Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

First of October Update



When I first moved out to Brentwood in the early seventies the High Street had a Wimpy Bar and a fish and chip restaurant, that was it, the town was regarded as an outpost and the M25 was just lines on the planners’ drawing board. Marks and Spencers? No chance.

These days you will be hard pressed to find anything other than a restaurant in that same High Street, catering for every imaginable taste and wallet, you have to get out to the shopping centres at Lakeside or Bluewater if you want to spend your money on items other than food! Marks and Sparks did eventually arrive as well.

Now I live in a pretty remote area, at least twenty five miles from anything comparable to what I’ve left behind but all of a sudden a distinct feeling of deja vu has come over me as all kinds of gastronomic delights have come into my radar.

Flicking through the pages of Country and Border Life I came across a review for a pub I’ve passed many times on my way down to the river at Welshpool, from the outside it looks like any other pub you would see in this area and you wouldn’t really give it a second glance, big mistake.

By all accounts the food on offer at this establishment is pretty close to Michelin Star standard and at sensible prices too, so when the chance came to try it out I went for it and was not disappointed. Along with my wife, whose birthday we were celebrating, and my two daughters and soon to be son in law, we sampled just about every dish on the menu and each one was superb.

The really good news is that the proprietors of this fantastic eaterie have taken over a building in the market square in Montgomery which is just a few miles away and are turning it into a top class bar and restaurant.

Together with the first class Indian already in this tiny town all of a sudden my little piece of secluded heaven has just taken a few giant strides up the ladder and added to the desirability of this wonderful area.

Just as long as this oasis doesn’t turn into the Mid Wales equivalent of Brentwood High Street!  I somehow doubt it.



Met up with Martin on Tuesday for what turned out to be a rather eventful guiding day on the Kennet. Martin had previously spent two days with me on the river last year and it was hard work then tempting the barbel although we did manage to catch a couple and lost a big fish as well so the pressure was on me this time to do everything in my power to ensure not just a good day but a memorable one as well.

Martin, like a number of the guys who have been with me this season doesn’t get out fishing as much as he would like so expectation levels were heightened, but hey that’s what these days are all about and I thrive on the pressure!

Mind you the drive to Newbury from Worcester very early in the morning did not fill me with great joy, I noticed that the A419 is being closed for a couple of weeks at the times I tend to drive through, and with a busy month in store detours and diversions are on the cards. Plus the rain, it had been forecast and it was coming down pretty heavy. I don’t mind it when I’m on the river and all set up but I hate getting soaked before I’ve even started!

Now that I know where the twenty four hour maccy d’s is I made sure a couple of Mcmuffins were consumed before I arrived on the fishery, so although I wasn’t feeling great I wasn’t hungry, but to be honest the cold which was in its first stages has really got a grip on me now.

Having set up base camp and put in some hemp and maggots I wandered back to the carpark to be greeted by the ever smiling Martin, the rain had eased by now and I had fingers crossed that the forecast would be wrong and the promised heavy downpours would arrive in earnest much later.

I had decided to go with maggots because we had given the casters a good run out on the last two occassions and this was a good opportunity to go through many of the details involved with the wriggly technique, there are some subtle differences from the caster approach.

Just after ten the Rapidex spun into life, the tune a little different from the usual as this was another reel loaded with mono this time out. Martin sprung into action and took immediate control. Memories of that lost barbel came flooding back but this time there would be no mistakes. The fight was dogged and the fish put up a solid resistance but Martin was in total control and when the barbel eventually rolled over my waiting net I knew it was mission accomplished. There is always a wait though no matter how great the excitement, I always leave the fish and net in the water’s edge for a couple of minutes or so before lifting the fish out for the moment of truth. I can usually tell straight away, not so much from looking at the fish but from the actual weight in the net, I knew this was to be Martin’s double and so it proved  when the scales registered a very pleasing 10-12.

To say we were pleased would be a huge understatement, the day had barely started and a really nice barbel was in the bag, but then things started to go downhill. Day turned almost to night as the sky turned black and the rain came down, and it rained and it rained.

Plus, we were being plagued by the dreaded crays. Ronnie, Reggie and the rest of the gang were in residence and on the maggots as soon as they hit the deck. The only other bait I had was a few pellets and groundbait and some meat for rolling around in the weirpool later in the day.

We dabbled for a short while with the pellets while I tried to come up with a solution to the maggot problem while trying to keep dry because the rain was relentless and looking like it was in for the day.

I tried the fake maggots and casters but wasn’t really confident enough and when your confidence is down you rarely catch.

And then I cracked it. The Enterprise hook skins which hadn’t seen the light of day since Adam’s Mill finally had a use. They would be the perfect hair for glueing maggots on lengthways, so presenting the bait in a way which the crays would find great difficulty  removing them from my hook. I glued four on allowing the minimum of wriggling and hoped it would work.

We tested the rig out, first five, then ten and finally fifteen minutes, the bait was still intact, confidence on a high we sat back and didn’t have to wait long before barbel number two arrived.

Martin ended up with half a dozen nice fish including his hoped for double and a personal best, the maggot dodge had worked well.

The rain did not stop but although wet, bedraggled and somewhat knackered we had enjoyed a really good day. Back at the carpark I dried myself off, changed into some dry clothes and set off back to Worcester. I barely reached the end of the lane when the phone started to ring, it was Martin and he had a problem………………..his car wouldn’t start.

Now over the years I can recall many tales of car breakdowns in the middle of nowhere and being transported home by the AA, The RAC and anyone else who was mad enough to sign me up. Always they involved dear old Fred Crouch, I’ll have to sit down and put a piece together because there have been some funny stories.

