Barbel Fishing on the Trent

Twin rods point skywards, silhouetted against a setting sun. I’m relaxing on a bed chair, inches from the rod butts, but I’m not expecting to get much sleep. Earlier I spent ages setting my trap. A gallon of hemp and mixed pellets was introduced along with a kilo of boilies into an area perhaps four or five yards square.

It was a chub that found the bait first, as always, a succession of savage raps on the rod tips with no hook-ups materialising, even against 4oz feeders. How do they get away with it so easily? Okay you hook the odd one but the dismal ratio of pick-ups to hooked fish is perplexing.

And then a shoal of bream moved in. That’s more like it! If you can find bream, or should I say, when they find you, the barbel won’t be far behind. Yes, it’s a pain to catch bream that average anywhere between 4 and 8lb but I can remember a time when I’d give my eye teeth to catch fish like this.

Perhaps bream stir up the riverbed producing a bit of colour in the water, perhaps they give off a particular kind of vibration, or maybe barbel can hear them chewing. Laugh if you like but Mistral Baits introduced a boilie a while back containing ingredients that give them a crunch. Think about it, carp graze on mussels and snails and these are crushed in their pharyngeal teeth. Sound travels much better through water than through air, so is it too wild a theory to suggest one fish might be able to hear when another fish is eating? It might explain why one feeding fish triggers the next to join in.

Watch one fish feeding in clear water and it won’t be long before another appears. Feeding triggers more feeding so I don’t complain too much about those bream.

The only problem with having them in your swim is that you are never quite sure how much food they have eaten, that’s why I’m using a big feeder to keep topping up the swim.

Suddenly the downstream rod springs to life, the tip is yanked forwards and the reel’s drag screams in protest. I don’t use carp reels with a free spool facility for my barbel fishing, preferring instead to use a ‘proper’ fixed spool reel with the drag set fairly tight so it will only give line grudgingly when a fish takes.

Taking your time when returning barbel to the water is very important, as they sometimes take a while to recoverHand on the rod, finger gently pressed against the spool and lift, no need to strike as such. Something close to an electric shock courses through my arm as the barbel, because no other fish behaves like this, continues to take line. The mental fight is indicative of the size of this fish; it’s a seven-pounder. Had it been a proper lump the fight would have been slower, more dogged and powerful. Dare I say it, I’m disappointed?

Never mind, I’m sure a bigger fish will follow. Chances are I’ll catch quite a few barbel during this session and it is a numbers game.

Interestingly this fish fell to the downstream rod. A few years ago I carried out a meticulous comparison between the effectiveness of boilies and pellets. The only genuine conclusion I came up with was that I caught more fish on the downstream rod irrespective of the bait used.

I put this down to fish arriving in the baited area after following the scent trail, whereas Matt is convinced that the line above the feeder is a fish deterrent, hence his obsession with pinning down the line using leadcore leaders and back leads. Me? I use both approaches, leaning more towards camouflaging in daylight.

willington-1.jpgMidnight approaches. Bites have tailed off now as they so often do in the middle of the night. It’s been a good night so far with 8 scalps on the belt already, half a dozen schoolies between 5 and 8lb, one double and a near miss. There’s hardly been time for a brew never mind ‘sleeping by rods’.

I’m going to snatch a kip now things are quiet. With luck I’ll not get a take for a couple of hours or so and I’ll be ready for the dawn rush.

This kind of fishing is not everyone’s cup of tea.

So what?

It’s been labelled carbelling by some, derided for being a hybrid style, somewhere between carp fishing and barbel fishing. It isn’t. Anglers have been fishing for river carp using identical tactics for several decades now, especially on the River Trent. It is carp fishing. Unfortunately we don’t catch many carp and have to make do with catching barbel!

But hey, it’s not compulsory. You can touch leger if you prefer. You can freeline, trundle a lump of meat or even run a float through.

But if you want to maximise your catches on the big rivers, dig out the bite alarms, point those rods to the sky and break open the piggy bank because you’re going to need a fair bit of bait.

