Tales of Nelson the One-Eyed Barbel

Wow! Haven’t updated the blog for ages! Not a great deal to catch up on the angling front to be fair.

Main “event” since the last update was a week on the Severn with Andy back in September. It was a week with rather mixed results. We started on the Monday on the BAA Stanley water, where we’d both had a decent fish last year. However, although river conditions were very similar to the previous visit – a couple of feet up and carrying some colour – this time all we could manage was a single chub between us.

Tuesday saw us on the Eardington Brook section, with the river in the same condition as Monday – as it was to remain all week, with just some relatively minor fluctuations in levels. Weather was rather wet all day. Much of the stretch was boiling around the weed beds with the extra flow, but I found a nice looking smooth glide about a third of the way out. Casting a groundbait and pellet feeder with a pellet hookbait to the top end of the glide, it wasn’t long before I started to catch. I finished the day with 8 barbel, all in the 4-7 lb range.

One of the fish was notable for the fact that it appeared to have been in a lot of fights and lost them all. It had some healed battle scars down its flanks and was missing one eye. Apart from that, it seemed to be quite healthy and gave the sort of account of itself that you’d expect from a barbel of its size.

In the afternoon, Andy moved from his first unproductive swim to a spot some 40-50 yards downstream of me. He found some success in his new spot landing 2 barbel, but dropping 2 others. I was with him when he landed one of the fish. Now, rather strangely, it appeared to have been in a lot of fights and lost them all. It had some healed battle scars down its flanks and was missing one eye. Sounds familiar? Well, yes, it was indeed the same fish that I’d caught just a few hours earlier.

Wednesday saw us on Knowle Sands top end. I had a blank (I said BLANK!), but Andy managed to net a single 5lb barbel on his special sausage (?)

Thursday saw us take a look at the lower end of Knowle Sands, which was the first time we’d been there. Apart from the rather impressive sandstone cliff face that dropped sheer into the river on the opposite bank, the river didn’t look too impressive until further upstream. Unfortunately, the other bank was very busy, so there wasn’t really anywhere to fish at that end. We had a go opposite the cliff, but it just didn’t feel right, so we decided to up sticks after a couple of hours, and de-camped to Eardington.

For the first time, we tried the upstream swims. I fished a spot with overhanging willows at both the top and bottom of the swim, and a nice looking glide just out from the trees. I had 4 barbel out of there, up to 7lbs. I also nearly lost my rod to one of them. Having just cast out, I turned my back for a second to rearrange some gear, when I heard the rod clattering in the rests. I turned to see it being pulled out of the rear rest and shooting forwards on the front rest. Luckily, the reel caught in the rest and I managed to grab it before the rest also got dragged over. Unfortunately in my haste, I slipped on the muddy banks (it been raining a few minutes earlier), and landed on my arse in the river, with a resounding splash! That was the last of the bites for the day. Andy tried 2 swims, but couldn’t find a bite in either.

The final day of the holiday saw us back on Eardington again. Andy went upstream again while, after some hesitation, I ended up in the swim above the one I’d fished on Tuesday. The river level had dropped a few inches since then, and the glide started a bit further upstream as a result. Again, it wasn’t long before I started getting bites, but the first 2 fish I hooked got away as a result of the hooklink breaking about an inch below the swivel. As I was using identical tackle (literally the same feeder etc) apart from the actual hooklinks themselves as the day before, I couldn’t understand why this was happening, but switched to a heavier BS link and changed the feeder in case there was something on it fraying the line. The next 2 barbel were landed, but the next one hooked resulted in an identical breakage to the first two. I was really puzzled by this, so my next attempt to resolve the problem was to fit a small length of tubing down from the swivel.

This appeared to do the trick as all the next four fish I hooked during the day were all landed. While unhooking one of them, I was briefly puzzled by what appeared to be an excessive amount of my hooklink attached to the fish. A closer inspection revealed that it actually had 2 of my hooklinks in its mouth, and so was one of the fish I’d lost earlier.

It’s interesting to note that 2 fish in the week were recaptured later in the same day. It makes you wonder how often this must happen. In the case of the 2 fish we know about here, they were easily recognisable as recaptures, but if the fish were not so easily recognised, and you’re into a bunch of shoal fish and not particularly taking notice of the individual fish you catch, there could be recaptures that you don’t spot.

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