Sunday, 29 August 2021

River Derwent Double, That's A Wrap!!


 On the quiet a plan has been slowly building to do a small tour of some of t' northern rivers, chiefly the R.Derwent but also one or two of the lesser known waterways where Barbel do reside and more importantly, double figure Barbel. The last few weeks I've spent collating info where I can and also a couple of local anglers have given me snippets of info to go on, for example what club books are hooey and what ones are worth investing in.

 Before I made the 204 mile trip to the Dearne sandwiched in between Barnsley and Rotherham an impromptu diversion was made to the R.Lea, of course good Barbel are known to live here so I really fancied my chances of getting off to a great start. After getting lost and costing me 40 minutes of extra walking I finally reached the area I had earmarked to fish ( google earth is your friend, that is of course the map is the correct way up....), with that very very blonde moment firmly behind me I got to finding the potential fish holding areas and not before long I had stumbled over a classic looking Barbel swim, decent gravel run, deeper than most of the section and plenty of cover.

 So when I settled into the peg all I could think about was how big and how many I was going to catch...the Chub however did not read the script and along with the numerous now deceased Crayfish decided my dreams of a Barbel would not come to fruition, nevertheless when they are this big one can really really not complain!!

 My first R.Lea six pluser and a back up upper five pounder ( 5lb 11oz ) to boot!.

6lb 2oz Crayfish muncher.
 After 5 hours of persistent Crayfish interference I decided it was time to get on the road and eat up those miles! 3hrs later I had arrived on the R.Dearne, a river not so well known but has the potential to throw up enormous fish out of nowhere, but more importantly some good back up fish to fall back on if my hopes of a 16lb+ specimen are dashed.

  Wonderful swims like this greeted me as I roved around in between moderate rain showers (on a 2/3day fishing bender, having wet gear ain't fun!!) with the hope of finding a Barbel but with the increasingly colouring up river my chances seem to be diminishing as the afternoon wore on. I am reliably informed that those conditions are not great at all, low and clear strangely seems to be the Barbel' preferred feeding time and they say every river is different! This is no different. Arriving from the R.Lea around 9am I set about rolling meat through the numerous weed beds to try and tempt a Barbel out of hiding. This process to find one took longer than I thought as the first 3 hours yielded nothing but one Chub (4lb+), but then my chance came in the shape of a Barbel around 8/9lb mark, not quite my target size but an opener on a new river some 4hrs from home, fortunately for the fish my technique was lacking and as its nose buried in the ribbon weed to take my lump of meat no bite was indicated until it was too late, I watched the Barbel then come up in the water column with the bait in its mouth but the bow in the line was too great and I didn't have direct contact with the fish and the opportunity was gone, in fact that chance turned out to be the only one on the Barbel front on the R.Dearne! 

 This beauty of a Carp however did also fall to a lump of rolled meat, something special !
What a little stunner.

 As 4pm approached I felt like I needed to get back on the road, with 55miles of unpredictable M1 south traffic and accident riddled roads I knew if I wanted to get into one of the good night pegs I needed to get there a couple of hours before dusk, so I could set up and get settled, hoping for a sleepless night! 

Base Camp and waiting for Ol' Bertie.

 This section of the Derwent is heavily fished and not before long I was flanked by anglers up and down of me, not my kind of fishing but given my limited knowledge of the river it was the best I could do, assured it was a good night section I stuck it out and waited, waited and more waiting when I decided at 0130 that it wasn't going to happen and with a distinct hint of Autumn slowly creeping closer I retreated to the car for some much needed sleep. 37 hours, no kip, hundreds of miles driven, work, fishing etc. 

 I awoke from my uncomfortable sleep in the car to a bright sunny morning with that chill in the air still present but easing off as the sun got higher, plan for what is now yesterday (Saturday) morning was to travel light, simple rolling meat gear and a camera, do what I do best and seek out the fish. The main river looked excellent but didn't carry enough flow for my tactic so I had to seek out swifter water to execute my plan and that was to try and find a Barbel as I did not feel confident that a static approach would be wise. 

