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Cold water barbelling

Chris Thomson

Senior Member
So whats everyones tips/strategy for when water temps are dropping below the accepted 46 deg ? Lets not see " go chubbing/piking "etc as some of us still want to battle on in the slim hope of a winter barbel, im curious to see how we all adapt to challenging conditions . Smaller baits ? Less bait? Maggots ? Shorter sessions? Whats the game plans ?
 

Rob Paylor

Member
Interested. Will be my first winter fishing for barbel, have usually hung my carp rods up by the back end of October in years gone by, until spring!

I'm certainly looking at lighter gear, smaller baits and more 'fishing for owt' style with hopefully chance of a barb. I remember my first 'specialist session' on the Ouse in January this year, snowing/snow on the ground. Chucked two feeder rods out with groundbait feeders and boilies, same as I had done in late summer/early autumn of last year. Caught a lovely chub, I was well chuffed! Had a few other knocks as well!

Quite happy to sit out for a few hours here and there and see what happens. Being out fishing and blanking is ultimately better than not being out fishing. Unless the weather is foul, then it'll be beer and snooker 😂
 

Ash Gould

Senior Member
Fish for chub or perch in ways that still catch a barbel; ie paste baits for chub or lobbies for perch.

That way your actually fishing for species that you have a good chance of biting with the chance of getting a barbel if they are on the feed.

It is hard when you are mega keen to hang the barbel rods up but once you get experience you can actually pick the best times to fish for barbel based on the conditions.
 

Richard Isaacs

Senior Member
Target the deeper water and they will also be sitting in slacks more often at this time of year especially with the rivers carrying a bit extra.
I don’t think it’s a slim chance at all, barbel happily feed all year round and I’ve caught them in temperatures where the guides on my rod are starting to freeze.
They are just not so up for moving about as much and honestly who can blame them.
Unfortunately that only means we’ve got to do more moving about to find them. Travel light and drop a bait into some deeper holes, see what’s about.
I think people get too hung up on baits and what to use when and how etc.
Pick a good one use it till you catch and gain confidence then use it all year round.
Feed less in winter decrease your bait size if necessary. That’s all there is too it for me regarding baits. I’m a firm believer that you can chuck anything out at anytime of year pretty much, if she’s there and in the mood then you’ll catch.
 

Darren Hawen

Senior Member
So whats everyones tips/strategy for when water temps are dropping below the accepted 46 deg ? Lets not see " go chubbing/piking "etc as some of us still want to battle on in the slim hope of a winter barbel, im curious to see how we all adapt to challenging conditions . Smaller baits ? Less bait? Maggots ? Shorter sessions? Whats the game plans ?
There have been some good threads previously ref winter fishing Chris that are well worth a search.

And I was going to someone who suggested going Chubbing!
 

Terry Simner

Senior Member
Yes, barbel feed throughout the winter. But being ectotherms they try to expend minimal energy and feed less, and over shorter time periods.
So for where - look for spots (and I do mean 'spots': small areas) where barbel need to expend minimal energy whilst in a position of potential maximum gain i.e. relatively deep water close to consistent laminar flow (minimal turbulence) e.g. inside of creases.
And for when - water temp is often at a 24 hour minimum first thing in the day, and at a max late afternoon. So fish at dusk.
A rise in water temp will always act as a spur for fish to feed, so just chose your time and place, and accept the blanks with a smile.
Bait? Don't worry about it. If your got a fish willing to feed in front of you, any bait will catch....IMO :)
 

Alex Warren

Active Member
Interesting topic, I know it’s been covered before, but good to get some fresh opinions.

Does anyone think shallower areas might be worth targeting on brighter/sunnier days? There were a few days down south over the last few weeks that were quite pleasant if you were sheltered and in the sun, despite chilly temps. Just a thought...
 

Terry Simner

Senior Member
shallower areas might be worth targeting on brighter/sunnier days?
I'd have thought that those would be areas to avoid, as it isn't as though the (flowing) water would be any warmer there. What's your thinking behind that?
 

Alex Warren

Active Member
I'd have thought that those would be areas to avoid, as it isn't as though the (flowing) water would be any warmer there. What's your thinking behind that?
Just thinking it could cause a minor temp increase on a bright day. Probably only a very short window in the season where it would/could be a factor. Like I said, just a thought.

I’m not sure to what extent depth impacts the daily fluctuations of water temperatures, with the flow to be considered.

I’d imagine a lot of rivers are on the cusp of the temperature that some would consider not worth targeting barbel, so maybe a shallower run, especially if it’s near a deeper slack or other fish holding feature would be worth considering, particularly later in the day? Merely putting it out there, without going round with a Bluetooth thermometer plummet, who knows?
 

Terry Simner

Senior Member
In winter I think deeper water is more productive than shallow stretches/bits as it takes less energy for a fish to stay static there. That is, it's the flow (or lack of it) that's important, not the actually depth in itself. But it would have to be slow water adjacent to flow, so that food flows into the slack naturally. But, just my opinion.
 

