An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

At the double

Last night saw me on my favourite stretch of the Warwickshire Avon with my barbel head on. It's a stretch that has been kind to me in the past, producing my PB barbel plus some of my finest roach and chub catches. However, it's a place I visit less often now that I live near the river and have many other places to explore but I always ensure a few trips every season just for old times sake.

I arrived at about 6pm to find only one other car, which was a welcome sight since I knew that my intended area below the weir would be free. Immediately, I spent 5 minutes casting with my lure rod. The weir is home to some fine predators but none showed themselves on this occasion so it was back to business, barbel. With this being only my third trip out since the season began I was determined to find some action and decided rolling meat was the way to go. I have found that when the Avon is hard work then sitting behind a static bait can often be pointless. In these instances a moving bait will usually produce. As with all my rigs I try to keep everything as straightforward as possible. My setup simply consisted of 10lb line straight through to a size 2 hook. I had threaded a Drennan float stop on to the line about a foot above the hook and around this went enough plasticine to move my bait to my liking. It's a relatively new method to me with only a handful of sessions over the last couple of seasons but it's thoroughly enjoyable. I cast the bait upstream, took up some of the slack then felt the line for tell tale signs. On the clean gravel of the weir run off, the bait moved effortlessly and naturally downstream. Second cast and I felt a 'pluck pluck' on the line and sweeping strike met with my first barbel of the season. I was able to gain the upper hand quickly and a fish of about 4-5lb was netted.
Rolling meat produced the first barbel of my season

I continued to fish this way for about 30 minutes. I suspected that the fish had been spooked but I was enjoying it as well as becoming more familiar with the method. I had previously baited an area about 15 yards downstream using a baitdropper to deposit hemp and some pellets so I decided it was time to change methods. It was about 8pm by now so two small pellets were cast into the gulley formed by the strong flow. I had plenty of raps and taps synonymous with chub. Indeed, one fish pulled the rod round considerably but my strike met with thin air. This of course is the consequence of using hair rigs with chub who are capable of picking up a bait in the lips, minus the hook.

Another hour or so had passed and it was now 9.30pm and light was beginning to fade. This is the moment when many barbel anglers get excited. There's a sense of anticipation, almost expectation. If you are familiar with my barbel approach you will know that I'm a big fan of using luncheon meat at this time of the day. I feel it is the best barbel bait of all as light fades into darkness. I made a cast landing the bait exactly where it was intended and sat back with the rod in my hand, my forefinger across the line waiting for a barbel to home in on the meaty morsel. I didn't have to wait long either, I felt the line tighten as the tip of my rod twitched and pulled round - fish on. The rod hooped as the fish held station in the strong current. I could barely move it for a couple of minutes as it made a series of short powerful runs, hugging the bottom all the time. This was proving to be an epic battle as the fish boiled the surface. Eventually, I began to take control and ease the fish upstream to steadier waters. It was obviously a good fish and at first glimpse I was convinced my habit of catching near 'double figure' barbel was about to continue. Finally, the fish was netted and a proper look revealed it was bigger than I first thought. The scales recorded 10lb 10oz, a great way to end the session. It was a fine looking fish although there were some fresh looking abrasions around the anal fin leading me to assume that they were the result spawning. I know there has been much debate as to when the barbel spawned this year following the late spring but I'm hoping this fish is proof that it's finally happened.

With light fading I was more than happy to call it a day. All that was left was for me to return the fish safely and watch as she swam into the darkness.

First double of the season - 10lb 10oz


  1. Nice one Lee, always good to get a double on the board early on

  2. Thank you, as Joe said, it's great to manage a double so early on in the season.