• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.
  • You need to be a registered member of Barbel Fishing World to post on these forums. Some of the forums are hidden from non-members. Please refer to the instructions on the ‘Register’ page for details of how to join the new incarnation of BFW...

Advice on barbel location at this time of year - specifically the last month of the season if it's quite mild and water temps are up.

On the rivers I fish, I know some good barbel swims to fish between June and October. But in my four seasons so far targeting this supreme species, I have never found where the fish go in the autumn and winter, on any of my rivers, even when it's mild or when the river is up, and have only ever caught one barbel after the first week of November (and had no success when trying that stretch subsequently, and anyway it's not the most pleasant place to fish). My general impression is that the rivers in question (Wharfe, Nidd, Aire, Ouse & Ure) don't produce many winter barbel for other anglers, but when they do, nobody's saying where they are caught, which of course is what you would expect and fair enough.

So I suppose my question is: do you think the fish ever return to the shallower water - the only water where I know what rigs and baits to cast where - when it's mild and if the water temps are up, in late Feb and early March? The only places I've caught are summer swims in summer, but is there any point in fishing those swims - fast and fairly shallow water - if we have a mild spell at the end of the season?

I'm usually happy enough trying for chub at this time of year, but if it's mild and the water temps have risen, I feel I ought to be able to hope for my first ever end-of-season barbel...
Last edited:
The old ‘Trefor West and Tony Miles’ advice would still stand on this one; 3 or 4 swims back from where you would find them in the summer. This is very generic advise, and will hold you in good stead, but, I have also found them in the actual summer swims come the back end of the season; with winter killing off a lot of the weed-beds, a swim at the back end of the season is very different to what it is like in the summer.

For example, I had 3 barbel during the last 3 days last season from a swim where I caught a few barbel in the summer. The only difference being that in the summer I would fish in the pacey flow over on the far-side but at the back end of the season I was fishing about a rod-length out on a crease formed by a dead reed bed upstream (we did have about an extra foot or 2 of water on if memory serves me right).

The first few hours of darkness are also productive at the back end of the season, so if you have sat in a swim thinking you should get one during the day but haven’t had anything then stick it out for a few hours into dark as that might just be when the barbel actual go on the feed.
I tend to go for deeper even paced water when the fish are generally more torpid.
It's usually the narrower river sections.
Happy to use the same baits....pellets, meat, boiles as summer. Feeding spell maybe just 2-3hrs.

If temps are say below 6 degrees and the temp is not showing upward trend, as Jason says.
I agree with above and would add : The barbel will be where they can get the maximum amount of food for the least effort/energy expended ... when they are feeding. If they're not feeding then they'll be holed-up, using the minimum amount of energy to keep station, maybe in the same/close to their feeding areas.
N.b.. a roving approach may pay dividends, with 20 mins max in each swim, and minimal feed. And as a bonus ... you stay warmer :D
Graham , the ' problem' is that all the rivers you mention are spate rivers . As you know in winter after precipitation they are subject to rapid rises in water levels , often very cold river from the uplands , topped up nicely with salty run off from the roads when the snow melts . This week it has been unseasonably mild however the water temperatures are very slow to rise to a level that will spur the barbel , and other species to feed . It is possible to catch barbel in winter on these spate rivers . When I was younger , keener ,and less soft I used to fish throughout the winter principally on the Yorkshire Ouse which generally has more depth than the other rivers that you mention and I did catch barbel but I also blanked A LOT .I tended to target areas of deeper slower water . Basically its a case of dogged persistence . I fished the Ouse today and yesterday in relatively warm air temperatures , not a tickle despite the river looking great 2 or 3 ft on , nice colour etc . One has only to look at the latest report on the Ure thread to see what it takes to catch a winter barbel in Yorkshire !
Thanks everyone all good advice. That's basically what I thought, Mike. In the next few weeks I'll have a go in deeper water at Ulleskelf on the Wharfe, at the Monktons on the Ouse and near Boroughbridge on the Ure, all with baits where I'm mainly going for chub. When it's been mild for a while I might also spend a day roving some more summery swims on the Nidd and Wharfe, but with maggots where i'm more likely to pick up chub, grayling, etc.

Me & the Mrs both had our p/b perch yesterday, but it's no match for barbel fishing... just the most rudimentary type of angling, twitching a lobby a foot from the canal bank, like we did when we were kids ... Claire's just topped 2½. Claire_Thwaites.jpg
TBH it felt a bit like fishing for tame carp in the margins of a commercial, but on a difficult winter day when you have to goad them into feeding. But I do also want to get to the well-known perch hot-spot on the Ouse (on a week-day when there's no matches) and try the same in a wild river environment.

Nigel best perch.jpg
Last edited: