Blog Posts by Michael Wickens
First barbel session of the year
With the season starting over a week ago, I was still without my first barbel, which I wanted to change! Admittedly for the Sussex Ouse this is not unusual at all, since it did take me two seasons to catch my first; however since then my fishing capability has improved drastically. Not only this, but I had also already lost two fish which I suspect to be barbel due to the kind of bite and fight they gave, however this had only made me more determined!
Upon arriving at the river, I was greeted with a sight that puts too many anglers off fishing rivers. The water was really pacing through, and the colour was like Willy Wonka's chocolate river. Many anglers don't realise the potential they are missing when not fishing the river in these conditions, as barbel will often be hard on the feed, which I am sure this article will prove. Before fishing though, you must make adjustments to your set-up, or you will more than likely lose fish. Tackling heavy is a must, as you have to realise that the power of the flow is pushing through at twice the speed, but must of all, extreme caution should be taken.
My first swim choice was a popular swim that is full of chub, but I thought since the barbel should be on the feed due to conditions, that I would see what barbel are present in the swim, if any! Instead of my usual PVA mesh baiting approach, a bait dropper was more appropriate to get the bait to the river bed. After baiting a slacker area with a mix of halibut, trout and carpet feed pellets, I allowed the fish to grow confident for half an hour, before casting out my 6mm halibut pellet hook baits. In text book fashion I tightened up to the lead after casting, when the rod hooped over, and I was into a good fish already, just proving swim preparation can bring instant results. An extremely spirited fight followed, and I finally got the fish to the surface, and it was a barbel. Now, just not to lose this one like all the previous barbel I had hooked this season. In the strong flow it was extremely hard to net the fish as the net kept getting pulled with the flow, and as I pulled the barbel over the net cord, the hook caught in the mesh, and in my struggle I shook the fish off the hook. Not so text book… And extremely gutting too!
Wounded, I head downstream in an attempt to finally land my first barbel of the season, but to no avail!
As I walked back past the first swim, I decided that giving it another quick try wouldn't do any harm, so once again I went through the same baiting procedure, then cast out in anticipation, both myself and my dog…
This time it really was text book, and once again the rod doubled within less than a minute of casting out. After another great fight a friend just about managed to net my first barbel of the season, but with great difficulty due to the fast flow!
I soon realised this was the same fish that I had lost earlier, just an hour ago, really proving that anyone who ignores the ‘chocolate' conditions is really missing out!
Despite only being 5lb 3oz, it was a well-earned barbel, and hopefully the first of many .
Tight lines… Michael Wickens