Rig suggestions

Heavy feeder rig

Big/ flat lead/ In-line rigs
Tackle Recommendations:

Rod – depends more on the flow and the weight required to hold bottom rather the size of fish you are targeting but a general guide would be that you use a minimum 1.75lb test curve rod with a minimum 8 to 10lb line. Many anglers opt for light carp rods around 2.25lb test and lines around 12lb.
Bob displays a good sized barbel for the camera

48 Comments

  1. rob hall

    Apr 29, 2008

    any chance next time anyone does a article on the trent they could give use all a clue where they are fishing,or is such a big secret??? i`ve been fishing the trent for years and never found these vast shoals of chub and bream….

    reply
    • Chrissmithgwt

      Sep 14, 2011

      may be ya just know good at fishing did that not cross ya mind ?

      reply
    • john elko

      May 19, 2012

      i live 300yds from the river at fiskrton,also bailif for barnsley ac.if you want big bags of bream ,summer,above gunthorpe bridge a gud bet.barbel, my stretch as fished great thru to jan,till the cold spell; then fished its arse of from end ov feb til end ov season- personally ad 36 barbel + chub n roach in march .close in on the deeper swims did the best.sigle 8m pellet ,pellet in feeder ,no need foor carp taticts ,match app does the biz.3 quid a day, from po in village, or six on tthe bank !please!lol.soz no night fishing,safe venue cars etc,zero tolo on litter,cum n give it a go mint venue.

      reply
  2. Allan Gand

    May 27, 2008

    Where is a good day ticket stretch on the Trent? Staying at Fardon for a few days when the season starts and would love an afternoon/evening session?

    Tight lines

    Al

    reply
  3. rob hall

    May 28, 2008

    collingham is the place to be at the start of the season but its difficult to get a peg close to the weir which is where you need to be. i would try newark dyke on the scrap yard section and fish on the island try to get on the point, some big chub,barbel and bream get caught here, east stoke is also worth a go the early teens are the better pegs for barbel.

    reply
  4. allan gand

    May 28, 2008

    Cheers dude will defo give it a go,been chasing a double for last few seasons so there’s no better time than now!! Where can I get a day ticket, on the bank or a nearby tackle shop?

    reply
    • Azz02

      Mar 09, 2011

      alright m8 if you go on the trent just to the left of clifton bridge on the littls gravel bank you will defo get a couple of doubles on the same trip use 10mm pellets topped with fake corn we always get them dont be suprised if you dont get a couple of decent chub aswel my best fron there is 7 3/4 pounds and my best barbel is 14 4oz both from that spot and my m8 had a 26 pound common carp from there

      reply
  5. david

    Jun 18, 2008

    A1 pits across from sunken barge thats a hot spot

    reply
  6. joe carroll

    Jul 17, 2008

    oryt
    does any 1 no where i ca go for the day and night
    campout
    stedy fishing and decent pegs
    ive fished the trent 1nce at collingham wier but dint catch

    plz lee me a few tip
    joe
    14 leeds

    reply
    • Matt

      Dec 02, 2010

      Hello are you the same Joe Carroll that fished at cemex K1??Cheers Matt “white rhino”

      reply
  7. steve newsome

    Jul 18, 2008

    try smeatons caravan park at newark

    reply
  8. The River Angler

    Mar 10, 2009

    Excellent article about the wonders of barbel fishing.

    http://www.theriverangler.co.uk

    Tight Lines

    The River Angler

    reply
  9. Philip hall

    Jun 01, 2009

    On my last fishing trip to the river Avon In Stratford upon avon was fishing for barble and had two dubble figer fish and lots more

    reply
  10. curtis-lee

    Jun 21, 2009

    down gunthorpe. go through the gate at the lock and walk right down to the next gate with the members only sign and there is a stony beach peg just before the gate

    reply
  11. adam lister

    Oct 26, 2009

    people could try fishing the river don where it runs down side of doncaster prison and runs under the new bridge iv got the don record barble weighing 15lb 8oz whitch made me a fox challenge winner

    reply
  12. adam lister

    Oct 26, 2009

    people could try fishing the river don where it runs down side of doncaster prison and runs under the new bridge iv got the don record barble weighing 15lb 8oz whitch made me a fox challenge winner

    reply
  13. Mike

    Nov 13, 2009

    Hi Adam, I thought your fantastic 15lb 8oz fish came from above Sprotborough Wier?
    Tight lines Mike.

    reply
  14. Martin midd

    Nov 30, 2009

    Hi Bob me and a mate are thinking of fishing Trent nr Smeatons park would you think we woud catch at this time of year in these conditions

    reply
  15. wayne holland

    May 25, 2010

    take a look at our web site
    http://www.collinghamaa.co.uk

    reply
  16. Geo

    Jun 24, 2010

    Does anyone know of anywhere along the trent you can nightfish away from roads and houses etc?

