Monday, 28 October 2013

Barbel - Keeping a promise

I am still playing catch up with the blog and finally getting closer to bringing it up to date.

I would say that living in Berkshire has some positives and one of those is being central to a lot of different river venues, Kennet, Loddon and Thames are all local to me and I would consider myself very lucky to have those rivers along with others nearby.

It was a very wet September day as I made my way down the Loddon and a couple of thoughts preoccupied my mind, the main one being a promise I had made to a couple of young chaps whom I had fished with a while ago in Essex, they do not have any good barbel rivers in their vicinity and I had promised them a trip down to my area and perhaps put them on to a  pb barbus, always a bit of a tall order when you put your river on the spot. My other thought was where to cast a line this time and I decided to head a way downstream to fish an area that whilst nice, does usually produce a terrible amount of crayfish activity at times, I was however hoping on this occasion that the extra rain would keep them from being too lively.

One rod out on meat and the other on a home rolled boilie was the plan, it became evident though that the meat was not going to survive the clawed encounters and as I had no bait mesh I decided to change both rods to boilie, just to survive the crayfish interest that bit longer, however this did not deter them.

Rain fell steady on the umbrella, droplets of water gradually finding its way in through the seams,a mental note of seam sealer and fabsil was made, although to be fair it has been a good cheap umbrella, bought at the time for £10 and fully in the knowledge that it would get used a lot and a bit mistreated at times, it has weathered bramble and hawthorns well.

As the rain finally abated and sun appeared, one of my rods signaled that something was going to snaffle the bait, sure enough the rod hooped round and a lively fight ensued as the fish charged off downstream like a headstrong teenager. The culprit a very pretty barbel (8.15) and it was in fin perfect condition.

Despite fishing a a few hours into darkness there was no more activity apart from pesky crayfish  which seemed hellbent on wrestling my baits off, I was very happy though, a fish from a spot that does not always produce was more than welcome, especially one in such glorious condition.

I will admit now that I do not fish with many people, maybe I am a bit of a loner, but those few whom I have fished with I do enjoy their company, both George and Fred would fall into this category. 

It was a few weeks later when they made the journey down from Essex, we planned on fishing into darkness and then early morning switching rivers to do a spot of fishing on the Blackwater. As we made our way to the river, the air was filled with enthusiastic chatter and a few laughs along the way.
My mind was thinking where to put us all, too close and it would be too much pressure, to far apart and the trip would feel less like a social, but I dearly wanted at least one of them to have a chance at a fish. I eventually decided on a middle ground whereby I could get to either of the chaps swims quickly should they require any help, but at the same time maintaining  a bit of space between each of us.

It was around 4pm by the time we all got set up and it was not long before George was tucking into a tinned curry and Fred was into his first fish on maggot, a lovely roach of 11ozs, not a mark on it, a  perfect bar of silver. As evening drew in the conditions were perfect, cloudy and so very mild, so much so that the three of us were in either shirt or light fleeces. I had my fingers crossed that the lads would get their chance and sure enough at around 11pm I heard the sound of action in George's swim, he had a barbel on, this fish had charged downstream and weeded him up a couple of times, I grabbed the landing net in anticipation, only for us to both see this fish slip the hook and swim off. Gutted was not the word, I let out a few expletives and said to George  "sorry mate, that looked like a pb too".

In the back of my mind I wondered if he would get a second bite of the apple. At around 2am he did and this time the fish was sat recuperating in the net, George was elated.

One happy angler
On lifting the net, I mentioned to George "definitely a pb got to be around 10 or 11lb". The scales did not disagree as they settled on 11.6, a new personal best and then some for him!

A couple of hearty handshakes and the scene was completed as we watched her swim off strongly. The rest of the night sped past as it usually does in good company and after a pleasant result, by morning, apart from a rogue pike making off with Fred's rig, it was a quiet one as we all packed up.
A quick trip back home for a welcome cup of tea and biscuit or two and we was soon ready to be off along the Blackwater. I have to say I was a  shattered to say the least and was glad we had picked the start of the weekend for this.

So many spots to try but not so much time as Fred's parents were due to pick him and George up at around 5pm. We roved many spots and plenty of fish fell to a mixture of link ledgered worm and maggot, including chub, perch and some super sized gobio.

Between us we also had a couple of better chub, which were brilliant sport in the steady flow, the first one taken by rolling the link ledger under some far bank debris, which resulted in a fairly savage bite and a really good tussle (3.4). Thanks to George for doing the honours with his camera.

Later on I decided we should move downstream, I really wanted Fred to pick up a decent chub and the area has given up fish to me of over 5lb. Fred had a very good bite in one of these swims, but unfortunately the fish snagged him in debris and the hook pulled. I could see he was disconsolate at the thought that he may have lost a good fish and I truly felt his pain.

A call was heard from another swim and it became apparent that George had landed a short, stocky fish that was in beautiful condition (3.12)

This was the last fish of the trip and as we made our way home we was pretty knackered, but very happy and still chatting infectiously about fishing. My sincerest apologies to Fred, I really wish you had got that pb chub you so dearly wanted mate, but there is always next time and we can try again without a doubt guys.


  1. Some nice fish there Mark, pity Fred didn't get his fish but as you so rightly say, there's always next time. Cracking gudgeon too :o)

    1. Cheers Dave, to be fair I enjoyed seeing Georges face light up when he landed the pb more than anything. The gudgeon are just superb in that little river some real clonkers, you simply cannot beat their mother of pearl coloration either.

  2. Another good read Mark, and that gudgeon is massive!

    1. Hello there Darren,

      You're not wrong there, this river has some perfectly formed and very handsome gudgeon and as always they punch well above their weight. Best of luck for your Wye trip this weekend mate.

  3. No worry's mate the company was the main thing was a great trip and hopefully we can arrange another session soon.