Location, location, location on small rivers (Entry 5)

When it comes to small rivers finding the fish is the most important thing there. Whether it be locating a shoal of dace, sussing out where the winter chub are holding up or in this case, crashing through the Himalayan balsam in order to squeeze into a likely looking barbel swim. Having fished the small River Dane for two seasons now for its barbel and chub, I’ve come to understand if the fish aren’t there you won’t catch them. Baiting and waiting could and does work, but with the fish being very nomadic, it’s hit and miss. Yes, it’s time to travel light to get bites.

Yesterday evening I turned up to one of my favourite stretches to put the above into practice. The swim above is the one that produced the fish. But I will say that I baited and fished eight swims in the two hours I was there. It’s hard work, up and down steep banks, getting stung by nettles and brambles, bitten by insects and for the most part the tip will be motionless, except for the odd tap from small chub. But don’t despair. If you’ve put your bait in the right swims, crept in and out of them quietly, rest assured, it won’t have gone unnoticed and any barbel in the vicinity are sure to be aware.

Rig wise I use a simple braid hooklength, its length varying depending on conditions, and tied to it a Drennan barbel specialist hook. The size of the hook is once again dictated by bait and conditions. A lead of one ounce is usually adequate to hold bottom and it’s semi fixed but fish safe. Something that I always do however regardless of the conditions is use olivettes to pin down the mainline. They’re heavy and sink the line fast. They also slide off the line should any breakage occur. Barbel do not like to brush against the line so I give my rig every opportunity to be out of the way of them.

On this session, it was a swim I’d never fished before that produced, and it was the only one that did. After quietly creeping into the swim and swinging the half ounce lead just on the fringe of the trees, again as quietly as possible, I let out a small bow of line and placed the rod in the rest. This peaceful scene was disturbed minutes later as the rod tip started shaking and a powerful fish was on.

The barbel above weighed 8lb 12oz and while nationally this might not be a massive fish for the Dane, where a double is rare, I was over the moon. Incidentally the icing on the cake happened on the next cast. Once a fish is caught from a swim I usually don’t have another cast and move on to the next swim, but it just felt as if the swim hadn’t been disturbed too much. I cast in as I had before. After ten minutes I felt a gentle vibration on the line. I always hold the rod and have the line hooked over my index finger just to feel more ‘connected’ to the end tackle. I struck and lifted into what was obviously a chub. After a tame battle in comparison to the barbel I landed my PB chub at 5lb12oz. I’m certainly hoping that it will be a six by winter. And who knows they may even go bigger.

Until next time,



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