Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

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April – Fishing Thoughts During the Hiatus

Here I sit far away on the other side of our planet yet able to connect with my fishing world all those thousands of miles distant. In the blink of an eye, the wonders of modern technlology, which we all take for granted, yet it’s only happened in such a short space of time allows this to happen.

As I ponder on what’s to be for the coming season I find myself in that situation so familiar to all football managers as they look to rebuild for their coming season.

As you may have read on here already two of my regular venues are no longer available to me and so new horizons are calling.

The Wye has become a personal favourite but it isn’t really the river of choice if you are hoping to catch double figure sized barbel on a regular basis. However the stunning locations, the beautiful looking, hard fighting barbel and the constant change in the river itself more than compensate and so I am in no doubt that once more I will be spending many hours in the Wye Valley.

I think I’m on solid ground when I say that the Trent is now the premier river for bigger barbel. The last few seasons have brought to everyone’s attention what a truly incredible river this is at the current time. With that in mind I will certainly be spending many hours at a couple of locations and I hope to get my share of the barbel bounty that the Trent now promises.



The Severn will still receive my attention. Fate has conspired to lead me back to the venue where my connection with the Lower Severn first began although I doubt I shall spend a great deal of time there purely because I have memories that are so embedded so somehow it doesn’t feel quite right. I am hoping to fish another venue further downstream which will be completely new but available time will dictate how much effort I will be able to put in. I will continue with a stretch on the middle river and again I’m hoping to gain access to a new stretch on the upper middle that is relatively close to home which has good potential and will allow me to fish with old friends once more.

That will probably be it, barbel fishing for me is very much a summer and autumn affair because my life takes other directions as the cold weather begins to take its grip.

But it is varied enough to give me the barbel fix I need at this point in my life. I have no great fishing ambitions, I know exactly what I enjoy the most and all being well that’s exactly what the coming season will give me.

Saying goodbye to my caravan has meant that I’ve had to take a serious look at my sleeping arrangements for when I’m away for one or two nights which I definitely will be because the Trent isn’t exactly on my doorstep!

Before Christmas I dropped some none too subtle hints and consequently I now have a super duper bedchair and a Nash Black Ops bivvy just waiting to be used. I also have another bivvy and I will be getting an ESP Lopro Brolly and that will do me for all occasions I reckon. My thinking is this; When I just want to get my head down and crash out I’ll be using the NBO, the bivvy will house all essentials, the Lopro will come into play when I want to carry on fishing through the night. I have various other brolly’s that come into play for the different situations that invariably crop up through the season. I’m fully kitted out with all the Ridge Monkey cooking gear although I’ll be going easy because I’m serious about my diet now, it’s far too easy to get into that dangerous comfort zone of eating too much and moving too little and having tipped the scales at my heaviest weight it has actually scared me.  I’ll also be investing in one of those fancy loo’s, they look the business if you catch my drift!

I can’t wait to give the Free Spirit Heavy Water Tamers a good go on the Trent. They will be perfect for banging out heavy leads and PVA bags, my FS Big River rods are just too precious for that type of fishing although they are more than capable I prefer to keep them for slightly more sophisticated methods!

I’ll be fishing the Barbel Society stretch at Sutton, it’s been a very long time since I last visited the place, I’m hoping to locate fish close in so that the ‘pins can come into play.

Bait wise I’ll be using Dynamite boilies, I have total confidence in them and they work instantly and I’ll be trying a number of different permutations to try and keep one step ahead.

So hopefully I’ll have plenty to write about, have lots of nice photo’s and I’ll be filming at least a couple of times.

Apart from thinking about my own fishing there are two other major constituent parts to my barbel fishing, my guiding and The Barbel Society.



Last year I made a conscious decision to reduce the number of days and that will continue into this coming season. In saying that I’ve actually increased the number of days that I have put up as lots in auctions and raffles. I have always done my bit on this score but recent events have focused my mind to do more and while I am able I will.

Basically I have a few available dates in July and August and just a handful in September and October – I already have more bookings for the coming season than I had for the whole of 2017!

So let me know pretty quickly and remember its far more economical if there are two or even three of you who would like to share the day.




