The opening month & time is flying!!

I have enjoyed a brilliant month of fishing, the way I love to do, either seeing the fish up close and “persuading” them it is safe to feed, or getting in the river, with the sun on me, and fish feeding! Rolling a bait or holding the rod while static, with only moments before the next bite, it has been a joy…

The fish have (for the most part) been in fine summer condition with only the odd few taking longer to recover, even when hardly taken out of the water. This is why we`ll find it hard to see any of my pictures at the moment, because they are few and far between!

Some Pie & Good Luck!!!

Here are some pie charts from the anglers observations we have recorded over the last 3 years;

Kennet Pie Charts

Severn Pies 

Trent Pie Charts

Warks Avon Pie Charts

These are forming parts of different studies around the country regarding predation, and river health. There is data for many other rivers also, please feel free to contact me for any info I can provide on yours…

Now for Friday!!

Good luck to you all for the new season and enjoy your bank time whatever……be sure to check out my predictions page, if only for fun!


Has Spring Finally Sprung??

Hi everyone, gee this one has been a long time coming!!

We last spoke when a winter storm of Westerly’s had broken out and got the fish feeding, well they didn`t stop then until midnight on the 14th of March! It was a wonderful way to end the season for many anglers, reports of catches were coming from rivers very rarely mentioned for Barbel…and everyone (who could) was making the most.

Well then came these Easterly`s and made the idea of “spring” a bit of a myth, but now we reliably have the April showers…even though it is May! At least the sunshine of last week has really got the fish moving and thinking of reproduction! I have been lucky enough to find them on many gravel beds doing what comes naturally, during last weeks warm spell!!

So to that last week….Early March and the rivers were lapping the banks, Barbel do like to feed in these conditions! I had moved on from river to river catching on the Severn, Wye, Teme, Warks & new rivers. Having my first double from a new stretch of the Severn and a seperate new river double too.

The last 2 days were spent on the Severn & Wye where I was lucky enough to join up with this old warrior of a fish….

12lb 8oz Severn

This season has been a real success and challenge, I have met up with friends old and new, and caught on several new rivers. The last day though was reserved for the Wye, in a spot where only the birds and breeze can be heard throughout the day. It was perfect, after having this big Severn fish, to just enjoy the surroundings and the weather, a bite would be a bonus.

Casting a little further out from the previous chub cast, (3 rod lengths instead of 2), I didn`t have to wait too long for some interest and a bounce, before a crippling pull and one of the hardest fights of the season from a fit, perfect, (uncaught looking) fish of just “under” 8lbs! It was the best end to the last day I could think of…but I had time for one more too. A fish of just as much beauty but slightly smaller. The light was fading as the sun dropped and I was walking back to the car.

Just then it occurred to me that I was going to try and meet my friends on the Severn for a catch up before midnight! So after a cuppa, and a drive across the valley towards Worcester, I was on the bank with my buddies and I was happy to just chat, it was 9pm and took another hour before I cast out as we were having a good catch up. Finally by 10pm, I had cast a rod and was ready to wait as the others had reported a severe lack of action…..

40 minutes had passed before the rod from stationary, to full flow in 1 second flat, had curved into a Barbel bend! The fish fought hard and well and gave a good account of all of it`s 9lb frame. I was finished, what a way to end the season, and at that, my mate called to say he had one too, perfect. My other friend (very unluckily) had a hook pull moments before midnight and reckoned it to be a BIG one, typical.

So my reflection of the season was that it proved to be full of variety, and many new experiences, as well as lots of fish from new rivers. Numbers wise the best for a few years, and I can`t wait to fill the new season with memorable captures and journeys like the last!

I have also been offered the wonderful chance to represent the Barbel Society from a committee position, which I am relishing the opportunity to do. I will do my best to protect the Barbel and the environs in which it is found, this has always been a special cause to me as I have seen – first hand – what a delicate balance exists for this fish, and experienced – first hand – the joys of finding them all over the country.

Don`t forget the Barbel Society show is on Sunday 4th of June!! At Chesford Grange Hotel, for more…. click on the link on the front page to go to the BS website.

What a Winters Week!!

Last week saw some of the best conditions of the winter for Barbel, with lows blowing in off the Atlantic, and even a named storm! Time then, to get out there wherever safe and possible…..and many anglers did, reporting catches from what seemed to be every Barbel river in the country! They were feeding!!

I had a lot on though last week, and only managed to grab a few hours after work of these prime conditions, but very glad I did, as the fish were biting and five graced my net with four of them coming to my new rod too!! 

I shall have to name it “Doris”…. 

Good luck to everyone for the last couple of weeks…..

My Most Northerly Barbel & A New River….

