Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

October Update

It’s Sunday on the Kennet and I’m with Martin. He has driven down from Worcester full of eager anticipation for a huge barbel resting in his landing net after a titanic battle.

Well, the story is that half of that came true, unfortunately the barbel didn’t quite make it to the net, almost, but that’s never enough!

Martin had booked a day with me after reading my article in Angling Times, he has recently returned to angling like hundreds of others and has caught the barbel bug which isn’t surprising when you live in Worcester. With the Teme, Severn, Wye and Avon on your doorstep you really are living in the land of barbel riches. Losing the big fish, it was certainly a double, was a blow but I’m always confident when fishing, no point in being anything else, the worst thing you can do is let your confidence drop because you then cease to fish properly and that is a recipe for blanking.

So with renewed determination we quickly put the disappointment behind us and Martin fished on to land a couple of barbel, each one bigger than his previous best so we had done well on a difficult day. The river Kennet as I write is painfully low and I’m certain it’s having a negative impact on the fishing, the sooner the level returns to something approaching normal the better for all and most importantly for the river’s inhabitants. Powers that be, take note.



It’s Monday morning, bright and early, and its time to catch up with John. The weather stayed reasonably mild overnight which is an added bonus as the clear skies of the previous evening sent alarm bells ringing that a ground frost and drop in the perilously low water was on the cards and would have a real adverse affect on the days fishing.

John had driven down from Leicestershire and was full of expectation; he had in his words hundreds of questions to fire at me! John was particularly keen to have a go with a centrepin reel so we started off with my usual rod and Rapidex after laying the essential bed of bait and attractor, i.e. hemp and casters.

Around midday we had a visitor, Mr Barbel himself had come down to see us. Fred Crouch is a living barbel legend and I challenge anyone not to be enthralled by a few hours on the riverbank in his company. John was over the moon and it got even better when the reel sprang to life and John found himself attached to what turned out to be a mega strong 10-12 barbel. Watching him play the fish with me on one side and Fred on the other was an absolute joy as the fish made one determined run after another. As the barbel eventually rolled over the landing net John fell back in the chair absolutely knackered, wonderful!

Pictures taken after resting the barbel then the careful release of this fantastic fighting fish, we took a good few minutes to sit back and reflect.

The hours passed by all too quickly and then just as Fred was thinking about setting off for home to miss the motorway traffic the reel started spinning and we were off once again. This fish didn’t fight quite so hard and I was surprised when it showed itself and looked to be at least nine plus, imagine the excitement once again when the scales registered an identical weight as the first fish, two doubles in daylight, superb!

Fred left us, happy to be part of the whole joyful experience, John was so pleased to meet up with the man himself and I just love seeing Fred at any time!

When the day finally came to an end we said our goodbyes after devouring a tasty rump steak in the nearby pub, it really is something to share someone else’s pleasure and sheer delight at catching a personal best. I’m sure we’ll do it again further down the line.




It’s Thursday the 22nd and it’s Gentlemen’s Day on the Kennet, now there’s a euphemism if ever I’ve heard one! Shades of Compo, Foggy and Cleggy and the rest of the gang on a day’s outing escaping from Nora Batty! Or, and probably more likely, Del Boy and Rodney and the rest of the recalcitrant bunch off on a jolly boys outing, this time to Newbury instead of Margate!

I was first on the river and decided to leave the hot swim to someone else, which was a mistake as I’ll come back to later, I decided on a peg I had not fished for a year or so.

First job after putting some bait in with the dropper was to set up the umbrella, it was beginning to rain and the forecast was not ideal. The lads started to arrive and take up their positions; this day isn’t about catching it’s really all about having some laughs.

Just as my eyes were about to give in and let me catch up on a few minutes shuteye a familiar face popped into view, I say familiar I thought it was Pete as he had big old shades on, I bet it’s not often that Chris Tarrant can go anywhere and not be recognised!

I quickly apologised for not immediately identifying one of the most famous faces in the land and made some sort of miserable excuse.

The day progressed with no sign of a fish, Fred Crouch came down once again to see everyone and he stayed for quite some time.

I made a point of checking out the top swim and found someone fishing opposite, no problem with that except there isn’t usually a swim there. That was until a bailiff decided to cut one out and fish across to our side, I can see trouble ahead…

We all descended on the local hostelry to finish off a great day with a fine meal.

Great set of lads who fish on the stretch, as I said it’s not always about catching fish, sometimes it’s about catching up with mates and this was one such time.

We’ll do it all again next year.



The month is drawing to a close and a couple of days on the Lower Severn is beckoning. The river is still very low but some good fish have come out even so, including doubles, I just have to be there.

On my way down the phone rings and it’s my old pal Graham Elliott aka Silverfox on the line. Are you fishing and can I join you? I’m on my way and of course you can was my immediate response, we’ll meet up around three thirty. We did just that and Graham settled into a swim, which had produced some fish earlier in the week, and I fished a couple of swims below.
To cut a long story short, the wily old fox proceeded to catch four barbel including two doubles, pellet proving far more popular than my maggot approach.

I was actually sitting with Graham when the biggest of his fish took, it didn’t fight at all and it wasn’t until I lifted the net that we could see it was a good double, 11-5 in fact.

Graham left to go back home to Ross around 10pm; I stayed on till midnight but to no avail.

Graham is tremendous company and it is no surprise that he has been so busy this summer catching lots of barbel from the Wye.



The next day I had a go in Graham’s swim and it was tough, the fish were not there, and I managed just the one while losing a couple of feeders in the horrendous snag.

I’ll be back next week because I’ve seen enough this year to convince me that the Lower Severn is returning to form and as long as conditions allow I’m sure a couple of big fish will come my way.



Saturday morning I left for the journey back home to the rolling hills of the Marches.


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