River Trent Barbel

A couple of days worth of heavy rain had me dusting my barbel gear down for the first time this season. The Trent had risen slightly and was now carrying a touch of colour. This, I hoped, would encourage the barbel to have a bit of a feed.

I arrived at the river after work which was around 6pm. I only intended to fish an hour or so into dark because I was back at work the next morning. Usually though, a few hours is all you need on this river to put a few decent fish on the bank.

I started with my trusty feeder set ups, fished just 10 yards or so from my bank. My set up is pretty simple. A couple of Nash Specialist 2lb test curve rods are teamed with Shimano Baitrunner 6000GTE reels. These are perfect for the Trent even in extreme floods. The baitrunner feature is also essential for this kind of fishing, unless you can loosen your reels clutch to almost free spool. The bites can be so savage that your rod can be pulled into the river in a blink of an eye. I use 10lb main line for my evening sessions with a heavy free running feeder on the end. Fiskeys Fantastic Feeders are by far the best in my opinion and that’s what I normally use. My hook link is 5 feet of 9lb Incognito fluorocarbon to a size 12 Korda Curve Shank barbless hook. This set up very rarely lets me down and the rocky River Trent can be a very cruel mistress at times.


In the feeders I have a stinky mix of allsorts. Broken and full boilies, pellets, hemp, corn, etc. all bound together with a fishmeal groundbait. These are cast out regularly for the first hour to create a flavour trail up to my baits, after that I’ll cast every 45 minutes or so.


On this trip it didn’t take long for my first bite. I’d forgotten how hard these barbel can pull, but sometimes it is the 5-6lb fish that scrap the hardest. As this was such a fish I never bothered weighing it. A quick pick of her on the mat was all I did then I watched her sulk back into the depths. Before I could recast, my upstream rod was also away. This time it felt like a pretty good fish, but alas it found a snag right in front of me. I could still feel the fish through the snag, but the snag won in the end, cutting my hook link close to the hook.


I never had much time to mourn the loss though as the downstream rod was away soon after. A less frantic plodding fight again indicated a decent fish was attached and soon I was looking at my first double of the year. At 11lbs 12oz it was a cracking fish, with plenty of room for growth.


After that a few more anglers arrived and fished the next peg, just 12 yards or so downstream of me. I was dumbfounded. Miles of river to fish and they plonked themselves there! If I was on a lengthy session I’d have had words, but as I was there for another hour, or until I’d finished my flask of coffee, I just carried on. I suppose the fact that 2 of them were under 16 influenced me. It’s nice to see some young people out on the bank instead of watching tiny screens 24/7.

I noticed the youngsters were soon into a fish, I cursed thinking that it would have been on it’s way into my peg, but just after I had my own 3 foot twitch and I was attached to another decent barbel. The youngsters came over to watch and their torch helped me to land the fish. I’d not put my head torch on and the light had just got too dark to see clearly. They informed me their barbel was 6lbs, but they marvelled at my fish. I let them call out the weight of this one for me. “12lbs exactly” 2 of them shouted. It seemed they were as pleased as I was.


When I told them there were a lot more larger fish in here their eyes widened with excitement! I left them to it and packed up so I could be at work early the next day. Unless we get more rain, I’ll be back after those bigger fish in October!