Yesterday morning I woke up with the intention of going fishing for a Barbel off of my local river in which I have'nt had one from for over a month, too long in my book so the challenge was set and 6.30am I left home with my trotting rod in search of a beard.
The weather was perfect for rolling as the sky was clear and sunny, the river was low and gin clear so spotting them in the shallower water was fairly easy once you located them amongst the runs of weed, but I didn't have long unfortunately because I had a match with a 1.30 ko so I had about until 11am and for the first hour of so I was getting plagued by Chub between 2/3lb keep grabbing the bait everytime I tryed a swim it's although every swim yesterday was crammed with Chub don't know where they've been hiding but come the winter they will be one of my target species especially the 5lb+ variety.
As the morning progressed I did start to find the Barbel held up in little shoals of 2 to 3 per group but mostly ignored the bait with the occasional bit interest but no clear cut chances, they are starting to wise up!, around 8.30ish I did manage to find a feeder and with a very accurate cast between two runs of ribbon weed it landed straight on her head and sucked it in with no hesitation, Barbel on and immediately seemed like that it had no idea that it was hooked because the fight was very uncharactistic with a slow plod around for a minute or two and she was in the net.
An old 6.14 Barbel ( room for plenty growth ).
The Barbel I had would easily be recognised because it was blind in the right eye, may that excuse the fish for it's pathetic fight?, certainly didn't hinder it's attempt of eating my bait that's for sure.
Time was pushing on and with that in mind I moved on upwards and kept rolling to find another fish by around 10am I did and it turned out to be a Chub of about 3lb all morning I had avoided catching them but this one obviously was very hungry, so I unhooked that swiftly and slipped it back in and next cast same again I rolled through and a Barbel about 6lb nailed my bait, nearly taking the top of my finger off!.
2 minutes later it was gone........ "oh you f*****", not the ideal outcome but I know it wasn't fail hooked because I watched the bait disappear into it's mouth, so I came to the conclusion that it was finely lip hooked, such as life, but when I hooked that fish it spooked a few fish out the cover and one of the fish was a real lump an easy double I reckoned it to be between 11/12lb massive frame so my pallet was well and truly wet after seeing that but losing that fish seemed to have put the rest off. The rest of my alloted time passed and it was time to pack up and play some football, it was our league cup first round at home so another cup run this season beckoned.
Later on that day...........
We bloody lost that game and I was an unused sub much to my disappointment and after scoring last week in a 3-1 win at Redhill Town I thought that a start was on the cards, evidentally not, so after being very fustrated for the middle of the day I'm going fishing again.
So for the evening and night I was to change my tactics and use my nearly secret Big Barbel rig as I call it, as it was the same rig that caught doubles last season and my 14lb 6oz Barbel off of the Hampshire Avon in September, it couldn't fail, could it? only the next few hours would determine that so I got set up in swim number 1 and prepared myself slowly to make sure everything was right and I was starting in the swim that I saw that big Barbel in earlier in the day, so I was in with a chance of catching a good fish tonight and I had to wait nearly 2 hours for my first fish, my rod slammed around very confidently and Barbel number one was on, but was it the big one?, I wasn't sure it was because it stormed around 20 yrds downstream then upstream 20yrds absolutely mental stripping line off my spool and I was powerless to do anything to stop it, so I had to left it fight itself into the net which it did. 7lb 6oz of a pure powerhouse, you can tell it's getting cold the rusky hat is out.
Re-baited and back out for another fish in the same spot and primed with all the trimmings, when about half hour approached my rod tip started to shudder and then slowly pull around but not too much, so after about 10 seconds I thought it must be a couple of leaves when I leaned into pick up the rod it slammed around again, perfect timing I thought and fish number 2 on, straight away I knew it was a bigger fish the fight was so different much slower and more powerful than the first ( if that was possible ), whilst I was playing the fish I was talking to Stu on the phone during the take and the fight (phone tucked into my hat) giving him a running commentary of the battle, twice it came up towards the surface and dived back down and holding the bottom but on this rig she was always going to be landed I haven't lost one on this rig yet.
The net was ready and so was the Barbel, I guided it in first time put onto the mat it was the double I saw earlier in the day, a massive frame and a lovely specimen for sure, so without hesitation I got the scales out still on the phone to Stu at this point, on the scales she registered 10lb 8oz after deducting my net, happy days!!!.
A lovely fish for sure with space to fill out aswell just like the Barbel in the morning, clearly they've got plenty of feeding to do between now and March next year.
It took a while for the fish to recover but for the scrap it produced you have to take care of them and allow as much time as it takes for them to expell all the gases built up during the fight or they'll keel over, when it did recover it swam off nice and strong upstream and with that I packed up and headed downstream to fish a few other swims, I walked about a mile or so down and came to a known swim for me and set-up and cast out and within 10minutes I was in again the set-up was really doing the business, a couple of minutes later Barbel number 3 was on the bank.
A pristine kindergarten resident at 4lb 7oz.
I packed up immediately moved further downstream to a swim that I haven't fished much due to the lack of time available to me recently before today's trips I hadn't been Barbel fishing in over a month excluding the Royalty week, but I spent a good hour in the latest swim without as much as a sniff, it was starting to get very cold so I packed and went home a happy bunny.