Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

Meatballs on the Menu!


Now don’t worry I’m not about to upset Jamie Oliver or give your mum ideas about dishing them up on a plate for your dinner, I think we all agree this isn’t the best culinary dish we want to have served up!

Lucky for us, our favourite fish, the barbel love ‘em and surprise  surprise, hardly anyone uses them these days.

Its all pellets and boilies, and to some extent luncheon meat but the poor old meatball stays in the tin on the supermarket shelf.

With the colder months just about to descend upon us this bait is about to come into its own and at less than fifty pence for a tin it’s the bargain of all time!

I can’t write about meatballs without giving a mention to the man who brought them to the fore, fellow BS member Howard Maddocks. Back in the nineties Howard made the front page and the national papers as well by catching the record barbel from the River Severn on Campbell’s finest dish, the humble meatball.

He also set himself up for a good supply of the stuff courtesy of Campbell’s themselves!

Although the record has been eclipsed many times by fish from the Ouse, Howard’s barbel is still the second biggest from the mighty Severn, and it is one river record everyone would like to achieve.

So how do we go about tempting the barbel with our meaty morsels, it really is simplicity itself.

You can hair rig them, mount them straight on a size six hook, use them whole, cut them in half and even cut them in quarters and fish as a particle.

For a days fishing you need two tins. You can empty them out at home and wash them thoroughly and put them in a sealable plastic bag. Why wash them you ask? Well, my mate Kev washes them and he catches lots of barbel during the season including his fair share of big ones, so if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

All you need to do is introduce a couple of meatballs into your swim, nothing else, drop your bait in, sit back and wait for the rod top to pullover. An hour or so in the swim is enough; you can then repeat the process in your next best swim. You can cover four or five swims and then go back to the start again.

If you catch one stick around to see if there are others about and when you decide to move on put another couple of balls in the swim.

Your chosen swims will be reasonably close to the bank, we’re trying to catch the barbel unawares and set a trap in a part of the river they may feel safe.

If you are fishing with small pieces you can mix them up with a couple of pints of hemp and use a bait dropper to get the bait in. Fishing this way you would want to stay longer in the swim because this is “attraction” fishing whereas the other method described is “opportunist” fishing.

So next time you’re planning a trip out leave the pellets and luncheon meat at home and get yourself down to Asda’s because their brand is definitely the best and try meatballs, you may have a real surprise!

Good Fishing,


17 Responses to “Meatballs on the Menu!”

  1. Right Asda it is….do you know why Kev washes them?
    I cann’t figure that one.

  2. So that he doesn’t get his hands messy and I’m serious!!

    It makes no difference to his catches whatsoever!

  3. Could you fish meat balls/big meat on small rivers in summer as well as coloured water as I fish River Dane a lot with pellets etc…?

  4. Hi Robert,

    Most certainly, and it will work well!

    My pal Kevin only fishes meatballs, nothing else and he catches his fair share from the Kennet in the summer.
    Pellets are a great bait but so many of us have forgotten how we used to fish before they arrived and it was only a few years ago!

    Get down to Asda and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

  5. Get on the snowballs!
    They are great baits for rolling, summer or winter.
    When rolling I put them straight on the hook, (thick wire, wide gape, size 4), using a baiting needle to pull the hook through. In the winter I put some garlic flavouring on mine but cannot prove it makes a difference. I like trying flavours and have had success adding Bovril as a flood bait and using the liquid from hemp in the summer.
    You can now buy halibut flavoured meatballs off the interweb but I havent tried them! (too expensive).
    Dye them too as an instant bait as per your carp anglers hi viz approach. The possibilities are endless….

  6. Hi Steve
    I’ve fished with Kev for 36 years and I can tell you they’re the only balls he ever washes! Ha!
    Seriously though, his catch rate is quite stunning when compared to others over a season, most of this is down to watercraft and his approach, which is very simple cane n pin and a couple of ssg. In his words “why compilcate it?”

    Best fishes

  7. Hi Rob,
    Kev must be older than he looks! Have loads of time for the guy, he’s a brilliant leader and top angler and just a real good bloke! I’ve asked him to write an article to put up on here because like all good anglers he makes it look much easier than it actually is. One things for sure it’s a lot cheaper than fishing maggots or casters!
    All the best.

  8. Hi Steve

    Yes Kev has aged well, I think it’s got more to do with the facial creams he use though! Ha! He is as you say a brilliant syndicate leader, that comes from being a very good communicator and a well respected “dangler”.He iswithout doubt the best mate you could have.
    We’ve had some laughs on the bank through the years, the highs and the lows and I’m sure that if he were to put pen to paper it would make terrific reading. Both of us have often talked about doing it and I myself have written several articles for different journals and internet sites, but…time is a premium and you know how it is? Leave it to me, maybe I can persuade him to unleash the old biro. We are going dangling for perch again on Saturday so when we are munchiing on our now almost legendary bacon, stilton, mushroom and tomato rolls…I’ll introduce the thought again…don’t hold your breath though!


  9. The offer is there for you and Kev to write away and I will put your words on here with great pleasure. You would be amazed at how many look in on here, it has taken me by surprise I have to say!

    Good luck on Saturday and please pass on my best wishes to Kev and tell him to get scribing!!

  10. Oh no, all my secrets are out… the only balls i wash are
    the ones I take fishing, I keep my great looks by using Nivea, and I’m much older than I look !
    Oh yes, and I am a good bloke ( but that’s not a secret
    I just thought I would mention it again !! )
    Now that my secret ‘ bait and flavour ‘ is out I may have to fish water that doesn’t run and fish for some lumps with names like Gerald and Bertha !
    I will get onto my tackle dealer and order all the B’s straight away… bivvy, bedchair, buzzers, boilies
    and bolt rigs !!
    Now, where is my biro … :-)

  11. Great advice. Going on the kennet on weds 25th jan. Will definitely be trying asda meatballs . Will let u know how i get on . Great website steve.

  12. Good luck Graham, fingers crossed you drop your ball right on the nose of a nice big double!

  13. Hope you managed one or two stripeys!
    The thing about secrets is that they are always good to share! Especially those preceeded by the words, ” Don’t tell anyone else…………..!”
    Thing is Kev there’s balls and then there’s proper balls and knowing just what to do and where to put your balls!
    And as we all agree you are the Master!

  14. Hi Steve,

    No perch unfortunately, in fact not much happened at all.
    The highlight of the day was Rob’s expertise with a frying pan :-)
    Will definitely be casting meatballs into the Kennet within the next couple of weeks as it has been a while and I am beginning to miss it … will let you know how it goes
    See you soon, Kev

  15. Never mind!
    I thought cooking was your job when fishing!
    Good luck on the Kennet, I’m toying with the idea of going down to the Severn on Wednesday and Thursday, just need to watch the weather.
    Catch up before the season ends.

  16. Hello Steve, very nice website, got the link from Bob Roberts. I’m going to fish in the river teme, at little hereford near Tenbury Wells, for the last week of the season, do you have any tips regarding bait selection and tactics. Thanks

  17. Hi Gavin,
    Welcome and glad you like the site!
    I’ve fished your Teme venue, its only forty minutes or so from where I live.
    Maggots or meatballs would be my choice.
    There are a few barbel there, one or two big ones but they take some finding!
    The banks should be easier to roam about on at this time of year as long as they aren’t slippery!
    Put a couple of droppers of hemp in half a dozen swims to aid location.
    Let us know how you get on, the very best of luck.

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