Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

September Update

 

 

Autumn is here, that magical season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. For me it’s a time when the leaves on the trees that surround my home burn with the colours of fire and I begin to contemplate the end of a differing season – my fishing one, as I look ahead to hot barmy days spent in sunnier climes where my fishing will take on a whole new meaning as I begin my quest to ensure my future generation enjoys this fishing life as much as I.

So, this is an opportune moment to look back at how my fishing story has unfolded so far this year. It began much earlier than usual, before the month of June was consigned to history, and looking back with that benefit of hindsight it really was too early and only proved the concerns I had at the time.

Horst has been out with me a few times, an absolute joy to be with, he epitomises the character of a true angler. He truly is happy just to be there and experience the difference of fishing in another country. We tried venues on the Kennet, the Wye and the Severn and boy was it tough. The barbel had yet to complete their spawning ritual and we were always going to be up against it. We did find a few fish but it was scant reward for the time and effort we put in. Although it was hard to conceal our disappointment at no time did I see Horst lose that belief we must have, he gave it his all and I did too. Before saying goodbye Horst gave me a print out of the Wye section from ‘ A Salmon Fisher’s Odyssey’, plus a pair of back rests that shed their light after dark, a man of generous spirit and just the best company you could ever wish for. I do hope my German friend returns next year and is able to come over that little bit later in the season when the barbel would certainly be more responsive – I will certainly work my socks off to ensure that happens!

Horst with a Kennet nine.

Horst with a Kennet nine.

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Once again I met up with Andy from the Isle of Man. We found the barbel on the Wye in responsive mood and shared the fun as the rod top rarely stayed still. We arranged another session for August, this time on the Kennet where I hoped I could find him that elusive first double.

During July I found myself visiting a number of venues on the Wye and lots of barbel and chub picked up the baits my guests were offering – the smallest pellets accounting for most fish. The canoes were not too troublesome and I always try to be as friendly and courteous as I can be and this works most of the time. However a couple of months later I did find myself having a serious altercation with two men in a canoe and while accepting it as a one off it has hardened my previous nice guy approach!

A look through my diary confirmed the fact that weatherwise it never stopped raining. It seemed that every time I was on the river the heavens opened and I’m not talking short sharp showers, I’m talking major downpours where you get soaked through. Seeing as I spend most of the time in shorts and teeshirt I was constantly changing, my vehicle is loaded up with more clothing than tackle!

This constant rainfall meant that the Wye especially was always running that little bit higher and was always murky, conditions that usually signal barbel heaven but at the beginning of the season it seemed to have an adverse effect – borne out by much better results when the river was running low er and clear. Only goes to show the only certainty with barbel fishing is the uncertainty!

 

Gavin

Gavin

 

Frank

Frank

 

Steve

Steve

 

Paul

Paul

 

Broken nets!

Broken nets!

 

 

It was also around this time that I had a brainwave. I have a few bags of Elips pellets which should last me for a while which is good news because there is no doubt that there are days when the Wye barbel show a distinct preference for this bait. At other times they readily take the small drilled Robin Red pellets and up until my eureka moment I’ve been fiddling about with loops and bait stops and generally driving myself…… well loopy!!

Not for the first time good old superglue came to the rescue of my sanity, and even better, the cheapest variety – those you get ten to a card from the pound shop!

So, a straight hair, no loop, pushed through the hole, hold the pellet in the correct position, a squirt of glue through the hole on the base and hey presto the pellet is on and it stays on! Why I have only just worked this out heaven only knows but for me it is now THE method of attaching a drilled pellet!

As July came to a close, I met up with two more German guests, Simon and Sebastian. During our email correspondence Simon had expressed a wish to fish the Severn with a preference for places where they could fish at night as they were bringing their bivvies with them.

 

Loading up in Germany

Loading up in Germany

Now I’m the first to admit that whilst having a decent bank of knowledge when it comes to the lower reaches, the middle section has somehow been neglected in my fishing life. But I have a decent network and was therefore able to put together an itinerary that I hoped would fit the required bill. Well that was the plan.

