Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

A Great First Session! By Jerry Gleeson

Dear Steve,
I’d just like to thank you again for giving us such a wonderful blog. Due to a family holiday I missed the opening two weeks of the river season but finally had my first session on Sunday.

 After reading your How Much Bait article at the end of last season I was literally dying to get on my local river (Goyt) and try out my new tactic based on your article.

I arrived before first light armed with plenty of hemp, pellets and boilies. Not wanting to over feed with pellets (the river being a lot smaller than the Severn) I prebaited my swim with about 2-3 pints of hemp using a Fox bait dropper and filled it twice with broken boilies and some 8mm pellets, I left the swim for about 30-45 minutes thinking this would give it time to settle and for the fish to move in and find the bait.
I usually fish with a nice simple running ledger using a 3oz lead depending naturally on the flow, today I was using the same rig but with a Stonze boulder, attaching a pva bag about the size of a golf ball containing some broken and whole boilies and a few 8mm pellets.

 I made my first cast. I settled back, the excitement now getting to me, thoughts of have I put too much hemp in went through my mind as well as visualising my first bite. Thirty minutes went by and I’d not had a bite when suddenly my rod tip pulled over, (just like something had caught on the line). It then settled back and then really lurched forward, excitement gripped as I went for my rod giving it a gentle pull back, straight away I could tell it was a barbel as it felt like I’d hooked into a sunken log that had gone off like a steam train in the fast current!

 After a very short battle I slipped the net under my first barbel, a beautiful 11lb 2oz fish (Thank you Mr Pope I thought in my head). After a quick photograph I rested the fish before she was strong enough to swim off.

After making up another pva bag, due to fishing a completely different tactic I was unsure whether to feed a bit more hemp or just to introduce my pva bag, I decided to introduce three more baitdroppers full of hemp. I left it to settle for ten minutes and then made my second cast to the exact spot I was introducing the hemp. Settling back in my chair, I looked up to the sky and was enjoying watching the light break through thinking how peaceful it all looked.

 My attention returned to my rod as the tip gave a couple of flutters, at least there’s fish in my swim I thought, I hoped it was barbel moving about, having a root around in the gravel and stones. Another flutter of the tip and over my rod went again, reaching for the butt the fish shot up stream into the current, it felt like a very strong fish, thoughts ran through my head of how big she would be as she tried to hit every snag in the swim, she finally came to the net after trying one last defiant roll, a lovely barbel of six pounds on the nose, a quick photograph and she was rested and returned to fight another day. At this point I was made up, two barbel in forty five minutes.

I decided to introduce two more baitdroppers of hemp and recast after fifteen minutes. For half an hour or more I had the odd little flutter, nothing positive but I knew there were still fish in the swim, what fish I didn’t know.

 I was quite intrigued to know why I hadn’t had any good wraps off any chub which usually happens to me quite a bit, after an hour I recast, and again the same, the odd little twitch but nothing positive, still it was keeping me on my toes and kept my attention focused. Nearly three hours went by and after various recasts with the same pva bag of broken boilies and some 8mm pellets, I wondered if the fish had become pre-occupied with the hemp, so my next thought was to introduce two more baitdroppers full of hemp just to keep the fish happy and I also introduced four baitdroppers of boilies and 8mm pellets.

 I rested the swim for a half hour, sat back and enjoyed the surroundings and baked in the morning sun. I made my recast thinking to myself I hope I’ve got it right and my mind went back to your article.

 I sat back and concentrated, for twenty to thirty minutes, nothing. Fish of all sizes were topping all over the swim causing me a bit of distraction as I strained to see what they were, my attention was quickly bought back to my rod as I started getting a few twitches again then suddenly the rod tip went right over, I grabbed the rod and she was off!

I managed to stop her in her tracks and she felt like a good lump, after a strong slow tussle she came to the net, I looked down and saw she was a good fish, long and lean with a solid gut. Is it my second double? The thought entered my mind. I quickly weighed her, 10lb 4oz, I was overcome with joy, a quick photo and she was back in my net for a nice rest before swimming away strongly. I like to photograph all my fish, some naturally so I can look back on and also for future identification.

The afternoon was now upon us, I was happy, I’d had three barbel on my first outing, two of them doubles. I baited with some more hemp and recast, after three  barbel from the same spot I did not expect another if anything I expected the chub to move in but they seemed to be content with chasing anything on the surface.

 An hour went by and after another cast I’d just settled back in my chair when the rod went round, the rod tip bouncing and my bait runner whizzing away! Shocked at the sudden bite and such a vicious take that I nearly fell out of my chair, I reached for my rod beside me. Unlike the previous fish this one had decided to motor off down stream and attempted to get in a downstream snag. I took control but this fish didn’t want to come in, upstream she now went, then towards a bush on the inside left of me and in one last desperate lunge tried to shoot right across the river to the far side over hanging bush, what a cracking fight, the best of the bunch so far!

 I was knackered!  As I wiped the sweat from my forehead I thought to myself I wish I had as much energy as this fish!  Anyway, on her final lunge I turned her and as she rolled over I slipped the net underneath her. I fell back exhausted, as with all my barbel I unhooked her in the net and let her rest in the net before weighing and photographing, then I rest them again until all unnecessary gasses are expelled and they are strong and safe enough to swim away.

 My fourth barbel, a magnificent creature weighing 6lb 8oz. Four fish from the River Goyt, two doubles and two nice sixes and four small chub thrown in later for good measure. After my last barbel the swim died, I took four small chub up to 2 1/2lb but nothing after that, I’d had my fill for the day, a most enjoyable first session, it was good to be home.
So Mr Pope, I dedicate my first sessions glory to you, without whom I wouldn’t have made a change of tactics after reading your How Much Bait article. Please keep up the good work as it’s always a pleasure visiting your blog.
Kindest regards

Copyright Jerry Gleeson July 2010

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