Is it time to fish yet….?

A big hello to all those who are reading this! 

It is close enough now to taste the new seasons arrival, so good luck to you all for a season filled with expectation, I hope it brings all that you hope it will and more!

To follow my progress, check in here for some regular updates on catches and experiences over the coming weeks, thanks for all the support you have shown over a very strange past season.

Tight lines & wet nets,


Barbel On The Move….

 Barbel on the move.

One for tagging!! 10lb6.5oz

Following on from Dr Catie’s PhD Study, Pete Davies has carried the mantle over, and currently studies the movement of barbel as well as other migratory fishes which include: Shad, lamprey and barbel, for ongoing research with Bournemouth University.
In my own small way I have helped out where possible with catching barbel for tagging and following and locating barbel post tagging. I am happy to report that it is planned for more tagging to take place later this year.
The diagrams of fish movement make for fascinating viewing, with some fish movement surpassing expectations. The barbel are especially interesting, as they seem to have no “common” modus operandi, therefore fish of similar age and size can be seen to eat different things and travel in different directions and for different distances/reasons…?
Scale samples of these fish can determine age/diet and consequently, health and well being to some degree. 

Scale sampling..

Two examples of barbel movement findings are:
1)     A large female fish of over 10lbs was caught in the Lower Severn in Oct 2018, where she was resident for that winter. She then started “travelling” in March 2019 with 2 visits to a virtually impassible weir (Diglis). After these sorties, she entered the river Teme in April 2019 and travelled up that river passing 2 weirs only to be found in May (after much searching) several miles upstream at Cotheridge. This is one example of the travels and lengths one fish will go to, to spawn! She was later in July 2019 found to be back where she was caught in Oct 2018 on the Lower Severn.
Epic, by road, the journey is approx 18 miles (one way), by river it would be similar if not slightly more.
2)     Three fish of similar age (year group) caught from within a few hundred meters of each other in Oct 2018 took altogether different journey’s. Thereafter, one was last seen/tracked Jan 2019, 20 miles downstream and maybe up the river Warks Avon, heading out of receiver range! Another had travelled half the distance downstream and settled, while the third barely travelled more than 2 miles in any direction away from what must have been “home”. The movement is varied to say the least, the reasons are harder to find than the barbel!


                                                     Ongoing research.
Some of you may already know that I am currently looking after the fishing at a place called Bransford Court on the river Teme. You are perhaps also aware of the partial removal of the weir at Powick, which is downstream of Bransford and the only man-made physical obstacle to fish movement upstream – from the lower river Severn between Tewkesbury Weir and Diglis Weir – into the Teme.   
The migration between these rivers makes for very interesting reading. Given the chance, it seems, (as many anglers have said over the years) the fish of the Severn will travel long distances up the Teme and no doubt the Warks avon at Tewkesbury, for various reasons including food proliferation, and certainly spawning migrations.
I now look forward with bated breath, to the incoming data of movement from those barbel over the past winter and ongoing spring. Hopefully this summer we shall see just where and when these epic movements have taken place again. Having access to the Bransford fishery has enabled me to track and trace many different fish over the last several spring/summer seasons. Now the weir has been partially removed the results of last spring/summer were quite exciting, with groups of fish seen spawning, which had most likely came up from the Severn. Some then staying for summer and others moving on.

Aeration tank!

The studies are ongoing and shall hopefully reveal more as the seasons show themselves, and the fish travel with (maybe) more ease, than they were previously able. I shall let you know more as it becomes available….
                                                  All the best for the coming season,            
                                                   the angling conservationist.
NB, It was planned that Pete and I would hold a table at the Barbel Society Show this coming June, where Pete would produce the latest movement data and graphics, but please rest assured that whenever possible, these findings will be made available to all interested parties. 
Thanks to Laura Bullock and the EA for these images!

A Glorious start….

