Posts Tagged ‘River Trent Barbel’

As Hurricane Ophelia slammed into the shores of Ireland on Monday, Geoff and I headed to Robin Hood country to try and locate some late Autumn barbel.  We targeted a couple of Worksop stretches and another club water.

The forecast was pretty good prior to leaving but the imminent landfall of Hurricane Ophelia meant that the forecasters didn’t really know quite what to expect.  As we arrived at our first port of call, we were greeted by a dark and brooding sky.  It had an almost surreal look to it; ash coloured but not really cloudy.  It looked almost like a vast dust cloud.  Peeping through this gloom was a blood-red sun, almost malevolent in its appearance.  Was this the end of the world?  Only time would tell.  As we set up the rods, the winds gained in strength and gusted to over 50mph.  Although there appeared to be little threat of rain, the wind was causing more than enough problems.  Huge waves lashed at the banks and the rod tops bounced around in the gale like conditions.

It was a chilly day until at last, the winds pushed away the dark dust and the sun broke through, gently warming the air.  Apparently, the dust was, in fact, Saharan sand and was further flamed by the smoke of the Portuguese forest fires. Armageddon would have to wait it seemed.

We fished a very deep bend, possibly 12ft deep.  The river bed was clear gravel and promised much. For the first 90 minutes, I kept casting every 5 or 6 minutes to get some bait out. A 4oz feeder was ample to hold bottom and a 3-4ft hook-link with double 12mm caviar pellets finished off the set-up.  Sadly nothing materialised that day, not even a twitch on the rod top and as the wind had battered us throughout the day, we decided to call it an early night and headed off to the hotel for some dinner. Steak and chips soon improved the mood, along with a pint of Kronenberg!  The wind, it seemed, hadn’t quite died down and had somehow moved indoors!  However, it turned out to be Geoff!  He had obviously eaten something which was reacting in an unsociable sort of way with the environment (and me).  The next day he was long trotting, to coin a fishing analogy!  Luckily it soon passed and he was back fighting fit.

The next two days proved fruitful, for me at least.  I managed to bank 12 barbel to a new Trent PB of 11lb 10oz and around 8 or 9 chub to probably 4lb+.  I also had another double of 10lb 3oz and several 9s to 9lb 11oz.  All in all, not a bad few days.  The fish were taken on fairly standard feeder tactics; long hooklinks and double 12mm caviar pellets.  The barbel fought like stink. Some of the hardest fights I can remember ever having.  I lost another good double right at the net, as it powered away for one last dive and the hook pulled, despite a well-set clutch.  Gutted!

11lb 10oz

Geoff didn’t fare so well but still managed barbel to over 9lbs and some chub and bream.  We seemed to have struggled recently on the Trent and we’re not quite sure why.  Perhaps maggots may have been more successful in the clear water conditions?

We have done a number of trips up to the Wye this year and found that sport was also slow there, generally speaking.  I think between Geoff, Kevin and myself we have had the odd good day, taking upwards of a dozen barbel to one angler.  However more often than not we’ve been scratching around for 2 or 3 fish.  This is rather unusual for the Wye, to say the least!  Again it could be the conditions; apparently, the Wye has had the lowest oxygen levels for the past 70 years.  I don’t know how true that is but it obviously would have a severely detrimental effect on the fishing.  The other reason being a lack of ability!

A recent Wye fish

With the winter fast approaching the barbel rods will be hung up for the remainder of the season.  There may be an occasional barbel session if the weather proves to be mild enough.  Now I’m looking forward to some grayling fishing on the Frome and some chub and roach fishing on the Avon.

The Avon





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My second trip to the river was going to be on the mighty Trent, on a section controlled by Worksop.  It’s a really nice spot and the deep water is on the near side bank, which makes a nice change.  No need to throw a 5oz feeder 3/4 of the way across the river.  Even just a rod length out in places, the depth drops to a murky 12 feet or so.  One things for sure; the fish seem to fight even harder in these depths and with a good flow a decent bend in the rod is guaranteed.

A Worksop stretch of the Trent

A Worksop stretch of the Trent

On this trip Geoff and I were joined by Kev.  He’s not in the best of health at the moment, so on those odd trips when he can join us, we are delighted to see him.  We were just having a two day trip here.  First off a visit to the local tackle shop, where I stocked up on feeders and bout 6 pints of red maggots.  With very little rain to speak of the river was still fairly clear and I thought a particle approach may pay dividends.  The best thing of all is the price of maggots here; just £2.20 per pint and if you get a gallon they go down to an incredible £1.75!

