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Modern barbel fishing

I often get the impression from the many of the disparaging posts on here about carp angling that carp are easy to catch and that carp anglers aren’t very good anglers. Personally nothing could be further from the truth in my experience, I can only think that those who are always having a dig about carp angling haven’t ever properly fished for the species and proper venues.

Like barbel angling, carp angling is a broad church. For every easy ‘runs water’ such as the Rob Hales fisheries, or some of the venues at Linear etc (not my cup of tea) there are many more waters that are far from easy and provide a stern test of watercraft and angling skill to those fishing them, and require no small amount of determination. There is a famous carp water about 15 mins drive from where I live, where such is the low stock of fish that an angler catching say 2-3 carp during the course of a whole season is thought to have had an exceptional year. I know plenty of ‘carp’ anglers who go barbel fishing a few times of year on the Trent and Severn and enjoy the transition to a bit of ‘easier’ fishing. There is far too much talked about the tackle used by ‘carp’ anglers. The anglers I know might take a lot of stuff with them, but they are constantly on the move and mobile, thinking of nothing of packing everything up and chucking it on the barrow and wheeling it the best part of a mile to the other side of the lake if it puts them in front of fish. Even in the rain and sometimes in the dark.

Stereotyping those who fish for carp based on some of the would-be carp anglers you encounter at commercial runs waters is like stereotyping those who fish for barbel based on some of the anglers who fish Cromwell Weir week in week out.

And I think a lot of folks forget that many of us like to fish for a variety of species over the course of a year. I’d no more describe myself a ‘barbel’ angler than a ‘dace’ angler, I’m just an angler. I couldn’t fish for just one species all year round, I’m sure I would get bored witless.

Btw - when Dick Walker caught ‘Clarissa’ 1952, he was using electronic bite alarms. Not sure why I’ve added that, but I read it last night and it struck me that 68 years ago is a long time ago, and yet we still hear ‘traditionalists’ bemoaning their use, despite the fact many of them are using tackle that wasn’t available long after bite alarms were first being used.
This is one of the best, most balanced posts I have read on here. Like you, I fish for a multitude of species throughout the year and I feel that this 'fishing identity politics' that we see now is damaging to the sport in some respects. I can just as easily fish for carp in a low stock, snaggy, tricky water with one rod, my centerpin and few bits and pieces, roving the margins. In fact, that is my preferred method.

I think that some of the stereotypes that carp are easy to catch comes from some of the online content we have access to nowadays where swims have been heavily pre-baited and 'roped off' on well known runs waters. After all, who is going to watch an hour long film of an angler blanking? (Answer: me! I watched the Sticky Baits film of Bowler and Yates fishing an estate lake and although Yates blanks, he is still mesmerising to observe).

Fishing three carp rods and baitrunners on alarms and bolt rigs is just as boring to me as sitting behind two Barbel rods in a tripod hurling big feeders into big rivers. It just isn't my thing. Do I care if that is the trendy method of the day and what most people are doing? Not one bit! In fact, if most people are using trendy methods and techniques, I find that my simple, scaled back roving tactics work even better.

I do find that some 'Barbel Anglers' and 'Carp Anglers' can have an elitist attitude towards other species but in my experience, a specimen fish of any species is difficult to catch by design.
 

Lee White

Senior Member
The transition from Carp to Barbel for some is understandable I get it, but the methods employed to catch carp doesn't transfer well to the river bank. I also get why carpers that come over to the real deal are in denial about not willing to scale down and adjust to the more subtle approach.

They must find it difficult to admit you don't have to have tonnes of gear to enjoy our wonderful pastime, personally I am always cutting down on what I take bank side, I have got it down to a quiver c/w one or two rods handle fold up net a couple of bank sticks and a mat. Bucket, fold up stool, and an old much loved Fox roaming belt. It is liberating, having just enough gear, no problem moving swims , and managing tackle.