The 16th finally came, and with it, some fairly exceptional rainfall!! The rivers rose fast and were near the banks and over for some, but where you could get a line in to find the fish, they were generally there to find you and bite… as was the case with my biggest season starter here of 12lb 2oz!

A flooded summer starter!

Floodwater Fishing!

With the season begun, it was time for camping and refreshments (Ray) as well as a few fish. Also good fishing on falling rivers for a few of my customers, with the Wye and Severn both producing the goods. I`ll be sure to be out looking again this week and will keep you all posted….

The 16th!!

I`ll just take this chance to wish you all the very best for the new season, enjoy, and make the most of those moments which only anglers will understand!!

See you all around, tightest lines,


Update No 2….

Here we are with the season fast approaching, and the rain tapping our windows, so perhaps we won’t have the scorching start of 2017 after all. Hopefully we won’t have the flooded start of 2012 either!

This diary account is the catch up for my season`s end ready for a fresh start after the new seasons beginning. So it was a pretty special season in many ways, and I had some truly great days, sometimes it took hours before things came good, and others, only minutes.

Back when it was a little colder, just a couple of day`s before Christmas….low pressure, constant rain & higher air temps had prompted a night roving trip. After a chub and some knocks a move was required, I met up with a friend and caught several chub on maggots before it was time for him to pack up and say goodbye, as he was loading the car my rod pulled positively round and on!

To both of our surprise this was most definitely a barbel, after giving a great account of herself she fell into the waiting net and was bigger than either of us had thought. The scales tipped over 13lb to 13lb 5oz, what a beauty and worth the wait. The photo`s were kindly taken, and the fish was rested, as I bid him good bye and cast one last cast (slightly downstream and away), before heading home for Christmas.

That last cast did not take too long (ten minutes max), before turning into a screaming running fish which took line for fun and played hard in the extra winter flow. As she emerged it was evident that she was another big fish and she weighed in at 10lb 4oz, two in two casts after an hour of quietness and my friend could only have been at the end of the road! Merry Christmas.

Another great session followed in the new year with 10 barbel from a slightly rising level and temp river Severn. These came in a few hours through the afternoon, so I stayed over until the next day as conditions seemed to be improving! And so it proved, the fish were feeding once again and i beat my record for barbel caught in successive casts (12) with 13 this time before a missed bite. Then followed up with a few more and finished with 17 on the day, no chub both days!

These day`s don`t just happen for me, as was proved when with customers for a couple of days on the Wye. The first day was good and we had a pb and several barbel for them, but rather than follow this in the same way the next day, I decided to take them somewhere with a chance of more….and a chance to try a variation on methods already tried. This worked out well and after building a swim each they both caught several barbel in stunning surroundings about as natural a day as we could find.

The season ended with high waters, but not impossible, I finished with this fish of 8lb4oz among a few others! 

Update No 1….

Hi all, the Bristol Barbel Botherer is back with some news of captures, and I`m going to start this one as a bit of a tribute to my customers so far.

Many thanks to you all for your support!

And to everyone who recommends to others taking some of my coaching, you too have helped a lot.

I have been lucky enough to take out some great people who have been responsive, enthusiastic, and good fun. Thank you.

The day`s have ranged from half day “walks and talks” with a view to my approach and/or guiding on certain areas, to, a full day (and more) angling experience with (hopefully) a fish or two thrown in. As is the case with fishing, you can never be 100% sure of catching, or any other circumstances for that matter, but with this in mind, we have done very well!

  • New for May and early June 2019 – “Walk, Talk, & Stalk” A chance to at least have a look and talk fishing even if you can`t wet a line! Just contact me for more details…

My PB and the one that “nearly” got away….a suspect catfish!

A fairly routine trip up the M5 towards Worcester was about to become one of those very special ones which I have been fortunate enough to have had a few times before, a real stellar day!

The rain had been falling lots and the river had risen with leaves aplenty and a reasonable water temperature too. Little did I know that today I was going to catch my barbel PB!