    reply
    • Stephenhillier

      May 07, 2011

      Parnhams island newark) car can be parked at peg fantastic barble best last season19 pounds best barble on
      trent 40 + pegs. 2 weirs old mill ruins look up stream from newark castle on google earth you will see 6 acre island.GO DOWN MILL GATE ONE WAY STREET AND TAKE FIRST LEFT OVER CANAL YOU ARE THERE
      NIGHT FISHING ALLOWED HAPPY FISHING

      reply
      • john elko

        May 18, 2012

        hoverighams great. no litter

  17. azz

    Aug 17, 2010

    you can night fish thwe trent near clifton bridge there is a brook that joins the riover there next to that there is a stone bed fish from there with hemp and pellet topped with fake corn we get 13.14 pound fish out on a regular basis m8

    reply
  18. Longi

    Aug 26, 2010

    Im ment to be goin to trent tomoz day and nite as any1 got any ideas on what stretch to go to please i ant fished it for a few month so i dont know wheres fishing

    reply
  19. Charlie Gloss

    Aug 30, 2010

    Hi. I am a scatterling from Africa and have been doing a lot of fishing in the UK where I now live. ( Lincoln ). Caught a lot of good carp my pb being 23 lb. My son has 22lb Pike and has doubled on Trent Barbel 3 times in our first season. I missed my double by 3 ozs two days ago. You guessed it . Collingham. We, son and I , use modified rigs and keep it very simply. Feeding is at a minimum and I stick to one basic bait. As you say getting to the weir pegs is difficult and the closest we have been is peg five. Dont be fooled by the weir. We fished on Friday 27th Aug from 18.00 to 04.30 the next morning, a long way from the weir and got only 6 fish from 7 to 12 lbs. At one in the morning, I walked up to the weir and chatted to some chaps. They had caught one or two fish and they were in the prime zone (so called). Moral of the story is skill and perserverance. Not much action after 3.00am. I would rather fish all night for 6 Barbel than all day for 100 lbs Carp. I am searching the web and intend to master the art of Barbel catching. I believe that I can learn alot from English methods and conditions, and these can be adapted to Zimbabwean conditions. I have fished extensively in Zimbabwe and started slowly with Carp in England. Thus, I have maintained my sanity. See you at Colingham and as with you, I would like to fish peg one, to see for myself what the potential is.
    Tight lines

    Ps. should anyone read this – I would love to get in touch with an Angling Society or Club that operates in that area. Any suggestions..

    reply
    • Petemetcalfe1

      Mar 02, 2011

      Ive fished peg 3 at Collingham numerous times through the night and had sucess on hair-rigged sweetcorn more than pellets , cast into the middle and also found that smaller hooks seem to catch you more fish , Seem to catch more fish here than peg 1a and 1 during the night but dont get much action at all during daylight hours , Strange… Be carfull tho as are some very shallow areas and can loose fish on these . good luck n tight lines friend

      reply
  20. rizz

    Oct 30, 2010

    every one seams to forget about the embankment me and my mate lee have had loads of good fish.bream barble and lee had acarp over 25lb.and its free.

    reply
    • mick

      Nov 09, 2010

      I fished the embankment about a month ago, by the blue barge casting about a third across on meat and pellet, never had a bite.
      Like the venue though

      reply
  21. Stephenhillier

    May 07, 2011

    fish at newark(parnhams island )barble upto 19 pounds expect 20pounds + this year 2011

    reply
    • lee bennett

      May 17, 2011

      19lb barbel off parnhams island get real stephenhillier never seen it mate you cant even spell barbel tidal stretches only through up them size fish

      reply
      • Stephenhillier

        Dec 18, 2011

        lee thanks for the spelling lesson .Never heard  the word cant sounds rude to me did you mean can’t well lets hope you can fish better than you can spell.You may be correct about fish growing to this size only on tidal rivers, have you never seen a river in flood try and go out and do some winter fishing and look at the water levels.I wonder if fish swim in flooded rivers, i will have to find out and let you know.

