Still tracking down the barbel (Entry 11)

Another venture onto a local small river this week in search of some barbel. Although with all the heavy rain we have had over the past few days, tactics had to change to accomodate the river conditions. Let me explain.

I had planned on fishing the weirpool on tonights session, and in the end this is what I did do, but I would have prefered a little less flow on the water. I said what would prefer but I am not a barbel and in hindsight I think I had some favourable conditions to get the barbel in a feeding mood. As I have only just started fishing the river I dont really know how many barbel are in the river, I am guessing not very many so I have decided to systematically fish different swims on each visit to get any idea on the stock density.

I concentrated tonights session on that far bank eddy. It took a lead of 1.5oz to hold bottom comfortably and the bottom was clean gravel. The river was about a foot up from my last visit and had a fair amount of colour in it. To my eyes it looked like perfect conditions for a barbel, if there were any present. There was also a nice looking crease swim at the bottom of the run off and I was able to trickle in some pellets during the few hours I spent fishing the eddy so that, on walking back to the car after dusk, I could have that famous ‘one last cast’.

The rig for tonight was very simple, it doesn’t need to be complicated when fishing for barbel in these conditions. The tackle however does need to be strong, especially fishing in a weirpool where snags abound and the current can be very strong. For this reason I dispensed my usual braid hooklength in favour of a more durable and reliable monofilament. I also like to make the length no longer than 18 inches, but ideally 12 inches, again just for extra security and less chance of it finding and snags or debris. Above the hooklength its just a simple safety lead clip that is fixed on a size 8 swivel bolt rig style. Lastly, I use a rubber waggler stop a few feet above the lead to stop any weed being washed down the river dislodging the lead. It just gives you more time in the water fishing, and less time cleaning rubbish off the end tackle.

So I hooked on a small PVA bag of pellets and crushed boilies and cast out into the eddy. It felt right. It looked right. But as dusk arrived I still hadn’t had any indications. The swim at the end of the weirpool, which I had been priming all evening, was now my last hope. I decided to move into it and hope that with it now being dark that any resident barbel will have moved from the sanctuary of the branches in search of the free offerings.

No its not a black rectangle, above is an attempt to photograph the run off swim. You can just about make out my rod on the left. It truly amazes me how fish feed in the dark. Swirling water, debris, coloured water, yet they can still smell and pick out the foot items. Except for tonight maybe as I didn’t have a bite.

On the drive home I pondered the session. I felt as though I had fished well and read the river good enough. Bait choice seemed spot on too, large and strong smelling baits, with bags of strong smelling, oily pellets. And I thought the conditions were perfect for a barbel. So in conclusion either I missed the barbels feeding spell, it may have happened as the river rose during the previous night, or there was not any barbel present where I was presenting my bait. Either way I enjoyed the session and learnt a lot about the river. I shall be returning to the stretch throughout september for quick sessions after the barbel.

Until next time,



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