Hi! My name is Sam Edmonds. Those of you who know me are aware that I am just 'ever so slightly' keen on my fishing and the love of the outdoors.
Fishing has been a part of my life since the day I was born. I suppose it comes as no surprise when you have a Dad that's fishing crazy. We fish together literally all of the time and have had some fantastic times spent trying to catch all kinds of fish here in the UK and on holidays abroad. Along the way I have met some great fishermen and some of these have become really good friends.
The more I fish the more my fascination and appreciation for the sport grows and catching fish is just the start - there is so much more to angling: travelling, nature, wildlife and watching some spectacular sunrises are just a few.
So I'd like to share in my blog some of my fishing experiences, captures and other related interests such as photography and writing. I hope you will enjoy reading it and find something that interests you too...

Monday, 28 August 2017

Stalking Barbel on lures


I don't know where the time has gone this season so far! It's been a very busy summer, with lots of coaching for Get Hooked on Fishing at various places, including the BBC Countryfile Live show at Blenheim Palace. Hundreds of people have caught their first ever fish, which is great to see and hopefully many of those will take up the sport! In amongst the coaching, Dad and I have managed to squeeze in a few trips on rivers local to us - we had planned to start the season on the Thames, but unfortunately, we'd been working on the boat back at our house and didn't manage to get it finished in time. So, for the start of the season, we fished some of our local rivers instead for a few different species on lures, such as Chub, Barbel and Perch.


We were fishing just after the crack of dawn on June 16th - for the first few hours we planned to target Perch with the low light levels, then once it really got bright we would change to stalking Chub and Barbel on lures. At about 6am Dad hooked a big Perch, a fish we both saw, and thought was over 3lb. He hooked it in a very tight swim, and sadly it swam in to the snags and came off! What a first fish of the season that would have been for him, but losing a fish like that wasn’t really the start we were hoping for!

With nothing to show for by 8am it was time to change targets and try another section of river, and it wasn’t too long before Dad caught his first fish of the season - a Brownie, which was quickly followed by a decent Chub - one of five Chub he went on to catch on the opening day.



Over the past few years, my Dad has been lucky enough to catch a few Barbel on lures, and I’d been desperate to catch one ever since he caught his first in 2013, whilst we were lure fishing with Paul Garner on the Warwickshire Avon. After Dad caught his first Chub of the day on June 16th this year, I spotted a Barbel in amongst some Chub on a gravel run, and managed to make a good cast to it, with my Power Nymph landing inches from the Barbel’s nose. There was a Chub of around 1lb 8oz sitting right next to the Barbel, and I was praying the Barbel would beat the Chub to it. Thankfully, the Barbel dived down on the Power Nymph, sucked it in, I struck and all hell broke loose! After a crazy fight in inches of water, I managed to land my first lure-caught Barbel!


A couple of hours later, Dad spotted the tail of a Perch poking out from between some rushes, in only about a foot of water. He couldn't see the head of the fish, but there was just enough of a gap between the rushes to drop his Power Nymph where he predicted the fish's head would be, so he lowered his creature bait in to the tiny gap, and watched the fish's tail shoot forward. He instinctly struck and hooked in to the fish, which actually leapt out of the water a couple of times, resembling the fight of a Largemouth Bass! It then leapt out of the water again, and Dad netted it in mid air!


Not long after releasing the Perch, Dad then spotted a few Barbel in a super overgrown swim, in a gap on the far bank of the river, sitting under some reeds. He made a fantastic cast and managed to hook one! I thought mine gave me an incredible fight but Dad had one hell of a fight on his hands, and would need to dodge the reeds, rushes and streamer weed to land it, and somehow, he did!


It’s his most impressive lure caught Barbel to date, not just by the size but the way he cast through the rushes and underneath the reeds on the far bank -  and landed it through this!


Whilst stalking the Chub and Barbel, I spotted a shoal of fish that looked a lot like Grayling. I’ve only ever heard of one or two Grayling being caught from the River Lea, but to see if they were what I thought they were, I decided to set up a light drop-shot rig, with 3lb line, a size 14 Owner Mosquito hook with a Powerbait Maxi Bloodworm nose-hooked on. After a few casts, one finally took, and it turned out to be what I thought it was - a Grayling, which is my first from the River Lea!


By the end of the day we’d landed 8 species in total - it would have been 9 if I hadn’t lost a Carp I stalked, although I did manage to catch a nice Carp a few days later, just before a nasty thunderstorm rolled in. Dad also managed to catch a nice Chub on that morning too, which weighed 5lb 9oz.



The conditions for the first few weeks of the season remained ideal for stalking, with crystal clear rivers and plenty of sunshine helping spot the fish. Since June 16th, we’ve learnt a lot about targeting Barbel with soft plastics, and also managed to catch quite a few along the way.




I’m not saying it’s the easiest way to catch a Barbel, or that lure fishing is the new top method for them, but tricking a Barbel in to taking a lure is a very exciting way to catch them. I’ve been amazed at how eager they can be to chase down a lure, often beating Chub to the soft bait!


The gear we’ve been using is not a lot different to what we use for targeting big Perch - a powerful spinning rod of around 7ft that can cast up to 18g (5/8oz), paired with a 2000 - 2500 front drag reel. It’s important that this is spooled up with a good quality braid that is strong enough to bully a fish out from reeds, streamer weed and snags, but also has a fine diameter, making it easy to cast tiny weights accurately - we’ve been using Spiderwire Stealth Smooth in 20lb. Attached to this has been a fluorocarbon leader of around 12-15lb, which is about 16 inches in length, then tied to this is the lure - a small creature bait of around 1”-2” in length, rigged on to a jighead of around 2g.


We’ve found this has been a good weight for where we've been fishing - getting the lure down to the bottom at a steady speed in various currents, whilst also making the appendages of the creature bait kick in to action. The jigheads I’ve been using have a strong size 6 or 8 hook, which are perfect for rigging on creature baits in the 1”-2” size range.


One of the most important things we’ve found is to choose the right moment to make the cast. Ideally, the lure needs to land inches in front of the Barbel’s nose for it to even consider taking the lure (although we've had the odd fish swim as far as 3ft to grab the lure). This may require waiting a while for a fish to move in to a position where you’re able to cast a lure just in front of them, whether that’s swimming out from some snags, or dropping back behind some streamer weed. If you can get the cast right, watching a Barbel pounce on your lure as it hits the bottom is an awesome sight to witness!



Most of the stretches we’ve been targeting the Barbel also contain some very nice Chub, some of which we’ve managed to catch, but we’ve both lost a couple of very good fish this season too, bigger than any of the Chub we've landed so far this season.





I’ve really enjoyed stalking the Chub and Barbel on lures this season - not just because it’s an exciting and challenging way of fishing, but we’ve spotted lots of other species of fish too, including some nice Bream, Carp, Pike, Roach, Dace and Perch, and you can sometimes come across a few surprises too, like the Grayling we found on June 16th. We’ve actually managed to catch a couple more Grayling since then - it would be nice to see them establish themselves in the Lea and I’m looking forward to trying to catch one on the fly now!


One morning whilst stalking the Chub and Barbel, Dad noticed a good Perch emerge from the streamer weed. He quickly made a cast with his creature bait, and within seconds a 43cm fish was in the net! It was significantly bigger than any Perch we've ever caught or seen from this stretch of river, and made for a nice surprise!


The last four fishing trips we’ve had have been flyfishing reservoirs targeting Pike, Perch and Zander, which I’ll talk about in my next post!

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