Medway Barbel 2017

22/08/17 – I have been putting in quite a bit of time fishing recently and with August rapidly coming to an end I thought It would be nice to mix things up and have a couple of sessions on the upper Medway in search of some Barbel. I have fished this stretch of the Medway many times before (please see previous posts) and I was confident that I could winkle out a couple of fish and get a bend in the rod. Although there are no monsters in this particular stretch a double figure Barbel is a real possibility and my PB Barbel was from here weighing 11lb 7oz.

For my first session I decided to fish with 12mm pellets  on a simple hair rig of around two feet in length. I used a lead clip system to allow the 2oz lead to eject if it got snagged and opted for 12lb Drennan braid to a size 8 Barbel specialist hook. With an underarm flick I cast two baits out to each margin, sprinkled some freebies around the area and waited.

It wasn’t long before the bobbin was jumping up and down and the baitrunner triggered into action as a small but energetic chub of around 3lb found the bottom of the net. I actually let the fish go directly in the swim in hope that it would shy the others of the bait and I would have more chance of hooking a Barbel. The small chub can become a nascence especially if you are fishing through the night and three pounders keep taking your bait. It didn’t take long for another chub to fall victim to my hook bait but following that fish the rest of the night was quiet and I slept like a baby. I awoke to lifeless bobbins and a beautiful sun rise which sounds lovely but I would have rather woken to a screaming bite alarm and stumbled down the bank to catch a double figure Barbel. Something was wrong and I knew what it was. The bloody crayfish had nicked my bait and I had been fishing most of the night without a single bait on the hook. To be honest I didn’t think the crayfish would be a problem but with the hot weather I suppose they were more active then usual. For my next session I would have to change my tactics.

My next session was a few days later and I arrived at the river after work around 7pm. I had come prepared this time with a few pre drilled spicy meat boilies that had been air dried specifically to fish waters that hold crayfish. I had previously used them on the River Lea and they seemed to do the job. Both rods were baited with the rock hard boilies and with a 12mm pellet. I made sure that the boilie was the top bait and that the bait stop was flush with the boilies surface to stop the crayfish from picking the bait of the hair. I scattered some free baits around the swim and put the kettle.

Within an hour I had a violent take and after a short scrap I landed a 4lb Barbel in perfect condition and definitely one for the future. My next take was at around 10pm but this fish seemed much heavier than the first and after a manic battle it turned out to be another scale perfect Barbel weighing in at 7lb 6oz. I took some self takes and settled down for some sleep which was much needed due to the fact I had to be up at 4am for work the next morning. I didn’t get much shut eye when at 11.30pm my left hand rod again screamed into action. This fish felt even bigger than the last and my suspicion was confirmed when I netted another Barbel weighing 8lb 12oz. What a session this was turning out to be and the Barbel were just getting bigger and bigger. Again I drifted into the land of nod when the inevitable happened and my bait runner went into melt down. After bringing the fish back from thirty yards downstream she managed to snag me up and this resulted in a lost fish. I placed the other rod in the spot where all the takes were coming from and jumped into the sack.
 It didn’t take long and the rod was away again. I stumbled out of the bag, forgot to put my boots on and rolled down the steep bank to the rods. Lifting the rod up and connecting with the fish I could tell this was a better specimen and the fight it put up was incredible. My rod was bent round double with the fish peeling line from a tight clutch. The power was truly immense but eventually I won the battle and landed a proper Barbel. She went 11lb 3oz on the scales, only a few ounces short of my PB but I didn’t care. What a fish and what a session.

I packed up two hours later absolutely shattered and headed to work with a smile on my face.

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