Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

Mid July Update

Been a bit busy these past few weeks what with fishing matters, family events and actually getting down to the river ( I really do prefer to be on the river rather than the computer!)  to wet a line now that the new season is well under way, so this update is well, let’s just say a little late!

With Bob Roberts updating his blog every couple of weeks and with thousands of words to boot, the bar has been set a bit too high for me and so I’ll settle into a more relaxed mode with regard to my blog entries and as I said I’ll be doing a fair bit of fishing. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

Don’t worry though because the articles will be coming thick and fast now that the season has finally arrived so keep dropping by, there should be plenty of useful information from my fishing friends as well as from me.

First off though and inspired by what has been said elsewhere I thought I’d start by talking about those very friends and a few more besides………………………………




My very first fishing friend had to be my dear old dad, I expect I’m not alone there. Along with Mr. Crabtree who is a friend to us all, he introduced me to fishing and a wonderful world that set me off on a journey that still has many rivers to cross and paths to travel. He also knew what he was doing because I arrived on this planet on the first day of the fishing season! Born to Fish.

Back in the early sixties at senior school, being keen on  fishing meant it was easy to pal up with others who had  a similar interest. I suppose there must have been ten of us out of the yearly intake of about sixty boys who enjoyed fishing. Three of us bonded instantly and spent many hours on the banks of the River Lea, Walthamstow Reservoirs, the Northmet Pit and even the Norfolk Broads during our summer holidays. Steve who was one of the three is still my great friend today, thats fifty years, practically a lifetime. Well it is a lifetime, we’ve shared all our ups and downs and will be mates until our final days.

We both lost touch with Gary the other member of the trio, but to show just how small this fishing world actually is, his brother Kevin became quite well known as an underwater photographer and actually provided many photos for John Bailey. Incredible when I can recall being around Gary’s house in Tottenham back in 1964 when Kevin was still in short trousers!

After school and during the studying years, I met up with a couple of lads, Derek and Neil, by now I had a real love for barbel fishing and so too did this pair. We enjoyed trips to Throop together as well as fishing the local River Lea. I lost touch with both during the seventies but a couple of years ago I saw Neil at an Angling Show at Wembley, he is still barbel fishing but on the Ouse near to where he lives. Be nice to hear from either of them again, so if you look in, get in touch!

During the ten years from 1975 till 1985 fishing took a back seat as I concentrated on other priorities, I had the odd day out and even built a small lake in my ( rather large!) back garden and stocked it with carp and tench……………don’t worry, there were no barbel in there!

All my mates at this time revolved around the kids, you know,  friends parents you met at the school, I was Chairman of the school PTA so that took care of much of the social scene.

Serious fishing came back into my life in the mid eighties and I have my brother in law Roger to thank for that.

A visit at that time to Walthamstow sticks in my mind because it highlighted the massive changes that had taken place in the Angling world during my hiatus.

There were so many anglers sitting around the banks of the Lower Maynard, I couldn’t believe it. In my day it was just the old man and me disturbing the wildlife in this East London oasis.

The fellow carp fishing, because this is what had taken over, must have thought I was mad when I asked him what all the contraptions were, a dough bobbin used to do it for me! I knew just how Rip Van Winkle must have felt but I was inspired enough to give this carp fishing a go.

I tried it for one season and made some new friends, Roger and Leigh. It wasn’t too long before I decided it wasn’t for me and the barbel bug bit once again, I was soon fishing on the rivers having converted both of them. Leigh was a talented graphic designer and did work for the Anglers Mail and Fishing monthlies, we had some good times on the Kennet.

Roger was a director at Kodak and so I had no problem with getting copies and enlargements for my photos! He was a very interesting man who apart from fishing was heavily into steam trains and helped to restore them to their former glory.

After joining the Association of Barbel Enthusuiasts and then the Barbel Catchers I started to make some new friendships which would have a massive impact and pretty much shape my life for the ensuing years.

My first connection with the BCC was through Chris Holley and Ray Walton, met up with them across the river ( South of the Thames)  and became part of the fledgling London Region. Top bloke Chris, we keep in touch and I’m really pleased that he has firmly established himself on the fishing scene down on the South coast.

The region had some real characters back in those days, the most prominent was Chris King, Kingy we called him, the man who took the Ouse apart well before others came along. The only angler I know whose face graced the packets of sunflower seeds…………don’t ask!

But for me the most important member of the region was Fred Crouch. When Fred joined we clicked straight away and formed a friendship which is as strong today as the one I have with my old school chum Steve. The man is an absolute legend.

I also enjoyed the company of guys like Ray Kent and Phil Buckingham as well, Phil will be moving to my neck of the woods in a couple of weeks time and I’m looking forward to spending days on the Wye with him.

On the ABE front people like John Found, Gordon Scott, Steve Smith and Dave Collins all became pals and some would become key players when we eventually formed the Barbel Society.

Frendships were cemented in the mid nineties as the B.S. was born, guys like Mike Burdon, Lol Breakspear and Mike Ball became really good pals and we enjoyed many trips to the river. Mike Burdon sadly passed away a few years ago and I’ve lost touch with Mike Ball but Lol is back in my life again and putting together fabulous articles that I know reach a very appreciative audience on here.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet and fish with most of the very high profile anglers, guys like Matt Hayes, Des Taylor and Martin Bowler. They have all been great company and if everyone’s hectic schedules permit I would hope to catch up with some of them once more on the river.

