Because the barbel seemed to be getting smaller during my sessions on the tidal Trent, my next short evening stint was on the middle parts of the river.
It was mainly a recce with a couple of mates and before I had set my gear up one of them, Danny, had landed a fish of 11lb 8oz. Talk about a good start! Needless to say I hurried up and was soon settling into a swim off the beaten path. There were several comfortable swims cut into the rocks at the edge of the river, but I fancied trying next to an overhanging tree, despite the bank being a bit steep and slippery. There was extra water on the river, but it wasn’t very coloured. This made me think one or two fish might be sitting under the tree, at least until darkness fell.
The pace of the water took me by surprise. 5oz feeders were struggling to hold the bottom so I ended up fishing just ten yards from the bank. A few feeders full of damp pellets were placed in my swim and I sat back to see if any barbel would respond. Just as the light started to fade a knock on my downstream rod was followed by another, and then the 3ft twitch! The 2lb test curve rod bent right through to the handle, but the fish hardly moved. I didn’t have a clue how big the fish was because the flow was so strong. Eventually I started to move it towards me, and I was soon netting a fish that I thought would be in the 8 to 9lb range. It was only when I lifted the net out that I realised how broad it was across the back. Placed in the sling, it sent the scales round to 11lbs dead, so that made it two good fish already from our new area.
Later on when it was dark I added another fish around 8lbs plus a chub that looked around 4lbs, while Danny caught another double to go with his earlier 11+. There seemed to be a good average size to the barbel on this stretch and I couldn’t wait to get back to the swim, but had to wait almost a week.
When I returned I was fishing on my own. The river was lower, clearer and slower plus there were a lot of leaves coming down the river. I stopped for a chat with an old guy who promptly caught a barbel around 7lbs. When he told me it was his third I was racing off to my swim again.
I used the same tactics as my last trip, though this time I was fishing around 25 yards out with both rods. I also changed one of my fluorocarbon hook links to a combi link, just to see if it made a difference to my catch rate.
On my first cast I was in to a barbel around 8lbs, followed a few minutes later by another. Both fish had fallen to the upstream rod, which had the fluoro link. After that bright start the fishing got hectic, but in a bad way. I started catching bream, and small ones at that, with the best touching 3lbs! As dusk approached, the bream went away, to be replaced by chub of around 2lbs. I suppose these fish mean more fish are coming through, but I was a bit over gunned for such specimens. In the end I caught a decent chub that I weighed at 5lb 1oz, so at least I did get one good fish. I nearly didn’t weigh it, thinking it was around 4lbs. It was only the fact that I struggled to get my hand round it’s wide body that prompted me to reach for the scales.
I’ll never turn my nose up at a 5lb+ chub, especially from these parts of the country. It won’t be long before the weather cools and I’ll be deliberately trying to catch them. Incidentally, the fluoro rig out fished the combi link one by 12 fish to 2. I’ll try this over a longer period of time to see if one fishes better than the other.