In Summary - The season was a difficult
one for me, which I kind of expected, having decided to target a
Cherwell barbel. Catching my first one was a source of great
satisfaction, and in the end I managed to take one over the magic
ten-pound mark, which was very pleasing. Overall I managed just 22
barbel in the season - the lowest return I've had in the ten years
since I began to exclusively target barbel.
The disappointment of the Cherwell
campaign was that I never managed to develop an understanding of the
river's moods. There were a number of times when I thought I should
catch, but failed to get a bite. Also disappointing, was when fishing
other "easier" rivers, I didn't catch as many fish as I should have.
This was partly tempered by the second-biggest Kennet barbel I've ever
caught, which was taken from a stretch noted more for quantity of fish
rather than quality. This made the catch especially pleasing.
Another enjoyable aspect of the campaign
was that I started to communicate with and meet a number of fellow
barbel anglers, some of whom have been very helpful in giving advice
on catching more fish. This has resulted from using the message boards
Barbel Society and
Barbel Fishing World web-sites.
on the headings below to read the details of various sessions through
the season. (Netscape users should see the details already)
Last Two Sessions
(08/03/03 & 14/03/03)...
I arrived at the Cherwell to find it
well up and coloured after rain over the last few days. I was
confident of some success, but as ever this season, this
particular section showed that it doesn't know the rules of barbel
fishing, and failed to produce in good conditions. For the last
day of the season, I joined a group of anglers who all contribute
to the Barbel
Fishing World website for a final bash on the Kennet. In all
about 15 anglers were there, but conditions were not at all good,
with temperatures plummeting towards a frost after dark. Only two
barbel were caught, neither of them by me!
An Un-Nerving Experience (8/02/03)...
Fishing the Kennet, I'd had one small
barbel out, and lost another, and was getting quite a few
tentative knocks, all on meat. Moving into one of my favourite
swims for the first time in the session, I was standing in the
margins of the river (though it's normally dry land at normal
levels) when, totally without warning, a large tree on the far
bank toppled over, heading in my general direction. Needless to
say, I was up the bank like a shot, though I needn't have worried,
as the top of the tree landed a few yards short of where I'd been
standing. The main flow of the river runs into the far bank where
the tree once stood, so I assume it must have been undercut. If
the water authority doesn't remove it, it should make an
interesting new feature in the swim.
Kennet Biggie (26/01/03)...
My run of blanks has finally come to
an end in some style, during an evening session on the Kennet near
Newbury. I started by banking a barbel of 7.04 on the first cast
(always an encouraging sign!). A couple of hours later in a
different swim, I kept getting nervous knocks that weren't
positive enough to strike at. Eventually after a bit of
experimentation with bait size, I persuaded the fish to take it
properly. After a dogged fight in a tight swim, I netted a fine
barbel of 10.01, my second-biggest Kennet barbel. I also caught
another of about four pounds later in the evening. Flavoured meat
was the successful bait.
River Gods Take Revenge (29/12/02)...
Since taking three consecutive
Cherwell p.b.'s in two sessions, the gods of the river have been
taking their revenge. The next session I had saw me arrive at the
riverbank only to discover that I'd left my landing net at home.
The following two trips I might as well have left the net at home,
as I didn't manage a single bite. This was disappointing, as in
both sessions, I used the same recipe of boilies/paste as I'd used
to catch the 8.15 the first time I'd used it, so I know it can
work. My next two sessions over Christmas saw me firstly on the
Cherwell, which was well up. I had one bite on meat and hooked it.
The fish tore off downstream taking 12lb line against the clutch,
but after a few seconds the hook pulled out. A few days later I
was on the Kennet, which was not as high as I'd expected but was
pushing through very fast. I didn't have a bite.
First Cherwell Double (23/11/02)...
Had a day off work, and decided to
spend it wandering the banks of the Cherwell. The river was about
four feet up, but surprisingly quite clear. It was also peeing
down for most of the day. I moved around from swim to swim,
fishing flavoured meat baits. In about the fourth swim I tried, I
had a couple of hesitant plucks at the bait. The bite wouldn't
develop, so I wound in, and put a much larger lump of meat on the
hook. Within a minute, this was taken properly, and after an
interesting fight in a tight swim, surrounded by overhanging
trees, I netted a barbel of 9.14. An hour later, in the same swim
that I'd taken the 8.15 from last time out, I had a confident
take. After a few nervous moments when the fish tried hard to get
the other side of a willow tree, I managed to get it into open
water, where the fight took on a prolonged and dogged nature.
Eventually, after several arm-aching minutes, I landed another
large barbel. On the scales, I was delighted to see the needle go
past the 10lb mark, eventually settling on 10.07.
New Venue P.B. (11/11/02)...
Had a bit of a
disaster the other day, when the freezer packed up, and my supply
of boilies that had taken me hours to make, all went off. With the
colder weather upon us, I took the opportunity to experiment with
a different recipe for my next batch of boilies. First time out,
it proved quite successful, putting a new Cherwell p.b. of 8.15 on
An October Week (25/10/02)...
I've had this
week off work, and have been out on the rivers three times so far.
Firstly to the Kennet for an evening session, which produced two
barbel, both around the six pound mark. The first of those gave me
the most disappointing fight I can ever recall from a barbel,
coming straight to the net with only one very half-hearted attempt
to escape. Next outing was to the Cherwell, which looked in
excellent condition after heavy rain, being about two feet up and
nicely coloured. Unfortunately, the barbel didn't read the script,
and failed to show, only a small chub coming to my net. Thursday
morning dawned with a frost on the ground, which didn't look too
promising, but I'd made arrangements to meet a fellow Barbel
Society member for a session together, and we ended up on the
Loddon, where he put me on a swim that he knew could produce in
the prevailing conditions. It duly did so, with another couple of
six-pounders gracing my net.
