Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

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London Calling! Late August Update


This is coming to you direct from Old London Town, a place that I find myself being drawn to more and more now that I have moved far away, heck I’m actually enjoying the place, much as any tourist would!

Any excuse to get a Bruce clip on to the site and it’s a great song as well. I was at the Hyde Park concert, right at the front for most of it until my missus and daughters wanted to move further back as it was getting too much for them in the pit!

Sagalouts eh, they just don’t know how to behave!!

The dvd of the concert is brilliant and my brother can be seen quite clearly bopping away near the front, made of sterner stuff than my clan!

Anyway, back to the London connection. The past fortnight has seen me based in Docklands catching up with family and helping my daughter move house. My youngest daughter’s place by the docks is also a very convenient base for hitting the Kennet, not much more than an hours journey early in the morning along the embankment and on to the M4, and I had a number of guiding days to fit in while in town.

I know I’ve said it before but once a Londoner, always a Londoner, it never leaves you no matter how many miles you travel.

However after ten days I was more than ready to escape back to my country retreat where people are few and far between and traffic is non existant save the motorbike riders who defy death on every bend and the tractors who are pretty much a law unto themselves! Mind you I’ll take that any day in preference to sitting on the M25 going nowhere, the road to hell just gets worse every time I’m on it which is never again if I have my way!




I had been promising to take my young nephew fishing for far too long and every time we spoke he reminded me in a way that poured guilt on me for not getting it together sooner. I had previously bought him a fishing kit for his birthday and that was twelve months ago, my brother had done his bit by taking Connor to Centreparcs and the local river but Jeff is not a fisherman, the day had arrived and we were at last going to fish on a local commercial.

We arrived at the A12 Fishery just as the heavens opened and the rain fell in buckets, in no time we were all soaked in the deluge!

Did this dampen our spirits?  Of course not, when you are eight years old it adds to the sense of fun and the fact that you’re out with dad and uncle means they will cop the blame when you get back home and mum starts moaning!

A couple of pints of maggots, a short pole, a float, line and hook and I was back reliving childhood days as Connor fished away catching lots of ever obliging roach and perch…………wonderful!

And when he had mastered the catapult hidden away at the bottom of his new Aldi bag that we picked up on the way, his day was complete as he expertly fired maggots around his float and everywhere else!

The afternoon flew by and as we packed away in the pouring rain I promised young Connor that we would do this again very soon, it had been a magical afternoon.

And you never know, one day when he is a bit older we may fish together on the Kennet and then he really will be hooked for life.





The first of the four days I had planned on the river was with Dave, and although the fishing was slower than usual he managed to christen his beautiful new rod expertly put together by Bob Gill and also catch his first barbel on the ‘pin………….another convert!

Pete Reading was on the river as well and when Dave met him as we walked the stretch he remarked that Pete reminded him of Mick Fleetwood! I have to admit that I hadn’t thought of that before but as Dave spent most of his younger days growing up in California – Me jealous?  You bet! – and Pete stands well over six feet and always has the colour of someone who spends their time in Malibu I suppose the connection is there,.

Day two and I was meeting up with Trev, someone I’ve known for a number of years and a great Barbel Society supporter.

Now I usually arrive at the river an hour or so before I meet my guest but no sooner had I arrived just as the day was dawning when another car came down the lane and it was Trev, he was keen!

We had a great day, Trev caught his first barbel on his Pete Reading centrepin that he won in a raffle, for those of you who don’t know Trev, he always wins in a raffle!

Dave and Marilyn Brown were on the river as well and with four barbel, the biggest a few ounces off double figures a good time was had by all.

The third day on the Kennet was spent with Mark, a really nice fellow who has been catching loads from the Wye, he lives in Hereford practically on the riverbanks – Me Jealous? Course not!!

I enjoyed another excellent day in Mark’s company and Mark like Dave earlier, caught his first barbel on the pin, another convert. Seems like there are quite a few who have yet to discover the joys of playing a barbel this way, I’m on a mission over the next few years to see that changes!

