Into a specie
The 80's saw me settling down to the rigours of house and family so my fishing took a back seat, I did do a small amount of normal coarse fishing and a bit of codding on the Holderness beaches. By the end of the 80,s the kids where growing and a new job giving me time off during the week, my interest again came back and I started match fishing again, I had a few successful seasons fishing with Hull Midweek enjoying the banter and fishing with a great set of lads, but always in the back of mind was the time spent away from home and the hours spent actual fishing! I just couldn't justify 10 hours out of the house and only 5 hours fishing. After 3 years, I again dropped out of the match scene and went back to the beach, with the advent of new rod design and composition and especially the development in reel technology, my early grounding on the tournament field saw me catching a lot of fish at full range on the beaches and I also took up being a casting coach.
The winters were a great time to be out on the desolate beaches up and down the Yorkshire coast and I enjoyed the time alone but the fishing was becoming harder with inshore fleets wiping up lots of fish. As the catches started to drop my thoughts turned to bigger fish and, I dabbled with carping but in truth I was still missing the running water be it river or beach.
My barbel fishing began in the early 90's, after watching a video of Ray Walton fishing on the "Royalty". I couldn't believe someone could be so single minded in the pursuit of a species but the dedication and care for the fish that I saw that day, turned me away from my match fishing background and to this day I have never looked back.
My early barbelling was rooted solely in my home county of Yorkshire, exclusively on the beautiful River Swale where I spent many hours on the stretches at Topcliffe, Asenby, Myton, Cundall, Helperby and many other places. My 1st ever barbel was caught in the weir pool at Topcliffe on June 18th 1996 just as dusk was falling a superb 7lber graced my net and from that moment I knew I was hooked!
I did still do some general course fishing but this began to tail off all together in the next couple of years, as the pull of the barbel became too strong to resist.
By 1999 I had stopped general fishing and was now a confirmed specie solely in pursuit of barbus barbus the 1st few years were very hard as I had no idea of the difficulty of finding the fish, I tended not to do the hot pegs apart from the weir occasionally, so consequently my catch rates suffered with an average of 8 barbel over the course of a season, by the end of the 2002 season I had caught only 30 fish but my PB was a cracking fish of 9lbs 8oz.
In 2001 I had read about barbel fishing on the River Trent and on the 7th October I ventured to the mighty river in pursuit of my goal (barbel from another river) luckily I caught on my 1st trip, a pristine 7lb 12oz fish, I was back again 2 days later and caught again, this time 2 fish topped by an 8lb 12oz beauty. I fished again a few times up to the end of October. Then never went again until January and February when I had 1 fish in each month.
During the past 12/18 months or so I had started fishing with Steve Ralph as we both pioneered our specimen hunting. We fished the Swale most of the time but did venture down to the southern rivers including the Loddon and Kennet, where on 2 day trip we met and talked to Ray Walton, he was putting together a feature article on the Aldermaston Mill stretch for the AT, we were lucky enough to have our photos in the article and to meet up with my unknown mentor.
Earlier that season we had discovered barbel-fishing world on the Internet and at the very end of the 2001/2 season we were invited to fish the river Wye with Ray Ellis (rayo) and luckily we both caught when the river was in flood. What a beautiful place, one that I would return to time and time again.
The beginning of the 2002/3 season saw me back on the Wye for a 2 day trip, as the Wye is known slow starter I struggled for 1 fish but still loved the place.
It was then back to the Trent for the summer, I fished Collingham and Fiskerton a few times, and we met up with some more anglers from BFW, Steve Richardson, Dave Wingfield and Paul Whiteing.
September saw me back on the Wye with 4 fish in the day and my 1st close up of the the deer in the wye valley and the buzzards soaring high in the sky.
At the end of March I met up with Graham Elliot on the Trent who showed me a whole new way to catch barbel, which resulted in a new PB of 9lb 14oz and 3/9lbers in a session. This was in the last week of the season so I only had 1 more chance to try his method but I did catch in that last session.
The 2003/4 season saw me starting my campaign on the Wye again implementing Graham's ideas and I caught as many fish in the 3 days as I had done in any previous full season!. My son Tom and daughter Beth had started to take a more positive interest and both had started catching well with Pb's at 8+ and 6+ respectively.
As the summer progressed it was back back on the Trent and the fish were still coming to my baits with the occasional sortie into Yorkshire on the Swale and the Wharfe and another few days on the Wye.
By the end of August I had put 50! Barbel in my landing net some thing unheard of in the seasons past. I was still not sure of flood fishing so tended not to go when the rivers were well up but after talking to other much more experienced winter specialists, I decided to give it a proper go and this resulted in a November PB just ½ oz short of the magical double mark. I also had a short 2-day trip down south where I had my 1 st Kennet barbel thanks to Graham, Dick and Jon.
I had joined the barbel Society by this time and spent many hours on the tidal stretch at Sutton on Trent were I netted a cracking 12lb common, but no barbel, by the end of the season my mind was now clear on when the big fish come out to play and the floods were a time to fish and not sit at home gazing out of the window, I ended the season on 71 fish including my new PB.
The new season 2004/5 saw me completely taken over by the Trent in pursuit of the elusive double; the 50 fish mark was easily passed again in the summer and I had had 9 fish over 9lbs, Tom had been fishing with me a lot this season and an early season 1st double for him of 10lbs 5oz and Beth's 8lb 2oz PB were well worth it.
Then on a cloudy windy late September day the mark was finally breached not by a 10 but an 11lb 1oz fish caught on bait given to me by Martin Bowler. She was a fat fish but beautiful all the same, I was over the moon to say the least and the drive home was the most enjoyable I had had for a long time. Doubles followed fast and furious after that 1st one and my Pb is now ½ oz below 14lb, caught in early November when the Trent was fining down after a flood.
I ended the season on exactly 100 barbel with 7 doubles including another 11lber and a 12lber.
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page last edited 29.07.05
© Mike Berridge 2005 - 2017