Things started promisingly, the expectation of catching some barbel by the blissful peace and quiet on the the river was quietly whipering to me to return to where it all started on the banks of the River Trent. So who am I to refuse? Optimism was high and this week, was going to be a good week!

With the date set for my feature I knew I would need to go to the stretch and start a practice session before the main event kicked off, so to speak (well practice makes perfect doesn’t it?) so I decided that Saturday would be a good day to get down to the river and start my practice session.

After getting to Nottingham a day late due to work commitments it was all I could do, relying heavily on my chosen stretch of river would fish like it always has done in the Summer months. No time for changing stretches, this stretch simply had to produce the barbel I was hoping for, I had no reason to question whether it would be or not considering my many years fishing the stretch and doing very well over that time it never was in question, was it?

Peg for the day

So on a sunny, but chilly morning I set off for the stretch and after negotiating my yearly pass, I got to my peg, eager to see what was greeting me on my first put in. I started off using the new and improved rubby dubby with a feeder approach with chopped dubby’s and scalded pellets (normally a safe and good summer method) , after an hour of no activity, I knew something was up. To put things in perspective the dubby’s have been made with the finest ingredients, no shortcuts just pure barbel stimulant, experimented over many years. I know by these experiments that if barbel are in the radius of 0 – 25yds downstream they’d immediately come to investigate, maybe not straight away but after 10 – 30 minutes at most.

Now because of this inactivity I was very concerned, barbel on this peg usually play ball and I usually catch, what has happened? Something has obviously gone very wrong, no activity, not even from the usual small shoal fish that regularly make their presence known.

The second hour carried on in much the same vain, try as I might (even trying different baits) could I buy a bite. After a long deliberation of what I should do, I decided to pack up and put most of my gear in the car and travel light with just a rod, landing net, rod rest and a bucket of bait. I also decided to use a rolling bullet lead to get tight against the overgrown margins and fallen trees/branches and raft rubbish a lot of these pegs have in them, result of this years flooding.

Trying many areas with not so much as a knock on the rod tip, I eventually settled into a swim about 100 yards from where I started, where I began to get to plucks and taps on the meat and worm, eventually hooking one that actually wrapped the rod tip and stayed there which resulted in a chub of about 8oz and then adding another of the same size before moving again, trying to find a spot where the barbel were. It was all in vain as the barbel did not want to play ball.

Later I did add a little perch on worm but it was a very poor days fishing.

I then, after the session received a call from my wife saying her mother had been rushed to hospital with suspected pneumonia and that I had to be on standby in case I got a call to come back to attend to my daughter if things got a little worse. This coincided with ringing IYCF editor to let him know and to cut a long story short we both decided it was in the best interests of us both to postpone the feature until a later date, just as well really as the fishing was pants and I doubt I would have caught many barbel on the method I planned to use anyway as I believe they just wasn’t there!

I decided to continue my fishing sessions regardless and hope I wouldn’t get that dreaded call…

On Sunday I decided on a new stretch nr Derby, a stretch a friend had given me to try. I decided to start in the evening and fish until morning.

Arriving at 7.30pm I quickly chose my swim and began positioning my rods in readiness, again armed with the rubby dubby’s I quickly haired rig one on each rod and cast out.

After making 20 casts with the feeder to get some bait out, I eventually got started at about 8.30pm…

Not a lot happened in the first hour, the second hour produced a little knock, nothing much to speak of but it proved something was investigating. The Trent was obviously suffering from lack of extra water and colour. It made conditions very hard.

I had this feeling after the little knock something was going to happen, even though I had left the rig out for a further 15 – 20 to no avail, I decided that I would re-cast.  Fishing 2 rod lengths out downstream I was right on the money with the cast and sat back and began those agonizing moments in anticipation, not taking my eyes of the rod, knowing that at any moment that the tip would fly round.

The calm and quiet of the night was broken by the whistling sound of my spool going into overdrive and my bite alrms screaming out the inevitable sound of a barbel well and truly on. These are moments that stay with you forever when barbel fishing, the nerve changling, pulse racing moments that are almost orgasmic. I can’t see how anyone could get fed up of that…

After a run downstream following the fish insisting on heading for the Trent falls at the humber estuary (current was very strong), I eventually rested in a swim where the fish was keeping low under my rod tip, feeling the grating against my line as the fish swam in and out or sharp rocks and boulders, this wasn’t going to be easy! Trying to snag me once or twice before I brought the fish under control and into safety of the landing net (mate kindly did the honours).

