Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

August Update



It’s been quite a while since I last put an Update on here, no excuses, just been too busy and also spending too much time putting messages on Facebook. I’ve even opened up a new Facebook fishing page and I’m still not entirely sure why!

Most people visit here, my website is where I can include so much more, I went to the effort of setting one up thanks to my good mate Simon Asbury and I really must keep it up to date and vital.

So here we are, the season is well under way, the fishing is good – plenty of special days to recount and we are only two months in.

I’ve made up my mind to spend a great deal of time in the winter searching out the grayling that live not too far from home, I’m looking forward to that immensely.

So to kick things off I’m going straight into fishing mode and putting up a rather extended version of my latest Diary that has just gone live on Fishing Magic.


Do you know what it is I enjoy the most about my summertime job?

Apart from the obvious that it helps keep the wolf from the door!

It’s meeting so many different people who all add something special to my own personal fishing experience.

Some are older, some are young, some are experienced, some have never caught a barbel, all are tremendous company and folk who I would happily spend time with over and over again on the river.

I’m so pleased my great friend and mentor Fred Crouch persuaded me to get involved in taking people out because although I’m a bit reclusive these days I love making new friends and acquaintances. I count myself very fortunate indeed.

The truth is I was always apprehensive about starting up a Guiding business. Could I actually do it was a prime concern, would I enjoy seeing others catch was another.

I should have realised that Fred was rarely wrong when he said something important and he knew that I was more than capable of doing the job and that I would love seeing how others reacted when they experienced the thrill of barbel fishing.

I must mention the weather, I like the fact that most days its tee-shirt and shorts rather than cords and a fleece! Let’s not bleat about needing rain for heaven’s sake we are actually enjoying a proper summer and there are no moans from me even though the fishing would undoubtedly be better with a little more water in the river!

My first fishing encounter of the new term was in fact  attending a Barbel Society committee meeting, something I have been doing for nearly twenty years, that’s a long time in any one’s book and even though I say it myself shows true commitment to a cause. As far as I’m concerned it’s about walking the walk in this life.

So many talk the talk and like the song says, that don’t impress me much.

A very interesting and constructive meeting ensued, plans are being made to put in place an annual fundraiser for the Severn catchment based on the template that was set up and is in place for the Hampshire Avon event. I’m sure this will generate a lot of interest and will help raise money to assist in the research that will be undertaken in this important area.

Also, I like to think of myself as being rather progressive, twenty odd years ago I knew what was needed with regard to forming a new barbel organisation that would cater for the needs of the many, we are now at a point in time where new challenges mean that we have to adapt to move forward into the next twenty years.

The younger guys will hopefully come up with some great innovative ideas, it’s their future and it’s what they want to see that’s important.

The clever bit is dovetailing new ideas into something that many ‘older’ anglers still support and enjoy – the challenge is there to be met and I’m sure we will.

I’m more than aware that we and by my involvement I will use the first person and say that I cannot please everyone, but many are happy and I have to say that if I was pleasing a vocal minority then I would have to question if I was actually doing it right, that’s how it is with me.

Moving on.

Barry Fisher with help from Neil Maidment had set up the online auction in memory of Jodi and Ella, the girlfriend of Barry and her little daughter who tragically lost their lives in a terrible car crash. This auction raised in excess of £8000 for the Make a Wish Foundation and I had no hesitation in offering a day’s fishing when I first heard of Barry’s idea.

Cristian made the winning bid and I was looking forward to meeting up with him on the Sunday following the BS meeting.

This is how the bid came about in Cristian’s own words.

‘At the start of the year, having had two unexpected illnesses to close family members I found myself sat in a Kwik Fit tyre centre. I’d just spent the last few weeks driving back and forth to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford due to my mother’s illness. On top of this, I had driven into another car the day before and had now found that I had a puncture. I’d rung work cursing my bad luck on the car front to say I would be late in and my work colleague suggested that my luck should change so buy a lottery ticket. Now I don’t usually enter the lottery but on this occasion I walked over to the local supermarket, bought a newspaper and a lottery ticket.

To my surprise I had two winning lines, which amounted to £161. Not a life changing amount and really insignificant given everything else that was going on in my world.

I’d read Neil and Barry’s posts about the charity auction whilst I was sat waiting in Kwik Fit (There should be a trade description act warning for their “Kwik” name as each of my visits lasted an average of two hours). Anyway, I had made up my mind that it was a good cause and that my lottery winning should go to this. So I used the money to bid on the guiding day. If I hadn’t won, the money would have been donated, and if my winning bid was short of £161, the remaining balance would have gone to the charity.’

Add to this the fact that Cristian had never caught a barbel – coming close on the Loddon, but the fish won – and you can see the pressure was on.

Barbel Society stalwart Dave Brown was also on the river and he had captured a double on his first cast fishing the small meat method which I have described before.