 Conditions for rolling meat were actually spot on, clear sunny skies, light warm wind and a clear river allowed me to scan the river bed with my polaroids. I decided to walk up to the very top to begin with to a weir, but in just the second swim I checked I found a big Barbel just holding station on the gravel run, a certain double and my Derwent target just sat there, waiting to be caught! Without hesitation I was fishing and my rolled bait was heading closer to the fish, for me I was poised and ready to strike imminently, the meat inched ever closer to the awaiting fish when it began to back away from the bait and then turned away to the far bank margins where I lost sight of it, for the next 20 minutes I rolled that 15 yard section real hard but it didn't happen for me and the chance by this point was gone, a pretty painful one to take, so close yet, so far.

 Having not been able to make that sighting count I trudged off upstream looking in every nook and cranny, hoping to find another as the sense of potential failure began to play on my mind. There is however not many better ways to settle a score than to get another chance! downstream of said weir there was a large canopy that I rolled down to and on the first roll the bait got down maybe 30 yards and then I had a violent tug that was struck firmly and the power in the flow would suggest a Barbel was now battling away in the strong flow, my heart was in my mouth big time! 

 As the fish began to come out of the main flow the battle slightly weakened and quickly became clear as to why those powerful downstream runs didn't happen, it was a Chub, but a big Chub. Slight sour taste to begin with that it wasn't a Barbel but I was fairly delighted when it cruised into the net.

6lb 7ozs, Certainly can't be disappointed with that fish.

  A very nice Chub indeed and another six on my travels since Thursday night. I released that Chub and then continued on downstream, fishing hard and pretty well too as the cobwebs in my rolling meat technique were being blown away well and truly. Roughly 45 mins later I found myself rolling a very tight run with a raft of floating vegetation on the far bank and got the chance to tuck a bait under the raft and then roll the bait down the gravel gully where I could feel the bait bouncing freely in between the weed beds that I found a couple of times, even without seeing the bottom as I was at water level I was beginning to picture the topography mentally and knew if there was a fish present I stood a chance in between the weed beds, then out of nothing! I got a little tap on the finger, felt the bait stop, so I gave it a tiny lift when the rod immediately responded with a sharp lurch down stream! 

 This, was no Chub and I knew it straight away, my polaroids steamed up as my heart rate and body temp shot through the roof, panic was not quite settling in to begin with but the weight of what I was connected to started to worry me though, then it came up under my feet as it cleared the marginal reeds about 3 minutes into the battle and strewth!!! A huge dirty great big Barbel and my god, what a sight! but no sooner did I see it she powered back off downstream and stripping 30 yards of line, she did this twice and the entire time I spent trying to keep my knees steady, this really was a shot I couldn't pass up, she simply had to come in. Playing her steady every time she went down I gradually allowed her line, but not too much that I was in control for the remainder of the fight and then the time came to ship out the net, one last wind down and lift which guided the head into the net and in one giant scoop my R.Derwent target had been achieved, I didn't even need to weigh it to know that :-) 

That smile is still etched across my mush now.

 I HAD DONE IT AND IN INCREDIBLE STYLE TOO!!! On both sets of scales she registered 13lb 13ozs and true river monster, a fish I will not forget in a hurry, it was turning out to be my very best mornings fishing in a long time. River number 9 has been achieved, I can't still believe it. Some river, some fish, some trip!!

