Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

October Update


Before you say it, yes I know it’s been a while since the last update…………………….been very busy, mostly fishing!!

I am one of those who gets out on the river quite a bit at certain times of the year, I prefer that to sitting at the keyboard. And if I don’t get out fishing there wouldn’t be any fishing related stuff on here!

So this could well turn into a mega blog, there’s loads to chat about and lots of pictures to share, I hope you enjoy it.

Let’s pick up from where I last left it………….

The beginning of August was hot, I lost count of the times I said that we fishermen must be the only one’s moaning about the weather. It was said with tongue firmly in cheek because It’s been a long time since summertime has actually meant lazing outside with a cool drink to hand and nothing but blue skies overhead, the downside was the low water levels and lack of fresh water in the rivers which meant the barbel fishing was rather tricky!

So I stayed in the garden, catching up and trying to bring some sort of control to the jungle that had sprung up while I had been spending time on the other side of the world.

My eldest daughter arrived in St. Albans and so more time with my little grandson was looming, at this point I had no idea how long that time would be, perhaps a couple of days if I was lucky bearing in mind my guiding season was just about to take off.

I had a day with Paul arranged at Llanthomas on the Wye, I was more hopeful this time as the river had risen just a fraction but possibly enough to put the fish in feeding mode. The day flew by and Paul caught lots of chub and a couple of barbel. It was a day when I actually learned quite a lot. Paul is relatively new to the type of fishing I enjoy and was so eager to soak up as much information as possible but more importantly for me witnessing the sheer delight whenever he captured a fish, irrespective of size, put everything into a real context. Those of us who have fished on the rivers for many years take much for granted, we really do, its guys like Paul who make us take that one step back and remember just what the real essence of being an angler actually is, I truly thank him for that.

We agreed to meet up later in the season on the banks of the Kennet for the second part of what had become for me a personal mission to ensure Paul became yet one more convert to the fabulous world of river fishing.

A day or two spent back home and then it was off to the Kennet to catch up with James who had made the long journey down from Sheffield, the pressure was well and truly on to get him his first Kennet barbel, a fish on the ‘pin and a personal best………….a tall order but one that I’d faced a few times with positive results!

James is a good friend of Rob Hilton, a man who does so much good work for the Barbel Society, so just a little more added pressure especially as the fishing gods were not overly kind when Rob made the long journey down last year.

It took a few hours to make it happen, but make it happen we did, after a move to a new swim brought the result we were hoping for.

At three ounces under twelve pounds James had landed his best ever barbel and his smile in the photo below says it all, his drive back home was so much sweeter.



You should always smile when you're happy!!



Next stop, Caer Beris Hotel for the second of the Wye Valley Experiences.

Lots of familiar faces once again but the fishing proved difficult once more. Venues that usually produce good results just decided to switch right off and no matter how hard we tried and we really tried, the barbel and surprisingly the chub too were just not having it!

On the Sunday I kept getting calls from my daughter who was on her way to our cottage asking for directions, the satnav was obviously playing up!

After a full blown tour of Wales she eventually arrived close on midnight and I was looking forward to catching up later in the week.


Barry with one of the very few barbel!


The Wye is still a lovely place to be even if the fish are not playing.


As I pulled onto the drive I decided to take a peek through the front window to see if Henry was there in the living room. My daughter had already told me she was leaving Henry with us while she took a well deserved holiday in Europe.

I knocked on the glass, he looked up and went ballistic, the front door opened and he came running out and straight into my arms, he hadn’t forgotten me!

Have to say I was elated to see him once again, especially as he was here staying at my home, hopefully for a couple of weeks and we would have some great quality time together. A couple of weeks turned into a few weeks as my daughter took in most of the European sites on a whirlwind whistle stop tour!


This shot reminds me so much of my daughter at this age.


My little Aussie buddy!


Crashing out after bundling with grandad!


Sunday and I was back on the road through Newtown, LLandrindod Wells and onwards to Builth Wells and WVE number three with fingers well and truly crossed hoping that the fishing would show a drastic improvement!

Fortunately the fishing did show a marked upturn and everyone caught barbel, more than a few at some of the venues, thank heavens for that!

Next years plans are already in place and Peter has produced a good supply of flyers that will soon be in as many tackle shops as I can physically visit! We have moved the dates to hopefully coincide with more favourable fishing conditions but the weather is always out of our hands, suffice to say that everyone will have a brilliant time as always!


John enjoying time on the Wye


Wye action at last!


And more Wye action!


2014 Wye Valley Experience


WVE 2014 Information


Back home for a couple of days and more quality time with Henry.


More tooooooooaast ! And plenty of marmite grandad!


Loads of fun in the garden!




Best buddies for life!


Next stop was Evesham and the annual festival. I had a date helping the Doc, Paul Garner, on the PegOne stand.

Plenty of familiar faces and lots of time to chat about all things fishing.

Not too many bargains for me this time, last year I picked up a good supply of baitdroppers, I did manage to buy half a dozen buckets at a knock down price!

Back home once again for another couple of days and then it was back to the Wye at what is fast becoming a favourite venue, Geoff Maynard’s Llanthomas Fishery near Hay.


Lovin' the chicken nuggets


Deep in thought!


Its getting very serious!


