Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

End of Season Update


Well that’s it then, as the song just said, time to pack the rods away for three months if  you are an angler who likes catching coarse fish from the river because it’s all over for the time being. The really foul weather this winter has kept most of us off the rivers these past three months save for the very few window openings, and now we have to stop for the next twelve weeks, and what happens? Bang on cue the weather decides to improve. On my patio the other day the thermometer registered twenty degrees in the sun!  Someone up there sure doesn’t like us barbel fishers!

Now I’ve always been a fervent close season supporter, campaigned vigorously for its continued retention on the rivers because I’ve always believed it showed that we really do care and don’t just talk about it.

With each passing season the clamour for its removal is heard louder and louder and I have to say that because I fear for river fishing in the future my own resolve is being tested more so now than its ever been, but it’s still intact and I bet I’m not alone. My conviction is still there but I do have concerns I have to admit.

This past barbel fishing season has in reality lasted no more than six months and one more year of the same and many river based clubs are going to suffer and may even fold, it really is that serious. Together with the economic pressures most people are under and they are not going to be eased in the short term, the multitude of threats to the ecology of our rivers, and it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that the game is up.

But it isn’t, yes the fishing is more difficult than it was but it’s certainly not as tough as twenty years ago so we have to keep things in some sort of perspective. Over on BFW, Keith Speer has put up a superb post detailing his magnificent results for this past season which fly in the face of what most have been saying, his secret, basically he does something a bit different, he catches his barbel on the float. How many of us can say we have spent many hours running a stick float down the river for barbel in recent times, not many I would wager!

If you haven’t seen it have a look HERE.

But it doesn’t have to be about using the float, a change of bait away from the ubiquitous pellet and boilie will often bring better results, check out my caster article if you don’t believe me!

I managed to get down to the Lower Severn for the last three days of the season. Conditions were far from favourable. I slept in my caravan with full thermals on and a beany hat, electric blanket as well and still woke up thinking I’d laid down in the freezer, it was cold all right!  The river was very low and cold, the night time air temperature was still too close to freezing, all in all not a fantastic prospect but when time is running out you have to be there, it only takes one bite and who knows, you could be the holder of the new Severn barbel record! We must always be free to dream.

I fished on and off from about 10am until 10pm, and my effort resulted in four barbel and one missed take which on tackle retrieve produced two barbel scales on the hook, often the reason why those seemingly impossible to miss “bites” actually are missed!

The biggest fish came in at 8-12 and the smallest around the five pound mark, bearing in mind the conditions I was happy no matter how much or little they weighed.

Did I use enough bait? Well I would say it was sufficient for the need, a couple of gallons of hemp mixed with a selection of pellets, around 2kgs.

All the fish came between 4-30 and 6-30 which told me that for the great majority of the time they were not in the swim. I was waiting for the odd fish to move in, find the bait, stay around long enough to pick up my offering and hoping all the while that it would be a big one. That just about sums up Lower Severn fishing, especially in the winter months.

I tried the cheesepaste which was potent to my senses but obviously not to the fish, I tried meat with the same end result, the only bait the barbel picked up was a small pellet.

During my stay I saw very few other anglers on the bank, a sign of the times or perhaps they just had more sense. A pair of hardy souls ventured out on the last day on the opposite bank, I have seen them before and they set up well above me. One of them was trotting. I wiled away a few hours watching the red tip of the float as it rode sweetly down the flow without once dipping below the surface! I took a nice photo as they walked back to their car dreaming just like me of better days to come in the summer.

The barbel are still around on the Lower Severn, not quite so easy to tempt but I’ll be fishing hard comes the autumn to prove to myself that there’s still plenty of life yet in this fantastic river.

But as the song says, you have to persevere because you can’t always get what you want.

 Did you see James Corden on the TV the other night? He appeared in a really funny routine as Smithy The Coach for Sport Relief. I couldn’t believe this was the same bloke I met recently at Heathrow while waiting for my daughters arrival back from Oz. Then he was quiet, polite and unassuming and was happy to chat and let me take a couple of shots. On TV he was a man possessed, if you missed it you can check it out HERE, its worth looking at.

As the saying goes , you can never judge a book  by looking at its cover.

Talking of books and covers, here’s one that most barbel anglers will have on their shelf.

My copy is rather special, it was presented to me by the Barbel Society committee on my fiftieth birthday, signed by them all along with Peter himself.