Cristian and I headed off further downstream to fish the swim we call The Armchair. Basically this is a typical Kennet run no more than three feet deep but with plenty of far bank tree cover which can at times hold a number of barbel.

We set about introducing hemp and caster with the baitdropper with the intention of bringing the fish out from their cover.

It was a tough day with the sun blazing down and the barbel happy to keep under the trees only venturing out on three occasions to pick up the hair rigged casters. Twice Cristian landed fish around the five pound mark but the one that escaped was much bigger and we vowed to make sure that one ended up in the net the following weekend when we would meet up once again.

Monday was a total blank for me although Dave’s good fortune was still intact and I found myself photographing a thirteen pound fish for him, a barbel I recognised from the previous autumn when it was half a pound lighter. It’s always good to know the fish are still around bearing in mind we know there are otters on the fishery.


My good friend Howard, now a committee member, turned up in the late afternoon and caught a small barbel but it was his centrepin reel that was the focus of both our attention. Howard since coming out with me a couple of years back has taken to these reels with a real zeal and the one attached to his rod was rather special, a Bisterne. All I’m going to say is that its value would keep me going for a year!

Garrett – what a fabulous name – was with me on the Tuesday.

From the Emerald Isle here was a man who had certainly kissed the Blarney Stone and talking was most definitely a dance for this wonderful character – he was the lord alright.

A barbel had to be caught – it was an item on Garrett’s bucket list, not so much for Garrett but for his dad.

The stories flowed all day long as you would expect with someone who has Garrett’s heritage, he explained how his dad was a good fisherman who taught him everything and although he had caught most species the barbel had for some reason eluded him.

Having lost his dear father Garrett had made it his mission to capture the fish for him and I found myself pivotal in this personal quest.

Fortunately Irish eyes were smiling and during the day Garrett brought two barbel to the net, the biggest just a Leprechaun’s whisker under the ten pound mark, it really didn’t matter. The smile on Garrett’s face as he held his prize said it all and confirmed to me the pure joy that a fish can give to people, we anglers are truly blessed.


As Garret said, ‘What fills the eye, fills the heart.’

When I returned home I opened up an email from Garrett.

‘I’m totally delighted with my day’s fishing. Thank you so much. It was one of the best fishing days I’ve ever had, for lots of different reasons. I’m a total barbel convert now. What fish they are! And you’re right about size; it doesn’t matter with these fish. Pound for pound they’re fantastic fighting fish and worth the effort, no matter what the size.

I really enjoyed your company and our chats about various things, and the river was a beautiful spot to visit and explore. You’re an excellent guide, and I gained lots of insights into the world of barbel fishing and watercraft in general.

My Irish buddies are very impressed and I reckon one or two would like a day on the Wye at some stage.

So take care, and thanks again.’

There is an old Irish saying that really strikes a chord with me for two different reasons.

It goes like this; ‘Everyone is a good natured lad until a cow gets into his garden.’

The first is that in its literal sense I totally agree having recently experienced a herd of cows in my own back garden that caused havoc with the manicured lawns and carefully prepared herbaceous borders! I’ve only just recovered the situation although the deck balustrade still needs fixing.


The second, as a metaphor, which often fits the bill as my ‘garden’ is often open to the public…….

Garrett is involved with publishing and has some exciting ideas involving fishing and writing, I’ll keep you informed.

I enjoyed two further days on the Kennet in the company of Steve and Harry, both winners in the Barbel Society Research and Conservation online Auction, I try to do my bit.

I also enjoyed a day once again in the blazing heat, this time on the banks of the River Teme where I was joined by three guys from Kent who had recently found the barbel bug after years fishing for carp. It was also our good fortune to meet up with Rob Swindells and Mark Dutton who were also on the water putting together a feature with Gary Newman for the Anglers Mail.

One or two barbel did show but it was hard work. The barbeque and banter more than made up for the fishing and I know the lads had a great time.

And then it was back on the road to catch up with Cristian once again.

When you cover the amount of miles I do especially at night you meet many hazards.

Roads shut with little warning necessitating ten mile detours, blue lights flashing in the distance signalling a nasty accident – a car upside down and a motorbike close to Cotheridge church which meant my sleep for the night would be even less. Luckily no one was hurt.

Back on the Kennet and another day with Cristian and set up in a different swim.

Casters again and it was slow going for most of the day.

Then it was fish on but fish off almost immediately, probably foulhooked as the barbel came out to gorge on the baitdroppered feast.

Usually a lost fish means a long wait but I decided to put the bait back in right away and it was taken as soon as it hit the bottom, bang no messing and Cristian was in once again.

As it appeared just below the surface in front of us it was clear that a double figure barbel was attached, when it rolled over the net I knew it was probably over twelve.

