Barbel Fishing Continuing the Journey

rd115

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The guide is now taking a path that mirrors my journey to become competent; I can now think about a second stage for anyone who has progressed through the first part of their journey too. In recent times I have likened my journey to one of the big sweeping bends on the Trent and in terms of this learning curve, I would say, and a bit like one of the boats when you first see it appear, I am currently negotiating the bend. To quote Sir Winston, my journey isn't at the beginning of the end, far from it, but after my best calendar year pursuing this beautiful fish and some real highlights so far in this river season, it is the end of the beginning stage of the journey.

The learning journey of course wouldn't be half as long if the journey to my favoured Rivers was less, but rather than allow this to hinder progress, I have this year made some big decisions in sacrificing my other angling and committing to June through to March trips, fishing each of the months, whilst also still appreciating that I cannot open the door and decide whether or not to bother based on the all important conditions, and thus to not put to much pressure on myself; one thing Barbel fishing will instil in you, is that Barbel will test you, right from trying to catch them, through to the fight itself.

A cold day, that proved too cold for the Barbel and coupled with a rising River.
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Water temperatures and weather changes, particularly in the cooler months are well worth researching and monitoring and although I got my excuse in for the session above failing to produce a Barbel, the rising water level can also bring problems in terms of washing down debris, something I heard a while back made a lot of sense....'would you eat your dinner off a dirty plate'?

If like me, you are going regardless within reason, then taking water temperatures may tell you something you wouldn't want to know: 'yep I am wasting my time today', but then and individuals opinion on what constitutes wasting a day may vary, in terms of where I am trying to get to, then a day by the river is rarely a waste of my time. I have, however combined various reliable information into an approximate guide below.
temps.jpg

My season so far on the Trent has been productive when putting some faith in a groundbait and pellet mix, with less pellets being added (wetted down) the colder it gets. Whilst I bulk out groundbait with a shop bought bag occasionally, the majority of it is purely and simply blitzed pellets (from my pellet mix), this way I can ensure that firstly I know exactly what is in the mix, secondly and quite importantly I have learnt, the mix matches any of the pellet hookbaits I may use during the session and thirdly I can regulate how much feed is in the mix. The 'upstream' rod continues to be fished with this bait and the downstream rod becomes my trial rod, usually for a boilie approach, the trial aspect meaning I can vary where I cast it and without it interfering with the feeding line of the upstream rod and also to a degree how much feed goes in with it.
Reading on the subject of boilies has proved very interesting this year and it appears to be the case that Barbel like these to be as soft as possible, one source advocates not boiling them at all and using the bait in a paste form whenever possible, not always practical on some rivers of course, but this was definitely food for thought when deciding to try making my own, this decision was also swayed by adding to it, the theory that creating unique bait flavours and on rivers where Barbel see many boilies might be an edge. If using shop bought, of which there are plenty that will catch Barbel then keeping them as fresh as possible will of course maintain their softness.

These boilies were boiled for 2 minutes only and feel, smell and at least look the part and in the case of the session in the picture did appeal to a decent Chub, so there is hope for them to catch a Barbel yet.
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In keeping with reading on the subject and regarding winter fishing, the above were a hot and spicy concoction and rolled by hand to achieve random sizes.

In terms of using them and presenting them, a standard hair rig to mount the hookbait is used, with the bait tight to the bend of the hook and just creeping up the start of the shank. Using the paste (the mixture in its paste form prior to shaping and boiling) to wrap the hookbait can increase attraction and can be a good flood or coloured water bait addition.
PVA can be your ally when wanting to introduce free offerings with your boilie hookbait and generally I have found two main ways to do this. A year or two back I caught onto the idea of others to not mount the PVA on the hook, but up at the lead, achieving what a feeder achieves but feeding In a way that a feeder doesn't. I had always had reservations and concerns about hook mounting PVA when it comes to Barbel and the rivers I target them in, I often had little confidence in it staying on and couldn't help thinking that the hook would rip through the PVA on being dragged down by a heavy lead. Whilst you can buy bespoke swivels with and/or PVA bag clips, I like the neatness of the below:

Fill the mesh, tuck the lead into the bag and cut down each side of the bag a little...
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Then taking the two tags you created, wrap each tag in opposite directions around the base of the lead swivel and tie off, then bring them back around, again in opposite directions and do a final tie off:
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It makes a tidy parcel that casts well and the same can be done with pellets too (the above was some whole and some crushed boilies). It can be useful to use the gripper type leads for this as some bait will sit in the gap of the lead as opposed to sitting around it, which makes the parcel even neater if you are relying on a little more aero dynamics for a long cast. A further note on leads is to avoid the rough coated ones for this, as they do catch the mesh when trying to tuck them in. Any lead is fine for the next method of getting some offerings in with your hook bait though......

Take a few inches of PVA string and tie a loop in each end and mount some Boilies on a bait needle or a dedicated stringer needle.
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Ensure one of the loops can fit over the lead swivel, slip it over and then slide up a boilie to 'lock' it in place.
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Clip your lead onto your rig and away you go......(y)

Would that string be strong enough to attach a big PVA sausage to the lead? Currently i'm using zip ties as below with a view to buying some reusable ones, but i figure a zip tie flapping about may put the fish off?

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Northantslad

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IMO yes and looks good on the outset. But i don't think your tie wrap is doing the lead camo any favours, PVA string would do it if you went through a couple of times. With bags i reckon it's all about ensuring it gets down, stays down, then dissolves, such a large bag may hinder that, your could try the lead in the mesh option or by the swivels that have the additional hook for slotting in the bag knot. You could consider smaller bag and a couple more casts to get the amount of bait in that want from the picture. Just not sure the sheer size and shape is going to help the lead fall and settle.
 

rd115

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IMO yes and looks good on the outset. But i don't think your tie wrap is doing the lead camo any favours, PVA string would do it if you went through a couple of times. With bags i reckon it's all about ensuring it gets down, stays down, then dissolves, such a large bag may hinder that, your could try the lead in the mesh option or by the swivels that have the additional hook for slotting in the bag knot. You could consider smaller bag and a couple more casts to get the amount of bait in that want from the picture. Just not sure the sheer size and shape is going to help the lead fall and settle.

With this I use it on the Derwent, 6ft deep glide shortly after a small weir so it's fairly slow and not really any problems with the lead settling.

I had also been using a spopper sometimes to get a bed of bait down, but crashing that thing in 4 or 5 times won't be doing the swim any favours I think. I don't mind on an overnighter as can let the swim rest for 2 hours before dropping the lead in, but on shorter sessions I figured using the pva mesh sausage as can get a decent amount of bait in with only a single cast and less disturbance.

I've ordered some pva string so will give it a go next week, might even try a string of boilies on the downstream lead 😀
 
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