For me this sits well with the nature of the Barbel, just replicating how the species itself goes about it's business.
The reason I moved over in the main is carp fishing has evolved into something I don't care for it has become full of wannabe Ali hamedi and Danny Fairbrass they turn up with all the gear and no idea I don't try and think I'm above any of them but I don't like the idea people don't serve an angling apprentice any more they don't learn basic water craft they couldn't take a size 18 out of a roaches mouth
It's all about my fish is bigger than your fish I had a 21lb carp this year that means more than the 30ive had
It was more daunting to move over than any other style of coarse fishing I've tried but having a general angling background helped a lot common sense kicks in and what I'd learnt sea fishing carp fishing and general coarse fishing all helped the transaction over go a lot smoother than I expected asking questions listening and reading all help you understand
The best angling comparison to river fishing was sea fishing from a boat constantly fishing with the tide was similar to fishing with a river flow then just take it from there I found the best info I've been given was to listen to other anglers conversation on the subject without asking as the info flowed natural
 

Gerry Giles

Senior Member
I often get the impression from the many of the disparaging posts on here about carp angling that carp are easy to catch and that carp anglers aren’t very good anglers. Personally nothing could be further from the truth in my experience, I can only think that those who are always having a dig about carp angling haven’t ever properly fished for the species and proper venues.

Like barbel angling, carp angling is a broad church. For every easy ‘runs water’ such as the Rob Hales fisheries, or some of the venues at Linear etc (not my cup of tea) there are many more waters that are far from easy and provide a stern test of watercraft and angling skill to those fishing them, and require no small amount of determination. There is a famous carp water about 15 mins drive from where I live, where such is the low stock of fish that an angler catching say 2-3 carp during the course of a whole season is thought to have had an exceptional year. I know plenty of ‘carp’ anglers who go barbel fishing a few times of year on the Trent and Severn and enjoy the transition to a bit of ‘easier’ fishing. There is far too much talked about the tackle used by ‘carp’ anglers. The anglers I know might take a lot of stuff with them, but they are constantly on the move and mobile, thinking of nothing of packing everything up and chucking it on the barrow and wheeling it the best part of a mile to the other side of the lake if it puts them in front of fish. Even in the rain and sometimes in the dark.

Stereotyping those who fish for carp based on some of the would-be carp anglers you encounter at commercial runs waters is like stereotyping those who fish for barbel based on some of the anglers who fish Cromwell Weir week in week out.

And I think a lot of folks forget that many of us like to fish for a variety of species over the course of a year. I’d no more describe myself a ‘barbel’ angler than a ‘dace’ angler, I’m just an angler. I couldn’t fish for just one species all year round, I’m sure I would get bored witless.

Btw - when Dick Walker caught ‘Clarissa’ 1952, he was using electronic bite alarms. Not sure why I’ve added that, but I read it last night and it struck me that 68 years ago is a long time ago, and yet we still hear ‘traditionalists’ bemoaning their use, despite the fact many of them are using tackle that wasn’t available long after bite alarms were first being used.
well done great post !! and very true
 

Neil Smart

Senior Member
Nice try Joe, but regarding Dick Walkers use of alarms, well it's just a myth
The reason I moved over in the main is carp fishing has evolved into something I don't care for it has become full of wannabe Ali hamedi and Danny Fairbrass they turn up with all the gear and no idea I don't try and think I'm above any of them but I don't like the idea people don't serve an angling apprentice any more they don't learn basic water craft they couldn't take a size 18 out of a roaches mouth
It's all about my fish is bigger than your fish I had a 21lb carp this year that means more than the 30ive had
It was more daunting to move over than any other style of coarse fishing I've tried but having a general angling background helped a lot common sense kicks in and what I'd learnt sea fishing carp fishing and general coarse fishing all helped the transaction over go a lot smoother than I expected asking questions listening and reading all help you understand
The best angling comparison to river fishing was sea fishing from a boat constantly fishing with the tide was similar to fishing with a river flow then just take it from there I found the best info I've been given was to listen to other anglers conversation on the subject without asking as the info flowed natural
Nice post Lee, don't get me wrong I enjoy watching the Carp scene, even the laddish ones with the drum and bass, I especially like the Urban Carp ones, which harks back to when I was growing up in Bristol and did similar with the Roach Bream and Perch etc. I even dabbled with sea fishing, even getting a clinker type 14 ft boat with outboard when living in Torquay. It was a cheap old tub and was funded by a lucky win on the Roulette table in the town's Casino, sounds a bit romantic but my mate always had ideas of grandeur.

Anyway we had a couple of good sessions fishing the Dart Estuary and I had a good Conger in a competition, it almost filled the boat!! But it literally all fell apart , literally, when fishing Torbay the outboard fell off it's mounting and we were stuck...we tried yelling at the beach for help, and the Grockels just waived back....but we did get a tow from the lifeboat, which put an end to all that.

My mate Nick went on to run Richard Bransons Island resort in the British Virgin Islands, until it was wiped out by the hurricane a few years back, I ended up in Tewkesbury.

Oh! well.:rolleyes:
 

Joe Winstanley

Senior Member
No myth Neil.

Try reading the chapter titled 'Richard Walkers Record Carp' By Richard Walker in 'Reflections and Shadows' edited by Chris Yates.

Fact.
 

Gerry Giles

Senior Member
Nice try Joe, but regarding Dick Walkers use of alarms, well it's just a myth

Nice post Lee, don't get me wrong I enjoy watching the Carp scene, even the laddish ones with the drum and bass, I especially like the Urban Carp ones, which harks back to when I was growing up in Bristol and did similar with the Roach Bream and Perch etc. I even dabbled with sea fishing, even getting a clinker type 14 ft boat with outboard when living in Torquay. It was a cheap old tub and was funded by a lucky win on the Roulette table in the town's Casino, sounds a bit romantic but my mate always had ideas of grandeur.

Anyway we had a couple of good sessions fishing the Dart Estuary and I had a good Conger in a competition, it almost filled the boat!! But it literally all fell apart , literally, when fishing Torbay the outboard fell off it's mounting and we were stuck...we tried yelling at the beach for help, and the Grockels just waived back....but we did get a tow from the lifeboat, which put an end to all that.

My mate Nick went on to run Richard Bransons Island resort in the British Virgin Islands, until it was wiped out by the hurricane a few years back, I ended up in Tewkesbury.

Oh! well.:rolleyes:
NICE TRY ? what you think its points scoring now ?

here educate yourself listen and Richard will tell you himself
 

Neil Smart

Senior Member
No myth Neil.

Try reading the chapter titled 'Richard Walkers Record Carp' By Richard Walker in 'Reflections and Shadows' edited by Chris Yates.

Fact.
Didn't actually mean to post that nugget, not without establishing the detail, but as far as I an concerned I would rather believe no electronics were involved.
Fact.
 

Gerry Giles

Senior Member
yep nutter I have already posted the interview where he details how he caught it using his alarm

and not forgetting that not only was he one of the 1st people to ever use a bite alarm Richard Walker DESIGNED the 1st widely available commercial bite alarm the Heron 🤔 😂 😂
 
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Clive Kenyon

Senior Member
Didn't actually mean to post that nugget, not without establishing the detail, but as far as I an concerned I would rather believe no electronics were involved.
Fact.
You can believe what you want. But the facts are quite clear regarding Dick Walker's use of bite alarms.
 

Terry Simner

Senior Member
yep nutter I have already posted the interview where he details how he caught it using his alarm

and not forgetting that not only was he one of the 1st people to ever use a bite alarm Richard Walker DESIGNED the 1st widely available commercial bite alarm the Heron 🤔 😂 😂
From reading Neil's last post I believe what he is saying is "... I would rather believe no electronics were involved (and that is a) fact"

Fair enough ... you can't argue with that.
 

Neil Smart

Senior Member
My thoughts on the matter it was an innocent age as far as fishing was concerned, Carp were not an easy target species, no special tactics were employed, and certainly no electronics bait boats and bivvy's were encamped on the Pools. Rods were mostly wood, or 'modern' glass, and watercraft was the best piece of kit the Angler had at his disposal....
That'll do for me.
 

Ady Brayshaw

Senior Member
I often get the impression from the many of the disparaging posts on here about carp angling that carp are easy to catch and that carp anglers aren’t very good anglers. Personally nothing could be further from the truth in my experience, I can only think that those who are always having a dig about carp angling haven’t ever properly fished for the species and proper venues.

Like barbel angling, carp angling is a broad church. For every easy ‘runs water’ such as the Rob Hales fisheries, or some of the venues at Linear etc (not my cup of tea) there are many more waters that are far from easy and provide a stern test of watercraft and angling skill to those fishing them, and require no small amount of determination. There is a famous carp water about 15 mins drive from where I live, where such is the low stock of fish that an angler catching say 2-3 carp during the course of a whole season is thought to have had an exceptional year. I know plenty of ‘carp’ anglers who go barbel fishing a few times of year on the Trent and Severn and enjoy the transition to a bit of ‘easier’ fishing. There is far too much talked about the tackle used by ‘carp’ anglers. The anglers I know might take a lot of stuff with them, but they are constantly on the move and mobile, thinking of nothing of packing everything up and chucking it on the barrow and wheeling it the best part of a mile to the other side of the lake if it puts them in front of fish. Even in the rain and sometimes in the dark.

Stereotyping those who fish for carp based on some of the would-be carp anglers you encounter at commercial runs waters is like stereotyping those who fish for barbel based on some of the anglers who fish Cromwell Weir week in week out.

And I think a lot of folks forget that many of us like to fish for a variety of species over the course of a year. I’d no more describe myself a ‘barbel’ angler than a ‘dace’ angler, I’m just an angler. I couldn’t fish for just one species all year round, I’m sure I would get bored witless.

Btw - when Dick Walker caught ‘Clarissa’ 1952, he was using electronic bite alarms. Not sure why I’ve added that, but I read it last night and it struck me that 68 years ago is a long time ago, and yet we still hear ‘traditionalists’ bemoaning their use, despite the fact many of them are using tackle that wasn’t available long after bite alarms were first being used.
I agree with nearly all of the content of that post Joe. However, I can tell that some, but not all Carp anglers, can at times convey the attitude that they think they are fishing for a superior species, and by extension, that they are superior anglers. I could be wrong. Carp angling innovation has without doubt brought angling forward a long way in the last 50 plus years.
 

Clive Kenyon

Senior Member
My thoughts on the matter it was an innocent age as far as fishing was concerned, Carp were not an easy target species, no special tactics were employed, and certainly no electronics bait boats and bivvy's were encamped on the Pools. Rods were mostly wood, or 'modern' glass, and watercraft was the best piece of kit the Angler had at his disposal....
That'll do for me.
I think that you need to have those rose tinted glasses toned down a bit :D

Carp were no harder to catch back then than now. It was locating the whereabouts of larger carp that was difficult. Some people including the country's foremost authority on freshwater fishes thought that the carp RW dreamed about didn't exist. It wasn't watercraft that took RW to Redmire. It was the news of a 30lb+ carp caught by another angler. You can't catch specimens if they aren't in the water. From that moment on everything was planned like a military campaign.

RW and others camped out for several days and nights at Redmire and other places in tents which on the face of it are no different to bivvies. It was the sound of the bite alarm that caused him to leave the tent and check which of the two rods had the run. They spent a whole week at Redmire in June and September 1953, and it wasn't innocent 'Swallows And Amazons' adventures. They had been planning the capture for months.

As regards rods RW was an innovator. He and Graham Phillips were largely responsible for the use of carbon fibre in fishing rods. He didn't continue to use wooden rods or fibreglass rods once carbon was available.

If you are looking for innocence; RW isn't the man to provide it. ;)
 

Ady Brayshaw

Senior Member
I think that you need to have those rose tinted glasses toned down a bit :D

Carp were no harder to catch back then than now. It was locating the whereabouts of larger carp that was difficult. Some people including the country's foremost authority on freshwater fishes thought that the carp RW dreamed about didn't exist. It wasn't watercraft that took RW to Redmire. It was the news of a 30lb+ carp caught by another angler. You can't catch specimens if they aren't in the water. From that moment on everything was planned like a military campaign.

RW and others camped out for several days and nights at Redmire and other places in tents which on the face of it are no different to bivvies. It was the sound of the bite alarm that caused him to leave the tent and check which of the two rods had the run. They spent a whole week at Redmire in June and September 1953, and it wasn't innocent 'Swallows And Amazons' adventures. They had been planning the capture for months.

As regards rods RW was an innovator. He and Graham Phillips were largely responsible for the use of carbon fibre in fishing rods. He didn't continue to use wooden rods or fibreglass rods once carbon was available.

If you are looking for innocence; RW isn't the man to provide it. ;)
I've read Richard Walkers biography by the late Barrie Richards. He was indeed an innovator. As anglers, we have a lot to thank RW for. He received an Engineering education at Cambridge Unicersity, although failed to graduate. He embraced technology to aid the capture of specimen fish by design. He also helped a lot of anglers who requested his advice. A truly great angler, although like all of us, he had his faults. Redmire is a great story in itself.
 

Neil Smart

Senior Member
I actually grew up as a lad through all that RW , Clarissa glass rods cane rods wicker the lot, of course it was different back then, I am aware the contribution Walker made to modern angling, I used to hang on every written word that he Fred J Taylor etc used to write in the AT. Back then Carp were no easy push overs stocks were low and they were wary, now carp are a cash crop and too many what was mixed fisheries have been lost. For me sitting behind alarms in a stocked fishery is no more fishing than Darts, and if he was alive today I imagine RW might have the same sentiments.

Why do you think many consider Passion, Redmire Legends and stories are so popular? Because it harks back to a time when Angling skills were more important than all the modern rubbish we think enhances our sport today.
Fishing is a simple art, it requires minimum tackle but an little bit of craft and guile...for me the reason many fall out of love for Carp is all the self imposed pressure the industry and media put on us to have it all, tackle wise.

How can you enjoy playing a 20 lb Carp on beefed up rods designed to cast to the horizon? Truth is you might at first but the appeal soon wears off, and you might look for something a bit more challenging, Barbel perhaps? Yep that'll do it, just take all the Carp gear to the nearest river and sit in a Bivvy behind three alarms, no change just a different species, as said Barbel are the new Carp.

A lot of Anglers in the past started on Rivers, Dace Gudgeon Roach, you know 'nuisance fish' and the biggest nuisance of all the Tench to Carpers...Cotswold Water Parks were full of Tench in the 80's not stocked fish, just wild Tench, and along came the Carp syndicates, and made it out of reach to the average angler. This has been repeated throughout the country, unless you are lucky enough to fish an Estate lake.

I got slated by saying I feel that employing Carp tactics on Rivers ie lines of Bivvys and fishing lines is detrimental to Barbel stocks, I believe it is, the moment Barbel are pressured they are off, witness the demise in many of our Rivers, not all down to the Otter.

The Wye and Usk Foundation allow only three rods on their beats, because they are aware of what pressure can do, and of course no Bivvy's or over nighters, I completely get that.

We are the custodians of our Rivers, if we don't care, who will?
 

Ady Brayshaw

Senior Member
I can see where you're coming from Neil. I fished quite extensively for carp in the 70's in view of my travel capability. It was quite different then, but the writing was on the wall come the early 80's. I can see why tench anglers get aggrieved when carp are introduced in unsustainable numbers into previously good tench waters. Angling Associations will argue that it is an economically driven decision and carp anglers revenue through ticket sales keep them afloat. Difficult decisions have to be made.
 

Terry Simner

Senior Member
IMO ...the 'old days' were like The Curates Egg ... that is, good in parts.
 

Neil Smart

Senior Member
IMO ...the 'old days' were like The Curates Egg ... that is, good in parts.
The old days were that many fished through necessity, to provide a bit more food on the table, post war rationing was a real factor, and what better than a nice trout or Eel to supplement the meagre rations?
I admit I took the odd fish, mostly Brown and Rainbow trout from the River Chew, and they were lovely. But despite all that we seemed to have no problems in catching all species in good numbers, often with what would be considered crude tackle today.
Carp came easily to floating crust, as did Roach and Tench, maggots and worms completed our bait range of choice. We now have so many speciality baits and flavours rolled into boilies and pellet I am positive we have made a rod for our own backs.
We strive for perfection, spending huge huge sums on tackle and bait, my mind goes back to a television piece where John Wilson catches Chub with a willow branch and a black slug as bait.He did it to underline that water craft over arches everything we have as far as tackle is concerned. The Chub didn't care more than the free offering of a juicy slug.
I admit to being wound up with the tackle tart malaise, and the search for the wonder bait, my garage is full of it, of this I am not alone.
You Terry do things in a simpler way, I get that, I just need to remind myself to do the same.
 
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