BARBEL AT EXPENSE OF ROACH
Their population booms go in cycles... but never together N
OBODY can doubt that the Trent is now primarily a barbel river, at least in the lower reaches below Nottingham.
In the 45 years since I first match fished it, the Trent has gone through cycles of different species dominating the weights.
In the 1970s it was roach, from the late 1970s until the early 1990s chub were the target before it fell into the doldrums of clear water, cormorant predation and disappearing match anglers.
Now, although the Trent is definitely back as a silver fish match water, barbel are the jewels in its crown.
This is no natural phenomenon. The Trent is a natural barbel river, unlike the more westerly Severn and Wye, but stocks are massively enhanced by the Environment Agency’s Calverton Fish Farm.
When I visited there some years ago for my old TV show Tight Lines, barbel were produced there, in large numbers.
The brood stock came from the Trent – at least a small tributary used by the fish to spawn – and more than 60 per cent of the hatched fry were placed in the river as compensation.
So while barbel experienced very poor recruitment elsewhere, the Trent had entirely the opposite experience. One thing that is noticeable, and something I’ve noticed before, is that where barbel are on the up, roach often go the opposite way – and the upper Trent, around Burton, is a classic example.
In the late 1970s lots of barbel were stocked after some pretty severe pollution. As their numbers increased, the roach sport went rapidly downhill.
Now the barbel are nowhere near as prolific, and there are several year classes of roach featuring in matches.
“The Trent is mainly a barbel river, at least in its lower reaches”
Matt Velamail with a stunning Trent barbel of 15lb.