Richard Isaacs

Senior Member
Another contribution factor is cover. No matter the weather or the river barbel like to feel the safety net of having cover over their heads. This could be the cover of darkness, coloured water, streamer weed or an under cut bank, it doesn’t matter they all offer that security. In the summer months those shallower glides are filled with both oxygen and streamer weed. Two things barbel need and love in the warm low water. In winter that streamer weed has died off and the cover is no longer there. The oxygenated water is also far less important to them. They tend to make their way to the deeper, more secure, slacker areas where they feel safer having plenty of water above their heads. If your thinking about barbel always have security in the back of your mind. That never changes for them. What does change is where that security is. It changes every day when the sun goes down, every week when the trees and weeds are cut back and every month when the rivers rise/fall.
 

David Craine

Senior Member
I remember a red letter winter day a few years ago, it was a classic day when the temperature had risen, not much, but enough to be a tad warmer, no idea of the river water temp at all, but after reading up on winter barbelling on here I followed the advice, and fed plain maggots, in an open end feeder, plugged either end with brown crumb,with a half dozen maggots on a hair rigged maggot clip.
I opted to fish some fast water,normally it would be a quite shallow area, rocky, that was below a wide and deep bend . The river was carrying some extra water probably a foot or so over normal levels, and running off.

The Barbel were going nuts,after an initial period of about ten mins, when I assume the bait was dispersing and attracting them in, I had I think about sixteen, some just a couple of pounds, up to about 7 or 8 lbs , all from about midday fishing into darkness, they were still feeding when I packed up, when the temperature had dropped considerably.

I cant think that I ever had such a day even in classic conditions, they were not particularly large fish, but the sheer quantity, in about four hours was amazing, so that winter for me proved that it can be very rewarding to actually target Barbel in what would be considered cold weather if the conditions are just right .

David
 

Paul Richardson

Senior Member
Fish for chub or perch in ways that still catch a barbel; ie paste baits for chub or lobbies for perch.

That way your actually fishing for species that you have a good chance of biting with the chance of getting a barbel if they are on the feed.

It is hard when you are mega keen to hang the barbel rods up but once you get experience you can actually pick the best times to fish for barbel based on the conditions.
I agree with this approach but tend to use maggots and unless the river is low and very clear( fat chance at the moment) I'll use a powerful enough tip rod, reasonable sized hooks ( 14) and hooklink ( 7 or preferably 9lb N Gauge) that will give me a fighting chance of landing a barbel. This approach has certainly paid off for me the last few seasons with doubles coming at the tail end of decent chub sessions. I also pick my swims carefully as not much chance of stopping a big barbel on this gear in snaggy swims
 

Andy Frances

Administrator
Staff member
I've always been in favour of a good quality milk protein bait in winter. Nice small bait with a thin paste wrap, a PVA stringer with some pea sized paste blobs pinched on and no other freebies...

I'm very keen to try the maggot approach, especially on the Bristol Avon where you've still got some chub to keep you entertained. Just need to get the balance of tackle right...light enough to enjoy the chub/roach but man enough for a barbel...
 

Colin Dapp

Senior Member
Hi A
I've always been in favour of a good quality milk protein bait in winter. Nice small bait with a thin paste wrap, a PVA stringer with some pea sized paste blobs pinched on and no other freebies...

I'm very keen to try the maggot approach, especially on the Bristol Avon where you've still got some chub to keep you entertained. Just need to get the balance of tackle right...light enough to enjoy the chub/roach but man enough for a barbel...

Hi Andy for the maggot fishing for chub/barbel I use a very old Graham Phillips 1.25 lb barbel rod , 10lb line and a size 16 superspade, works for me. I understand that the Darenth Valley 1.25 lb rods are very good if you are not fortunate enough to have the G. P
 

Richard Isaacs

Senior Member
I've always been in favour of a good quality milk protein bait in winter. Nice small bait with a thin paste wrap, a PVA stringer with some pea sized paste blobs pinched on and no other freebies...
I'm very keen to try the maggot approach, especially on the Bristol Avon where you've still got some chub to keep you entertained. Just need to get the balance of tackle right...light enough to enjoy the chub/roach but man enough for a barbel...
Personally I’d steer towards the “man enough for barbel” side of things Andy and at least go armed with a good Avon rod and 10lb main line.
the lesser of two evils is probably not getting full enjoyment out of a chub scrap but in turn not getting smashed to bits if you latch onto a screaming bronzy.
 

Joe Winstanley

Senior Member
All my best barbel have been caught on maggots and I don't think so far as barbel are concerned there is any need to fish too light. I'm not one for playing about with rigs too much, and my set-up for fishing boilies and pellets isn't really any different to when i'm fishing maggots or casters. Always a running-rig, and it's just a case of fishing a maggot feeder instead of a lead or groundbait feeder. Size 11-12 hooks are fine, and I'd never use less then 10lb line, even on the hooklength.
 
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