What's going on with the weather? Every time I dig my drive out, it snows again and ruins all my hard work. I feel really sorry for those with heating problems, there is nothing worse than being cold. Still that's enough gloom here's is a picture to warm any angler's heart.
Fish are probably the last thing on your mind, but it's time to reveal which fish takes up the number five slot in my top ten fish. Actually, you've probably guessed from the title of this piece, yes you're right, it's the barbel.
The barbel is ranked so high because of it's fighting qualities. I know many of you have encountered barbel in still waters, but it's in rivers that barbel will give you the fight of your life.
They are designed to cope with fast flowing water and they know how to use the current to best effect as soon as they are hooked. The river Severn is well stocked with barbel and it was on this river at Coalport in Shropshire that I had my first encounter with this fish. It was in the early seventies; I'd purchased my first car (a MK1 Cortina 1500 Super)and I thought a fishing trip to the Severn would give it a nice run out.
Anyway, I told my father what I'd read in the angling press about this fish called a barbel, and he agreed to accompany on my trip from Stafford. He thought I'd gone mad when I showed him the two tins of luncheon meat I intended to use for bait. I did offer him some, but he gave a hearty laugh and said, he'd stick with his worms.
I won't bore you with the details, but I remember casting out my ledger and a cube of luncheon meat and setting the rod up at 45 degrees to the river. By doing this I expected I'd see a bit of tremble on the end if I managed to get a bite. Well I needn't have worried about missing a bite because when my first barbel took the luncheon meat I throught it was going to snap my rod in half. I was using 5lb breaking strain line and it took me about ten minutes to get the fish under control. My dad stood by and watched the fight and agreed that the bend in my rod could indicate that I'd hooked a fish of record breaking proportions
I guess you can imagine the look of bewilderment on our faces when the fish broke the surface and we realised it wouldn't weigh much more than a pound. It wasn't a record breaker, but it had been exciting and I went on to catch a lot more of the same. And my dad, well after I'd caught the first five, he couldn't stand it any longer. He chucked his worms in a bush and begged me for a bit of meat.
I've haven't been down the Severn for a long while, because I don't think it is as good as it was in the seventies, but I'm still catching a few barbel in still waters like Baden Hall, near Stafford. The picture on the right shows me slipping the net under another fish. They don't fight as well as those on the severn, but they are as welcome as any other fish and more so than most.
Just to finish, I thought I'd tell you about my free e-book, My Coarse Fishing A to Z, which is available from smashwords.com Click here to go to smashwords website
Or you can also find details on my website Click here where you will find lots of other information and even a free to enter competition