If you have been following my angling exploits recently, you will realise how excited I was concerning my barbel from the Sow last week. In fact I think the title of the article gave it away really! Well of course, the fish spurred me on in my ongoing efforts on the river and that’s where I headed this week.
The Sow is not a big river, either in size or length, with it being just a total of twenty miles from source to finish. As far as barbel are concerned, the general rule of thumb is that the closer you get to the confluence with the Trent, the greater the chance of encountering a fish. Barbel can find themselves in a river by one of three methods – they can be legally stocked, illegally placed there or else they can be present via natural expansion. And with the Sow being a tributary of one of England’s main barbel rivers it is only natural that some fish will swim into its waters.
It was another hot day and so arriving at the river it was nice to find a gentle breeze blowing directly into the place where I had chosen to fish. Although I always carry extra clothing, as once the sun sets it can get chilly even in summer, on this occasion I was able to fish right through in a short-sleeved shirt.
The first thing I did was to bait up with seeds and brown crumb. If you are a regular reader of my weekly articles then I am aware that there is a certain amount of repetition, particularly if I am fishing the same venues on a regular basis. But I try to pitch it so that the first time reader doesn’t have to work on a number of assumptions either. Hence, whilst not over elaborating on certain details, nevertheless there will be various duplications.
I also tossed in half a dozen boilies from a new batch made just the day before. Although I use the word ‘new’ the actual recipe is a tried and tested one that has served me well for a number of years. Of course I buy the ingredients, but the actual recipe including the base mix, is a personal one. It’s always nice to catch a good fish, but when you do so on one of your own concoctions it becomes even more pleasing.
I didn’t have long to wait before I caught my first fish. The rod tip pulled over and as I struck it was impossible to say whether I had connected with a barbel or a big chub, such was the initial surge of power. It was actually the latter, a fine 4lb+ specimen that fought well beyond its weight bracket. Come winter, if it gets too cold for barbel, I will be targeting chub specifically and a fish of that size from the Sow will certainly make me a happy angler.
Re-casting I settled back, wondering if I would break my run of one fish per session on the Sow. Well, as the rod not only pulled over but also lifted right off the ground, I knew what the answer to that one was…providing I could land it of course! Striking into the fish I knew that it was a very good barbel, although I did wonder if perhaps I was doing battle with a carp at times, such was the power that the fish displayed.
But as the fish finally succumbed, I was more than pleased to see a big barbel edging towards the landing net. It looked a definite double and at first glance perhaps even an 11. Weighing the fish I was surprised to find that it was ‘just’ 10lb 3oz – in fact so surprised was I that I weighed it three times! But the scales (particularly when you have a top of the range set) never lie. Doesn’t it show though, the importance of weighing and not guessing?
Even though I have had dozens of big barbel, I was still ‘fooled’ by this one. However, like many fish at this time of the year it did have a hollow belly and so over the next few months I have no doubt that it will fill out and up into the ‘11’ bracket. But the deceptive weight did not detract from the high that the fish took me to! To say I was thrilled would be a total understatement. And it was also my thirteenth barbel outing of the season so far – not that I believe there is such a thing as bad luck anyway!
It was also a different fish to the double I caught from the same river four years ago. Both fish had distinct markings that made identification an easy task. Whilst I am not getting carried away just yet concerning the River Sow, it is true to say that even if I don’t better this fish at all over the next few months, I will definitely be satisfied. But of course I am eager to get back and explore the barbel potential to the full. But come what may, one thing is for sure, I will enjoy every minute of the experience.
(Originally published August 2006)