Barbel fishing on the upper Avon
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After hearing reports that our local stretch on the upper Avon had been producing it's fair share of Barbel we just had to go and have a session. We arranged two consecutive days with myself, John & Alastair fishing on the first day and myself and Alan on the second day. We chose to fish a stretch where we had caught Barbel from previously and we knew that if conditions were right we would have a good chance.

So the first day soon arrived and we found ourselves driving up the M4 on a gloriously clear sunny June morning. Hopes were high and for Alastair even greater was the thought of his first Barbel. We arrived at the river and straight away we could see plenty of fish moving around in the swims. John chose a swim just below a weir and myself and Alastair chose to fish a swim just down stream on a deep bend which ran under a few trees. We had a range of baits we wanted to try from sweetcorn, luncheon meat, worm and Nash boilies. And of course hemp and pellets as loose feed. First fish fell almost immediately to John which turned out to be a nice Rainbow Trout which took a couple of grains of corn.

We put in a couple of handfuls of hemp into the swim so it would rest on the bottom under the trees and gently flicked our freelined cubes of meat out and let them too bounce along the bottom and under the trees.

The first couple of hours were fairly quiet apart from John pulling out a Brown Trout on Corn every now and then but nothing under the trees. Then as a cup of tea was being poured!!! my tip few round and a nice Chub a couple of pound ended up in the net. A good sign the fish may be moving in.

Over the next hour or so Alastair had a steady flow of Chub with the biggest around 3lb 8oz on meat.

Suddenly my rod tip bent right the way around and i was into a Barbel. It went left and right in tearing runs and after a good little scrap was in the net and weighed in at 5lb 4oz. A really good start and proof the fish were moving in onto the hemp. Another couple of handfuls were put in and again a cube of meat was put under th trees. The Chub just kept coming at a steady pace and more hemp was put in and more meat was cast out. Whilst we were sat waiting for the Barbel we could see John still pulling out the odd Rainbow and Brown trout. It was starting to get near the end of our session when Alastair hooked into his first Barbel. I won't repeat what he said but i think he was excited! It went off like a rocket and was heading off downstream into the shallows.
I grabbed the net a followed him running downstream to stop it going into any weed beds. As i got near him i realised that it was time for the trainers to come off and i hopped into the water up to my knees onto a gravel bar and put the net in the water. After what must of seemed an age for Alastair it started to come to the surface and on the fifth time i scooped up a lovely Barbel. It wasn't untill i lifted it up the bank i realised he had caught a beauty. Bearing in mind this was his first Barbel it weighed in at 8lb 10oz!. Not a bad way to start but a tall order to meet! Al was chuffed to bits and after a photo shoot we returned it to the water. (It's worth remembering when you return a Barbel to the river to face it up stream and hold it in the water for a couple of minutes to allow it to get it's energy back. Barbel use so much up in the fight that if you just put it back in it would probably go belly up and hurt it's self or even die. When the Barbel is ready it will swim away from you.)
There was just one thing left to do and that was to fire in a couple of pints of hemp and pellets into the swim for day two. A great start to the session.
Day 2 Myself & Alan

Early on the second day myself and Alan headed up to the river with very high hopes. Alan had only had one Barbel before about 4 lb so any bigger than that would be a bonus. As we arrived we jumped into the same swims with Alan in John's swim under the weir and myself back under the trees on the bend.

Pre baited swims always work well as i was still setting up Alan struck into the first barbel of the day at just over 6 lb on legered meat. A great start to the second day and a PB for Alan. Just when i thought that i could sit down in my swim an relax Alan hooked into another Barbel from under the weir. This one weighed in at 5lb 14oz and we were beginning to think we were going to have on of those memorable days.

After a couple of hours of pulling out trout and Chub mainly on meat and worm i decided to free line a Nash Monster Crab boilie under the tree. Straight away the tip flew round a Barbel around 4 lb came to the net. Great the boilies worked i thought! From here on we kept the pellets going in and the odd couple of boiles and just kept catching a steady flow of Chub and Barbel. It was really working well and when the Barbel came back onto the pellets you could see them flashing as the turned in the swim. Alan went down stream and with a piece of freelined meat and pulled another Barbel out around 6lb. Finally after what i think was about 8 Barbel the tip hammered round and aftera couple of rod bending minutes I landed the biggest Barbel of the day at 7lb 4oz. The session was over but will never be forgotten, especially for Alastair who has a new PB of a 8lb 10oz Barbel. A great session and what Barbel fishing is all about, drama, surging runs, beauty and a lot of fun. Tristan Bawn

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