fishing. Still in good old Arnie fashion and with heavy Austrian accent; “I’ll be back”. 🙂

 

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Just to let you know that the Association of Barbel Fishers have numerous fish-ins planned for the coming season.  There is a 2 day event on the River Wye at Bishopswood, a 3 day event on the River Trent, a 2 day event on the Severn and a 2 day event on the Loddon.  Plus there is a stick float clinic with Keith Speer on the Trent and an evening talk in Basingstoke with some really great guest speakers planned.

Check out the ABF website for info on how to join and what events are planned.

 

Association of Barbel Fishers

Association of Barbel Fishers

Association of Barbel Fishers

 

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You’ve no doubt heard of the beast of Exemoor, or the Surrey Puma, the Aldermaston Beast or the Beast of the Medway (no, not Bob Morris :-))?  Well this beast is far more terrible than any that have gone before.

It was created by a certain Mr Paul Whiteing in a moment of madness.  Actually it was the brainchild of Paul’s and designed to raise some money for charity in a rather novel way, on behalf of the Association of Barbel Fishers and its members.  It’s not exclusively for ABF members, in fact all are welcome to give it a go.  It’s about raising money after all.

The ‘Beast’ is in fact a Barbus Riverking centrepin reel.  Pretty basic but it does the job.  The challenge? To get as many people as possible to catch a barbel on the reel.  In the process they get to donate £5 each for the privilege.  Once a 100 or so have completed the task, the idea is for the ABF to hopefully auction the reel off and donate the whole lot to the Macmillan Nurses.  A great cause and commendable actions from both the ABF and Paul Whiteing.

The Beast

The Beast

So, lets cut to the chase.  It was my turn to put the reel through its paces, along with Geoff.  Kevin was suffering, so sadly couldn’t make it.  However, as it turned out he didn’t miss much.  We headed to a section of the Lea to hopefully secure the barbel each that we needed.  Sadly everyone else had the same idea and the stretch was packed out.  So a change of plan was needed and we headed to an alternative venue, still on the Lea.

It was a beautiful stretch.  Very narrow and intimate and a chat with the bailiff proved to be very useful.  Unfortunately today was not to be.  Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find any barbel.  Geoff  managed to locate some nice roach and I ended up with a couple of small chub.  A couple of local guys were also fishing and they also blanked, so we didn’t feel quite so inept.

So it may not be until next season now before the beast is unleashed once more.

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Geoff, Kevin and I headed to a new stretch of the Kennet.  We joined earlier in the year and went for a wander along this particular stretch about a month ago. It’s a beautiful stretch.  Quite narrow and winding with lots of features, especially as you approach the end of the beat.

Geoff opted to fish the weir at the upper limit of the stretch and both Kevin and I decided to explore lower down.  I ended up right at the lower limit, in amongst the woods.  Its a beautiful spot down at this point, very intimate with bundles of overhanging trees and other features to fish to.  Sadly though it lacked some depth, averaging only 2′ 6″ to 3′ at best.  So after chub fishing and a spot of plumbing for a few hours, I felt compelled to move back upstream to find some deeper water.

The chub rod didn’t produce, so it was time to get on the barbel, so out came the Torrix.  I found quite a nice, deep swim just off of a bend.  I had around 5 feet, with numerous snags to fish to.  I opted to fish a boilie with a paste wrap in conjunction with a small block end feeder loaded with maggots or hemp. I had plenty of time to admire the scenery and bird life, as the tip never moved!  Unusually I didn’t see any Red Kites or Buzzards today, which is a rarity these days in this area.

With only 10 minutes left to fish, I jumped into a swim that had been vacated a few minutes before.  The guy had caught 4 barbel during his session and had kept a bit of bait going in.  So I thought it was worth a chance.  I didn’t have time to mess about and so wherever the first cast landed it would have to do.  It landed just about perfect.  I didn’t know the swim so couldn’t be certain how snaggy it was, so just had to hope for the best.  I had two knocks almost immediately and I started to worry that I may be caught up, when the rod top slammed over.  Fish on.  After a good scrap, a nice fit 7lb barbel was released.  A great end to what had been a beautiful but tough day.

Sadly Geoff and Kevin could only muster a couple of trout and a bullhead!  Shame. 🙂

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