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Nick's barbel diary - Part 8

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Although August produced a few fish, by September I still hadn’t banked a good double (12lb plus), so when my wife told me she and the kids were going for a week’s holiday in Cyprus, I almost forgot to complain about the cost. Almost ! When I eventually stopped smiling to myself, I booked a couple of days off work, so as to get a couple of all nighters in on the canalised stretch of the Kennet I’d been targetting.


“Early Morning on The Kennetâ€

Rather than focus on the more popular areas of the stretch, and tread on Jon Callan’s toes, (couldn’t resist mate), I decided to concentrate on an area at the top end of the fishery. Over the week I managed to keep bait going in every night, which produced some fairly unspectacular but consistent sport. In the week I fished two all nighters and two short evening sessions, and caught on three occasions, the best session resulting in two barbel, one of 12lb 13oz pictured below, another of about 8lb and a 10lb mirror carp.


“Red Stripe at 12lb 13ozâ€

The fish pictured above is old humpety hump, or so I thought, until I fished the venue three weeks later and caught humpety hump again at 11lb 10oz and had a closer inspection. It turns out I have caught two different humpbacks, each twice, from the venue this season, one of which is significantly larger than the other and has a red stripe between its anal and pelvic fins, the other has a rotten tail fin. Add this to the several other deformed fish caught by Jon Callan, and you’ll understand why I never let the kids join the wife when she goes swimming in that stretch !

Soon after this capture, both Jon and myself pulled off the venue. We both lost our enthusiasm for repeat captures of manky fish, despite not having managed to capture the largest fish on the stretch.

Spending countless hours on the banks, often without any signs of fish activity, leaves plenty of time to reflect on our sport. There is no doubt about it, barbel fishing is becoming more and more like carp fishing by the minute. There is now more emphasis placed on rigs and bait than ever before, more “names†chasing “named†fish, and more long stay anglers on the banks. Carp style tactics for barbel have been adopted by existing barbel anglers keen to develop an edge and by carp anglers entering the sport, many of whom have realised that barbel fishing in winter, is generally more productive than carp fishing.

With the increased focus on static fishing over beds of bait, many of the old river arts such as roving, freelining, and trundling, are now much neglected. It often pays to be different in angling, and with this in mind I decided to place a greater emphasis on a mobile approach this season, but with a slight difference.

Traditional advice concerning mobile fishing is to minimise your tackle and maximise the number of fish you cover in a day. Whilst I agree with this advice, in my own fishing I have taken it to the extreme, as you can see from the photo below. Although, the photo isn’t very clear, I can assure you my tackle was negligible, and so can the wife.


“The Perfect Crease ! â€

Why am I naked ? Well after a run of several blanks I asked my good friend Jon Callan if he had any advice. Jon’s response was to try something different, and when I asked what exactly, he impatiently replied : “try going naked†Obviously in retrospect, I now realise Jon wasn’t being serious, but having tried it and loved it, there was no going back. I get a real buzz out of wandering the towpaths and banks of some of Britain’s most famous waterways naked as a flame. Having said that though, I have had to make one adjustment to my naked rolling, and that is the timing of it, due to an unfortunate occurrence early in the season.

On one of my first naked outings on the Kennet, I spent a balmy Wednesday afternoon rolling meat down a nearside run. At about 2pm, in the distance I spotted an old lady out walking her St Bernard dog, and became immediately concerned about the safety of my meat, which in the midday sun had become sweaty and pungent. My concern proved justified, as after one sniff of the pink stuff in the distance, the dog and old lady came hurtling towards me, barking, frothing and shrieking. In a panic I threw my rod up in the air and headed off upstream hurdling several fences and styles, being hotly pursued by the two of them. After about 40 exhausting and fear filled minutes, thankfully, the old lady gave up, having dragged the poor dog for well over a mile. I’m pretty sure that old bird hadn’t had a portion of the pink stuff for some time. After that fateful day, I decided to do all my naked rolling at night.

Having been naked night rolling on several occasions this season, I have a few tips to pass onto any others interested in following in my footsteps and creeping naked though the undergrowth (not too close mind, I don’t want to feel your breath on my Farmers !). My first tip is to wear the special protective clothing/apparatus photographed below. The condom accompanies me whenever I am naked rolling in high Summer, to protect me from insect bites, which can cause swelling and discomfort far in excess of the respect and adulation gained in the bedroom. Please ensure you roll on the condom at home rather than on the bank, as carrying a top shelf magazine, tub of maximus big man cream or hand pump only adds to your load !

As for the two half tennis balls covering the underside of my testicles, whilst this may appear to be OTT to some, let me assure you that this can prove priceless when navigating stiles and barbed wire fences at night. Failure to take such a precaution can at best lead to a post or strip of barbed wire looking like a wild boar’s scratching post, and at worst to a life without children.


“By All Means Have Fun, But Please Take Precautionsâ€

My final tip is to brush your teeth with Pearldrops, as a radiant, captivating smile usually manages to avert fellow angler’s gazes from your nether regions, which can sometimes cause embarrassing silences whilst discussing the latest rigs and baits on the banks.

Remember, if you’re out one night on the river and you come across the naked night roller, the white porcelain figurine silently stalking the shadows, come over and stick out a hand, I’m always happy to let a fellow angler have a shake. And remember, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, sometimes being different is fun.

Nick Coulthurst
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