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Self improvement

I was hoping I could get some input, preferably local specific, as well as to increase my Barbel to bank hours ratio. I fished the Wye this year and was blown away at the stocking density and had an excellent days sport.
I'm a Ringwood DAA member mostly fishing beat 2 of the stour. Not the easiest river but I'm sure my average of 1 or 2 barbel a season could be improved, a fair bit. I mostly fish short sessions of three to five hours, sometimes just an hour, grabbing what I can between work and home. This normally gets me out twice a week in all but the depths of winter. I'm thinking about switching to quieter less pressured stretches or even the Avon, not exclusively but broadening my fishing operations. They say the Avon is harder, but I can't really see how it could be harder at my current rate.

My current approach which is how I've caught most if not all my Barbel is to find fish, if possible, visually. Then either bait dropper a few droppers of pellet or fish a feeder full of pellet, depending on the scenario. The baited hook is then left in situee for about an hour or as long as I can before getting paranoid it's caught up or the baits come off, or weed etc wipes me out. Rig wise I use a 12lb main line with a lead clip then a combo hook length of 10lb flourocarbon to a hook end of 8lb sink braid and vary hook size depending on bait from 16 to 10. I hair rig a single or pair of 10mm source bollies.

So the main things I wish to clarify;
Is a hook bait say there for 20 minutes to an hour doing me harm, should I actually be sitting on it for an hour or three? Obviously hook bait will affect the possibility here.
Secondly should I ditch the feeder and use PVA?
Are there better/quieter places I'm missing out on sport from locally.
I've been told that fish on gravel shallows are feeding and I should focus on deep holes. This seems counter intuitive to me as not only would I be fishing for nothing potentially but I can observe fish feeding in shallows.

Sorry for the long post. All help is appreciated.
As you've not had much response I'll make a couple of suggestions.
Accepting you will have a fair amount of weed if at all possible I would incorporate a sliding (bullet shaped) back lead above your main weight. Suggested around 4ft above and stopped with a float stop.

This should be fine between weed runs.

Personally I would hand feed hemp unless you have a session over a few hours.

I would use a good quality boilie, probably not used so much,...frost and flood or cc moore oddessy or similar.
Again I would hand feed just a half dozen, half of them broken. The hookbait would be a half boilie on a size 10 hair. You could squeeze some boile crumb on the weight.
Ideally if you can drop it in then walk back stripping line into position, then slowly tighten up till the back lead slides to the stop ( seen on rod top pressure)
It may help.

Personally I would also forget the fluro etc and simply use powerpro hooklink from the weight.
Good luck.

Dave Taylor

Senior Member
That's sound advice from Graham Stephen.
I've been using boilies most of the season for static fishing with some success,.but know some who have done well on pellet.
Current conditions would favour a hemp and caster approach, but boilies are still working. Don't be afraid to try a sweet boilie in the warmer months.
I nearly always backlead ( 3-4 feet) and keep the rod low.
Hooklinks are normally short to a semi fixed lead and consist of a good sink braid.
I tie up a pva bag of boilies leaving a long tag,..then use the tag to tie the bag onto the pushover sleeve on the lead, then nick the hair rigged bait to the bag.
Simple and no tangles....works for me.
Ps ...don't over tension the rig,...as the back lead will kite,...but you knew that of course!
Cheers guys, that's very helpful. I guess it may come across as I'm asking to be shown "the way" which I'm not, I would just like a little nudging to improve my fishing. I'd love to find a stretch that a lot quieter that I can bait up in relative confidence I won't find some else in there when I return. I know you can never know that, but at least half a chance would be good, if you see what I'm saying.

The thing I can never get my head around because you read so much confliction is how long to bait and wait. Should I be aiming to leave that baited line as long as feasible?

I've read a lot but a lot of what I read is about the Wye or the Trent, vastly different waters to the stour. Barbel are still Barbel but the method employed with a 3lb test curve rod and a brick are different to fishing between the streamer runs a few inches wide with half an ounce lead. I'm being flippant to demonstrate my point.
Dave made a v good point that I meant to advise.

A shortish hooklink. Whilst many favour ultra long, to me its just another thing to spook any fish arriving.