The barbel played hard to get – extremely hard. Apart from a nine pounder from the lower, the Severn stayed in a pretty dour mood.

Both guys were very good anglers and they were also prepared to fish all through the night, but it was all to no avail.

We tried just about everything and I was stressing out trying to conjure up something that would put a few fish on the bank.

I sincerely hope they are not put off and will find the time to visit our rivers once again when hopefully the barbel will be far more active.

So July went out with a whimper, summing up its fair to say the Wye lived up to expectation but the Severn was a let-down. I approached the start of August with slight trepidation as once again I was hosting more German anglers.

In our communications it was very clear that both Wolfgang and Holger were experienced river anglers and they had become pretty adept at catching barbel from their local venues. Wolfgang had mastered the art of catching barbel Bolognese style! So the pressure was on as once again I found myself clocking up the miles as we drove from river to river.

 

Kennet action

Kennet action

 

Kennet inaction!

Kennet inaction!

The Wye and the Kennet came good although the majority of the barbel fell to Wolfgang, just how it goes at times but I’m sure Holger will get his fair share should they come back again next year.

More trips to the Wye produced lots of barbel and for John his very first and it came within thirty seconds of the bait hitting the water! I love it when that happens, makes my day a darn sight easier!

Halfway through the month and I was back on the Kennet with Andy in search of his first double. On our first day it was mission accomplished as a superbly conditioned eleven pounder was fooled by the caster approach; the next day produced more barbel up to nine pounds, all in all a most satisfying two days. During the lulls between the action Andy told me about his upcoming trip to the Trent and I was excited enough myself to consider a couple of visits next season. When I recently heard what he had caught my mind was made up! Andy’s double tally has increased by a very significant amount, that’s all I need to say!

 

Andy

Andy

I stayed on the river for another three days landing three then five and then a blank! Goes to show how each day is so very different on a river like the Kennet. One day your lucks in, the next it deserts you.

More visits at the end of the month followed in much the same pattern.

 

Carey

Carey

 

Derek

Derek

September arrived and with it another visit to Builth Wells and the Caer Beris hotel. I can’t thank Bob Roberts enough for introducing me to Peter Smith and his family. Peter is just as good as it gets, the perfect mine host and a very accomplished angler but most important of all just a really nice bloke. I feel as if I have known him for a lifetime but the reality is it’s only been a few short years. Luke – Peter’s son, always takes time out to look after me and the fishing guests whenever Peter is away; it makes for a very comfortable stay.

Fishing wise we spent a day on the Warren just outside Hay and four barbel were caught which wasn’t at all bad. On the other days we visited Bob James’ fabulous stretch and the guys had a great time catching plenty of barbel up to 9-11 and just as many chub up to a decent size.

 

Wye action

Wye action

 

Steve

Steve

 

More Wye action.

More Wye action.

 

Peter

Peter

Bob stayed around which was an added bonus as he has plenty of stories to tell. I owe Bob a huge debt of thanks for allowing us to use his stretch, it really is one of the nicest I’ve so far experienced on the Wye.

A few days later and I was back on the Kennet and there was a very welcome surprise in store. There is no doubt in my mind, and that probably goes for most other Kennet regulars, when I say that the barbel fishing is a good bit tougher these days. Just a couple of years ago I could almost guarantee a double but now it’s more a case of hoping that one will turn up.

So when I put the net under a pretty big fish that was on the end of Matt’s line to say I was pleased would be a great understatement!

Bang on thirteen pounds, a superb fish for the venue – a superb barbel from anywhere.

 

Matt

Matt

It’s good to know that barbel of that quality are still alive and kicking in our stretch, it makes it that much more difficult to walk away.

