Small River Barbel

After about ten years leave of absence, I’ve decided this year to give the little river Lugg a go in an attempt at catching a few of its elusive barbel. It’s a beautiful little river winding through the Herefordshire countryside but one where the fish are as ‘spooky’ as can be and few are caught by casual means. I’ve watched shoals of chub drift away at the least disturbance and when the chub leave they usually take the barbel with them.

My fishing is usually done in short two to four hour sessions and the mobile ‘hit and run’ approach suits this river perfectly. On this trip I had a wander before taking my gear from the car and soon saw a barbel ‘ flash’ as it twisted in the current over a gravel run, that’ll do for me.  I set about introducing some feed then sorted my gear out. Despite my best efforts and keeping low amongst the thistles – ow! I only had a modest chub enter the baited area…… which then immediately left.

I gave up with that swim but put in some more pellets and a few broken TF Gear Yellow Peril boilies on a clear spot before I left. This makes it easy to check your swims later and see if they’ve been visited.

I tried a few more swims without a sign of a fish then wandered back downstream. On my way I looked in on the swims I’d been fishing for any signs of feeding fish, there were none until I reached the first spot – the Yellow Perils had gone!

I put more bait in and waited. I saw a puff of silt drift beyond a feeding fish, then – a flash! This continued for a while but still no bites until three swans started feeding in the shallows upstream. This had the effect of sending a ‘smoke trail’ of coloured water through my swim and, as it passed, my 11′ Avon rod bent forwards.

It was a barbel of at least eight pounds and looked impressive in such a tight swim. It fought well but I soon had it over the net which I extended from a difficult position on the high bank. In it went but then – splash – out it came  again and the fight continued. Annoyed at myself, I played it back to the net and said to myself, ‘you won’t do that again’…… it did. This time however the lead caught in the mesh and the fish snapped my hook-link ……. Damn!

I haven’t lost a fish like this for ages, I was not happy, I had it all but landed and, either through bad luck or, much more likely bad angling, it was gone. I always claim that it’s the fish that we don’t catch that brings us back to a water and I shall certainly be giving the Lugg some more attention.

Written by Dave Burr