Upon arrival I checked the above details (temp, level, etc) and decided upon an area that may produce bites in these conditions and had done for me before. The approach would be mobile, no bites after 40mins to an hour, move on! It was noon and the first swim showed no signs, so I left for the next swim. The day was set to be showery & mild, and the river 6 feet of extra water and flowing hard with a water temp around 8C. The next swim drew a blank, so off again, I was a good walk away now.

Except for leaves, the conditions were good, so I just had to find the fish…First cast in the next swim it was not long before the rod banged and pulled. A good scrap in the flow and a barbel was netted 3lb! It was a start and if one was willing, more would surely follow.

With leaves a problem, another move was needed. Next area, not a sign!

So by 3pm I arrived at “the” swim. By 3.15 the mid-river rod in my hand had dropped back, and before I could lift, was pulling “very” hard, then steamed off on an unstoppable run! The rod was bent to the butt with the drag set as tight as I dared, yet the line kept peeling off, two hands holding the rod and trying to pull back at the leviathan under the depths to no avail. Could this be a carp? A catfish even?    

I tried to regain line, but the rod was bent double with line still peeling off. The fish then kited inside a hundred yards or so downstream into the bank side overhanging vegetation and all locked up! I could`nt believe it, so as I slackened off the clutch to try and allow the fish to free itself, the upstream rod positively pulled!!

The fight was similar and hard going, but this fish stayed out in the torrent of flow, and I kept the rod up to guide her away from inside trouble! After an epic battle with several long powerful surges, the big framed fish rolled into the waiting net. She was massive, and I knew she`d be close to my best ever. Shaking, the scales read near to 17lb in my net, so after checking progress on the other rod & resting the biggy, the weigh sling was out and settled at 15lb 5oz! My PB by an ounce!!

It was twilight & the other fish was still attached, so with a rest before pic`s, and total intrigue as to what was on the other rod, I tried again. I recast the upstream rod also because it seemed like “they were having it”. They were, because after just 10mins trying with the phantom huge fish downstream, the upstream went again!

A dogged battle ensued…. and another determined double figure fish fell into my waiting spare net! 10lb 12oz.

The “catfish” seemed to be nodding now & trying to pull out, which eventually – in darkness – she did. This time it was like I was dragging a tree against the current deep down & barely movable against the fully bent 2lbtc rod & slipping drag. As the “thing” rose from the murky depths below, and in darkness all around, my headtorch followed the line with lustre, what was it going to be? 

Thinking “catfish for sure”, the silhouette rose gaining size & strength diving away again, it was a………”barbel”!! Foul hooked in the dorsal fin, no wonder it took me on such a merry dance! How did it get it there? It was 10lb too!

After photo`s and releasing these 2 beauties, two more followed at 8lb & 9lb. It was time then – with frost on rods, nets froze (unhooking mat solid too) – for a nice cuppa before the drive home. This really had been a “red letter day”


A new best…15lb 5oz!

UPDATE: A sizzling summer and some barbel too…

After a wonderful start to the season camping and fishing, catching and chatting, the weather decided to go on getting hotter and dryer than we are used to. The river levels were as low as ever and oxygen levels were down too. Fishing was put to the back burner until some cooler wetter conditions came through. I did not fish the end of June or any of July as a result of the wait for kinder conditions, and then finally chances came in August just before our holiday. I grabbed the chance to fish the Avon with both hands and as a result had a memorable fish which was not massive by any means, but fought like it had been having a siesta all summer long and was ready for me!!

After this session and a beautiful holiday I was once again riverside, the Wye this time, and a bounty of bites from pristine barbel to 10lbs. It came as quite a surprise to my guests!

I then had the very great pleasure of being the “best man” for my lifelong friend Tony. Congrats to you and Stacey mate.