Likewise the friendly journalists who work for the Angling Press, I count them all as friends having developed an excellent relationship with them all over the years.

My involvement with the Society has enabled me to forge many more friendships, indeed I consider everyone who joins up to be a friend, the only problem is that there are far too many to fish with but I would happily have a drink with the vast majority!

Being involved  with the actual running of the Society I have been fortunate to build working relationships with a good number of people. Many colleagues have become close friends, something I’m really proud of because its not always easy when you might have differing views to keep relations intact!

Friendship needs something more than just barbel fishing as a common factor and it’s not humanly possible to be mates with everyone. The old saying about not being able to please everyone is very true but thankfully the vast majority of those I’ve come into contact with through barbel fishing are people I would happily spend time with, either on the bank with or in the pub.

These days I often fish with Rich Frampton who I met quite by chance on the River Teme and who has since become a really good pal, then there are the guys who I fish on the Kennet with including the very well known Mr. Tarrant who I see on the river now and again.

And now that the Guiding Days have taken off I find myself meeting up with a whole new group of smashing people who I will do my utmost to keep in touch with. The guys who come out on my guiding days are all excellent company and it’s nice when we keep in touch, the fishing may just be a day but the connection is ongoing and so I’m going to have lots more e-mails to answer, calls to take and more days down by the river but you won’t hear me complain!

So although I told myself I have more than enough fishing friends, seems like I’m finding myself with a whole lot more! Not forgetting those out in South ( East) Australia where I’ll certainly be spending more time in the years ahead!

The point is though that fishing mates are far more important than the fish we catch and sharing special times with those pals enriches the Angling experience.

I was going to add a little piece about Fisherman’s Foes, but remembered that this is a friendly site and it would be out of place on here and anyway there’s no real point in focusing on the negatives!


Brilliant to see Nadal winning at Wimbledon, hope he goes on to claim the U.S. Open as well, a truly great champion. This man knows how to conduct himself on the court and off it as well, footballers take note!

And not forgetting the World Cup, Spain were the best team and it was good to see them triumphant especially as the Dutch seemed intent on kicking them to pieces! This tournament seemed to go on forever and have to say I am pleased to see the back of it. We have far too much football on TV now and the World Cup loses some of its magic because of this.


Well the first couple of trips were to the upper Upper Severn and as I expected bites were nowhere to be seen! Now that’s not to say I had negative thoughts, I was fishing with a very positive frame of mind, but this is not the easiest of venues and that’s why the rewards when they eventually arrive as they surely will, will be so much sweeter!

I’m tempted to go down each evening for a fortnight and put some corn and chopped meat into a couple of swims. I have yet to see anyone else fishing the stretch apart from Rich so it won’t cause any problems for fellow anglers and it just might pull the very low head of barbel into my chosen area. My only sticking point is that I’m away on other venues for half the week and so I’m not sure if I can keep the bait going in on a regular basis, we’ll see.

Down at the other end of the river it’s pretty much the same. My Lower Severn venue has not produced one single barbel this season! Now I know it’s always a slow starter and the Lower Severn comes into its own in Autumn and winter but I would have thought one or two might have shown!

The river like most others is in desperate need of a flush through and until the rain comes I doubt if I will bother to cast a line there just yet.

The swan eggs hatched but the family by all accounts moved away immediately, I hope they come back, I’ll get some pictures if they do. I did notice another family though, Mrs Duck and her eleven chicks! Very brave they are too, coming out on to the bank and meandering about without a care, I hope that bravado doesn’t come at a price otherwise their lives will be acting out that Agatha Christie story……………………….!

I ventured on to the Teme with Mark from London and we put a lot of effort in for scant return! We fished a few likely looking swims but the barbel did not want to play. To be honest the river looked completely devoid of fish, we did not see any visible signs whatsoever and we fished till late!

I’ll catch up with Mark again in September and we’ll sort the Kennet fish out instead.

The problem with early summer Teme fishing is that so many areas are practically impossible to get to,  the vegetation adds to the wondrous scenic value of the valley but it makes access tricky especially when you’re not quite so fit and agile anymore!

I’ll be back in a month or so and I’m sure the results will be better, the barbel are there, I’ve just got to find them.

I then ventured south for a couple of days and met up with Ron, a chirpy cockney sparra whose company made for a splendid day, the barbel responded to a degree but I struggled to convince Ron on the virtues of using a ‘pin!

I get as much pleasure these days seeing others catch as I do myself, must be an age thing. My old mate Fred Crouch said exactly the same to me a few years back and I couldn’t understand it then…………..I do now.

I fished the following day for a few hours before setting off on the long drive home but not before half a dozen barbel had fallen for my tactics. The bigger fish didn’t show but I managed one of nine and a half pounds which strangely enough gave the poorest account of itself. Fish half it’s size battled far more strongly for their freedom!

I’ll be back again next week when I hope the doubles will start to make their presence felt, here’s hoping!

Here’s a couple of fishy shots, one is only halfway there and the other is not quite there, but it will be in a couple of months time!

Back in a couple of weeks time, good fishing and keep looking in.


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