We are fortunate enough to have a great team in place running the Society and there are plenty of new ideas and initiatives that we hope to initiate during the coming months.

As I type there are four main strings to our bow , these are membership renewals – our year runs from June 16th. Then there is the annual show coming up on June 3rd. We also have our first open auction to run online and our petition is still open and we would like even more signatures, so let me just add a little more detail.


Full details are on the Barbel Society website;

Take some time to look at the website to get a feel of what we are about. The Society has been around a long time, just under twenty five years. That’s a long time  in the fishing world where many come and go but very few stick around for the long run.

Barbel fishing as we have known and enjoyed it for so long is under threat in so many ways and the Barbel Society was formed to fight on behalf of barbel anglers and the species itself.

There are a number of ways we have approached this and at any given time the emphasis is decided by the passion and drive of those committed to the cause.

But its not just the heavy stuff, there’s a lot more to us than that and as I say a read through the website and indeed on here you will get a great insight into what we have achieved over the years.

The Barbel Show

Here’s the link;


I think you would struggle to get a more experienced and entertaining array of speakers in one room in one day, we’ve really pulled out all the stops this year.

Des Taylor – Without doubt one of the most influential anglers of the past thirty years and more. His passion and enthusiasm never wanes and he is always at the forefront, never frightened to air his strongly held views and always prepared to rattle cages. Des has cleverly picked up on the power of social media and his Friday night video broadcasts on his Facebook pages reach many thousands of followers. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited on to his show which is screened live from his fabulous Tackle Den and I know first hand how much Des puts into everything he does. A top bloke who has more than paid his dues, a personal friend and a Barbel Society Ambassador. I can guarantee Des will be worth listening to because he is simply the best!

John Bailey – John needs no introduction from me, he is quite simply the most prolific and in my view the best writer of his generation. Back in the Anglers Mail on a weekly basis his words are absorbed by so many. A superb TV presenter and a superb all round angler , there are so many strings to John’s bow. John has always been a great friend of the Society and he too is now an Ambassador. Whenever John talks I listen and I’m looking forward immensely to what John has to say at our show.

Dr. Paul Garner – I’ve known the Doc for a long time and he is not just a brilliant allround angler, he writes a weekly feature for Angling Times, has written and produced a number of books, his underwater photography has raised the bar and he’s a really nice guy. Paul has supported the Society since its inception and he too is an Ambassador.

Dave Steuart – What can anyone say about this man, he is simply unique, a total one off and he epitomises the definition of Angling Legend! When I was at school I couldn’t wait to get a copy of Anglers Mail, it was printed on green paper back then, to read what he was saying about barbel fishing. He was ‘The Man’, back in those days – still is! I first met Dave purely by chance about twenty years ago on the banks of the Fraser River in Canada. I was with John Found and it was he who developed a great friendship with Dave which brought the great man into our fold. Today Dave is our President and we are honoured and privileged to have a man of such great stature as our figurehead. I cannot begin to list the achievements of this man, suffice to say when the ultimate book on Angling History is written in many years to come Dave’s name will be there right at the very top and deservedly so. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

Archie Braddock – Archie is the king of the bait guru’s and his experience is second to none. Earlier this year he teamed up with Dynamite Baits so that means the best will just get better! Archie has given talks for us before and it’s brilliant to see a man with such a great wealth of knowledge back where he belongs in the limelight.

Tony Gibson – Tony is not just an angler who breaks records and catches an extraordinary amount of superb fish, he is also a passionate campaigner and now he is Chairman of the Predator Action Group (PAG). Tony took a photo on the banks of the River Ouse of my personal best barbel a few years ago, a week later he was back there and became the first man to catch a twenty pound barbel. A well liked and respected angler and we are very fortunate to have him at our show.

Catie Gutmann-Roberts – Catie is well known by those who like to keep up with the scientific research and conservation work that concerns us all as anglers. Her study on the River Teme, which the Society helped fund, makes for interesting reading and no doubt those of us with a love for that river will be very interested in listening to her observations. It’s a huge plus for the Society to have an ongoing relationship with Catie bearing in mind the huge number of problems our rivers face, her passion and involvement will be essential over the coming years as we all endeavour to collect data and information that hopefully will result in an improvemenbt for our aquatic environment.


