Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

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Popes Patch – Barbel Fisher 34


Just where
does the time go?

It only
seems as if it was yesterday I was typing my piece for the best barbel fishing
magazine available, mind you lot’s has happened over these past six months.

For three of
those months I was still on the other side of the world, my stay out in
Australia was extended and I returned to the UK just in time for the brilliant
Barbel Show – a full report on that is in this issue.

As I hinted
in the last magazine my life has changed considerably and it’s looking like
I’ll be back out in Sydney after Christmas right up until the 2013 Show, it’s
where I’m needed the most.

But what a
time it’s been since I returned home, the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, all
great stuff and as a British citizen I was moved by the much needed injection
of national pride. It isn’t often we can sing our own praises, in fact it’s
almost as if we are reluctant to do so but I for one have been extremely proud
of my homeland and I’m looking forward to reminding my Aussie mates of their
place when it comes to sporting prowess and they’re not going to like it!

Only goes to
show that no country has it all, not all at the same time anyway.

Let’s turn
to fishing, it’s what we do and why we are all here, to say I’ve been busy on
that front would be a huge understatement. In fact I’m so busy until November
that I’ve sent my better half back to Australia until things quieten down, hope
she gets back in time for our Ruby wedding anniversary in October!

The venue I
fish on the Kennet has been acting rather strange, I’m sure the unusually heavy
rainfall experienced in the spring had an impact on the barbels behaviour, I
know it did on the lower Severn but in a much more positive fashion.

While I’m on
the subject of strange happenings I must mention some highly unusual goings on
while I’ve been on the Kennet this season.

It was about
9am, I was settling in to another full day trying to tempt a few fish with some
tasty casters when fellow fishery member Nigel appeared through the jungle like
undergrowth to see how I was faring. We must have been chatting for five
minutes or so when Nigel suddenly remarked that he could hear splashing in the
distance, possibly a canoe. Now my hearing isn’t as good as it could be and I
know that sometimes a renegade canoeist will show on the Kennet but I was
sceptical and replied that I couldn’t hear anything. Then totally out of the
blue a sight confronted the pair of us that left us both dumbstruck, there in
the middle of the narrow River Kennet was a man in full blown swimming attire,
well a designer wetsuit, practicing the front crawl through my swim! He looked
up at us and sort of nodded his head as if to acknowledge our presence and then
in the blink of an eye he was gone. Now I’m not sure if he was emulating David
Walliams or perhaps he took the wrong turn off the Thames while heading for the
Olympic Park but I do know that Robson Green with his wild swimming antics has
a lot to answer for!

On my way
back home after a day or two on the Kennet I often get held up at the level
crossing next to the station on the main line route into London. Happens most
of the time and you get used to it, but a week or so ago the sight that
confronted me as the red lights were blazing above will stay far longer in my
memory than when the usual train thunders by. This time it was no usual train
and for quite a few seconds I was transported back to a time when I was
fascinated by trains, indeed like many others my age I have to admit I was a train
spotter. Pulling a full load of Pullman carriages was the LNER Class A4
locomotive Bittern, number 60019 as it was recorded in my trainspotting bible, British
Railways Locomotives. Now even if you have no interest in steam trains I’m sure
most of you will have heard of number 60022 – the record breaking Mallard. I
doubt I will ever see another Streak steaming through the Berkshire

And lastly
another first for me, the fantastic experience of watching a barn owl work the field
opposite to where I was fishing after the farmer had cut the grass. This was in
broad daylight and lasted for the best part of half an hour. The display
continued the following day as well. It was quite breath taking to watch and at
times the owl swooped low right in front of me and I made eye contact with the
wondrous creature.

We anglers
are very fortunate, not only do we visit fantastic parts of the country and see
all kinds of wildlife we also get the opportunity to witness the eccentricities
of our land as well; I bet most of you have similar tales to tell.

fishing the Kennet the other day I had cause to reflect on the often bad press
carp anglers receive, especially from anglers who prefer the rivers to still
waters. I know a lot of what is said is tongue in cheek but there is a tendency
to be far too dismissive especially when making general statements. On the day
in question I was joined by a total newcomer to barbel fishing but an absolute
master when it comes to serious carp fishing. I had first come across James, my
guest for the day, back in the eighties when I played at carp fishing for a
very short time; he has progressed somewhat from those days. Over the course of
the day James caught three personal bests and has undoubtedly expanded his
knowledge of barbel fishing, I in turn after listening avidly to his carp
fishing stories have a much greater understanding and respect for those who
devote so much time to their favourite species.

I have also
enjoyed the company of two extremely keen ten year olds in recent weeks, each
looking to broaden their own barbel experiences, I’ve written about our
adventures in my Fishing Magic Diary if you want to check out the website.

I mentioned
the Lower Severn and have to say that the high summer levels certainly sent the
barbel on a feeding spree. I know I keep banging on but this river is still
every bit as good as it used to be, the only difference today is that there is
more choice for the Midlands angler. Small baits during the day, big ones at
night and plenty of hemp down as an attractor and I guarantee you will catch
double figure barbel if you put in the effort.

While my
loyalty to the Severn is there for all time, I am being tempted to stray, not
far mind you but the call of the Wye is hard to resist.

I recently
spent a week on the river with eight anglers and between them the barbel count
reached three figures, the chub count much the same. Lots of fish, glorious
surroundings, it truly is a barbel anglers paradise. The barbel have really
spread out along this river and there are double figure fish way above Hay, I
will certainly be putting in the time and effort in that area in the future.

Not over
long this time, I need to finish off my chapter for the Barbel Society book
that is being worked on!

Enjoy your
fishing and try and get out to the regional meetings when they come to town,
there are some excellent speakers in the barbel world and it would be great if
we can pack the rooms once again as we did a few years ago.

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