Martin Bowler’s Ad­ven­tures Our man heads to the River Wye to show us how to catch bar­bel on a Method feeder

In­tro­duc­ing a Ger­man carp fish­ing ace to some home-grown bar­bel

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

“Clau­dia is one of Europe’s big­gest names in carp­ing”

LIKE many small chil­dren be­fore her, Clau­dia Darga in­her­ited a love of fish­ing from her fa­ther and learned the craft in his com­pany.

From the mo­ment an eel stole her bait, to hol­i­days on the coast catch­ing floun­ders, seeds were sown that would ger­mi­nate into a pas­sion.

Fast-for­ward 20 years and Clau­dia, who hails from Ger­many, is one of Europe’s big­gest names in carp fish­ing cir­cles, with a huge so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing keen to see her smil­ing with her lat­est huge fish.

I first met Clau­dia last year in Thai­land, and in be­tween catch­ing huge Si­amese carp and ara­paima we hatched a plan for her to visit Great Bri­tain.

You might ask why, when I could have cho­sen any­where else in the world, but in our fa­mil­iar­ity with this green and pleas­ant land it’s easy to for­get just how good, and di­verse, the fish­ing here is. There’s a pop­u­lar mind­set that dis­tant shores are bet­ter angling des­ti­na­tions, but I’m not at all sure that’s true.

Sure, there are big­ger fish in Thai­land, Alaska, even Italy, but nowhere else in the world is so di­verse, with chalk streams, es­tu­ar­ies, canals and gravel pits all in prox­im­ity to one other. No won­der fish­ing ad­dict Clau­dia wanted to visit my home­land.

But which des­ti­na­tion should I pick for our short two-day ad­ven­ture?

Weav­ing our way up the Wye Val­ley, I could tell its beauty was work­ing its magic on my Teu­tonic friend. Heavy show­ers tried, but failed, to dampen Clau­dia’s en­thu­si­asm, now she had got her first true glimpse of the English coun­try­side.

At home in Ger­many, carp are her favoured quarry but I

hoped by the end of our trip that bar­bel would earn a spe­cial place in her heart. A tus­sle with a sleek bronze tor­pedo in the fast-flow­ing Wye should clinch the deal!

Af­ter a brief flir­ta­tion with the Welsh side of the bor­der we crossed back over to Eng­land, and an old crib that bi­sected the river and caused a huge crease to form down­stream. Here, among the boul­ders, lay a large shoal of bar­bel, and I ea­gerly de­scribed the un­der­wa­ter scene to my guest.

The Wye greeted Clau­dia in splen­did fash­ion as a big salmon shook off its wa­tery shack­les be­fore crash­ing back into the tor­rent. Very fit­ting, that, be­cause in the early 1900s, when the river’s salmon had been net­ted al­most to ex­tinc­tion, a sav­ing brood­stock was im­ported from the Rhine, en­sur­ing a Ger­man her­itage that lives on.

The UK’s bar­bel, too, have the Rhine to thank for their ex­is­tence. They lived in the trib­u­taries of this huge Ger­man river be­fore the Euro­pean land mass sep­a­rated

from this is­land, leav­ing be­hind a fishy her­itage. Th­ese bar­bel even­tu­ally found their way into the Wye, aided by the hand of man.

As we rigged up I told Clau­dia that per­haps I should be thank­ing her if we man­aged to catch!

Tackle was, as al­ways on this venue, sim­ple and ro­bust – a 2lb test curve Dren­nan rod with 15lb Syn­cro XT main­line. It bore a large E-S-P Method feeder and a size 6 Big T ready-tied rig car­ry­ing a hair-rigged boilie or pel­let.

Cru­cial to mak­ing the rig work was our ground­bait, which had to be tack­ier than usual, breaking down very slowly and forc­ing the bar­bel to move up­stream to­wards it. I went for Sticky Krill Ac­tive Mix and Dy­na­mite Ma­rine Hal­ibut, laced with an as­sort­ment of pel­lets for added at­trac­tion.

Prepa­ra­tions com­plete, Clau­dia made her first cast into one of our finest rivers. On this ad­ven­ture I was more than happy to act as a ghillie, in­tro­duc­ing some­one to the mag­i­cal Wye rather than fish­ing my­self. So we both watched the tip in­tently, wait­ing for a sign that came in the form of a drop-back.

With no prompt­ing, my guest spun the reel han­dle to pick up the slack and be­gan the first of many bat­tles – no won­der we were both in buoy­ant mood. Such was Clau­dia’s en­thu­si­asm, each tail slap and buck of the rod was greeted with a huge grin. I sensed she was en­joy­ing Bri­tish fish­ing!

In be­tween catch­ing bar­bel, a mo­ment with another fish blew away any out­dated stereo­type of fe­male squeamish­ness. A big eel, keen for a boilie, was greeted with even more ex­cite­ment. Her dad would have been proud of her, and I swear she would hap­pily have trav­elled from Ger­many just to savour the mo­ment of play­ing and un­hook­ing the in­ter­loper.

By the time we tucked into a fish and chip sup­per there was much to cel­e­brate and even more to look for­ward to. Af­ter a night on the bed­chairs we would ex­plore the Wye fur­ther...

Clau­dia’s eel was a wel­come change from the bar­bel!

Not all the fish in the ocal­ity live n the Wye! Ready with the net as Clau­dia plays in a bar­bel.

HAIR-RIG YOUR BAIT Noth­ing spe­cial, ex­cept that shrink tube over the eye of the hook gives a more ag­gres­sive an­gle. E-S-P METHOD FEEDER Free-run­ning, this is loaded with Sticky Krill Ac­tive Mix, Dy­na­mite Ma­rine Hal­ibut and as­sorted free­bies. MAIN­LINE No place for frail lines on the rock-strewn River Wye. Our choice was the re­li­able 15lb Syn­chro XT.

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