Am I on a wild-goose chase? (barbel entry, article 108)

Although I have been intending to fish for other species this summer – and I have to some degree – nevertheless I do find myself drawn back to barbel again and again. And so this week, with the choice between a beard and a snake (barbel and eel!), I went for the former. With three sessions ahead of me, I decided to kick off on the lower Severn and then do a couple on the undisclosed small river I’m also fishing at present – but more of that later.

Arriving on the banks of the lower Severn, there was the unusual sight of another angler’s car parked on the car park. And of course, there must be a law for it, but the angler was in the peg I had intended to fish! But I’m not complaining, after all on a club water people can fish where they like. I have no objections to taking second choice, just as long as the other angler is a paid up member. I have no time whatsoever for people who fish without the proper permits, they are probably the same people that don’t buy a TV licence or car tax either for that matter.

Using a bait dropper, I deposited half a small bucket of seeds about a third of the way across the river. Although there had been some fairly substantial rain a few days before, the Severn was still at normal summer level. Perhaps a little coloured, but nevertheless the rain had made no other visible impact at all. Although I was fishing a couple of hours before dark, it was as the sun started to set that I expected to connect with any fish.

So it was a pleasant surprise when I actually hooked and landed a small barbel while it was still relatively light. That’s the great thing about angling, no matter how much of a pattern develops, there are still those times that things happen to totally throw all the predictions out of the window. After releasing the fish, the previously mentioned angler came along the bank to see if he could borrow my scales – with a barbel in his landing net! After tipping it on the ground and then putting it back in his net he finally weighed it.

Yes, there is a long way to go in the area of fish welfare education. But knowing how hard-line many barbel anglers are, I did have to smile to myself (although perhaps that’s a naughty thing to confess to). After all, some are ready to lynch, maim and decapitate anyone who dares so much as to sneeze over a barbel in case it catches a cold! But I imagine if this angler (who after all was acting in total ignorance) had approached some guys instead of me what may have been the outcome! He would probably still be in Gloucester General even now! Polite and well-balanced education must always be the key!

I fished on until 1.00 am and added another couple of barbel, each one a pound or so larger than the previous. In fact based on that, if I’d have caught a couple more I’d have had a double! But I needed to get back home and so even with leaving at that hour it was still almost 3.00 am before I was in bed. That’s the trouble at this time of the year, particularly if you want to night fish. Even a five hour session and it’s almost dawn.

Well at least I had caught a fish for the week, and it’s always nice to do that. I’m now into my third year of writing a weekly Angling Journal and in all that time (if my memory serves me well) I’ve only ever had two entries that have not had at least one fish to write about. Of course I’ve had numerous blanks in that time, such is the pursuit of big fish, but they have been more dotted around as opposed to being in a big block.

But I knew that the visit to the second venue of the week would be tough. If you read my Angling Journal regularly, you will be aware that I have fancied a crack at a small river/stream that is a tributary of an established barbel river. My previous session had ended in a blank, and so did this one too! However, I did hook something that broke me just as it was getting dark. But it all happened so quickly, that literally as I struck, the line parted. I have always been confident when using Sufix Synergy, but I am wondering if there is such a thing as a ‘bad batch’ as this has happened twice now with this spool.

Anyway, all it did was to spur me on and so to round off the week I once more headed to the same venue. After baiting up, I cast out and sat back. The river was in good condition but I also know that you can only catch what is there, and at this moment in time I’m not sure if there are any barbel present. The session ended in a blank but I did keep my eyes very much open for signs of topping fish. I did witness a few decent fish but suspected chub rather than barbel. Anyway I have given myself till the end of August to continue what at this moment seems to be a wild-goose chase. But only time will tell!

(Originally published August 2005)

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