I normally use no more than 12inches. Keeps it pinned down as does Daves heavier braid.

And why a small 1/2 oz lead? More hookups with a 2oz I would guess.

Also why not cast then feed.
I was being a touch flippant as I say, normally I use between 1 and 2oz. There just isn't enough flow in normal conditions for more weight.
I'm on the bank tomorrow so I shall make some changes. What I plan to do is use a 1.5oz lead on a lead clip, 10" of braided hook length to a 14 with a single 10mm bollie. Il attatch a handful of 10mm bollies and 6mm pellet in a PVA bag, and flying back lead. Sit on it hour a few hours.
Il let you guys know how I get on.
So back from a few hours bank side this morning. What happened, well...
I found the Barbel I've been finding, I also got it feeding on its own away from the resident Chub. This went on for about an hour, no hook ups though. I started too loose confidence in the hook length change, I'd shortened down to about 8". Because I'm fishing under my feet I was able to retrieve my rig when the barbel drifted out for a minute or two. I then lengthened my hook length to around 18" and dropped the rig with a new PVA bag in. The Barbel moved back in and I sat on my hands. After a further hour the bait runner screamed off and I was in. Sadly not the Barbel but a Chub about 3,5 to 4lb. This obviously spooked the Barbel with it. So after putting the Chub back I dropped some more bait in, quietly. Then rested the swim for half hour or more whilst I had a look at another swim. Nothing of much interest had come back to the swim during this time. So that was that ruined for the next few hours.
I then headed up river to another known swim but time was getting on by now and some one else was in there. Time for lunch. Another session is now planned for Thursday. Might get an hour or so Tuesday/Wednesday dependant on work.
Well work commitments kept me off the bank in the early part of the week, Thursday night though was my chance. I arrived around 4.30pm and bait dropped in three large droppers of hemp. It's a deepish (for the immediate area) around 3ft, marginal gravel run. So I was able to do this quietly. This is where this Barbel has been feeding confidently. I rested this swim for an hour.
60 yards down stream is a deep marginal hole under a bush, around it the average depth is 2ft to 4ft deep and chocked with stream weed. I don't know if there are barbel under there but there are chub. So I sat there and pulled one out, three lb mark id guess, not worthy of the scales. Blank avoided.
With the baited area now rested I returned. Sadly no Barbel to be seen. Hopeful the darkness would create confidence and see the fish makes its way over the freebies, I made up a golf ball sized PVA of pellet and 10mm bollies and gently lowered it over the fed area and waited. At half 7 it was and had been dark for a while. Nothing had happened. I packed up and headed home.
Now obviously I'm a little intrigued why the barbel didn't show, it had done last 4 times I've baited that patch. I could of sat there another hour but I'd lost confidence by then anyway and the Mrs was screaming to get some dinner. I'm starting to fear my window of opportunity to catch a barbel this season from the Stour is quickly disappearing.
Maybe the deep marginal hole under the bush downstream of your baited area is a holding area, possibly spooked any barbel there by catching the chub? Just a thought.
It's a possibility I suppose, I've caught from there before without disturbing the Barbel that I could see. Mid river is a 1-2ft wide glide between the streamers, I've always assumed this was the holding area. You can't see what's in this channel from the bank. I'm tempted to buy a Chinese copy of a GoPro (about £20) for exploring bank side under cuts and the like.
Another trip out this morning. There was a significant tempreture drop over night down to 4c. I arrived on the bank at 6.30 and the mist over the river have a limited visibility of around 6-8ft with the head torch which was needed through the copse.
I dropped my bait in the margin swim at 7am, no disturbance, nice and quiet and waited in silence while the sun came up. At about 8.30 with no so much as a tap it was now light enough to see what was down there. Answer, two small chub, less than 4lb. I watched for a while no barbel. The chub cautiously picking up the pellet and obviously ignoring the hook bait. Balls. I then removed myself from this swim and headed back up stream to a known barbel holding swim and repeated the same thing, although midstream not in the margin. 2 hour later, not a touch.

This got me thinking. If the chub are obviously dodging that hookbait it's got a red flag on it. Therefore it stands to reason Captain Barbel is doing the same, this helps explain why I never hooked the one the other day. These fish are used to seeing a bait and my presentation is obviously standing out. Bear in mind the alter is gin clear at present.