What a Blanker! (8/10/02)...
last Cherwell barbel, I've four more sessions on that stretch, but
with only a couple of chub from the first of those to show for it.
Three total blanks followed that, not even a bite or a fish
spotted. This is a bit disappointing, as for the first few weeks
of the season, bites (from chub at least) were quite easy to come
by. In between the Cherwell sessions, I've been over to the Kennet
a couple of times, and blanked again on the first one. The second
trip provided some joy, with four barbel to 8.01 falling to
ledgered meat baits.
Cherwell Latest (26/08/02)...
August - Up to today, all the barbel I'd taken from the Cherwell
had come from just one swim, and on the same bait, F10 boilies. I
decided not to fish this swim today, and concentrated on some
others that I felt could hold a barbel or two. This hunch proved
correct when I had a small barbel of 4.11 late on from a swim
where I've had loads of chub this year. It was caught on an
Essential Big Red boily.
Another Cherwell Barbel (11/08/02)...
July, Saturday 3rd August, and Saturday 10th August - More
sessions on the Cherwell saw another barbel coming to the bank,
this one going 7.09, plus a few chub up to around 4.00. All fell
to home-made F10 boilies. Also discovered that my waterproof
trousers were no longer waterproof, and my legs got soaked during
Success at Last! (16/07/02)...
July - At last, at the tenth attempt, I've finally had my first
Cherwell barbel. It came half an-hour before the end of an
afternoon-evening session. I'd not had a bite during the
afternoon, and it wasn't until after eight o'clock that I had my
first fish - a chub of around 3.00. I followed this with another
small chub from a different swim, before switching swims again to
catch the barbel. The barbel gave a classic wrench on the rod, and
I was immediately aware that it was a barbel I'd hooked, as it
surged under overhanging trees, taking line from the reel.
Fortunately, I managed to turn it away from danger and into open
water. It gave me a lively fight, but I was confident of netting
it, which I duly did after about three or four minutes. On the
scales, it registered 8.00 exactly. I was thoroughly delighted,
and I rate this as one of the most pleasing captures I've ever
made. I certainly feel like I've earned it after all the hard work
in previous sessions. Successful bait was Essential F10 Meat boily
with a paste wrapping. Three more sessions on the river during the
same week resulted in a another barbel on the Friday, which came
first cast, and from the same swim as Monday's. It weighed 5.05. I
then took a chub of 4.04 on the next cast. There were ten other
chub caught over the three sessions.
Severn Blank (15/07/02)...
July, fished the middle Severn at Highley, on a club outing, and
recorded a complete blank - not even an eel - something I can't
remember doing in something like fifty-plus sessions on this river
over the last seventeen years. To be fair, this was in part
because I used specific barbel baits - boilies and meat - rather
than my usual barrage of hemp/casters/maggots, which ruled out the
capture of smaller fish like dace and gudgeon. The river looked in
quite good nick, although it was surprisingly low, given the
amount of rain we've had recently, so I was reasonably confident
of some Barbus action. However, it was not to be. I wasn't alone
as only about half a dozen barbel were caught between fifteen of
Deja Vu (07/07/02)...
July and back on the Cherwell. First cast I had a chub of about
3.00, which turned out to be one that I had caught from the same
swim last week, easily identified by two wounds on its right
flank. Next cast produced another chub of 4.01. Having then moved
off to try a couple of different swims, I returned to the first
one about three hours later, and soon found myself into another
chub. Amazingly, this was the same one that I'd had first cast.
Although in the past I know I've had repeat captures, this is the
first time I've knowingly caught the same fish twice on the same
day. The successful bait was Essential "Big Red" boilies (as last
week). The chub certainly seem to like these, but as yet I don't
know whether the barbel do. Maybe the chub are getting there first
and not giving the barbel a look-in.
Chubby Cherwell (01/07/02)...
June on the Cherwell again, and it seemed for a while that I
couldn't put a bait out without catching a chub. I had six to
4.00, from four different swims. All fell to Essential "Big Red"
boilies. Good news on the barbel front is that I spotted two
together, both around 5-6lbs. Unfortunately the swim was
un-fishable due to nine feet high banks dropping sheer to the
water. Still, at least I've now seen evidence that there are
barbel there. All I have to do now is figure out how to catch
New Season Under Way (25/06/02)...
I was a few
days late in getting the season under way this year, and didn't
get out on the river until the season was 5 days old. I managed to
get the day off to watch the England-Brazil match, and after the
game I made my way to the Loddon upstream of Twyford on a stretch
that I've not fished before. I fished a few swims using Essential
F10 Meat boilies. Only one of those swims produced any bites, but
two of those bites led to the downfall of a barbel of 7.06 and a
chub of 4.15. This is the first time ever that I've managed to
land a barbel on my first outing of a season, and also the first
time I've caught on boilies, so it was quite a pleasing start.
Pity about the football!
The following day I paid a visit to the Cherwell in
the Kidlington area. I spent quite a bit of time up there last
summer, with no barbel to show for it, though I did catch plenty
of bloody crayfish! For this visit I chose a stretch just upstream
of the one I was on last term. It certainly looks a good bet as
far as the barbel are concerned, with plenty of likely-looking
swims. I had the place to myself, so I walked the stretch, and
introduced some Essential Big Red boilies into a few swims. I
fished each of them for about an hour each, and (like the day
before) only one swim produced bites, both of which were chub
around the 2.08 mark. I didn't see any barbel, but I'm sure
they're there somewhere, and I'm optimistic that I can soon land
my first barbel from this river. Also - big plus - no sign of