So armed and dangerous (well almost) we headed off to our stretch.  Only one car was parked and that could easily be a dog walker, so we had the whole stretch almost to ourselves.  A good recce and we each plumped for our chosen swims.  I was going for a two rod attack.  Fishing on the Trent is about the only time I fish two rods.  I prefer to concentrate on one and believe I fish much better that way.  However the Trent is a big river and I rarely find two rods a problem.  The upstream rod was going to be a big blockend feeder packed with maggots, 4 ft flurocarbon hooklink and a size 12 hook with a big bunch of red maggots.  On the downstream rod a similar set-up but with a cage feeder and coated braid hooklink and Cheese Mania 14mm double dumbbells as hook bait.  The feeder was packed with LA groundbait and 6 and 8mm caviar pellets.

The fishing over the two days proved to be fairly slow.  The first day was a mix of heavy showers and the odd spot of sunshine but very windy.  The second day the wind dropped and the skies cleared during the morning, with some cloud cover in the afternoon.  I kept changing baits but more or less stuck to the same line of attack in terms of casting.  With around 12ft of water out in front of me I opted to lob the baits out around 1-2 rod lengths out.  Any closer seemed to get snagged up more often than not.

Geoff seemed to make a good start with a bream and chub and a couple of barbel.  Just as a very heavy, squally shower started one of my rod hooped over and a very fit barbel was eventually subdued.  It looked around 8.5-9.5 but it was lashing it down and I wasn’t that desperate to confirm a weight or take a photo.  I was hoping this was the first a several more fish to come but I was sorely mistaken!  So thinking further opportunities for a photo would present itself the barbel was returned as quickly as possible and I dived back under the brolly.  That was the only barbel of the day for me, despite the conditions improving and by early evening looking really good for a fish or two.  I think Geoff lost a couple of fish and we decided to call it a day around 7.00pm.

The next morning was a little chilly at first but soon warmed up in the late autumn sunshine.  We opted for some different swims but still the fishing was a little slow.  I think Geoff once again seemed to get some action early on but suffered with fish loss as on the previous day.  Sadly Kevin also suffered a similar fate, loosing a couple of good fish to unseen snags.  I ended up swapping the maggots for a single banded 12mm caviar pellet and that seemed to help a bit.  I managed to tempt 2 barbel and a chub.  The maggots only producing a few perch and a nice looking roach.

A rather unusual blunt nose didn't stop this Trent barbel from feeding.

A rather unusual blunt nose didn’t stop this Trent barbel from feeding.

I think the final tally was three barbel and a chub for me and possibly 5 barbel and a chub for Geoff.  I’m sure he will correct me if I’m wrong.  So a little tough going but enjoyable nonetheless.  I’m certain that in the right conditions this stretch could throw up a very big barbel or two.  Time will tell.



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Another season draws to an end and all too quickly.  The years seem to fly by.  I remember, as I’m sure we all do, when in my younger days the adults would always proclaim that years pass far quicker when you’re older.  At the time it seemed a silly notion but I’m beginning to see the truth of that statement.

Geoff and I decided to see out the last session (for me anyway) on the Trent.  We have been fortunate with the weather over the last week or so; much better day time temperatures often reaching well into double figures and not too much rain.  The downside seemed to be close to zero night time temperatures which would obviously keep the water temps down too.  Despite that, a river like the Trent always gives you a chance of a fish or two.

I particularly like using maggots at this time of the year, providing the water isn’t too coloured.  A few pints of maggots with a liberal spray of Ocean Pride or Sausage Sizzle, can really produce a mixed bag; roach, dace, chub, bream and barbel love em too.  If you can keep a good steady trickle going in, it won’t take too long before the barbel move in and start hoovering them up.  To do this successfully you do need 5 or 6 pints though.  Down here in the south that would cost a small fortune.  Maggots are around £3.20 per pint at my local shop, compared to Nottingham where you’ll only pay about £1.50, less than half price.

I intended to fish one rod with a big maggot feeder with 6 or 7 maggots on a size 12 and on the other rod a double caviar pellet and groundbait feeder.  During the winter months I would introduce less groundbait than I would in the summer, however where maggots are concerned I tend to pile them in, so regular casting with a big feeder will start to pull the fish in.  In my groundbait mix I will put in  6mm and 8mm Lone Angler caviar pellets which I just mix into the dry groundbait and then add water creating a nice sticky mixture.  This stays in the feeder a bit longer and that way I don’t need to cast as much, perhaps every 20-30 minutes.  In the summer I would be casting every 5 minutes for the first hour and then down to 15 minutes after that.