I had a couple of days booked with Howard and his dad but due to unforeseen circumstances Howard had to cancel one of the days and dad wasn’t too well so friend Darren was coming along instead.

I arrived quite late in the day but decided to have a go for a couple of hours late into the evening.

Fishing the same swim where Paul had caught previously I cast out to the far bank, held the rod and felt for bites which didn’t take long to materialise. I think I had four or five barbel in quick succession before calling it a day at 11pm, I’m sure I would have caught a lot more if I carried on but tomorrow Howard and Darren were arriving and I needed to be up for it.

I suggested Howard fished the swim where I had caught from and Darren went downstream to a deeper area where the barbel often show. Well they showed for Darren, he had four up to 9-10, unfortunately for Howard the barbel kept well away! It’s how it goes, especially on the Wye, no two days are ever the same!


Back indoors I had decided to cancel a couple of planned trips to the Severn, the lack of rain meant the level was far too low and the barbel have just not been feeding, at least not where I want to catch them!

I’ve said it countless times on here that the Severn, especially in the lower reaches, is totally dependent on regular rain and rises in level for it to produce consistent barbel sport, it hasn’t happened so far this season.

So it was more time at home with Henry and I have to say that has been the best of times. He became my shadow, in the garden whenever I turned around he was there, if I sat down after a ten minute kick about he would be pulling me out of my chair, every trip to Tesco’s meant a new toy car and he really appreciated them. To say we had great fun would be a huge understatement, those of you who are fortunate enough to have young grandchildren will know exactly what I’m talking about.


Watching Thomas on my computer.


Hot Dogs!!


My constant shadow!


More fun in the garden.


In keeping with Henry’s new clean cut image I decided to get my haircut, I took a chance on getting it done in Newtown and what a result. Less than a tenner for an excellent cut, I’ll be back regularly to keep the barnet well cropped, my long hair days are over!

While at home the latest issue of Coarse Angling Today dropped into my letterbox, I was more than pleased to find my Peg One Think Tank article there among some really good articles from new young up and coming writers.


CAT Feature.




My Barbel Society newsletter arrived as well, a brilliant effort from James Van Gowler, a top bloke. There is a great half season membership offer on at the moment, check out the website and join now, you won’t regret it!


The latest BS newsletter.


Back to the Kennet.

I enjoyed a great day with John, an old friend from the days we both spent in the company of that wonderful man Mike Burden. We spent some time reminiscing and lamenting on how much we both missed a truly inspirational character as Mike was. The purpose of our day together was to help relight the barbel flame that had diminished somewhat for John in recent years.

I think we achieved that goal and a nice barbel put in an appearance for good measure. Time allowing I’m sure we will meet up again, probably on the Severn where in some ways it all began for the pair of us.

And then I had the great pleasure of spending two days on the river with Martin, a larger than life character who had regaled us all on the first Wye Valley Experience with more anecdotes than Michael Caine!

I have fished with many people over the years but I have to say I’ve never fished with someone who has owned fourteen airplanes and I kid you not! The iphone does not lie!

Usually I talk for England on guiding days but with Martin I sit back and listen!

We had a great time, the fishing was far from easy but a barbel did show and there is still much to talk about when we meet up again which is likely to be in Sydney as Martin is a massive cricket fan and I’m hoping to be at the SCG.


And then it was off to St. Albans, this time with Henry in the back of the car as it was time to say goodbye after having so much fun during the long, hot summer days.

Here are a few more photo’s, as you can imagine we took loads, these are some of my favourites.


I like eating at nana's house!


Cheeky Monkey!


I just love this shot! It says it all.



At the carwash.





Back to work or should I say back to the river to catch up with Keith, a man who I just knew I was going to get along with.

In correspondence it became clear that apart from the fishing we had much in common, Tottenham supporters, Springsteen fans, and lots more besides.

The barbel simply had to respond and after much effort a special fish came out to play all twelve pounds seven ounces of it!

A very distinctive fish with a misshaped back but it still put up a heck of a fight and the pair of us were on cloud nine when the landing net was lifted.

And just a word on my landing net, I’m now the proud owner of a Free Spirit S net and I have to tell you it’s the best there is. You can keep your trendy spoon nets this one is the real business, check them out and you will see that I’m not going overboard for nothing.

Everyone who has seen it loves it, sales will go through the roof!


Keith with his 12-7


Now I know there are lots of pics of my grandson on here but that’s only natural as he has played such an integral part in my summer, but with him safely back in Sydney it was time to get back to St. Albans and to spend some quality time with my other daughters and our beautiful grandaughter Eva!

You can bet that this website will be full of pics of little Eva as she becomes a toddler and yet another best buddy to her grandad!

While back in the London area I enjoyed a lovely night out at the theatre with Amy watching Top Hat, you already know I’m a Strictly fan, so too is my daughter!

I’ve vowed to do this more often, I like the London theatre and really must take advantage of the fact that my daughters live close by.

Next time out, and I promise it won’t be so long in waiting and perhaps not so long in words , I’ll be talking about doubles, lots of them, as the Kennet came alive!

Till then I will sign off with some lovely pictures of little Eva with the promise to my daughter Katie that there will be many more on here!


Looking very cute and all knowing already!


The eyes have it! Gorgeous.


A shoulder to rest a lovely head on.


We're going to have some good times!


Back soon,



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