As we come to the seasonal change I thought a short review of my barbel efforts so far could be interesting. It has been quite a trying time as far as I am concerned with long spells of very high temperatures and low water conditions, along with two quite serious faults on the van that took a couple of weeks out of my fishing and also a lot of money out of my wallet, very painful that!
As I usually try to do I fished the opening day of the season and for a change I actually caught, all too often this day is a disappointment after the anticipation prior to its arrival, and a barbel blank is more than often the result of the day’s effort. Yes I would catch a chub or bream, maybe even more than one, but the target is the power of feeling the barbel on the end of the line. This time it was four barbel with two over 9lb, I’ll take that result any time. All four of these barbel fell to the Elips pellets and they are proven bait on any river, but I was to try and check how often we catch on a bait because that is what we are using rather than it being anything special. Having been at this game for a very long time I’m convinced that the main ingredient in any bait is your confidence, ask one hundred successful anglers what bait they favour and you will probably get a list of more the fifty different answers.
One of many bait selections.
I think it is obvious that the highlight of my barbel season so far is the success on the Barbel Challenge; I fished six different rivers and caught seven doubles, with at least one off five of them. Now that makes me a fantastic angler, or does it? Last year on similar challenge I caught one double off the Trent and failed on the others. I think this is one of the aspects of fishing that is so good, you just begin to think you have it sussed and it kicks you in the teeth and you are back on the ground again. Fortunately it works the other way round as well, you can be in the doldrums with blank after blank and then that magic spell of catching comes and your spirit rises with each capture. In between these highs and lows it is just a case of ticking over with a mixed bag of results.
Challenge best at 13lb-5oz off the Derwent [Source]
This season I’ve fished on eight different rivers and caught on six of them, blanked on single day trips on the Dove and Wye. I actually fished 25 days; many of these would be half day sessions going for just the afternoon and evening. Of those days I blanked for barbel on 11 where a chub or bream would appear but no barbel. My total of doubles came in at a pleasing 14 out of 57 fish which is probably about the normal on many of our rivers where smaller fish are in decline.
12lb-6oz off the WAvon. [pellet]
Going back to the bait confidence theme I have been using Dynamite Source on one rod and Elips pellet on the other for many of the trips, though on more than one occasion I’ve ended up with either one or the other bait on both rods as the fish seemed to show a preference. I think that maybe one important aspect as to which, if either, will be favoured is whether one or the other is used frequently where you’re fishing. It seems to me that pellets work almost anywhere, but boilies do need an experience of them even if they are of a different flavour. Once the fish realise that round blobs of bait are good then you are in with a better chance. Of course if you actually introduce your own flavour so much the better, but don’t go over the top you only need six or so baits in each swim when you visit, not half a kilo.
Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with my tackle but those new to it I’ll give a quick summery. 12ft Drennan Barbel Specialist 1.75lb test and matched with Shimano 500 Re baitrunner reels loaded with 12 line. Although I’ve tried the latest vogue of long hook lengths of four foot or more I’ve not found them necessary and I’ll continue to use the 18” that has served me well for many years. Most often I use a combi link of one foot of 15lb mono tied loop to loop with 6 inch of 15lb braid going to a size 8 or sometimes a 6 Drennan Continental Carp hook. Boilies are fished a standard with a bait stop on a hair rig while pellets are superglued onto the hair, normally two, but sometimes I’ll increase this to make a larger bait especially when the river is in flood. I almost always use an open ended feeder on this rig and load it with a mix of pellet sizes between 2mm and 8mm; these have themselves been mixed 50/50 with hemp where the liquid had been allowed to drain off. As an additional attractor I load this mix with either Halibut oil or Dynamite Source Stick Mix depending on which rod it is being used on.
12lb-8oz best of four doubles on overnight session [All Source]
That’s it then, some thoughts for you to consider but the main thing to remember is barbel fishing is easy, we sometimes make it difficult ourselves.