August was still not done with me and I was on the river Avon again as a guest with my friend Andy, we had spoken of having a go on his private stretch for some time, and now the time had arrived! He had been down the week before and done very well with two doubles and other fish. So when i arrived I was full of optimism for a few hours with some action….

Andy was in his swim of the week before, and I was in one that had also seen a fish or two out in the preceding week…..I was not disappointed as the first cast for the downstream rod resulted in a steady pull and epic battle through cabbages, after 30 minutes or so waiting. A fish of 7lb or so was duly admired and released.

Sitting back now knowing that the next hour or so before dark was a good time, was enough for me to think another may grace my net…As the sun set the rod tip bounced into more action with a heavier fish this time pulling hard and making it`s presence felt! It was 9lb 14oz…so close to a double from a new stretch just before darkness. Speaking with Andy, he too had had a barbel “out of the blue”, and we decided to give it half hour longer before retiring to the pub for a celebratory pint.

Ten minutes before that half hour was up and, – you have guessed it – the (upstream) rod this time bounced and pulled hard for far bank cover in the semi-dark. I was in to another barbel for sure, after several runs upstream and down and a determined fight to stay low close in, I had a feeling this just might be the double in the swim (or one of a few)!

A quick call to Andy and a weigh (10lb 4oz) and a photo …..; 

A new stretch 10lb4oz


Into September it was “back to school” time, a busy time in our house. I had also had a couple of guests on the rivers Wye, Teme and Bristol Avon, and the time was fast approaching when I was to help be a part of the tagging process of barbel from the lower Teme and Severn in a study to monitor movement. Having been looking forward to helping with this, it was with some excited enthusiasm that I headed towards Worcester… 

Heavy rain was forecast, but that discomfort may be consoled by better fishing prospects as a result….perhaps? Maybe?     Day one was tricky, Pete Reading and myself were ready bright and early, but with howling wind and driving rain conditions were difficult, and then not helped at all when I received a call from Pete asking, “whats the worst thing that could possibly happen?” I really didn’t  know as things were pretty bad as it was. Then he told me he had caught a fish of a few pound, ready for tagging, when it did a mean “flip and escape” back to freedom in it`s watery world below the pouring rain!

The electro-fishing team might be having more luck……? No! They had missing equipment, and then could not fish until the rain eased. The day was turning into a grueller, things could only get better!

Thankfully they did, the professional team had managed to catch their quota of smaller 2 to 5lb (electro-fished) barbel to be tagged, by tea time. Angler caught was still zero, until I managed a flurry of fish before dark from 5 to 7lb. 5 barbel caught and ready for tagging the following morning! There were 3 remaining tags and these would ideally be put into fish which were “angler caught”, to even up the ratio of electro to angler.

The rain was due to clear after storms over night and I suggested that fishing conditions would be “bang on” after the freshen up, with low pressure prevailing and river rising, so we agreed that I would try to catch the remaining 3 barbel next morning whilst they tagged the 5 fish tanked. The wind blew my car from side to side, the rain pelted the rooftop, and I tried to sleep safe in the knowledge that the sun would shine tomorrow…

It did! I awoke at 6ish to a new and better looking day altogether. After a fish first cast, the team agreed to meet and set up the tagging process where I was. All my kit was laid out to dry in the blustery wind and sunshine of this late summer September morning. I was fishing and breakfast was cooking, another barbel before they had arrived had put me on target for one last one when they did arrive! The fish had been up to 8lb until the last one which was the biggest coming late morning whilst setting up for tagging and pictured below.

One for tagging!! 10lb6.5oz

What a day it had turned out, and just as the party left at luchtime I capped off my session with this fish of 10lb9oz….

She pulled!!

Many thanks to Laura and the EA team for supplying these pictures, and obviously resources for the whole process! …

Barbel safely released..

Scale sampling..

Scanning for tag…

Barbel release at Powick..

Catie with a perfect baby barbel.

Powick barbel.

Aeration tank!


The tank!

Electric fishing at Powick!