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The smaller rivers

Evening all. I'm a new member so it's my first post. Completely mad about barbel and has pushed out match fishing completely. Anyway....

I've travel a lot of the country and ive always got my eye on any potential barbel spot. Been a eye opener on how many rivers this country has. Two rivers which have really caught my eye are the river goyt stockport and the river don stretch through catcliffe. Very small rivers compared to what I'm use to(severn and trent). Both hold barbel. Anybody got some tips or hotspots/rumours on these particular rivers. Obviously I'm going to fine down my end tackle compared to what I'd use on severn/trent but anyone got some tips on what I should be looking for or what you personally do when changing from a fast deep river to the smaller rivers. Thanks. Kyle

Mark Swaby

Senior Member
Welcome Kyle,the most important thing i see done wrong on small rivers is casting a heavy lead into the swim,boosh and your fish are gone. Try to lower a lead in if possible, or pendulam roll it in,approach swims carefully and quietly. I fish a pva bag on an anchor lead which goes into the water like a fishy splash,i tend to give each swim around 20 minutes,unless i get a sign of a fish. I do not use a rod rest and hold the rod across my knee, tip low to the water. I always use a back lead if possible, i think it sorts out the better fish.

Bill Walford

Senior Member
Welcome aboard Kyle. I can’t add anymore that what Mark has said above. I tend to give swims a bit longer but keep on the move. I’m lucky my local small river is The Medway and not too heavily fished these days so there’s always somewhere to move on to....good luck and keep us posted on your efforts

Mark Mole

Senior Member
Hi Kyle.

The best thing about smaller more intimate rivers is the fact that in low clear water conditions you can observe your quarry. Just sitting and watching,after baiting up can reveal what dwells within. Time spent walking and watching is far better than second hand information....IMO

Andrew Richardson

Senior Member
Hi Kyle and welcome. The river at catcliffe is in fact the rother which has some nice barbel In if your prepared to find them. There's no chance of spotting them even when low in the summer, it's to coloured, it's just a case of getting out there and fishing. Best bet is walk the river and bait up a few likely spots then go back to where you started and fish each spot for about half hour

Paul Whiteing

Staff member
Welcome Kyle

I fish small rivers but prefer a static approach - it does NOT suit others, it's just what I do.

  • I don't pre-bait, or loose feed
  • I always fish from under a brolly - fishing from afternoon up until 11pm -1am
  • I fish upstream through choice, with a second rod downstream if the swim permits.
  • I only make one cast (if possible), now this means fishing close to the near bank so as to minimise rubbish coming downstream and messing everything up - although if one catches a fish then that's another cast required :)
  • Since I only want a single cast, and which minimises the chance of spooking a fish, it requires that you trust your judgement as to where to cast, no plumbing the depth of anything like that - so it's a huge risk if you look at it that way. Yes, don't always get it right :oops:
note. there are no crayfish where I fish, if there were that's my preferred method up the chute :D

Alex Dalton

Senior Member
A semi roving approach for me with a bit of loose feed , mainly freshly cooked hemp and a few bits of meat , if fishing that bait. Bait a few likely looking spots, try the furthest one for about 30 mins, if it does produce a fish i would keep fishing it and the same with the other lightly baited swims . You will gradually build up a working knowledge of the river that will be prove useful over the years.

Jon Kennard

Senior Member
Hi Kyle id also add don't forget the float. Opened my eyes this year fishing the Wye (i know bigger river) but think a barbel is a barbel. I found the fish responded much better to a moving bait. Just a thought anyway thanks Jon

Terry Harman

Senior Member
If fishing really small rivers like the upper Lea then I think observation is the key . In the summer months leave the rods at home and take a walk up the river observing their feeding habits and behaviour .... a couple of seasons ago I was watching some barbel in a popular swim and I was flicking out some pellets onto the gravel but the barbel wouldn’t go near them... then noticed literally at my feet about 3ft away some barbel troughing up the silt where it met the gravel looking for the pellets that had fell short ... just watching that caught me a fair few barbel from that swim fishing the silt line instead of the gravel

Terry Simner

Senior Member
All I'll add to all above is ... what a wonderful site this is, full of helpful anglers more than willing to offer knowledgeable advice.