I have not done a lot of barbel fishing in the last couple of years, but if the river conditions allow I hope to redress that situation this season. A rushed first session last week was not a success to put it mildly. My bait for the session was a few bits I could find in the freezer. I knew the levels were going to be high on the Trent, but I love flood water fishing, so no problem there. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of weed flowing down. After three of four biteless hours of struggling with the conditions and losing 5 expensive heavy feeders I gave in and went home.
I was better prepared for this trip; I knew the river conditions were good, still extra water flowing through but manageable and no weed. I picked a stretch of the river with a sharp bend. The main flow could clearly be seen as the streams of bubbles on the surface shot to the far bank on the surface of flat steadily flowing water. Inside that was a strip of water with the surface boils indicating the turbulence below. Finally closest to me a large back eddy with the water running slowly and steadily against the flow.
The week before I had scanned the Quest Baits web pages for clues on which bait I would use. I also needed to decide on the bait for a forthcoming trip to the River Wye. After some thought I decided on 10 and 15mm boilies in Special Crab, Squid Berry and Rahja Spice and also ordered matching pastes and bait glugs. For the first session I choose the Special Crab and glugged some baits in advance of the trip.
I arrived early for me; between two and three in the afternoon and had a chat with a couple of anglers fishing further downstream in the stronger flow. One barbel and one bream was all they had to show for their days efforts, not promising but they had caught a barbel. Upstream I set up and prepared my groundbait; a favourite concoction of marine halibut and crushed hemp with the mixing water now laced liberally with Special Crab Bait Glug. Smelly as I can make it is how I like it in floodwater. Heavy open ended feeders were cast in one in the slack back eddy and the other upstream way out in the main flow beyond the boils. The feeders were first plugged with the groundbait then three or four 10mm boilies then another groundbait plug. Hookbaits were hair rigged and apple cored Special Crab boilies wrapped in paste. The upstream rod was fished with a large bow in the line to help hold bottom and the rods were pointed skyward in what is now normal Trent style. All that was left now was to wait.
It was hot and humid very hot, quite a shock to the system after this summers weather. As I was spreading on some sun block for the first time this year the upstream rod tip sprang back and the line went loose. Chub I thought, and grabbed the rod quickly winding in the slack line. Finally making contact the fish made its intentions known and the rod tip dipped and ten yards or so of line were stripped off the spool. It was a hard fight in the deep fast water but eventually a chubby early season barbel lay in the net. At 8lb 4 oz I was more than pleased with my first fish of the season and my first on Special Crab.
After recasting; the brollie went up very quickly and we were treated to what must have been the heaviest rain I ever experienced. The wind changed direction during the storm and as I sat hanging onto the brollie of course the upstream rod sprang back again and then started nodding. A bream of course around four pounds and I’m drenched. I slipped it back and recast and then typically the rain stopped. I’m now sitting here soaking with two 12 foot carbon poles at my feet and forked lightening overhead. To think today started so well………………….
The rod in the back eddy had remained stationary all this time so I moved this rod out into the flow too. Bang, and the rod tip sprang back and a seven pound barbel soon slipped over the rim of the net. This was followed by another barbel that when almost in the margins made a final lunge and managed to lodge my feeder in the rocks. The barbel sat there calmly while I went through the usual pantomime of trying to release the feeder. Eventually Mr Barbel got sick of waiting for me and lunged again and sliced off the hooklink on the rocks. Strange how when you find the snags; you keep finding them. No more barbel for a while but I did manage to cast into the snags and loose two more feeders.
My last fish of the session came from my original upstream rod again. It fought like a demon; with me desperately hanging on trying to make sure this one didn’t reach the rocks. When it finally hit the net, I could see a long dark bronze shape which I was sure was my first double of the season. When the scales spun around and stopped at 8lb 10oz I was surprised but not disappointed it was a beauty.
Well my first experiment with Special Crab I think can be counted as a success. Squid Berry next time I think, I’ll let you know how I get on.
Cheers Ron Key