Anyway back to Martin’s predicament. The AA were called and it didn’t take too long for them to come out and find us. However the man in yellow could not fix it, this  meant that Martin was going to travel back home to Worcester in the transporter as his sick car was going to need more specialised attention.

I rang Martin yesterday and all was fine, an electrical component had broken down and so it wasn’t an overly expensive headache and he was still revelling in the excitement of the previous days fishing!

I’ll be back on the Kennet next week with more friendly barbel fishers all full of eager anticipation, I just hope this cold which has taken hold at the moment disappears so that I’m fit and raring to go once more!



Bait Droppers

I haven’t forgotten that I said I would put an article together covering as much as I possibly can about the humble baitdropper and its use, I have the title…..Me and my rod, baitdroppin………….but I haven’t got round to taking photos as my droppers seem to be all over the shop and getting them into one place for a photo has proved difficult but I’ll get there!

My favourite dropper for maggots and casters is the Thamesley and as you know production of these ceased some time ago. But, good news, a dropper identical to the Thamesley is now made by Dinsmore, just ask your tackle shop to get them in.

I have been using the metal equivalent and was down to my last one but the very nice people at Alan’s in Worcester ordered some more in and I’m ok now, they will be getting the Dinsmore Thamesleys in as well so I’ll be stocking up with those as well very soon.

The other dropper in this size category is The Fred Crouch Dropper and I know that they are very popular. The thing is Fred is down to the last few now and whether he produces anymore is down to how much interest there is.

So if you are a fan of Fred’s droppers let me know and if the response is good enough I’ll see if Fred can sort things out, we need to see a demand in the region of a couple of hundred or so and the price is around the £4 mark.

Barbel Society

Other than promote and inform I tend to stay away from Barbel Society issues on my own website, I’ve taken the view that it might be considered an abuse of my position being Chairman and having had a direct involvement from the very first day. I’m not proposing to use my site to discuss BS matters but following on from the latest BS initiative HERE and a thread discussing the Society on a barbel forum I feel compelled to say something.

My skin is as thick as it comes, you don’t spend twenty or so years surviving in the firing line by letting the dissenters get you down, but I take great exception when friends, acquaintances and those who work hard behind the scenes get ridiculed by those who in the main are not fit to lace their boots!

Plus it’s the constant sniping whenever the Society is mentioned on barbel forums from those who have made the conscious decision to leave. Empty vessels and all that.

Jerry Gleeson has summed it all up very eloquently when addressing those same people by saying, you’ve left, leave it at that and don’t keep moaning in an effort to put prospective new members off.

The Barbel Society will move on in the future by attracting guys like Jerry, not by looking back at itself and worrying why some who make a lot of noise have left.

The Society is not perfect, never has been, never will be, but it’s a really good place for those just starting out on their barbel fishing journey and those who want to make new friendships and feel involved in an organisation that does its level best to put something back.

My message to the great army of newcomers with a thirst for greater knowledge is to join up now, don’t be put off by a few who have their own issues, you won’t regret it.

A Bad day by the Bridge

The day before I met up with Martin on the Kennet I made my usual stopover on the Severn. I fished for a few hours but the barbel didn’t show. I was fishing more in hope than certainty because time didn’t really allow for a proper effort. As I packed away I bumped into the guvnor, Mick, and he looked really down. He told me that Stu who is basically Mick’s right hand man and someone I’ve known for many years had collapsed in his caravan after a days fishing and had been rushed to hospital and it didn’t look good at all. I felt that all consuming numb shock we experience when receiving bad news about someone we know.

If Mick hadn’t been on the scene Stu’s chances would have been nil, he had suffered a massive heart attack. The latest news is that he’s stable in hospital and my thoughts are with him, I want to see his smiling face which has been a permanent fixture these past fifteen years at a place which has literally been my second home.

The day before someone jumped off the bridge and landed on the jetty ouside Mick’s office, they did not survive. Carrington Bridge has become a popular spot for this sort of thing unfortunately.

This fishing life brings you up close with all aspects and is forever ramming home that message about time waiting for no man.

Get well Stu.


I see that my old mate Bob Roberts has been down to my neck of the woods. If I’d known you were around you could have popped in to the apartment in St. Katherine’s Dock and had a cup of tea, or a glass of wine……………its that sort of place!

Although a North London boy I cut my teeth around the East End in the sixties and remember well the old Prospect, as Bob says its all a bit different these days.

I need to check out the Jamie Oliver place in Clapham especially as that part of London is now a regular haunt. It will have to wait though because before that a visit to the Ritz for afternoon tea is calling courtesy of our lovely daughters!

London is still where it’s at, eh Bob?

I enjoy reading Bob’s blogs, Bob is an exceptional writer and you need to be good if you’re going to take him on, I haven’t seen too many get the better of him!

I did think of Bob as the Piers Morgan of the Angling world but Ive changed that as he is fitting more into the Richard Littlejohn mode, at least on his blog!

Many of the other blogs are individuals talking among themselves, a sort of public round robin, not entirely sure I can see the point in letting the world – I really do exagerrate – in on your deepest thoughts but there you go. And then they will swear its not about ego……………pleeeeeeze!

I may well write a full blown article for the next Barbel Fisher detailing my thoughts and views on the blogs that are out there, we’ll see.

Almost a Year…..

I find it hard to believe but the first birthday for my website is looming fast. The time just seems to fly by.

I’ve been really pleased with the feedback I’ve had and although it is very time consuming I love keeping it up to date.

The number of visitors has staggered me, the numbers are far greater than I would ever have imagined, the power of the Internet eh?!

Keep looking in and I’ll do my best to ensure the next twelve months content maintains your interest.

So thank you to everyone,

All the best,


Leave a Reply

For more information regarding guiding, articles, talks and presentations, shows and anything barbel fishing related contact me at: StevePopeBarbelFishing Facebook