I’ll be doing my usual bit, Jon Edy-Berry will be our MC and there will be a superb raffle and there will also be plenty of trade stands where you will be able to stock up on those essentials!

These shows have been running for a long time and have established themselves as not just a great day out for anglers but also for their wives, partners and children. We take great pride in the fact that the atmosphere is such that its a perfect place for a family day out and the new venue is simply stunning!

I’m arriving back in the UK literally the day before so you can see how much the Barbel Society show weekend means to me.

So I’ll see you there and be sure to say hello!


The Auction

Some superb items on here for you to bid on, already we have gone past the £2k mark and there’s plenty of time before the hammer goes down!


The Petition

Its safe to say that our petition has certainly caused a great deal of interest. Over twelve thousand signatures which is a substantial amount but if there really are the number of anglers that I often see bandied about then this figure really should be more.

Pretty much all the top anglers, those whose voices count, have agreed with our stance and for the life of me I fail to see why our governing body has taken upon itself to publically announce its non support. A huge mistake on their part and one I won’t forget.

Some have been critical of the wording, I don’t buy that, it’s an excuse to mistakenly take some kind of higher ground.

We are not stupid and the wording was not put out on a whim.

The petition still has time left to run, it would be nice if the anglers who have not signed would show some unity over a subject that is so serious.

The bottom line is we are trying, we are not miracle workers but we now know for sure that more than 12000 are behind us and we won’t walk away and forget them.

The fight is ongoing, it’s a very long haul but I am sure with good leadership and the will to actually fight vigorously for Angling then sense will prevail.

If it doesn’t then Angling as we know it will be consigned to the past and those of us on whose watch this has happened will hang their heads in shame…….


A True Legend and the Most Inspirational Man you will Meet




Just before I came out to Australia I called in to Orchid Lakes in Oxfordshire to catch up with an old friend, Marsh Pratley.

I’ve known Marsh since the days of the National Assosciation of Specialist Anglers (NASA) when he was the Main Man.

It was because of Marsh that we were able to get Peter Stone along to the meeting where we formed the Barbel Society and I have always considered Peter’s involvement at the start to be the reason we took off and became firmly established. Marsh was also very helpful in those early days and he is just a lovely man. He is now a Vice President of the Barbel Society and we are honoured to have him with us.

Now Marsh is a tough cookie, he is the consummate man’s man but he is a man on a mission having been diagnosed with terminal  cancer and he knows his time is limited.

For those who use Facebook Marsh has been writing a daily diary and to say its inspirational is an understatement of the highest order. Marsh is indeed a special kind of man and he has a profound effect on those who know him or are fortunate to call him a friend and he has many.

Marsh made contact with me and told me he had a rod, a Fred Crouch Barbel Perfection, that he wanted us to use to raise money for his beloved charity, it is number one of a very limited edition (25) and has great significance to the Society.

We agreed that the Society would keep the rod because of its close association and would donate £750 to the Anglers against Cancer Charity that raises money for children with cancer.

Having spent time with Marsh I came away feeling deeply humbled and knew that we had to do more for this man.

Having spoken to the rest of the guys on the committee I have made a promise to Marsh that we will raise what money we can for his charity and will keep that going for as long as we possibly can. I have in mind an annual event that will honour our heroes and there is no bigger hero than Marsh.

At the right time I’m hoping the whole barbel community will come together to raise a lot of money via an online auction and already I have been promised some fabulous items so I’ve no doubt we will do Marsh proud.

I will be calling in on Marsh as soon as I return to the UK and will update him on our proposals.


That’s it for now, I will be posting another blog about my latest visit to Australia and I’ll be back on here with a fishing update after the show.

All the very best, or perhaps I should say Gudday!














One Response to “April – Fishing Thoughts During the Hiatus”

  1. Hi Steve,

    Having been in Spain over Easter and busy in the garden with Cheryl in the garden I am just cathing up with your blog.

    Note you are looking forward to fishig at Sutton on Trent, hopefully we can possibly meet, I have renewed premit for the new season. Also applied for Normton on Trent fishery and looking forward explore this new venue.
    See you at the Barbel show.

    Tight lines.

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