More Trent Barbel

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.

River Trent Barbel

This autumn and winter I’m determined to fish for the species that best suit the conditions instead of sticking to a pre-concieved plan. After a few days of rain the rivers were back up again so I decided to abandon my bream fishing and head to the River Trent to try for a barbel or two. The river wasn’t as high as I thought it would be, but it had a slight tinge of colour. I had the river to myself as far as the eye could see. With no idea of any hot pegs or areas I settled on the outside of a bend, where there were no pegs opposite me.

To cast the heavy feeders, that are needed to hold the bottom on the Trent, I pulled a couple of 2lb test curve rods from my quiver. These were teamed with 6000 size baitrunner reels, loaded with tough 10lbs breaking strain mono. Below the feeders were 5ft hook links of 9lb fluorocarbon, and the hooks were size 10s with a beaked point, essential on the Trent where the gravel blunts other hooks with a straight point.

Bait is simply pellets in either 12mm or 8mm sizes. In the feeders is a mixture of dampened pellets from 3mm to 12mm. These are held by fish-meal ground bait, mixed fairly stiff to ensure that it gets to the bottom before coming out. The upstream rod has a very large feeder that is cast frequently to create a bait trail down the swim. Fished 15 yards below this is another smaller feeder, which is usually the busier of the 2 rods in terms of fish action.

The afternoon started well with a near double figure barbel on my first cast and 30 minutes later it was followed by it’s twin. The rain started again and with the strong wind, the fishing was becoming uncomfortable, but the action intensified.

I caught a near 11lb fish in near monsoon conditions. I managed a couple of quick self takes, but kept the camera dry for the rest of the evening despite catching a barbel of 11lbs, plus a few more 8lb fish. I didn’t want to get it waterlogged and had no brolly!

A couple of days later, after drying my gear out, I was back in the same swim. The levels had dropped and the river was clearer. Despite this I caught even more barbel, using the same tactics, but the average weights were lower. I caught plenty of fish in the 7-9lb range, along with a scraper double. This time most action came just as dusk and darkness fell. This suits me fine because I can come from work for short evening sessions. By now I was catching well and I was hoping it was a matter of time before I caught one of the big girls.

The next session saw the action get even hotter, but the fish were getting smaller! I lost count of the number of barbel I caught, but most were between 5 and 7lbs I did get one fish that touched 9lbs, but I also caught a number of bream. I decided to weigh a couple of these, just because they seemed chunky with their pigeon chests. They went 6lb 8oz and 7lbs, pretty big bream for a river.

While the conditions are good for barbel I’ll keep trying for that monster. In the meantime I’ll have great fun with the smaller fish!