Anybody who reads my blog as a regular event will be aware of my interest in catching a double figure barbel from different rivers. Started in the 2005/6 season and looking to get 10 different river doubles in a year, I failed for that season and the one that followed. Then in the 2006/7 I hit a golden spell with 16 different rivers completed. That winter was perfect for the serious barbel angler in that there were almost constant SW winds bringing rain and warm weather, it also brought the start of the serious flooding of 2007 but that is a different story.
Bringing this up to date my total stood at 26 rivers completed and now I was considering the 27th with an attempt on the River Wey. I had several club books that held sections of this river but no other knowledge to work on. Fortunately John Found, my angling friend of many trips, used to live quite close to the river when he lived in London and although his information was several years out of date it was at least a starting position.
Using this I had obtained the appropriate book the previous season but failed to get down the 120 miles to the chosen venue, weather and other fishing choices often gets in the way of these trips. I was being told that the river was fishing very poorly with barbel results thin on the ground so no encouragement there. Now with the Thursday and Friday temperatures forecast to be rising quite significantly I decided that the effort must be made so a trip to W H Lanes for casters and a raid on the freezer for hemp and I was ready for a two day effort.
Every time I travel the M25 I wonder why anyone would want to live in this region, mid-morning and still a carpark situation. Still after a stop/start time I eventually arrived at the venue’s carpark and could relax in the quite of a tiny hamlet, at least until the screeching parrots flew overhead. I spoke to an angler fishing the weir pool that had produced barbel to 15lb in John’s time, but he related a sorry story of several trips over the previous weeks for just one barbel. A walk along the length showed that nobody else was fishing so I made my way to John’s suggested swim, a slightly deeper run between two shallows that were loaded with ribbon weed waving in the steady flow.
I had come with the intent to try the bait & wait approach with caster and hemp in the hope that it would not be a method used in this area very much. The price of casters in the Midlands makes them far more a proposition that the eye water cost of them in the London region. I had allowed for three pint of caster and four pint of hemp for each day and I would use them as conditions dictated. First task of the day was as always to bait up with a baitdropper, an essential tool in this situation. I try to find a shadow on the water that will remain constant and this allows both accurate bait placement with the dropper and also when I eventually cast out my hook bait. My idea is to keep the baited area compact so the feed and my hook bait will be in close proximity, I don’t want the barbel to be allowed to feed over a large area away from the hook as he might have had his fill before making the mistake I wait for. I have all the time in the world before I start since the method is exactly what it says on the tin, bait & wait. Over the next few hours I get my tackle ready and rebait the swim three times. Each time the combination of the baitdropper and my chosen shadow ensures the feed is going exactly where I want it.
Eventually I decide that the time has come to begin and my baited hook is sent out into the swim. Three casters have been superglued into a torpedo type shape about the hair with perhaps 5mm or so clearance above the bend of the hook. Generally this is proof against the attentions of minnows and very small fish but the rod top bounced away giving the signal that something less than a barbel was looking at my offering. It did not take too long before the culprit showed himself to be a smaller sample of the perch. The bait was soon back out in place and I wondered if the smaller fish could possibly be a problem, I need not have worried and perhaps twenty minutes later the baitrunner gave out line in the rate of knots that suggested a barbel and the strike confirmed that idea. A very good scrap followed and although I had seen the fish a couple of times he held too deep to be sure of his size, when he slipped over the net I could only hope that my double target had quickly been achieved. I left him to rest in the landing net and approached one of the lads that were strimming the grass on the community field just behind my swim. By the time I had the camera and scales ready I had a little audience and when the scales showed me my double at 10lb-12oz there was one excited lad holding the fish for a photo to be taken.
10lb-12oz of fine barbel.
I sat for the rest of the afternoon hoping that the barbel had mates swimming with him, but if he did they would not make the same mistake of picking up my bait. As evening approached one of the bailiffs came along and we got talking. I advised him I had caught the barbel and he asked about photos which I showed him. He then confirmed that he had caught the same fish the previous week and that possibly it was the only double on the section I was fishing. Now that’s luck, one fish and it’s the right one.
I decided to check out another section on the club book, roving around in the dark is not unusual for me, but in the end I decided to call it a day and came home in the quiet of the very early morning with a job well done, the 27th different river completed and now where next?