Winter barbel & the fish that found the thorns, a “bramble barbel”…

A lunchtime start saw me on the banks of the lower Severn on a fairly mild (for the time of year) day before Christmas. The wind was blowing warmer than previous days and the barometer was saying “low”, normally good conditions for winter barbel. A walk upstream from my first field swim of choice might buy me a bite or two.

After 15 minutes or so with rod in hand, pasted pellet on the hook, and a feeder full of goodies, would they resist? Could they resist?


Two in a row before darkness descends and teatime looms, lovely. Moving nearer to the car, we were treated to a Geminid meteor shower, shooting stars while catching barbel, two more followed on this mild evening. A good sleep and move to catch up with some friends for Christmas before another try on another stretch. 

The water temps had risen and so had hopes of a bite! Until that is, I met a chap packing up after 2 bite-less days. Oh well, in it to win it and all that, I`m here now, (after a long walk with a squeaking bucket, bag and boots)! 

I chose a spot to leave the bait as long as possible…40 minutes in, it ripped off! Steaming downstream for freedom, the fish was strong and heavy, it finally came upstream towards me before running headlong through a whole bramble bush, & tethering my side of the line so that I could only pull against the flexible branches of the bush.

We were in a fix, the fish was well hooked, but we were both pulling to no effect, so with no other option, but to open the bail arm, I did. Then I set off for the long walk back to the car to collect my loppers, saw and waders, this had become a simultaneous capture “and” rescue service. Eventually, after “much ado” the fish was safely landed and the bush trimmed! I was also well warmed up after the walk and gardening…The troublesome beauty was 11lb 2oz and well worth the hassle!


After just the one cast taking so long with weighing and photographs etc added to the rescue, I had to have another and within five or so minutes this time, I was attached again!! A great scrap and this resulting fat fish of 10lb 4oz….

This one had a mark on it which I believe may distinguish it as one of the tagged fish from the recent tagging for the Teme/Severn barbel movement study, this is a nice turn-up to know that the fish is well, and back in the area that it was before, after extensive travelling through the summer!

After this pre-Christmas session I had no chance to get out until a post-Christmas/new year session with my youngest son. So a bit of camping and touring around the countryside was in order as well as a fish or two. Conditions were good again, catching the end of some mild weather new years day!

We were caught in some showers just getting to our swim and he was already “freezing” and letting me know it!! Luckily it didn`t take very long at all for our rod to bend into action, and this fighting fit fish of 8lb 8oz to arrive….

He was chilled.

A great result and strange to see that the fish only had one full barbule and 2 completely missing!

We moved on then to dry off and check out the Shropshire countryside, where we stopped off and slipped the net under another beauty before heading for home, happy with our lot. 

This winter is proving to be very mild and the fish are responding well , lots of bites on many rivers, check out the predictions page here…and make the most, tight lines!

Predictions of fishing on various rivers

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