Monday 2 September 2019

Summer/Autumn barbel campaign (part 1)

My close season was very quiet compared to last years and was mainly spent working on the house. A new gravel pit was recced with thoughts of targeting the supposedly non existent eels in there, but being a pike rod short and struggling for time I only managed two early spring tench sessions.

Both sessions were hard work in less than ideal conditions, both during a cold snap with bitter northerlies blowing. This pit is choked with low lying weed and is definitely a challenge to present a bait, small method feeders seemed the best option and I managed my only tench on one during these sessions.

An early spring gravel pit tench (5.02lb) which looks like it has had an encounter with an otter
With the new season approaching barbel were the only species I was thinking about. Plenty of time was spent sorting gear, preparing bait and planning sessions for the upcoming months. I didn’t really need to spend much time thinking about targets for the campaign, trips to the Trent would be spent trying to beat my overall p.b, the majority of my sessions would be spent locally, aiming for my first double from this river. A few sessions on local(ish) rivers would be used as a change of scene, exploring new venues and trying to get my first barbel from a new river.

Unable to get a midnight start on the 16th I headed out late evening on opening day, as usual these first sessions are a struggle with very little interest and plenty of otter activity. My second outing a few days later saw a couple of decent chub landed but a large barbel lost due to a loop knot failure!

I always check my rigs and mainline, before and during sessions so was at a loss at how the line broke. The fluoro hooklength snapped about half an inch below the figure of eight loop knot, which was inside an anti tangle sleeve. A real kick in the balls as it was a good fish, possibly a double, it took a few days to get over that lost fish as fish of that size don’t come around too often on this river.

Next time out I managed my first of the season, nothing of size but a fine looking fish and a bit of a confidence booster. A few decent chub made for a good session.

After that first barbel was landed I started catching fairly regularly, not as many or as often as last season but definitely a larger average size this season.



5.07lb, a new river best


A good start to the season with barbel approaching 9lb and lots of good chub including a new river best of 5.07lb and plenty over the 5lb mark.

A nice looking fish during one of my rare daytime sessions
One of two 5lb plus chub on this session

The decent run continued during July, again less fish than last year, but generally of a greater size. A different feeding approach than previous seasons has no doubt helped attract barbel of a larger size, the chub have responded as well, catches of 5lb plus fish becoming the norm.

My last session in July and a visit to a forgotten peg, very overgrown and seemingly overlooked by everyone else this season. Only the one take during the session but a cracking fish which had me in the marginal reeds a few times before reluctantly going into the net.

I punched the air as I looked into the net, certain that I had caught my first double from this river, but the scales didn’t make it that far round and stopped short at 9.10lb! Obviously I rested the fish, re-zeroed the avons and weighed the fish again, 9.10lb. A new river best but a slight feeling of disappointment as I was sure this was the double I have been searching for.

After catching that new river best I decided on a change of scenery for my next session and headed to a new stretch of a river that I’ve only barbel fished once before. In the past this river used to be fairly productive but as with most waters round here has been heavily impacted by the otters/mink.

The river was in great condition fining down after a recent flood, still carrying a few foot, but it looked great. This fishing was hard with lots of weed making its way downstream and despite carrying only a few feet of extra water I needed 5oz + to hold bottom for anything more than 10 minutes.

I was surprised when the upstream rod screamed off, even more surprised when it was a barbel.

A first from a difficult river, hopefully more will follow in the future

The barbel only went 6.05lb but I wasn’t bothered, my first from this river and the fish was immaculate somehow avoiding the many otters this river supports.

I also had another take, but the hook pulled after 30 seconds. Despite the fish feeling heavier I wasn't too disappointed as I was still elated with that first fish.

This post updates the blog to the beginning of August, I'm planning on posting part 2 at the end of September. I am also planning a post about bait, methods and tactics I've been using this season. I've also been using a couple of new rods, which I am very pleased with so will try and post something about those as well.