To remedy this I plan to switch away from the double 10mm bollies. To a lighter single 6mm pellet mated to a palltrax 16. Now I can understand the concern that a 16 may not be man enough but I'm not playing hook and hold, the clutch will slip before the hook straightens. These hooks are large 16s more like a 14 tbh and I'm well practiced at playing chub over 5 on 2-3lb bottoms and 18s. Basically I'm going smaller. The weeds dying back, the waters clear. I think that a more subtle approach will make a difference at least until the weather breaks.
Any suggestions on mating the smaller hook bait? I have concerns over super glue and it's scent.
Stephen have you considered using maggots or casters during this low clear river spell?

I tend to tie a straightened size 18 or 16 barbed into the hair (through the eye) and a size 10 above.

You can bayonet a few maggots or casters and a couple of imitation ones floaters, to make it balance neutral in low flows.
I managed a barbel of 6-7lb on hair rigged artificial maggots yesterday, but it's tough going right now.
Ref to Grahams comments, ...I also like to hair rig a bayonet fixed 6 mm mini boilie in these conditions.
After a recent failure with the roach, I'm seriously considering getting into pike mode until we get some decent rain!:eek:
Stephen have you considered using maggots or casters during this low clear river spell?

I tend to tie a straightened size 18 or 16 barbed into the hair (through the eye) and a size 10 above.

You can bayonet a few maggots or casters and a couple of imitation ones floaters, to make it balance neutral in low flows.
I was sorta holding onto those for when it get really cold. In fairness though I've very little success with maggot and larger fish. Even a large bunch gets you tackered on the Stour. Come January on the maggot feeder my quiver tip is like zebedee as soon as it lands on the bottom. The straightened hook sounds promising because I tried the maggot clips and found them impossible to get on with, crushing the maggot on closure. I may go this way in a fortnight or so when the cold starts to settle in, if there's been no rain. Cheers for your help.
Are you suggesting the same technique as Graham, Dave? To use a small straightened barbed hook as a spear to mount small boilies? Are they on there well enough that the Chub won't just pluck them off leaving an unbaited hook?
Not quite the same,...copied this from one of my old posts.......

PS...Forgot to mention a well known tip I got from Bill Rushmer.
Small 6mm boilies can work really well, fished on a bayonet hair rig. Buy some cheap size 10 eyed hooks and cut off the bend, leaving the shank and eye,..do protect your eyes when doing this!.
I then tie the 'hook' onto some 5lb micro braid and then tie a knotless knot as usual. Position the eye of the 'bayonet' just below the bend as previously mentioned. The boilie is then just pushed onto the bayonet,..making sure to cover the eye.
As long as you don't use really soft baits the boilie stays on well.
Caught a club record Wey chub using this rig a few years back!
............. ............ ............ ............ .............

That was from a chub thread Stephen,...I up the braid strength for barbel of course. It's a rig that's worked well for me for both species.
I was going to give the Stour another go today,...but because its continuing to drop, coupled with a blustery east wind and bright sunshine ,...I'll polish my spoons and spinners instead!:D
Dave. You should be tying up your pike traces and getting the herrings out of the freezer!

Great to meet up last Friday. And thanks for all your help and company.

Likewise mate,...looking forward to next time and photographing you with one of those elusive 2lbers!
If I hadn't spent most of the day nattering I may have managed to get done 10 times by a pike instead of 5 !:D:D
Your not alone there Dave, the temptation to bag some late season match size carp and silvers is quite high, the season of Stour blanks though is keeping me going through sheer determination and stubbornness. It would be lovely to find some barbel that aren't fished for so regularly that I could concentrate on. Throop is a popular fishery.
What I've been keeping under my hat a touch is the wife is now 6 months pregnant with our first. I'm expecting my bank hours to take a hit obviously. If I can't catch now with this amount of free time next year I'm going to really struggle...
That's great news Stephen,...good luck with the sleepless nights!
There's lots of river to go at on both RDAA and CAC tickets,....good time to be looking at swims on unfamiliar stretches before the river colours up.
ATB Dave