The Coach Paul Elt’s barbel advice
THIS WEEK: Four steps to bag a big barbel
TRACKING down and catching a decent barbel has lost none of its difficulty, despite most UK rivers now holding a healthy stock of these hard-fighting fish.
Even on mighty rivers like the Trent they can be moody fish, shying away from heavy pressure or refusing to feed if conditions are not right – but Drennan-backed specimen hunter Paul Elt reckons you can succeed if you’re prepared to think a bit out of the box.
That means putting in some legwork away from heavily-fished swims and pioneering lightlypressured areas where barbel may well sulk off to. Picking the right type of swim will go a long way to deciding how well you catch, but your feeding has to be correct too – so, as you can see, catching a big river barbel is far from a case of chucking out and waiting for the alarm to go off!
Follow Paul’s basic advice, however, and you’ll be armed with all the groundwork you need to set you on your way to your first decent river barbel…
Location is key on big rivers, and while it is easy to find where small barbel are at home (weir pools being particularly good), heading off the beaten track and putting in the miles can track down a real specimen or two.
You want to avoid bream at all costs, though, as once a shoal of these fish turn up, they don’t tend to go!
Checking out the match results in Angling Times or on the internet can give you a pointer as to where bream are being caught and so tell you which swims to steer clear of.
My favourite swim would be on a sweeping bend that will offer deep water on a short cast. This makes fishing a whole lot easier and also means that you don’t have to fish with too heavy a rod or end tackle.
2 REVERSE TEAR DROP
My way of fishing works on something I call the ‘reverse tear drop’ principle. I use two rods and have one at the fat end of the drop armed with a feeder to release bait, creating a steady trail down the river which barbel should follow up to the source and then find my hookbait.
On the way, though, I’m aiming for them to find my second rod which is situated at the narrow end of the drop amid that food trail. This is fished with a bomb and relies on the content of the feeder to draw in the fish.
Fishing this way effectively gives me two chances to catch.
A wide range of hookbaits will catch barbel, but on the Trent in summer I’ve found little to beat pellets and boilies. It has to be halibut pellets, but I give them a real dousing in hemp oil overnight to allow the liquid to soak in.
Not only does this create an immediate oily slick as soon as the bait settles, but it also toughens the pellet and stops it from breaking down too quickly. This is fished on the feeder rod, while on the bomb I’ll use a 10mm Dynamite Baits Crave boilie.
To kick things off I like to get a good helping of bait into the swim, then rely on the feeder. Hemp is a super feed for barbel, but feeding it accurately in 10ft of fast water is never going to happen unless you use a bait dropper.
I’ll deposit 10 loads spread them around over an area the size of a car bonnet to create somewhere the barbel can feed. When it’s time to fish I’ll cram the feeder with 3mm, 4mm and 6mm halibut pellets and a sprinkling of 4mm krill pellets. To keep them in the feeder as they fall through the water I plug each end with a little cap of fishmeal groundbait.
A fine Trent barbel taken by Paul Elt.
Halibut pellets soaked in hemp oil.