The syndicate venue holds so many fabulous memories, not just for me but for all the members. For many years Fred Crouch made the place his own and all of us have our own special memories of time spent with Mr. Barbel in the Deeps, the Armchair, the Doubles Bar, the Platform, the Straight and the Gully.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be enjoying more special days there next season.

Before leaving the Kennet I must tell you this story. I was fishing the Doubles Bar with my guest Neil, a week or so before Matt had his thirteen, and it was hard going. In mid-afternoon we heard a loud bang but it didn’t concern us enough to go and investigate – big mistake. We stayed right up till dark and then reluctantly I had to call time and we set off down the riverside path to the carpark. It was now pitch black.

I was leading the way and I should point out that Neil suffers a bit and is not the most mobile of fella’s. We had walked about 100 yards when I was confronted by an impenetrable mass of branches. For a moment I was completely disorientated convinced I had gone ever so slightly of piste! But no, the river was right there on my right hand side and I was blocked. Realisation suddenly dawned, the loud crack we heard earlier was the death rattle of this tree that had come down across the track, over the water’s edge and somehow we had to get through it!

In best Bear Gryll’s mode I left the tackle with Neil while I scrambled my way through the twisted mess of broken tree, it was not easy. Breaking branches, crawling under, climbing over – I was a man possessed. I made it through, at least twenty five feet and I was exhausted. Then I had to go back!

I collected the tackle and managed to get it all through without damage, I take the minimum down to the swim so it wasn’t too difficult. Then it was back again to help ease the way for Neil. To be fair he did very well, all ailments set aside as I directed him through the path I had now created.

It added at least forty minutes on to what is usually a five minute walk!

The really scary bit is that the tree came down and totally covered a swim I had seriously considered fishing, I’m glad I changed my mind.

It would appear I’m not alone in having a tree episode, Lee Swords – a very well-known angler, has recently suffered serious injury when a tree came down on him. Fortunately he is recovering well but it goes to show the dangers we face as anglers and that we have to be aware at all times, these things do happen.

The rest of September was spent on the Wye and lots of barbel and chub came to the net.

No doubles, but a good sprinkling of nines and a good head of chub including a few over five pounds.

 

John

John

 

Guiding comes to an end in October and I’m already looking ahead to next year as I have a number of bookings in the diary already. What I will say is that I will be starting to wind down so this means fewer available days in 2017. So the message is this, don’t leave it too long because I will be putting a limit on the guiding days from here on in. I love meeting old and new friends but the travelling is getting tougher and I’m not getting any younger and I need to manage my time in a more efficient manner!!

 

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Fishwife Tales

More of these in the articles section, they are very good. My sister in law has this fishing writing business down to a tee!

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Bye for now, enjoy your fishing.

Steve

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4 Responses to “September Update”


  1. Another enjoyable read (at long last) Steve,

    I’ve been using the same super glue approach in my pellet fishing for a good few years now, a bunch of bananas for a hand is not conducive to tiny loop tying, so needs must.

    I’m off to fish the Lima in Portugal soon and having got my mojo back will be on the Trent often when I return.

    Shame we didn’t get the chance to get out together this year.

    All the best




  2. Hi Fred, pleased you enjoyed it and you are quite right, its been far too long! Have a great time in Portugal, I’ll look forward to reading about your exploits. We’ll get together again on the Wye at some point, I won’t be so busy next year! All the best.




  3. Steve,
    Glad you put the link on f/book. Just read your blog for first time and
    thoroughly enjoyed all your exploits – don,t know how you get time to do
    it all but keep it up
    Regard
    Graham




  4. Hi Graham, pleased you enjoyed the blog. I’ve been very slow in updating but thats mainly because I’ve been out fishing so much! Time is something I’m becoming more and more conscious about and how best to manage it. One things for sure, I’ll be doing my best to keep more regular updates posted on here! All the best.



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For more information regarding guiding, articles, talks and presentations, shows and anything barbel fishing related contact me at: steve@stevepopebarbelfishing.co.uk StevePopeBarbelFishing Facebook