      • Bennettlee1

        Feb 28, 2012

        ha ha like the banter steve,however i do fish collingham alot and seen it in flood but it has got to be tropical storm to get the river to go over that wier (the last point of the tidal trent) i think they do swim in floods because i have caught them there , you have no need to find out now done it for you pal good luck on bobs island for your 19lb pounder lee bennett

  22. Mellor-podge

    Jun 17, 2011

    SHAME THERE ISNT MANY PPL WHO CAN FISH THE RIVER TRENT

    reply
  23. Bnico1

    Jun 22, 2011

    Hi I’m going to the Trent this weekend at collingham is it worth trying there n if so what is the best peg and bait to use. How far would you cast out too???

    reply
  24. Bnico1

    Jun 23, 2011

    Hi I’m going to the Trent this weekend at collingham is it worth trying there n if so what is the best peg and bait to use. How far would you cast out too???

    reply
    • lee bennett

      Jun 29, 2011

      to bnicol try the pegs in the fifties and 150 to 156 i have had carp to 18lb and barbel to just under 13lb off these pegs and try peg 1and 1a at the wier if you can get on mind u your tax disc on your car will probley have expired waiting , the best bait i have found is pepperami , prawn boilies , and pellet and beware of the tide i have seen it rise over a meter no problem tight lines

      reply
  25. Barnsleyboy_ty

    Jul 09, 2011

    were bouts on the trent did you cath this barbel

    reply
  26. lee bennett

    Jul 13, 2011

    everyone dont be fooled by the stories of a 24lb barbel coming off the winthorpe stretch its just a gimmick to raise more coffers for the club the bailiff showed me the picture of this fish and how he kept a straight face is unbelievable if you do have a session there ask him to show you he carries them in his car with him..

    reply
  27. Dazmarsden

    Aug 03, 2011

    try winthorpe nr newark if u cant get a 10 pound barbel from there i would give up fishing. its been so good there this year. my 8yr old ad 1 just under 10

    reply
    • ken

      Aug 18, 2011

      could you give me dirctions from alfreton please thanks

      reply
  28. Dazmarsden

    Aug 03, 2011

    let me tell u that winthorpe as just gave my m8 a 15.6 lb barbel. only last week when we went.

    reply
  29. ken

    Aug 18, 2011

    how do you get there from alfreton

    reply
  30. George22

    Aug 22, 2011

    funny the barbel shown are from thrumpton and there aint no bream in the swims shown in the photos it certainly is not willington

    reply
  31. Darrenholland

    Sep 02, 2011

    does any one know where to get a permit to fish on the river trent near ratcliffe power station.

    reply
  32. Tim Moran

    Nov 21, 2011

    i fished 1a for five hours on saturday i arrived around 10 .30 to find the car park empty i fished for about 1 hour on peg 30 without a rap  then walked up and got in tight up to the wall on 1a fished while 4.30 had fourteen barbel to 9 pounds lost five to snags all on 8mm hali fed 2 and 4mm carp pellets through a 3 oz feeder my best spell was between 1 and 2 oclock when the warm sun was on the water just goes to show that you dont have to sit there all night to get a few fish when you are lucky enough to drop on the boss peg on your first visit to collingham in over twenty years ha ha

    reply
  33. Timgreen

    Dec 18, 2011

    The rivers Lugg and Teme, tributaries of the seven, have done fish too 26lbs to salmon anglers fishing worms in dirty water conditions.  So do not say that other anglers are exaggerating. 
    I have been on netting parties and caught Tench too twelve pounds, where they were were supposed not to  be present or even stocked. This was back in the 1977′s.  which were fished by excellent anglers some of them top names and they were shocked.  Barble and Tench are not the only species to do this.  If you knew Micky L like I have for thirty years, he caught the second biggest Pike at the time in England of 44lbs.02oz from a water that was not supposed to be able to do it. I was all in Anglers mail so years back so this should rest the case.   

     Spin-drift wizard  

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  34. john elko

    May 19, 2012

    read bout the 19lbr frm bobs island,perso dont believe it.know of a defo 18.1z thet came out the piscos stretch at rollestn just down from the greet mouth.know the lad hes gen,but sa the club rules state ya cant go public not guna get him in bover.march 1st,source, top trent bait,above the greets free fishing ,if ya can get in,sure its got fins,ada a few of there ova the years,end peg best nx to the bridge.no litter plz.tite lines.

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  35. steve pringle

    Jul 05, 2012

    Going to stay at Smeatons camp site, Aug 5,6,7th, never fished the Trent,never had a Barbel on moving water. Are the river pegs on the camp site worth a go? Hope to get on the weir at Collingham,any advise would be greatly apprechiated

    reply

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