Cristian was elated when the scales read 12-06, mission accomplished.


My first weeks fishing of a new season and it had been rather eventful.

The next fortnight was also memorable but we can talk about that next time.

Enjoy the fine weather, it will be cold, rain and floods before very long and we’ll all be harking back to the long summer days!



I received this email from Lloyd and I would like to share his words with you.

Mr. Pope

I was very saddened to hear of the recent passing of Fred (Mr. Barbel) Crouch.

I only learned of it a short time ago by reading of this loss on your fishing site.

I hope you will remember how much help you were to me by contacting Fred

and making all the necessary arrangements for me to get one of Fred’s reels.

To be honest, I only fished it a couple of times before setting it up in a glass

display case in our living room along with some floats and other fishing items.

However, after reading your tribute to Mr. Crouch and seeing all the photos

you added to the article of his fishing reel, rods and other tackle, I decided to

set a day aside and fish the “Fred Crouch Jet Reel” as a long distant salute to

a man whom I never met, yet was very fond of, knowing him from the written

pages alone.

So today was that day and I revisited a spot that my dad and I fished a number

of years in the past while he also was still with us. There was nothing really

melancholy or sad about this day even though I was thinking so much about

what was now past. I believe Fred would have liked fishing with me if for no

other reason than he seemed to enjoy a good laugh. Take my attempt at a timed

photo of myself, a carp and a camera perched atop a loaf of bread. I only wish

my brother could have been there to photograph the day because he’s twice as

smart as I am with electronics and he’s only a half whit so you can see the

position that leaves me in.

I had a most exquisite day float fishing with Fred’s reel and managed a mixed

bag of carp, trout and three American cat fish, sorry Fred…it was the closest

thing to a Barbel I could find here.

I’m certain that more than just a few of Fred’s reels have been put back in service

over the last few months in fond memory of a life spent by moving waters.

It was a fun day with my treasured reel and it became a little more treasured after

today. Thanks Again Fred, and thank you Mr. Pope.

My condolences to you Mr. Pope at the loss of you friend.


P.S. none of these photos are meant to be hero shots, I just wanted to share

my day with you in the hope of lightening the loss in some small way.






A wonderful heart-warming tale from Lloyd, Fred’s influence lives on many miles away in the United States of America.



Ken Stokes

Ken is a very talented artist, he submitted an excellent article for Fred’s tribute magazine and I would like to thank him for the artwork he supplied to illustrate his work.




I’ve enjoyed some magical moments this year with my little granddaughter Eva. She is now one year old and we recently attended her fabulous birthday party. She loved the slide and swing we bought for her and the fabulous summer weather means she is getting full use out of them!






I’m looking forward to spending lots more quality time with her over the coming months.

Being a grandparent isn’t quite as easy as I at first thought.

I like to think I’m really good at being grandad but the reality is like anyone else I’m totally in the hands of my own children with regards to the involvement I have.

Fortunately my youngest daughter understands this and is as good as it gets when it comes to maintaining contact and I am forever grateful for that.

I haven’t seen my grandson Henry for a year now save a few minutes on Skype, that saddens me.

It’s highly unlikely I’ll be heading off to Australia anytime soon so my relationship with my grandson which I had such high hopes for is well and truly put to one side.

Life goes on though.




I mentioned Facebook at the beginning of this update and want to talk a little about it on here.

I found myself agreeing up to a point with my mate Bob Roberts when he questioned the amount of outpouring of grief when someone famous dies, in this case Robin Williams.

There’s no doubt that Bob’s choice of words could have been more sympathetic but the response to it has amazed me.

The real point is why do we use Facebook?

Everyone has their own reason but one of the main ones which people will certainly deny but nevertheless is true is to show off! And before anyone jumps down my throat I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong in that!

That is most certainly the case once you allow people to become friends who you hardly know.

It is also to be seen to belong.

Once you start analysing things deeply it’s almost a form of therapy and that’s why it can be a very dangerous place.

How much should one expose of oneself?

Should we share our innermost thoughts, wear our hearts on our sleeves?

I know why I use it and I make no bones about it.

As someone who is happy to share his life with all and sundry I willingly pay the price but there is a line which I would not cross, I’ll go so far but that’s it.

I likened this phenomenon where so many like to make a show of their grief, some would say respect, when a famous person dies, to the Diana syndrome.

I stand by that, Facebook gives absolutely everyone the opportunity to express themselves and be part of this all-consuming drive to belong.

I’m not knocking those who use FB, just questioning the real reasons people use it, I’m sure they are far deeper than the person themselves may even imagine…………………..


Fishing Magic

I’m really pleased to be writing a monthly diary once again.

You can catch up with the latest;

Here, here and here!


That’s it for now, I’ll be back in a few weeks time, enjoy your fishing!



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