Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

Friends of Mine




It was late autumn, a favourite time of the year for barbel fishers as long as Jack Frost has not made his first visit.

The previous day had seen Fred Crouch and me on the banks of the beautiful River Teme for the very first time; along with the rest of the lads from the London region we were attending the Barbel Catchers annual fish-in at Eardiston.

After an eventful day, there’s a story there for another time, we made our way back to the Talbot Inn at Knightwick.

Barbel Catchers fish-ins were always good fun and after the days fishing the Saturday nights were something else!

North- South rivalry often reached new heights and there were times when I used to believe a modern day civil war was about to break out!

But at the end of it all it was always handshakes all round and we always went away looking forward to the next time we would cross rods.

So after a hearty breakfast we had to decide where we were going to fish, first problem being the fact that it was Sunday and there was a match in progress on the river along side the pub.

We were in no great hurry, back then it was rare for serious barbel fishing to be undertaken before lunch, indeed it usually took place after dinner……….a nocturnal affair.

Stepping outside, the sun was shining over the exquisite Teme valley and all was right with the world.

Fred said we should have a walk along the river and sort out a couple of swims for later in the afternoon, we would start fishing as soon as the match finished. This meant we would be setting up around three o’clock or thereabouts.

The Teme is a beautiful river throughout its length; biggest problem for us anglers is the difficulty accessing the prime swims. It usually involves ropes, dogspikes and abseiling gear and even then you usually find yourself perched precariously at the waters edge risking life and limb……….but as long as you take the necessary precautions it’s well worth the trouble.

Today though both Fred and I didn’t really fancy that, we had our eyes on a couple of swims near to the bridge where life would be far more comfortable. I was driving back later in the day and fancied an easy afternoon, didn’t want to be tired at the wheel, mind you with Fred’s non-stop joke repertoire that was never a real problem.

It was almost time up for the anglers fishing the match; Fred was now sitting on the top of the bank above this guy fishing below in what we will call the footbridge swim.

“ No point yow fishen ‘ere mate, bin trottin the stick midstream, one point seven bottom and not ad a boight!”

Now at this point you have to use your imagination, this guy was your stereotypical not too serious match man, think Adrian Chiles when he’s about fifty five and a couple of stone heavier than he is now and you start to get the picture. Throw in the white shirt, all singing seatbox and more bits of tackle and bait stands than you could possibly need for a couple of hours fishing and the image begins to take shape! Our new Brummie mate had all the gear, not sure if he had the right idea though.

“ That’s a shame “ says Fred, “ Looks a decent enough swim, I fancy giving it a go.”

The sound of the klaxon reverberated across the valley and our man reeled in and started the enormous task of packing away his mountain of gear.

“ Awroight then mate,, but yaouw do na good ‘ere today..”

Fred started to get his trusty cane rod out of its old linen bag; Brummie looked on in amazement and began to laugh. All the while I’m sitting at the top of the bank just watching proceedings.

“What the ‘ell  d’ya call that!?”

“Er that’s my rod mate, caught me loads of barbel that has, never use anything else.”

Fred proceeded to rummage around in his tackle bag; Brummie is taking more than an inquisitive interest now.

“ An’ what the ‘eck is that yaouw putting on the rod?”

“ That’s my centre pin reel mate, only reel I ever use.”

Brummie is looking more and more confused.

“ Yaouw call that line on the’re, more loike bloomin’ rope if yaouw ask me!”

Up on top of the bank I’m struggling to control myself, Fred had managed to get our new mate into a right old state, I was just wondering what was coming next. Brummie had just about packed his gear away by now but his curiosity had got the better of him and he was up for it!

“ Call that an ‘oook, more like a bloomin’ gaff, na sharks in ‘ere mate!”

That was in response to Fred tying his number six on to his six-pound line.

And then he almost split his sides as he collapsed in a heap on the bank; Fred started to put a dozen casters on the hook!

“ Yaouw moost be yampy”  he said as the tears of laughter started to roll down his cheeks.

This bloke had to be the Brummie prototype for that Harry Enfield character; you know the one, Only Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Having set up his seat and rod rest Fred proceeded to drop his bait in very close just alongside an overhanging bush, our friend was not impressed.

“What yer casting the’re for? Yaouw shood be out in the middle.”

But you’ve been fishing there for the past four hours without so much as a bite.” Says Fred.

Just as Fred finished the sentence and before Brummie could start another “yauow don’t wanna be doing it loike that, you should be doing it loike this routine,” the old aerial screamed into life.

I almost tumbled down the bank, Brummie can’t believe what he is seeing and Fred calmly brings a five-pound barbel to the net.

It was starting to turn into a comedy sketch and Fred knew it.

One fish soon became two, two then became three and it all became a bit too much for Brummie; he had turned into a quivering wreck!

All of this took place in no more than twenty minutes.

As Brummie made his way over to the Talbot carpark I could hear him mumbling to himself.

I could just make out the words but I can’t repeat them here, well I sort of made out cockney******!, Kin aida, and other undecipherable local expletives!

Fred was into another, he ended up with six in all.

What of course he should have said but I’ve no doubt he knew it was,

“ I’ve just been out fished by a rather exceptional cockney barbel catcher!”

To bring this tale to an end I must add that I have many Brummie chums, the Teme Valley has been a second home these past twenty years and the local people and fisherfolk are salt of the earth characters, and apart from our friend in this tale they all know how to catch their barbel!


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