Circumstances had conspired to allow me a chance of trying a new river this February, the river Wharfe. A beautiful riffle and pool river with a few Barbel in it too, (so I had been reliably informed). The temps were rising slightly though still very cold, and rain was pouring, allowing the rivers to flow and rise on the very day I was dropping a line!

I walked with great optimism across fields to find that no other anglers shared my enthusiasm for being cold and slightly mad…..”He who dares Rodders, he who dares”. I had found the Yorkshire air to be quite dramatically colder than South of the midlands. This was after the previous evening`s reccy which saw me get soaked through all layers, and this morning had to pop into a charity shop for a new/old/”dry” jumper. Fancy travelling all this way and not packing my usual quota of spare everything!!

The fishing approach would be a searching one, roving and trying different area`s, not waiting too long in any particular one. A good smelly bait, will usually get you a bite quite quickly in these conditions, if you are near some fish! In my third swim, I found I “was” near some fish. A couple of bumps indicated life, and just as I was on the phone to my mate…the rod pulled round into a fishy curve. As I explained I was in but not sure whether Barbel or Chub, the fish lunged and took line as only the Barbel will do!

I love this type of fishing, holding the rod and feeling for any movement, second only to seeing the fish you are trying to catch, and watching them take the bait. This one had, and after a spirited fight in cold water, a very lively and cold 6lb 3oz Barbel was in the net. It was approaching the warmest part of the day, and during Winter this is often the time you will find a Barbel willing to feed.

A Bonny Barbel!!

I was over the moon, and after adding a Chub to the day, I was off to visit an elderly relative, and have a good catch up.

My next trip may well be right out of my comfort zone, trying for some crocodiles from a boat on Chew Valley Lakes, I`ll keep you posted…

A Wild Wharfe

A “Very Happy” Start to the New Year!

We have been in for some funny weather really, with rises in temp (and drops) without real changes in conditions, ie; rainfall, drops in pressure & Westerly`s!

But this said, I have managed a couple of outings for 2017, and caught several new fish for the new year!

One outing which was a real joy to behold, saw my friend and I meeting up on “his” river, (The Thames) and me witnessing the biggest Barbel I have held, and for him…..a P.B. This was the big framed beast…. (Fish not Gary).

A Big Ole Beauty!!    

We Knew we were in with a good chance of bites after a slight increase in temps, and so it was, that after the first hour into dark, we had 6 bites between us!! Unfortunately my 3 were Bream! Gary`s on the other hand were our target fish as well as a bonus Bream!!

He had started with a first cast rod wrencher of 8lb and then a bream, followed by another rod wrenching Barbel nearly twice the size of the first fish!! We were both really chuffed with this chunk, not a really long fish…but very big framed, and deep. When I had left Gary, he had said he would be down shortly to photograph my Thames P.B as this should not be difficult, because it currently stands at 5lb8oz!

I had said (half in jest) that I might be down to picture his Thames P.B (it would need to be big, and it was)…….It`s a funny old game!

Congratulations mate on a fantastic fish…glad to bring a bit of luck!!

A Last Chance before Christmas..

Well I have my persistent daughter to thank for our last trip as she really wanted to go and it was her turn. We opted for the Severn this time as it may hold the temps better as the air was cooling this weekend. We arrived quite late to try for a few hours before tea, supper and bedding down. It was cold but had some promise, only for two hours and three swims to pass without a bite. Isobel was tiring, so time to head back to the car was upon us. The next morning we awoke to find 6 cars (well it was Sunday, I suppose), so reluctantly, we moved location to a stretch further down river.

We had a late morning brunch, and then set off to see if we could get a bite before the Christmas festivities.. Knowing of an area likely to get us a bite for lunch, we took a walk and while waiting for a bite had a right laugh, Isobel was being quite negative about any chance of Barbel, and just as I was beginning to agree with her and getting ready to reel the rod in, my wife called!

This can often be a good thing, so I would leave the rod for a few minutes more while we spoke….after a few minutes I had to put the phone down and help Isobel, as the rod pulled round! It was a nice 9lber, and we were chuffed, Isobel jumping around and saying “yes, yes”, she was really pleased because she wanted to show her school friends after Christmas, the photo`s of what she had been telling them stories of!

Next cast….we had another! This was turning into an unexpected success!

With the wind cold, and afternoon upon us, we set off for tea at the car before heading home. Isobel was more than happy with this and I was pleased to get some action before the break, (perhaps extended by cold conditions), but I had a nagging feeling that an area not far from the car might produce a bite or two on dark. I convinced her we should stay a little longer over our cuppa, so we did, and it did not take long for bites to come!

