A window of opportunity at Hampton Loade (barbel article and video, entry 438)

Click images above to enlarge

From late autumn through the rest of the season, my barbel fishing is pretty much an opportunistic thing. Whilst the single-species angler is out after them in all conditions regardless, my time is devoted to them when conditions are favourable. I’m looking for windows of opportunity to open as opposed to a determined approach through thick and thin. But then again I’m a multi-species angler anyway, so it makes sense to target them objectively. Hence, with a mild spell of weather upon us for a few days I headed off to the River Severn late on a Sunday afternoon.

The section I fished is run by Kinver Freeliners and you can check the website on the home page of my Angling Journal www.anglingdiary.com  But it is also a day-ticket stretch as well. Conditions may change, depending on when you are reading this so do check beforehand, but tickets are available on the bank from the bailiff and fishing on a day ticket is dawn to dusk.

Car parking is safe which is a massive factor these days and the place itself is rural so there are no issues that you can sometimes get in more built-up areas. And the fishing’s pretty good. Most anglers on there fish for barbel, and that was my chosen quarry too of course. Avoiding the few anglers who were already on there, I set up in a spot that gave me the opportunity to fish two rods.

My mainline of 10lb was Sufix Synergy. I have been fishing with this for years and it all started when I was given some for writing an article. I liked it and have been buying it myself ever since. The hook length of about a metre was also 10lb and was again a tried and trusted friend, Drennan Double Strength. Leads were 1.5 oz and fixed between two 8mm beads and the swivel and a power gum knot either side of them. The latter means that it is a safe set-up as the slightest pressure and the knot gives.

Bait-wise one rod was an SBS M2 boilie and the other a cube of SBS squiddy Barbel Stix, both hair-rigged to size 8 and 6 Drennan boilie hooks respectively. My intention was to cast using a PVA bag of pellets and a few loose offerings. However there was a problem with lots of loose weed coming downstream meaning I had to recast every few minutes. This cleared up after a couple of hours or so and I was able to put the bait out longer without having to keep bringing it in.

I do lots of fishing during the hours of darkness and am often asked if I get scared. The answer is no I don’t. Whether it be noises in the undergrowth that I can answer with logic such as nocturnal mammals or the more bizarre ghosts that don’t even come into the equation, I’m not worried at all about being out and about on my own. In fact the only concern that I ever might have is if my car is safe.

But as the years have gone by I have taken more and more precaution concerning where I leave my car while off fishing. I would sooner park it somewhere where I know it will be when I come back and walk an extra 20 minutes than have it in a convenient but very lonely and exposed spot. Of course no matter where you leave your car there is always a risk. Even in your own garage, drive or outside your home something can happen. So there’s no point in becoming paranoid, just be sensible that’s all.

And on the subject of night fishing there are also essentials such as a headtorch and mobile phone – and of course make sure both have well charged batteries in them. I read a comment on a forum some time back where the angler said he doesn’t believe in lighting when out night fishing. All I can say is that he has never done any fishing in the dark. And if he has then everything from fish welfare to leaving stuff behind on the bank afterwards is seriously complicated – and compromised. And although I have tied thousands of knots, I still need to see what I’m doing. Going night fishing? Get a headtorch!

I ended the session with 5 barbel, and the article photographs are all of fish. No other shots this time round and I make no apologies for that as barbel are great. I understand why they have such a devoted following; great looking fish, hard fighting and inhabiting wonderful natural waterways. Although there are many dedicated barbel anglers out there I also know that lots of anglers have yet to catch their first.

There are lots of things that you can do in terms of homework prior to hitting the river bank. Without even leaving your home, the internet offers a whole host of resource. Whether it be websites such as Barbel Fishing World or the organisation Barbel Society through to lots of general stuff, the amount of barbel-specific information out there is enormous. And even on my Angling Journal, where I list entries by species, there are thousands of words dedicated to barbel.

And when you finally do get a bend in your rod, you’ll know about it. Even the small ones put up a tremendous fight, in fact depending on how you look at it, they do so more than the really big ones. Whilst the smaller barbel tend to go ballistic, the bigger fish lie deep and plod. And it was great for me that a couple of the fish I hooked at Hampton Loade did exactly that. Watching a nice big plump barbel break the surface is only bettered by the feeling of slipping it into the net.

The fish I caught were all solid. Considering the rivers have been low for a long time, they were all fat and reminiscent of barbel that have been gorging themselves during a flood. It didn’t really come as a total surprise to me though as I don’t always go for the ‘We need rain to bring the fish on’ argument. Of course, a good downpour is positive, but barbel still feed when it isn’t raining – and hasn’t for some time.

By the time I packed away, the blanket of cloud cover earlier that had really warmed up the evening had disappeared. In its place was a clear sky with the array of stars breathtaking. The chillier feel to the night was more than compensated by the view. And we all have our own take on things of course, but as a creationist I see the handiwork of an almighty God rather than the randomness of evolution.

On the nature front I saw a kingfisher and even managed to get a brief shot of it on the accompanying video. A couple of pipistrelle bats were out at dusk and a little grebe made its way along the far bank margins, and again I managed to get it on film. But with plenty of fish action I didn’t get too much time to gaze around.

I really enjoyed myself and with Hampton Loade being the closest stretch of the Severn to where I live I will be back during more windows of opportunity before the season ends in March next year. And if I catch fish like I did this time then I’ll certainly be a happy man.

Watch the accompanying video by clicking the link below and go to my Angling Journal website, again by clicking the link below. Article and video published December 3 2011.

 Watch the video on YouTube

Stewart Bloor’s Angling Journal


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