 In a state of shock that I only had just gone and done it again I sat down, had a steak and ale pie with some water and laid back on the very uncomfortable ground, looked at the sky and thanked the Barbel gods for continuing to sponsor my efforts. However, that was going to be that, I was ready to pack up and head for the car and make the journey down to the R.Lea once again to make the most of this purple patch before the blanks start to pile up again, there was one last thing I wanted to check out and that was that Barbel I didn't get earlier on in the morning and what do you bloody well know! I peered into the swim and she was in the exact same position, no two invitations were needed to give it a quick go and the first cast was a travesty, thankfully it didn't spook her, second roll was right on the money and as it approached the Barbel the fish began to slowly ease up to the bait (maybe 2ft away) when another black shape came from downstream marginal reeds and head butted the Barbel out of the way to take the bait, I couldn't make out what it was to begin with and then I saw it in front of me, it was THEE biggest Chub I've ever seen in my life in the flesh, 2/3ft down in the water column it looked huge and as she came up to the surface it just kept getting bigger, THIS WAS A MONSTER!

 The Barbel was massive, this was equally as massive, my head and mind were totally blown, fried, mashed god I didn't know what had hit me, what I did know is that I love the Derwent! I had a very strong feeling that when that Chub finally slipped over the rim of the net I had caught my first 7lb+ Chevin! And I was not wrong, if I wasn't already in dreamland I was certainly dancing on the moon now! 
 Well, I just could not hide my delight of what I was holding, 7lb 4ozs. It was huge! long, wide and deep, nothing else for me to say. I had had the best mornings fishing of my life, period and I've had some red letter days over the years, this has to be number one, bar none.

A real pretty place, I felt quite privileged to be there.

 I could not have asked for a better outcome on the R.Derwent, the drive back down to the R.Lea from Derby was fairly uneventful and soon found myself trudging the banks of the Fishers Green section in search of a Barbel, but nothing materialised, I could not be unhappy with that ending and the Lea is very close to a lot of my work, so I'll get plenty of time to bag a R.Lea double yet. Until then I'll feed off the positives of this wonderful trip that I had embarked on, it'll live long in the memory.


  1. What a trip! What a session! So much going on it’s hard to comment - another barbel checked off - but that chub!! What a magnificent fish - your face in the photo says it all - top stuff!!!!

    1. I know, it is a trip I will never forget, yes, it’s a lot and did think of splitting it up in to two parts, but best to keep it all as one. I simply can’t believe it happened and on a river I have never stepped foot on. I don’t think I’ll ever top that mornings fishing.

    2. I think you wrote more there than I write all season! Lovely barbel as well - nearly a quarter of the way through the challenge.

    3. Yes, it is a lot but couldn’t work out how to break it down as it’s all interlinked!

      If I can get my next river checked off the list I am 25% of the way through, a long long way to go but feel confident I will achieve it in the end.

  2. Two sixes beforehand then a 13lb barbel and a 7lb chub, not a bad day I suppose :o) Did you buy a lottery ticket on your way home?

    1. I should have done, it’s a session I think I’ll struggle to top. Firmly sat on top of cloud 9!!

  3. A memorable session James, a cracking Barbel and another and one more down on the river list and a PB chub, an enjoyable read too

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Still trying to conjugate the adjectives to describe it all…it may come to me a few weeks 😅. It was a result beyond my wildest dreams and expectations of what a new river could bring.

  4. Amazing trip and what a story to read! I actually had to read it twice. well done on all fronts, a real red letter day

    1. It was a lot to write about, didn’t think I’d be so successful to tell the truth and it could have been even better if I’d converted that chance on the Dearne. Hopefully there will be plenty more where that came from!

  5. Replies
    1. Haha! Thought the Chub wouldn’t do it for you 😜. But the Barbel, what a fish she is.

  6. Loved that, what an effort you put in and what rewards! :)

  7. Some trip that, matey!

    A "well done" doesn't seem adequate somehow but one thing is for sure, this kind of so-called 'luck' doesn't come to everyone, and there's a reason for that.

    1. I think I have ran of superlatives to describe the catch if I’m being honest and none have encapsulated how I actually feel. A long time coming? Maybe, who knows. By god I’ve put enough time in on the bank to do it. The stars aligned and I got “lucky”, those fish could have been 3lb chub and a 7lb barbel….luckily for me this time, they weren’t.


A Change of Scenery.

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