First cast a chub, second a bream, third a chub, then another bream and it was getting dark again and very foggy! Next cast was promised to be the famous “last cast” before home, two rods were out and the upstream went over this time more deliberate and Barbel-like, and it was! Just as we were laughing and getting ready to put this one back….off went the downstream rod with a very similar sized fish, and here’s Isobel with the two for Christmas….

A lovely brace…

A happy drive home in the fog was had, ready for Christmas to come!


A Surprise Catch 22 Situation!! (Thanks go to John Newman for this title).

Something very special happened last week….

Conditions were good for Barbel, but the rivers were rising too fast, and were soon impossible to fish. We (all anglers) would have to wait until they fell within their banks for a try! The air temps were dropping with the river levels, it became a race….Where to fish? & when? And how to get out from home and family, being fair to all?? With my wonderful wife`s approval granted, I could see the Wye dropping fastest first, so there it would begin, but upon arrival the water temperatures were low 6.5C (at best) and dropping, so roaming a mile of bank high river, it came as no surprise to find no-one else out. But having dropped into my 4th swim, my efforts were rewarded and a fighting fit and freezing cold 9lber was banked!

Pleased with the result so far I went to regroup at the car and cook some warming food, the seeds of plan B had re-emerged and so this would mean heading over to another river which had now dropped within its banks, and was sure to be warmer, as it was not fed by the Welsh hills!

The adventure was just beginning…..

This river was looking good! But looks can often be very deceiving, so I wasn`t getting too excited just yet. I could see my “starter for ten” swim, in my minds eye from my last visit to this area, even though it was a fair walk from the car! Upon arrival things looked good. The swim had a lovely crease and flow, dropping into slacker water above a fallen tree, this would surely be a good place to start. The temperature was good too at 7.9C compared to the Wye…

The first cast was just a light swing and drop of the line into the desired spot, a couple of rod lengths out. Now a little time would soon tell if there were any fish in the area, so I would hold the rod and wait. The wait was not a long one, tap tap, and then a developing pull as the small mouth of this 6lb Barbel was engulfing the meat presented for his pleasure! As soon as I “met him half way” we were in to a good tussle, which saw him take some line and run for cover, before much more of the same in front of me!

Having unhooked, and measured this cold, and delightfully frisky fish, I would rebait and cast while he took a moment to recover. Hardly had his tail said goodbye with a whack and splash away, the rod was off again! This was indeed how it was to be….the next cast/drop in, would not let me put the rod on the rest before pulling round again. The 4th fish was a good one (as they all are), and a double to boot, only just at 10lb2oz, but who`s counting?

I could imagine the fish packed under the surface as they sometimes do – like a bundle of sausages – with them gently taking it in turn to leave the group and feed on the offerings beginning to mount up in the area in front of them…..or perhaps they were out together knocking each other and competing to get the food before the next fish did. Either way, the bites kept coming and after 12 unbelievable casts, I took a break. Not expecting to come back after tea and find them still in the mood!

I have been lucky enough to have sessions like this before where the location combines with the conditions to make for some amazing sport, but this was probably the most surprising as this river has suffered a fair bit from predation, and has never been known for producing more than a few at a time. Although some of those few can often be big, and fished for regularly, the area is also fairly new to me, these factors making the catch what it really was.

So after tea and back in the swim, I tried to speak to my wife, but was interrupted every time with another bite, well, three times running! Then I finished the call with the hook on the bank. The twentieth fish came and was another double, (this one four centimetres shorter than the last & 2oz heavier, probably from the feed she`d gained while waiting to be caught)! But I was beginning to think that repeat captures may come, surely after so many fish they might…this happened once on the Wye when my 26th of a 26 fish catch was a distinct repeat fish from much earlier in the day, (in a swim 150yrds away)…it was time to pack up then, and would be now if repeats were coming. Not to mention of course, I had done my best to empty the river already, and had an aching arm!

It is however, the 2nd hardest thing to do, to drag yourself away when every “one last cast” gets a bite…(The 1st being when you have had no bite at all)! So a couple more casts just to confirm that they were still there and sure enough they were. I would have to tear myself away, with a promise to come back again….as soon as my arm had recovered and conditions looked good for it!

Cold snap on us now, so enjoy what you fish for and look forward to the next front with warming westerly winds..

Science & Pleasure

Summer is upon us & the season well underway..

Already I have been lucky enough to have had, and have been involved in, some memorable captures. The rivers have started well with fish coming out for many of those trying, and some big ones too, eh Matt Marlow?

I have also been taking part & helping where possible, with studies which are being sponsored and supported by the Barbel Society. I am now an RO (Regional Organiser) for the Bristol Avon catchment & general area. I am currently looking to set up regional meetings which will help raise funds towards research and conservation projects, so watch this space….