Lone Angler Groundbait and Pellets

Lone Angler Groundbait and Pellets

My first choice of swim was between some trees, which offered me shelter from a very strong, chilly wind.  The temperature today was actually pretty good; around 12-15c but the wind chill made it feel much cooler at times.  Sadly this first swim was very tight and on a steep slope.  With heavy rain forecast for that afternoon I decided to move into a safer swim.  I moved upstream into an area I’ve done well in before.  By now it was around 1pm and with rain predicted for about 3pm onwards I thought I would quickly pop upstream to another stretch where pals Danny and Pete were fishing.  After a good chinwag, I returned to my swim to get some bait in and hope it would produce a fish or two.

On the way back I could hear the sound of a hunt horn sounding.  It seemed the hunt was on the other side of the river and I stopped to watch the dogs in action.  Several large stags broke cover and headed across the meadows followed closely by the pack dogs, which were by now baying like crazy as their excitement reached a crescendo.  The huntsmen were furiously blowing their bugle and eventually the dogs returned.  It certainly added a bit of excitement to the afternoons proceedings.

I returned to my swim and cast out both rods.  The noise opposite had died down and I watched what looked like a red kite flying just over the tree line.  I had a good view of the bird and I’m 95% certain it was a kite.  Geoff only caught a brief glimpse and he also felt it was a kite.  If so, it is the first we’ve seen of them here. (we saw a further one on our way home but not far from where we were fishing, so it makes it likely that the first sighting was indeed a kite).  Suddenly the left hand rod banged and the tip started dancing.  This was the maggot feeder rod and I pulled into the culprit.  It was a very spirited fight and resulted in a small barbel.  A couple more followed and they seemed to be getting a bit bigger.  Geoff reported that he too had caught a couple, one of which was 8lb 15oz.



It was great to catch and we hoped for maybe one or two more before the end of the session.  The forecast was not good, with heavy rain predicted between 3-6 pm.  However we were lucky, other than some steady drizzle and showers we passed the session more or less dry.  Suddenly my maggot rod whooped over and as I was playing the fish, the other rod went too.  A double hookup, always a bit of a commotion when this happens.  I lost the first fish in a snag, for a while I could feel the fish and then the fish was gone but I was still caught up in something.  Eventually it went solid and I pulled for a break.  I did however manage to land the 2nd fish.

I finished the session on 8 barbel, with the best two going 8lb 7oz and 9lb 6oz and a couple of 4lb+ chub.  Geoff managed five barbel to 9lb 10oz and chub, roach and bream.  Quite a mixed bag.  By 8.30 it was raining steadily but certainly only a heavy sort of drizzle.  We headed back to the car fairly pleased with the results.  Danny had tempted the only fish on the upper section but at 10lb 14oz it was a good ‘un at least.

After a hearty breakfast where fellow guest Dave aka Meddy Man joined us, we headed back to the river for just a couple of hours before heading off.  We were doubtful of catching much but thought it was worth a go for a short time.  The weather was good and the temperature at 9.30am was already around 12c and rose to 15c later in the day.  Out went two rods and I pinned my hopes on the maggot feeder.  I soon had a couple of roach and dace landed when my next strike connected with something much stronger and angrier.  After a really hard fight I landed and released a lovely 7lb 8oz barbel.  A couple more promising bites failed to produce a fish and it was time to go.

Ready for Action

Ready for Action

We attended Keith Speer’s funeral on our way home.  Keith did a huge amount for the Association of Barbel Fishers and both Geoff and I wanted to say our farewells to this great man.  We were astonished at the number of people attending, it must have been several hundred.  That really is a fitting tribute to a much loved and admired man.

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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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It was time to set the Sat Nav to ‘oop north’ and head up the A1M to Nottingham.  Robin Hood had his merry men.  I was stuck with, er I mean in the company of me old (very) mates Geoff and Kev.  And I’m only pulling their legs. Well it’s a bit like pulling the leg on a Christmas Turkey but without the stuffing.  Anyways, I digress.  They are great company and I’m lucky that they put up with me to be honest.

We had decided to fish the mighty river Trent for a few days.  I fished it earlier on in the season with Geoff and we had a reasonable result.  Now we were in to late September and with the river low and clear, we weren’t sure quite what to expect. Still we were looking forward to it, it’s a great river and the rewards can be quite astonishing sometimes.