Dead on 10.30pm – Dubby’s 1 Trent 0

The 3-F-T dubby’s in all shapes and sizes (find this better than perfectly round)

My friend took some pictures (I am still waiting on, so will post them once I have them) and he left me to it as he had work in the morning.

Half an hour later I was sitting on my Korum chair, taking in all the peace and solitude that only a calm evening such as this brings, relaxing, safely in the knowledge I have not blanked at least. People who never do this will never understand what moments like this feel like until you’ve done it and felt all that it brings.  

Suddenly out the corner of my eye, the tip of the downstream rod began to dance, (not all barbel will rip it out the rest) bigger barbel can often be a lot slower and more delicate feeders, thus resulting in a lot less ferocious bite. Thinking this was the case I struck into it, feeling a solid resistance that pulled back then as if someone had woken it up it began slowly taking line downstream so I began to follow.

I eventually settled into the swim about 50 yards downstream where I landed the last, with the intention of landing it there. However this fish was bigger and as I couldn’t see that well in the dark, I couldn’t see where the fish had gone. What was apparent however is the fish wanted to get into every conceivable snag, one after the other, although only once did it find something to wrap me up in (Often in a good current, if you loosen the clutch it will swim out). I always leave a slack line and wait a moment or two and then put as much pressure as I dare once I have picked up the slack. After doing this I felt all fish again and the fight was back on.

I started to regain control and it splashed out literally under my bank a couple of metres downstream but the arkward slippy bank made it hard for me to get down, especially in the dark so I tried to bring the fish upstream into my waiting landing net, then the inevitable happened, snapping the braid that must have been frayed from the amount of sharp rocks and boulders it tried to get me into, gutted, it was a big fish too!

The rest of the session didn’t result in anything else, so I make that a Trent victory.

The rest of the week, I tried my many local haunts on the Trent around Nottingham, I failed each and every time from every spot I tried, blanking on one more session swim hopping on many different baits, not just the dubby.

It does suggest to me that the fish have been spread out due to the floods, it was something a friend had mentioned and believe he is correct, the haunts that normally produce barbel are producing little or nothing this summer. Normally, even in clear water I can winkle one or two out but not this time, something has changed.

I think the weather has played a huge part in where they are, being hot for one or two days followed by a cold and unsettled week is not conducive conditions, I doubt the barbel even know if it’s really summer, it is certainly showing ‘normal’ charactistics of any particular summer I can think of. The floods of years gone by have been different as this was followed by a prelonged period (a week or more) of settled weather, we have never really had that this summer, furthermore the fish normally near the quick water due to the high oxygen levels simply don’t need it with all the rain that is falling on and off keeping the river levels above normal but running clear.

There has definitely been a change in barometric pressure fluctuating one way and then another, things that definitely have a bearing on how fish respond to not only how they feed but where they will reside. This can be dependant on depth of the water, marginal cover and many other factors. There is many contributing factors why the barbel seem to have disappeared out of sight from regular ‘known’ haunts, these are just a few of them. To put it simply I do not think fish, particularly barbel know what season it is, places where you normally catch in the summer are not holding barbel, so is it reasonable to believe then that they could be in their winter haunts? It might just be the case…

There was little sign of activity of fish where I was fishing, where during summer barbel will show themselves by jumping clear of the water washing themselves off and shoals of dace and roach would be sploshing on the surface, but nothing.

This action certainly deserves a lot more exploratation as I do believe given the very unsettled theme and unusually fluctuating temperatures this summer it has stimulated a different action in barbel behaviour, believing that it’s quite possible to catch barbel on the stretches you certainly would not expect them to be at this time of the year, and also quite possible to have many others from that same spot.

I believe the fish are more spread out then they should be in summer but whilst saying this the pockets or groups of fish will stay together, combinating in the fact if you find the group your likely to have a good session, don’t and you won’t, simple!

So the summer is coming to an end and autumn will soon be here where I believe it will all settle down once again and barbel will be back to their old haunts as the weather and atmospheric pressure tends to be a bit more stable. This doesn’t mean warm and hot, it means a lot of the one kind of weather for longer periods, right now in august we don’t tend to have one week the same, in fact when was the last time?

Anyway I will be writing another blog post soon on the success of the 3-F-T Rubby Dubby boilies which has (so far) been excellent for most of my ‘field testers’ catching barbel to 10lbs 5oz, I will also explain a few more of my plans etc as some of you may not be on facebook and visit my page.

Sorry it looks bear will hopefully get the pics soon.

Tight lines,