Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

Catch more barbel!

Popes Patch – Barbel Fisher 31


Not long to go now, I’m writing this piece a day or so
before the Royal Wedding and as soon as May comes calling my thoughts turn to
the river and barbel.

Mind you I have a number of other big events this year which
are rather more prominent in my mind than barbel, the imminent birth of my
first grandchild which we know is a boy and the upcoming nuptials of my
youngest daughter two weeks into the season…………..both of these events are
looming ever nearer and while they are totally life changing for my daughters,
they are also life changing for me as well.

But more of that later, this piece is primarily about the
way my fishing has changed from how it was fifteen years ago, how the emphasis
these days is more on the people I share my days on the river with more than
the fish I may be fortunate enough to catch.

Back in the nineties like many others I was driven in a
quest to catch big barbel, not I must add to the extent that I would make huge
sacrifices to be sure I was on the monsters, it was more a state of mind thing.

For sure I tried to ensure I was fishing where the bigger
fish were to be found but it was not an obsession, luckily for me I had just
managed to stave that dangerous visitor off!

But today everything is so different, variety is the spice
of life and looking at my diary for the coming season it’s wondering how I’m
going to fit it all in, not how many big barbel I’m going to catch!

I don’t tend to get right into the fishing until mid July,
but this year on opening day I could well be out on the banks of the
Warwickshire Avon or perhaps the Teme with Dr. Paul Garner hoping for a fish or
two that would then make an interesting Angling Times feature.

The problem is that I have to be at Heathrow the very next
day to pick my wife up after her five week sojourn Down Under helping out our
daughter who is expecting our first grandson very soon.

And a couple of days after that, I have to be on the Wye
with a very important business chap who wants to spend time with me.

Then the following week I’m back in Essex for the wedding of
my youngest daughter, so no matter how I look at it my feet are hardly going to
touch the ground during the first fortnight!

Into July and for the first two weeks any thoughts of
fishing will be on hold because my eldest daughter will be over from Australia
with my grandson and I’ll be fully occupied on family stuff!

But from mid July onwards, it is pretty much full time
fishing until the frosts arrive.

As I said it isn’t just about going fishing anymore, mostly
it’s about spending time on the river with lots of different people and I have
to say I love it.

Auction Days, Gentleman’s Days, Guiding Days, Sponsors Days,
Features Days, Barbel School, days with mates and if I’m lucky the odd day just
for myself!

And that all has to be fitted into a four-month time slot
because we all know how short the barbel season really is.

Running through the list, I have a few BS Auction days
coming up. A couple of days on the Severn staying at my caravan with our esteemed
editor Fred. We’ve been trying to get this together for ages mainly because the
Lower Severn can be so difficult to hit just right and I really want to make
sure Fred has the best chance because this river can be as good as anywhere on
its day.

Then there’s another day with Gerry, this time on the Wye
and I’m looking forward to more football banter along with the fishing because
Gerry is great company.

I’ll be catching up with Charlie as well on the Wye and then
there’s Paul and Nick on the Kennet.

I always enjoy these days and the guys who come along have
all played a big part in helping out on the R and C front so I’m always
determined to ensure the best time possible is had by all.

The Gentleman’s Day is an interesting one, I’ve written
about it on a number of occasions. I think the title was given by David Hallett
who some of you longer standing members will remember was the BS Commercial
Manager what seems an age ago. We used to affectionately call him Lord Hallett.

Anyway this is a once a year meet up on the syndicate
stretch of the Kennet where I have fished for many years. We rarely catch any
fish, mind you last year was an exception when one of the lads landed a
thirteen, but a great time is always had by all.

Guiding Days are self-explanatory and from mid July till the
end of October they take up three days of my week.

I’m looking forward to these days more than ever because I
know I will be meeting up with some really interesting characters on the Wye,
Kennet, Teme, Wark’s Avon and the Severn.

I’ll let you into a little secret into what I call sponsors

I’m involved with two or three companies, have been for many
years, and part of the agreement is that once or twice a season I go out on a
river hopefully catch a few fish so that a feature can be produced for one of
the monthlies.

The bigger companies have good Angling writers/photographers
onboard who come out and then write up the feature.

I’m very fortunate that the guys I get involved with are
extremely talented and know that blatant advertising is not what I’m about and
so “product placement” is more subtle and not in your face.

The companies and magazines rely on this type of feature,
which is fine by me as long as respect is shown to the readers.

The quality of the feature has to come first with the
advertising at a minimum, I believe it works much better that way in any case.

Features Days are mainly for the papers and I have a couple
lined up. I’m looking forward to a day after barbel with Ben Hervey-Murray who
works for the Angling Times. He put the recent Legends inserts
together; he also writes for Improve Your Coarse Fishing, he is one of
the new younger breed of writers that have appeared on the scene.

He has promised to take me out on his punt on the Cam in the
shadow of the University in return and that will be a great day.

I’ve been in contact with Ian Welch recently, came about
from our involvement in the late lamented monthly magazine that didn’t get past
the first post! Real shame in some ways because we had a lot of good ideas but
the upshot is that we agreed we ought to meet up on the river this year so that
is high on my list for the summer.

Barbel School, the great new initiative will also take up
some of my time. The first, in July on the banks of the River Teme with Dave
Mason and Rob Swindells, should be a brilliant couple of days and then in
August the venue moves to the Kennet.

I find these days that I get more pleasure form seeing
others catch than I do myself…………well almost! When plans come together and the sun
shines and the barbel bite there is nothing better than sharing the experience
with fellow anglers who may be relatively new to the game.

This season I’m determined to spend time on the river with
good mates, especially those who I have not fished with for a while.

Phil Buckingham, the first Society Treasurer and life member
and like me someone who has moved away from their London roots, for Phil it is
very close to the Wye just outside Hereford. We mean to do a good bit of
reconnaissance on this river and I reckon we’ll be spending a good bit of time
together over the coming years.

I managed to catch up with Lol Breakspear last year and I
hope to catch up with him again on the Severn this time around. Lol was the
very first Barbel Fisher editor and remains a very good friend of mine.

And then there’s Barry Norris! I don’t know how many times
we’ve tried to make arrangements but at least we met up last year when Barry
came over for my sixtieth. This has to be the year we meet up on the Ribble.
Barry was BS Secretary for many years and we remain firm friends.

I also want to get over to Sutton to meet up with Ron Clay,
those of you who visit the Fishing Magic website will know Ron,
others will know him as a leading angler of his generation. I had the pleasure
of working with Ron when putting together the Peter Stone tribute and these
days we have much in common as he visits Australia regularly to see his son. He
gives me good advice on how to deal with close family being the other side of
the world.

I’m also determined to take my nephew barbel fishing, we
enjoyed a day out last year and its time for him to see what his uncle gets up
to and hopefully sow the seeds that will make him a future barbel fisherman,
much to the chagrin of my brother!

I’ll be fishing with my good pal Rich quite a bit and I
fully expect us to be targetting the big perch when the cold weather arrives.

And last but not least and to be honest more than anything
I’ve previously mentioned it is my sincere wish that I get out on the river with
Fred Crouch once again.

Not just me but Lol, Phil and a good few others I suspect
are all hoping that Fred is strong enough to get out once again on the river
where he truly belongs!

As the season progresses you can read all about these
fishing trips on my website,

And there you have it, if I manage half of what I have said
then I’ll be doing well. I know I’m not the only one with a diary as full as
this but when you write it all down it really does show that fishing is far
more than a past time or hobby……………’s a way of life and a brilliant one at

Have a fantastic season!





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