Sunday, 25 September 2016

Barbel Fishing on the River Severn

June isn’t exactly the best month for carp fishing, the carp have spawned, they are down in weight and quite often looking a bit tatty after their yearly nuptials. This isn’t the condition I want them in when I catch them so I tend to take a break from carp and switch to barbel fishing for a month or two until they’ve recovered some weight and condition. This year was no exception so once June 16th passed and the rivers opened again I put the carp rods away and started visiting the River Severn at Ironbridge in search of some barbel. I chose a slightly deeper and slower section of river that looked perfect. It had fast runs at the top and bottom of the stretch with nice steady paced water in the middle. River Severn barbel are known to prefer the faster and shallower runs early in the season so you may be wondering why I was fishing in the middle of a deeper and slower section?. Well the answer to that is quite simple, at heart I’m a carp angler and the deeper/slower sections of the River Severn are the areas I’ve a chance of striking it lucky and finding the equivalent of the holy grail, a River Severn carp. Sadly I didn’t find any carp in this stretch although they have been seen in the area previously so I live in hope that one day I’ll hit the jackpot and find them. Apart from having one eye on finding carp, the faster run above would deposit food into this slower stretch I'm fishing and it would act as a decent holding area for barbel and chub.

Barbel Fishing on the River Severn, Rigs, baits, tips and tackle..Click to watch

The steady paced flow on this stretch looked perfect and I was sure I’d find both barbel and chub on my short evening sessions. My tactics were to mix up a Bait Box full of Dynamite Marine Halibut Method Mix and lace it heavily with mixed sized Trout Pellets. I introduced this groundbait via a 2oz Guru Gripper Feeder, it was summer and the river was running quite low with very little rain so a 2oz feeder was more than enough to hold bottom. It took 20-30 casts of the feeder to introduce my groundbait and pellets to the swim, once this was done I sat down to rest the swim, tie a couple of rigs and mix a fresh batch of groundbait ready for the evenings fishing.

Dynamite Marine Halibut Method Mix, meant for carp but great for River Severn Barbel

The dynamite marine halibut method mix is a great attractor and why my groundbait was working it’s magic I tied up a couple of barbel rigs. This year I was using fluorocarbon line for my River Severn barbel rigs. Drennan Supplex in 10lb breaking strain was my chosen fluorocarbon line, to this I tied a size 10 Drennan Super Specialist Hook knotless knot/hair rig style and at the other end of my fluorocarbon hooklength was a Korda Kwik Clip to allow easy change of my rigs. My fluorocarbon severn barbel rig was 4ft long from hook to feeder, the reason for the long rig was to reduce the chance of spooking any barbel that came in to feed on my groundbait and pellets. Where the main line comes up from the river bed to the rod tip is what I regard as the ‘spook point’ and if the fish realise the line is there they may back off and be more cautious. By having the pellet hookbait 4ft downstream of the feeder I could avoid this problem and give myself a decent chance of a multiple catch of barbel and chub, on top of this, fluorocarbon line is virtually invisible in water so I had an outstanding stealth rig which I’m sure would get me bites on my short evening/daylight sessions. (The groundbait and the rig are both in the video above).

I baited my rigs with pellets Superglued either side of the hair, one rig I hooked over my Rod Rest ready for a quick change when needed, the other was clipped onto the swivel on my line and the Guru Gripper Feeder was free running on the main line. I loaded my feeder with groundbait and did an underarm cast onto the same spot I’d fed twenty minutes before. With a baited rig now in the water I set my Korum Twin Tip+ barbel rod on the rest and engaged the bait runner on my Shimano Reel, now I’d put in the bait it was time to wait.

It was an hour and a half later when the rod tip went over, it was a vicious bite typical of a River Severn barbel but the culprit was no barbel this time, to my surprise a 3lb 12oz chub found its way into my Savage Gear Landing Net.

First fish of the session, a River Severn Chub weighing 3lb 12oz

That was a good start, usually I expect the last hour to be bite time so I was well ahead of the game. I reloaded my cage feeder with more of my dynamite marine halibut method mix and trout pellets then dropped it back on the spot. Twenty minutes later I had one of those famous four foot barbel twitches when the rod pulled right over and this time line poored from the spool as an angry fish shot off downsteam. I disengaged the baitrunner and straight away the fish pulled line off the clutch as it went on a long run. I brought the fish to a halt and it stayed deep as it came up the middle of the river, by now I knew it was a decent barbel and as the runs got shorter and shorter I caught sight of my prize, a decent fish indeed and after a brief scare when the fish actually went into the net then bolted out of it before I could lift it up, I netted my first barbel of the session.

First River Severn Barbel of the session, exactly 7lb.

On the Scales I got 7lb exactly, a nice fish that was maybe slightly bigger than your average shoal sized severn barbel. I got some footage then put the fish back in the net and left it in the margins to recover for 5 minutes, only when the barbel had recovered it’s strength did I return it to the river. Remember barbel give everything during the fight and they need plenty of recovery time before they go back to the river, if you release them with little recovery time you may find your fish has no strength and can’t cope with the flow, often they can go belly up and die without you even knowing so please give them lots of recovery time in the net before you put them back.

I’d already reloaded my feeder and I was fishing again when my first barbel went back, twenty minutes later it was déjà vu as another severn barbel ripped off. When I struck this one I got the impression it was bigger than the 7lber I’d just put back, this fish ran almost thirty yards before I managed to bring it to a halt, the fight was slow and dogged with the barbel staying close to the bottom and making a few long runs, I won out in the end though and a decent fish finally found its way into my net. Over a few trips I’d been catching 7lb fish every session but I was happy to see this one break the 8lb barrier, in fact it weighed 8lb 8oz and was my best barbel of the year so far.

River Severn Barbel, my best of the year so far at 8lb 8oz.

Things went a little quiet after this fish but as we headed towards dusk and the last hour I was away again with a third barbel, much like the previous two this one gave me the run around but I won in the end and I weighed in yet another seven from the Severn, 7lb 8oz this time. I had time for one more bite after this fish and as the light faded I finished my session just as I’d started it, with another chub, I didn’t weight it as I was packing up at the time but my last chub was roughly the same size as the first one so it was well over 3lb and probably near 4lb but who’s counting?.

All in all I had a productive few hours, baiting with the dynamite marine halibut method mix and trout pellets proved to be very good tactics and my fluorocarbon severn barbel rig proved to be as stealthy as I expected as I picked up both chub and barbel in bright daylight conditions that you wouldn’t normally expect to catch in. Over a short evening session of 4hrs I had a hatrick of barbel weighing 7lb, 7lb 8oz and 8lb 8oz plus a couple of decent chub and that's good quality fishing for the River Severn these days.

Barbel Rig from the above film, Barbel Rigs don't come much better!, click to watch again

Until next time, tight lines and be lucky.


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