An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Saturday, 6 September 2014

September Barbel

Always a sign that autumn is around the corner
September is probably my favourite month to be on the bank. Not only are they quieter as the fair weather anglers lock themselves away until next June but to me it's a magical time to be out in our countryside. As summer changes to autumn, the evenings begin to cool and the mist descends adding atmosphere to an evening on the bank. Overhead, a group of Canadian geese noisily pass in their
V-formation readying themselves for migration. There are many evocative sights and sounds at this time of year that make fishing almost a secondary thought, just being out and being part of nature is satisfying in itself. However, September is also a great fishing month for almost every species, especially Barbel. The famous Bernard Venables made September his month to target Barbel in the now legendary book, Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing. With that in mind, I also made Barbel my quarry.

River Severn
A nice middle-Severn Barbel
My first session took me to the Severn, a few miles downstream of Bridgnorth. It's a favourite venue of mine, which has always been kind to me over the years. I managed a 22 fish haul of Barbel during the 2007 floods that included my first ever double. Although I have never got near to hitting those heights since, I can think of few places that I'd rather spend an evening. With the call of alarmed pheasants in the background, the hoot of a Tawny owl and the Severn Valley Railway a short distance away it is always a pleasure to spend a few hours watching the river as it takes time. The farmhouse, tucked away amongst the trees beyond the far bank, always looks so inviting as dusk arrives and its lights give a warm glow.

An average sized Barbel
Catching a fish here is always a bonus and I was fortunate enough that the bonus came in the shape of two Barbel and a small Perch which fell to a drop-shotted lure. I lost a couple more Perch on the same method, which means I will have to have a rethink as this has happened far too many times for it not to be an issue. The Barbel were more than welcome with the first fish breaking the 8lb mark, which for the middle Severn still has to be considered a good Barbel. The second was more typical at around 5lb. Both fell to my new boilie baits, which appear to be doing the business and are seeing me putting more confidence in their use.

Warwickshire Avon

While I have seen reports of some super Barbel catches on the Avon this season, so far it's been pretty cruel to me. Although I have concentrated my efforts to a small area, I have been left disappointed by the lack of Barbel action to the point where I was almost ready to write the stretch off and move on. I made a few alterations to my approach, fishing a groundbait feeder, packed with pellets, which I never do on the Avon. I also decided to fish upstream as I get so many knocks and taps fishing in the more traditional, downstream method. Yet they often fail to materialise into a positive bite, making me think that resistance is putting off tackle wary fish. By fishing upstream, a more sensitive approach is achieved and I hoped it would be enough to fool a Barbel.

The session was slow but I continued with my plan of recasting to build up a bed of bait mid-river. I did have a 25 minute break to cast a spoon around in the hope of a bonus Pike but they too proved elusive in their presence. However, despite nothing happening to signify the presence of fish, something told me that it was right. It was a beautiful, still evening. Bredon Hill appeared to be shrouded in a haze. A hot air balloon silently moved across the skyline. The only thing missing was a bite as light faded and dusk approached. At last a few taps on the rod tip suggested something might be imminent. Minutes later a definite knock was followed soon after by a sharp pull which saw the taught line begin to travel downstream. A few turns of the handle to take up the slack line and a firm strike saw me connected with a decent fish that had the unmistakable traits of a Barbel. Barbel are renowned for their battling qualities and this fish did not disappoint as it provided some surging runs that had line screaming from the reel. The fish appeared for the first time and look bigger than what I had expected. Once in the net, a proper look revealed an impressive looking Barbel although it did possess a very empty stomach. The scales revealed 9lb 1oz although I have no doubts that this fish will be a comfortable double once it gets its head down to ready itself for the winter months. By the time the fish had swam away, the light had faded. A hasty strike to what was a tentative pull probably put paid to my chances of a second fish but I was not unhappy. My confidence had been restored and while many people are transfixed only by double figure Barbel, I am level headed enough to realise that a 9 pounder is still an above average Barbel and not to be sniffed at and, as you have probably noticed already, there's plenty more to an evening by the river than just catching. Until next time, tight lines!

This 9lb 1oz fish capped a lovely evening by the river

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