Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

First Day of March Update

 I’m going to stick my neck out, tempt fate and say that I think I’ve seen the last of the snow for this winter. The odd white patch is still lingering on the top of the hills in the distance but the temperature is on the up, only slightly mind you, and I’m off fishing for the last fortnight. The snowdrops are everywhere around here at the moment and that’s as near to the four letter word as I want to be.

Since the last update I’ve been down to investigate a stretch of the upper, upper Severn near my home, spent eight days down in London and wished my eldest daughter domiciled in Sydney a happy birthday.

She was fortunate enough to spend it at a beautiful hotel on Whale Beach which is part of the Northern Beaches in Sydney. Palm Beach is a little way further up the coast and if you hang around there long enough you’re sure to end up on Home and Away! That part of Sydney is one of my absolute favourite beach areas and as it looks extremely likely that I’ll be out in Oz later in the year, a week or so relaxing by the ocean is something I’ll be looking forward to especially if we have another winter over here like this one! Anyway, it’s a good excuse to put a nice summery picture up on here to remind us of what might be in a few months time. To keep the mood going here’s a picture of the ferry at Manly Wharf, just about the best mode of transport to be found anywhere in a busy city on this planet. I suppose it’s the effect of  reading about Bob Roberts excursions to Africa and receiving loads of pictures and words from my mate John Found who has just returned from the balmy climes of Thailand. Keep looking in because there will be a great article recounting John’s trip on here very shortly.

I love going back to London for short visits now that I live a lifestyle as far removed from city life as it can possibly get. While I was there I managed to catch up with family members, plus a few friends and attended the regional meeting in Enfield- more of which in a moment.

I stay in the Wapping area, well St. Katherine’s Dock to be honest, within a stones throw of Tower Bridge and the Dickens Inn. This time around we managed to visit the Royal Portrait Gallery which has one or two excellent photographic exhibitions running at the moment including a celebration of Twiggy who as you may have gathered from previous blogs is a favourite of mine. Hard to believe she is sixty years old, wonder if those on the front pages today will last as well, I doubt it!

Last Wednesday I turned up at Fred’s house in the early afternoon. We chatted about all manner of things as we always do and Fred subconsciously put together his topics for the coming evening. I picked up one of his Trotter reels together with some photos and press cuttings for later inclusion on here.

We drove down to the Half Way House which took no more than ten minutes, giving ourselves plenty of time to grab a good feed before our evenings work. Dave Collins and one or two others were already there. It was good to see Dave again and to thank him personally for the pictures he had sent me. I managed to get a piece into the evening about the Association of Barbel Enthusiasts, there were a good few in the audience who had enjoyed their time in that organisation. I did point out that Teeshirts for the ABE were still available, you may want to check this out HERE. I reckon they ‘ll go down especially well in my part of the world especially on Five Nations days!

It was the first time we had ever given a talk in a Toby carvery, to be honest it must have been the first time anyone has given a talk in these surroundings! The food was good though, always is, you can hardly complain when it costs a fiver!

Brian, my cousin and Hertfordshire Regional Orgaaniser was already there as well, with his sons who were a great help on the door as the room steadily began to fill before we kicked off at 8-15.

The upstairs room was as packed as any Sunday lunchtime with around fifty people eager to talk and hear about barbel fishing. If I’m truly honest they wanted to hear Fred and he didn’t disappoint!

When I do these talks with Fred I have a planned format to try and keep on track and I usually warn the audience that Fred is likely to go all over the place and I’m not going to stop him, I just sit back and enjoy with everyone else! If you’ve watched the Pub Landlord, Al Murray, perform you’ll know what I mean. He has the knack of reeling off story after story, some joining up, some not! I sometimes think Fred would have made a great stand up act, I don’t know about All Hail To The Ale, more like All Cred To Our Fred!

I was amazed though, during the afternoon Fred had seemed a little tired and I was slightly concerned that he would struggle during the evening. Apart from keeping the presentation on track my role is to fill in when Fred needs to take a breather and I was mentally preparing myself for some long stints.

But cometh the hour, cometh the man as they say and Fred was on fire! It was Fred’s night and the audience lapped it up.

When the bar staff decided they really had to throw us out, they wanted to lock up, we’d been going strong for well over two hours. Now that ain’t bad for a pair whose combined age is over 130! Not quite in Bruce’s league but not far off!

Every single person in the room shook our hands at the end, I’m sure we will be back and it’s safe to say the Hertfordshire Region of the Barbel Society is now up and running.

