Barbel (Barbus barbus)

  Fact File: British Record 19lb 6oz 8drms (8.802kg)
  Captor:    Steve Curtin,
  Location:  Adams Mill, River Great Ouse, Bedofrdshire
  Year:      2001
Grass C










The Barbel lives predominantly on the bed of fast flowing rivers feeding on various bottom dwelling creatures; larger fish also catch crayfish, molluscs and small fish. 
A powerful fighter, the Barbel is built for speed. With it's streamline body and large, deeply forked caudal fin, it has the ability and agility to present itself as a truly formidable opponent for any angler.
The Barbel has a noticeably long, low, cylindrical head and body, olive green to dark greyish blue back, lighter sides and a white belly. The sides of adult fish have a golden lustre whilst the young fish have dark spots and are sometimes mottled. It's mouth has four barbules and it's eyes  are situated high up on it's head. The front ray of the dorsal fin is hard and thick with a clearly toothed edged for which care needs to be taken to prevent it snagging on netting.    

Methods of Capture
are varied from casual feeding with the use of swimfeeders and legered baits, sitting and waiting for that rod-bending bite to stalking; stealthily walking the bank, gazing through the water with Polaroid's and a selection of baits to hand. 
Whilst some results can be had with the first method, it can also be a hit and miss affair. The better catches coming from steady, consistent feeding and careful selection of the swim - long gravelly glides fringed by beds of flowing weed. Strong tackle being the order of the day.
The second method is the favored one especially if the larger, specimen is the target. Careful observation can pick out the Barbel in between weed beds sometimes accompanied by one or two others. Again strong tackle is required. A bait, dropped ahead of the fish with a small leger and allowed to be carried into the Barbel's feeding area, can have some heart-stopping results. 
Prebait a swim with particle baits, seed, corn, diced luncheon meat, and then return to fish similar over the chosen area. Keep a low profile and try not to disturb the water too much. Wait and watch, the bite may start with a twitch of the rod tip or line, and if the Barbel is confident, result in your rod being wrenched from it's rest or hand. Once hooked.......  

Tip: A good bait for Barbel in any location is caster fished over a bed of hemp seed.  This usually accounts for quite a few Barbel.  However, if the fishery you are fishing is stocked with small silver fish it may be worthwhile switching to a large chunk of luncheon meat flavoured with chilli or curry powder at this time of year. 


Links to related sites

The Barbel Catchers Club



Recommended Books & Videos

Quest for Barbel - Tony Miles & Trevor West
Better Barbel Fishing - Matt Hayes


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