As the afternoon merged into eveningtime we witnessed an amazing site. An otter swam downstream through the swim no more than a foot from the bank in the most nonchalant style you could possibly imagine. It was not fazed by our presence one iota, indeed it almost stopped to look up at us as if to say where’s my dinner! I just prayed it wasn’t going to be the big thirteen that lives close by.

Thirty minutes later it swam by again, going upstream to its family no doubt, without a care in the world. I knew otters where already on the stretch but this was the first time I had seen one so close and personal. A good friend of mine has recently seen  the remains of a barbel on the Kennet a bit lower down from this stretch and it had obviously met its fate at the claws of an otter, it remains to be seen how big a problem this will be.

The next day was taken up by moving my daughter from Southend to London, hard work but it will be much easier seeing her now, two daughters in Central London and one in Sydney makes for a hectic family life I can tell you!

Day four was once more in the company of good friend Paul Garner and this time he had brought along his dad, Fred.

What a character, a special bloke is Fred, we had a fantastic day, the stories just kept on coming and the fishing was good as well!

The idea was that Paul would get enough together for an article for Angling Times and I think we managed it so keep an eye out in AT, it should be in over the next couple of weeks.

Fred is one of the coolest guys I’ve ever seen when it comes to hitting a barbel take, he takes it all in his stride or I should say seat because he only gets up when absolutely necessary, but he knows his stuff make no mistake!

During conversation the subject of cats came up. Now I’m no great cat lover but when the girls were growing up we had a rather special cat along with a golden retriever. I mentioned to Paul that we had a Birman and was completely taken aback as he scrolled through his phone and handed it to me saying, ” What like these?”

Paul and his wife are proud owners of two of these majestic creatures, all I could say was something like , great minds………………..!

I have rarely met anyone who even knew what the breed was, the usual repsonse being, ” You mean Burmese  don’t you?”

Here’s a couple of pictures of our much loved feline;


I really am chomping at the bit to tell you some news about my old mate Fred Crouch. However I’m under strict instructions not to say too much just yet, suffice to say it involves his family, a very well known TV show and the scariest woman on TV!

Keep watching this space and more importantly your TV in the late afternoon!

Rich Frampton is having a great season, two more doubles came his way on the Kennet along with real proof that barbel do indeed eat crayfish, albeit rather small and vulnerable ones. I’ll get Fred Crouch to put a piece together to go on here about this topic and then I can include the photo’s that Will Smith took for Rich.

The story of the sixteen pound plus barbel from the Severn was really pleasing to read. The photo was excellent and puts the Severn back on the map and I’m also hearing news of more big barbel from my favourite river which I hope to validate as the venue is closer to home!

The last part of my trilogy with Paul Garner takes place in a few weeks time on the River Wye, I’m really looking forward to that and I may well be catching up with John Found when he hits the river around the same time and then there’s Phil Buckingham, now firmly ensconsed near Hereford…………the Wye is calling louder and louder.



There have been a few changes to the Barbel Society committee.

Peter Reading has taken over as Secretary from Mike Osborne. Pete is a well respected and very well known angler and has already transformed the work of the Research and Conservation side of the Society. His great knowledge and experience is now brought to the fore and will no doubt help to attract the new generation of barbel anglers that are out there.

Dave and Marilyn Brown have taken on the role of joint Membership Secretaries and they are the ones to send your application to when joining.

Rich Frampton takes over their previous role as Regional Co-ordinator.

These are exciting times for the Society as we embark on a concerted effort to attract new members.

The Barbel Society has much to offer those who have taken up barbel fishing in recent times, there is a huge wealth of experience from one end of the country to the other in our ranks.

There will be further press releases detailing new initiatives in the very near future so keep checking out the BS website, the Angling press and on here.

Well that’s all for now, off down the river again for a couple of days, I’m really enjoying meeting lots of great characters on the guiding days and judging by the enquiries I’m getting looks like I’ll be meeting up with a lot more good folk.

 And then it’s another trip back to London and a visit to the North Essex countryside to see the venue for my youngest daughter’s wedding next year, it’s a busy life!

Good fishing to you all.


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