Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

Early September Update



Don’t want a four leaf clover

Don’t want an old horse shoe

Want you along,

Cos we can’t go wrong

With a good luck charm like FRED!

With all due deference to The King, but let’s be honest, when it comes to barbel fishing there really is just one King, just one President, just one Mr. Barbel and thats my great mate Fred Crouch!

Yesterday along with Robert and Dalvinder I spent the whole day on the banks of the River Kennet in the company of this magical man.

Now when Fred and myself get together things happen, and yesterday was no exception, as all of us there shared a day that will live in our memories forever.

You have to go back to November last year for the start of this story, that was when I received a very nice email from Dalvinder enquiring about a days fishing for her and Robert. They are both members of the Barbel Society and had missed out on an auction prize of a days fishing with Fred and myself and she had seen my website and noticed that the opportunity was there to book a day.

So Robert received his Christmas present and after eight months we finally all met up on the river.

I knew it was going to be one of those days as I met them both in the carpark just after eight o’clock. Now I’ve heard lots of reasons over the years for people being a little late but this was the first time I’ve heard someone say they had to rush down to the 24 hour Tesco’s to buy clothes because thay had left a bag behind………………..I am too much of a gentleman to go into any further detail but lets just say it put a smile on everyone’s face before we had even thought about casting a line!

We were comfortably set up at base camp when at about ten a.m. a familiar face popped out of the undergrowth carrying his chair, bag of food and trusty flask. It was Fred, right on cue and to everyone’s delight. He opened up the chair, sat down and gave himself five minutes to regain his breath. After that he was on top form for the next eight hours as we all enjoyed a wonderful day.

Not long after Fred’s arrival the rodtop went round and the ‘pin sang out loud as Robert found himself attached to the first barbel of the day. After a lively struggle and a very competent performance, like so many others this summer , Robert became the proud captor of his first centrepin caught barbel which tipped the scales just over seven pounds, a good start.

I left Fred to look after Dalvinder as I went off with Robert to take in the stretch and point out the sort of places where the barbel like to live and how we set about trying to catch them. Along the way we met up with Rich who had brought me down this morning in double quick time from Worcester. I was still feeling groggy from being in the car earlier as we raced around a number of successive roundabouts in our quest to find a McDonald’s, we found one but at a cost, my dizzy head!

Next we bumped into one of the members and a very happy guest who had just returned a barbel two ounces shy of that word we all savour…a double!

Then I invited Rob to pull up one of the crayfish traps to see what was inside and as he examined the contents his face was a picture! He could not believe how many were in the cage and just how big they were, it’s amazing and to be honest quite scary to imagine these horrendous creatures scampering about on the riverbed picking at my carefully presented casters!

Back at base nothing much had happened save for Fred keeping Dal amused with his never ending supply of daft jokes and stories which bring tears of laughter no matter how many times you have heard them.

Our return must have alerted the barbel as soon after our arrival the reel sang out once again and Dal picked up the rod to find herself connected to an awesome fighter!

Now I know we regularly wax lyrical about hard fighting barbel but the fish at the end of our line was one of the most determined I’ve encountered for a long, long time.

Dal is not the strongest of people and a couple of times during the battle I had to help out and I was convinced we were attached to a twelve pound fish at the very least.

After what seemed an eternity the barbel eventually rolled over the net and it was obvious it was no twelvepounder but I really thought it was a double. The scales told another story and we settled on 9-11, a great fish none the less.

A personal best, the first on the ‘pin but quite simply one of the toughest fish in the river!

Happy days, but I was secretly hoping that Rob was going to get his double otherwise life was going to be a bit difficult later that evening back in their tent at the campsite!

An hour or so passed by and Rich had decided to pay us a visit. As we were all chatting away the reel started to spin once again and this time Rob was on the case and involved in a decent tussle with another good barbel. If truth be told this fish did not put up half the fight of the previous one and it was not until I glimpsed a flash as it appeared near the surface that I realised it could well be a double. Fred hadn’t seen it as clearly as me and was saying that it was around the seven or eight pound mark.

As she rolled ove rthe rim of the net it was clear my estimate was closer than Fred’s but there was still nothing clear to prepare me for what was to come when I tried to lift the net after resting the fish for a few minutes.

As I went to lift the net it became obvious that this was a very big barbel, and so it turned out when the scales registered 13-6, a truly marvellous Kennet prize.

To say everyone was pleased would be an almighty understatement, I tried to maintain a Mr. Cool stance but underneath that calm exterior the adrenalin was pumping I can tell you!

So there we had it, a personal best for Robert as well, mission well and truly accomplished.

This barbel fishing lark is a funny old game, the other week we couldn’t buy a bite, today two personal bests and possibly the biggest fish on the stretch as well. Keep the faith as JBJ always sings.

Fred suggested that it would be nice if the next fish was a fourpounder to keep feet firmly on the ground and so it turned out to be. Fred really does work a very special kind of magic.

Back in the carpark as we said our goodbye’s, Dal handed me a bag full of goodies that I will enjoy this coming weekend, a couple of special curries together with a vast supply of extras , a feast fit for a King!

I just wish I could pack my old mate Fred up in the rucksack and take him along every time I go fishing, he truly is the best good luck charm you could wish for.


Oh, well I’ll just have to stick with this liitle fella;




If you want a day on the Kennet or any other barbel river just get in touch, I can’t guarantee a thirteen or personal best, I can’t always get Fred along but I can guarantee you will have a great time.

All the very best,



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