We arrived late afternoon and after sorting out the caravan, made our way to the river.  It was early evening when we finally got bankside and so had to select a few swims fairly quickly.  My tactics were to use large open end feeders (Andy Witham’s) which are perfect for the Trent.  They would allow me to deposit quite large amounts of bait into the swim.  Using a 3 foot hook length and a size 12 hook, I fished 2 medium elips on the hair.  The feeder was stuffed with groundbait and pellets.  I then set up a second rod.  This was a light quiver and this time I used a single medium-sized elips, on a hair rigged band.  It was at this point that Geoff proudly showed us his home made feeders.  They were made from a golf club tube.  They certainly looked the part.  He was extolling the virtues of these wonderfully pliable feeders when he gave us the squeeze test on the tube of the feeder.  One gentle squeeze and the feeder exploded like cemtex, pieces flying everywhere.  After several minutes of choking laughter, we decided it was best to keep buying them for the time being!

The evening proved slow for me.  Both Geoff and Kevin kept in constant contact via the walkie talkies.  They were doing reasonably well, catching fairly regularly.  I on the other hand, was struggling.  The first bite turned out to be on the quiver and a hard fighting barbel put up a great struggle on the light tackle.  Still, eventually I managed to get it in.  It turned out to be a nice fit barbel of about 6lbs.  Later I took a further 3 fish and 2 chub on the main rod.  Meanwhile Geoff was bagging up.   It was like fishing with Bob Nudd or Bill Nuddy as Dan would say!  He ended up with 10 fish including a stunning Trent barbel weighing in at 10lb 11oz.  Kevin managed 8 fish to well over 8lbs.

So the following afternoon, after a rather large lunch, we waddled down to the river again.  Fortunately the chair held out and the fishing commenced.  It was a very windy day, to say the least.  Still we stuck it out until about 11.30pm.  This time I managed to just pip the others, taking 6 barbel.  Geoff ended with 4 and Kevin just the one.  So it was an early night. Back to the caravan for a cuppa and a bowl of cereal.  Oh yes, we know how to live the big time!

Day 3 saw us arrive after yet another gut busting lunch.  I felt like the Cholesterol Kid.  Still a walk up river would burn off at least 3 calories, so all was not lost.  I like to maintain an athletic physique.  Well it’s hidden under several layers of fat obviously.  I selected a swim (I could walk no further) and first cast produced a very fit 6lb+ barbel.  Then I never had a another bite over the next 3 hours.  Geoff had headed to an area that I wanted to fish the night before with Kevin.  However age and unfitness got the better of us and we decided not to bother.  What a mistake.

Geoff had 7 barbel, whilst Kevin and I struggled.  I couldn’t get a bite, so decided to move to the swim I had fancied the previous evening, only to find Geoff ensconced in one just above it.  I checked to see if he minded me fishing below him.  He didn’t….well initially.  First cast and I was in.  Second cast and I was in.  Whilst reloading the feeder, the other rod went.  Then after re-casting both rods, they both went.  After sorting that mess out, one of the rods whacked over yet again.  That was six fish in what seemed like 5 minutes.  It wasn’t, obviously, but it sure did feel like it.

Shortly after I had another barbel and whilst playing it Geoff lost a big fish.  He was already cursing and mumbling and chuntering away as I kept hooking fish.  At this point it was getting dark and I felt compelled to move before Geoff re-enacted the Texas Chain Saw Massacre with his pen knife on me.  However there were no decent, accessible swims close by.  I offered to swap places with Geoff but he declined.  The fishing continued but luckily Geoff got in on the action too.  By now I had dispensed with the cage feeders and opted for a 70g blockend.  I filled this with a mixture of pellets, but mainly large ones.  The idea being that the scent would draw the fish in, rather than groundbait.  The problem with groundbait is it gets dispersed very easily, after being washed away out of your swim.  By using the blockend you are guaranteed a scent trail just a short distance from your hook bait.  It can be very effective.

It was at this time Kevin called to say he had a nice double in the net.  I popped down to do the old Lord Snowdon and the fish was a beaut at 10lb 6oz.  Well done Kevin.  I returned to my swim and by the end of the night I ended up with 18 barbel to about 8lbs and around 7/8 good-sized chub.  Geoff finished with 14 and Kevin 11.  All in all, not a bad nights fishing.  We headed back to the caravan feeling pretty satisfied.  Geoff felt a bit deprived as I had pinched a few of his fish.  Sorry mate.

We headed home on the Friday already looking forward to our next adventures in Robin Hood country.

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