GO CATCH A BARBEL
S a youngster brought up catching small dace and roach on the North West’s River Dee, barbel didn’t exist except in the pages of Angling Times.
And rivers like the Hants Avon might as well have been on a different planet when you weren’t old enough to drive.
Then I discovered that some lads in my local club arranged an annual trip ‘south’ to the River Severn to fish for them – I had to go. I fondly remember the day I first saw a barbel in the flesh and the battle it gave me on a feeder rod older anglers would probably describe as a ‘winklepicker’. My old DAM reel creaked with every turn of the handle, but the fish was mine – all 3lb of it!
Now barbel can be found almost everywhere. But their wider spread doesn’t automatically make them any easier to catch. Take my colleague Mark Sawyer, for example. We put him on one of the Trent’s best swims for this week’s tackle test and for four hours he couldn’t get a bite, even though he could see the fish in his swim.
However, as soon as the sun disappeared behind a bank of clouds he had one of those unmissable ‘bend your rod to the butt’ bites you only get with this species.
The result was a fantastic double-figure fish that looked like it had been freshly minted from some golden forge. Pick your time, pick your spot, use the right baits and get ready for the fight of your life!