I really enjoyed sitting alongside Fred and seeing so many old friends as well as catching up with some new faces. The  guys who attend really are the salt of the earth, they love their fishing and they always have a smile on their faces. They certainly confirm my faith in the barbel fishing community.

I must say a word about my old mate, The Don. He somehow managed to find five winning raffle tickets in his hands yet still went home without one prize, that’s the sort of man Don Caliendo is and just one of the many reasons I hold him in such high regard, another Top bloke!

And that was it, a great evening, I drove Fred home and then went back to Wapping. Looking forward to the next time already.

I mentioned a while back that I had made a recce to the upper Severn, I checked out some cracking looking swims with my pal Rich Frampton. These nearbank swims look to be surefire winners and I’m looking forward to putting them to the test around July time. We’ve spent hours walking this

stretch on the opposite bank, checking depths and likely looking barbel areas, we’ve seen the fish as well and Rich has landed a few. There aren’t too many up here but it’s a real challenge and that’s the appeal. It’s not always about catching doubles although I love that part as much as anyone, sometimes the one on one battle of wills with a difficult adversary is every bit as rewarding. We’ll keep you informed how we get on.

To keep my brother happy I’ve included his jukebox of current Paul Weller favourites, he’s as big a fan of the Modfather as I am of The Boss! Some of you younger guys may feel right at home, hope so!

 Now my brother may not be an angler but he recognises a great sentiment when he sees it and I’m going to share the email he sent me with you because the philosophy of life it extoles is just about spot on. Not only that I thought the images were too good to be lost in my inbox!


A boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village

A tourist complimented the local fishermen
on the quality of their fish and asked
how long it took him to catch them.

Not very long.” they answered in unison.
“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”

The fishermen explained that their small catches were
sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children,
and take siestas with our wives.
In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs.

We have a full life.”

The tourist interrupted,

“I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!
You should start by fishing longer every day.
You can then sell the extra fish you catch.
With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?”

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring,
you can buy a second one and a third one
and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man,
you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants
and maybe even open your own plant.

You can then leave this little village and move to   Mexico City , Los Angeles , or even   New York City !

From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” 
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist. 
“And after that?” 
“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting, ” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”    

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.

“After that you’ll be able to retire,
live in a tiny village near the coast,
sleep late, play with your children,
catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”  

And the moral of this story is:


Know where you’re going in life…. 

you may already be there 

Now my bruv mentioned Bill Oddie in his message on my last blog and while picking up a few bits in Tuffin’s, I bought the latest issue of my local magazine, Border Life. There on the front page is the more attractive half of the Spring Watch partnership and she lives not too far away. So that’s my excuse for putting up this picture,

Now I’m feeling just a little bit guilty, these jukebox widgets which I have to say I really love, have come here courtesy of Mr. Bob Roberts. If he hadn’t found them first and used them on his own website then I doubt if I would have found them, so a big thank you to Bob!

And so there is no call for saying I have plagiarised his site , plus the fact that I don’t want Bob turning into one of these,

Bob Blows a Fuse!!

Bob has just posted his latest BLOG and he takes me to task on various aspects of the How Much Bait issue. Check out the Uganda film footage while you’re there, it really is awesome.

The article I posted on here detailing my own opinions on baiting up with pellets or boilies made no mention to “piling it in”. The only time I have ever used that expression in barbel fishing is when referring to hemp and even then I’m sure I would have given an idea on quantity. On its own the quote is pretty meaningless because it would mean different things to different anglers! I’m not exactly sure where it first came about in our “discussions”, but I have not used the term when referring to Bob’s article, the words I picked up on are exactly the words Bob used and I’ve said that I agree with them in certain circumstances. Just as I agree with the techniques employed by Graham. Both methods described in their respective articles work and will catch plenty of barbel, the results prove that!

So how that is sitting on the fence I really don’t know!

Anyway, I’m not losing any sleep on this one, both Bob and Graham are people I class as friends and just because the two of them are at loggerheads on this is no reason for me or you to change our opinions!

I’m looking forward to debating more barbel related issues with both over the coming months, I’ll be enjoying Graham’s company on the riverbank and I’m sure the release of Bob and Stu’s next film will spark off more interesting discussions as they push the boundaries with their innovative filming.

That’s it from me now, I’m off down to the Lower Severn to see out what’s left of this truncated season. The best of luck and good fortune to everyone who looks in for the last few days, let’s hope that big old momma barbel is out there just waiting for us to put a bait right in front of her!



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