Now Peter is a good friend, he is Vice President of the Barbel Society and he is a living legend. Anyone who has attended Barbel Society Conferences will know just how witty and amusing he can be when he presents the annual Gordon Scott Award.

I have all his Christmas cards from the past fifteen years and each one has its own comic tale, Peter is a true master of the written as well as spoken word.

Anyway, I’ve had a word with Peter and I’m hoping he is going to send me some of his short anecdotes to put up on here. Fingers crossed and something to look forward to for the future.

Talking of the Society, the latest magazine has just come out and another superb effort it is once again. Fred Bonney does a brilliant job as Editor and the contributions from the members make it a superb read and something we can all be proud of. If you’re not already a member, it really is worth joining so that you ensure your copy comes in the post!

And I mentioned it before, the annual Barbel Society Show is now in place and details are here on the poster. Always a great day where you will meet up with legends such as Peter Wheat, Fred Crouch and Dave Steuart plus many more who share our passion for river fishing.

The season may be over  and spring is a little late this year but the inhabitants of my pond have been busy. The newts are flashing beneath the surface and I managed to get a photo of this little friend looking rather tired after her exertions!

Just up the track that runs alongside my cottage is a lovely new barn that at this time of year doubles up as a maternity wing.

Inside the barn is full with two hundred or so expectant mums!

While most of the mums are of the sheep variety, there are one or two interlopers who have gate crashed the party!

And finally, all I can say is Kate Humble, eat your heart out!!

It’s looking like I could well be Down Under while all the election hoo ha is on. Eldest daughter is planning to get married out there around Christmas time and wants us out there soon to help out with one or two things. I told her that I really should stay behind and make sure my vote counts, and if you believe that you’ll believe anything!

If I stay here I’m likely to see my blood pressure go through the roof and I’ll probably break the telly. Being a grammar school baby boomer I’ve been brought up to look up to certain members of our society. Politicians were one such group, didn’t matter what colour they wore, they were philanthropic, dedicating their lives for us all, to help create a better place…….baloney!!

All respect has gone and it’s not just the expenses scandal, that was the final straw, it’s a different world today and politicians mirror the Society they have helped create. Setting examples? No chance. I just hope Jeremy Paxman grills, I should say fries, a few of them and makes them squirm just to make us feel a little better.

As well as my eldest daughter being abroad, my youngest is out in Florence as I type and I’m expecting an excited call at any time to tell me she too is going to tie the knot next year. Would you believe it, the phone just rang,  just as I said, sixth sense or what?!

Who would have daughters, eh?

Well I wouldn’t have it any other way, family is everything, I consider that I have been truly blessed. You reap what you sow and I must have been a good farmer because I had a bumper harvest!

Now the season is over I really should get some walking in, especially as I need to be in good shape for all the upcoming wedding photos! This little story found its way into my inbox and I’m putting it up here to remind me and you of the pitfalls this innocent pasttime can throw up, plus it reminds me of my lovely next door neighbour!

The Importance of Walking


Walking can add minutes to your life.
This enables you at 85 years old to spend
an additional 5 months in a nursing home
at £3000 per month.

   My grandpa started walking
five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he’s 97 years old and we
don’t know where the hell he is. 

  I like long walks,
especially when they are taken
by people who annoy me.

The only reason I would take up walking
is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

I have to walk early in the morning,
before my brain figures out what I’m doing.

I joined a health club last year …
spent about 400 bucks.
Haven’t lost a pound.
Apparently you have to go there..

Every time I hear the dirty word ‘exercise’,
I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

I do have flabby thighs,
but fortunately my stomach covers them.

   The advantage of exercising every day
is so when you die, they’ll say,
….’Well, she looks good doesn’t she.’

  If you are going to try cross-country skiing,
start with a small country.

I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years,…….
…… just getting over the hill.

 We all get heavier as we get older,
because there’s a lot more information in our heads.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  ….. and

    Every time I start thinking too much about how I look,
I just find a Happy Hour, and by the time I leave,
I look just fine. 

   You could run this over to your friends………
But just e-mail it to them!


Love the lyric; I’m a little down under but I’m feeling ok, got a little lost along the way, just around the corner to the light of day! 

Keep looking in, I have three really good articles to put up in the next few days plus some more nostalgia from Fred Crouch so there should be plenty of new material to keep your attention.

All the best,


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