Friday, 25 January 2013

CATCHING BARBEL



A double, but Martin would only give me 9/11 - mean!

Anglers are well aware that barbel are one of the most desirable captures of any and if wildlife enthusiasts could see them, they would be equally impressed by their golden, muscle-bound beauty.

Being a roach fanatic, I don’t fish for barbel nearly enough but whenever I catch one I always tell myself to get a grip and catch them more often.

The best a Kennet beauty of 2/5

Compared with big roach, which are tricky at best, I have always found barbel easy to catch. In fact, on one memorable winters morning on the Bristol Avon many years ago I caught 23 before lunch! They weren’t all small either, the best going 9/10. There was three feet of coloured, warm water fining down so I got lucky, for in the afternoon, having decided I had caught enough barbel for one day, I caught dozens of roach to around a pound. Right place at right time I guess … wish it happened more often!

Last season I decided I’d better go barbel fishing more often and made the mistake of telling a friend that I found them easy to catch. “Never miss an opportunity to shut up” as they say in Montana. I blanked every time I tried!


The H.Avon at it's most glorious.
This Autumn I did a little better and even managed to catch four barbel in a day, along with three chub –a day to savour on the Hants.Avon. Of course, if you want to catch consistently on this moodiest of rivers you need an angler with enough local knowledge to make things happen. [I am certainly not that angler].

This was particularly important when Martin Bowler and I were attempting to catch a big barbel for our story about the Hampshire Avon in our series “Catching the Impossible”. Our friend Pete Reading fitted the criterion of ‘local expert’ perfectly and he kindly took time out from his teaching holidays to try to deliver.

No wonder we call them barbel.
We’d decided that this new series needed BIG fish – in ‘A Passion for Angling’ they were a bonus – and in order to make it as different as possible from Passion, we wanted to show the fish life of the underwater world like never before. This is why Pete had to wait all day while I filmed what was happening in his swim and how the barbel reacted to his baiting.


Filming wasn’t easy … is it ever? … for despite pre-baiting several swims, his first choice produced several doubles but they were all carp. Beautiful commons but no coconuts. The second swim was even more difficult, for Pete had to bait and wait – for a long time!


We’d decided that this new series needed big fish – in ‘A Passion for Angling’ they were a bonus – and in order to make it as different as possible from Passion, we wanted to show the fish life of the underwater world like never before. This is why Pete had to wait all day while I filmed what was happening in his swim and how the barbel reacted to his baiting.


'Heath Robinson' but effective.
We anglers often agonise over our hook lengths – is it the right colour – is it thin enough or long enough etc. Well, these barbel were feeding right in front of a camera measuring 6”x 4” that was attached to landing net poles. The barbel even tried to push the camera out of the way to get  at Pete’s offerings … so, as they say, ‘I want some of what he was offering’!

Eventually, Pete was allowed to cast in - the result can be viewed below. We hope you enjoy.

Well done that man.

As indicated in a previous post, Pete is directing the research and conservation section of the Barbel Society, as well as recently volunteering to become the Hon.Sec. If only every angler got off their butts like Pete and actually contributed something to our sport instead of whinging all the time, every angler and wildlife enthusiast would be a lot better off. So just do SOMETHING to help make our rivers and lakes better places for fish and other wildlife.

The Barbel Society don’t just provide some excellent stretches of barbel fishing water but also carry out habitat improvements and restocking so that there are more fish for you to catch. Equally important maybe are the network of the most helpful and friendly guys and gals you are ever likely to meet on the riverbank. So why not join and help yourself to some more enjoyable fishing.     www.barbelsociety.co.uk


-       from Prog. 5 – CATCHING THE IMPOSSIBLE –
                             ‘Going Against the Flow’





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