Friday, 31 August 2012

River Soar barbel - in search of something special

After having a couple of good weeks barbel fishing on the River Derwent I felt ready for a change, the fact is I'm not used to such productive angling as the Derwent can provide. Don't get me wrong I'm certainly not complaining but the average size on the Derwent is I guess 7lb's or so and while you are catching smaller fish you aint catching the big ones. My conclusion was that I was probably more likely to catch a better average size on the River Soar plus I would dearly love a real big girl from my own river and so the Derwent was put on the back burner for a while.

So the old Soar, my stomping ground for the best part of thirty years and I love it. I've seen the river change dramatically over the years, as kids the hoards of gudgeon for which the river was famed were our staple, the occasional chub was our top prize, these topped out at not a lot more than two pounds in weight, and now and then a few perch would brighten the day. My favourite memory of the river long gone was my first attempt at fishing hemp seed for roach. Sitting on the concrete wall of a weirpool and running a stick float through the foam crusted run off I soon realised that to hit the lightning fast bites I had to keep the line between rod and float under close control and once I'd sorted that out I got into roach like I had never seen. In fact up to maybe two or three years ago a fish I caught that day at a pound and six ounces still stood as my biggest ever, an ancient looking creature, scales tinged with amber telling the story of a long life.

Now just memories
But as for barbel they were an unknown, the river authority made a number of stockings from Calverton fish farm in I would guess the late 1980's, in fact we recently found out that a further stocking was made within the last year or two, strange that the controlling club wasn't consulted, not that we would complain of course. My first experience of these fish was one opening day when along with my Dad I waded out to fish from a mid river island, amongst the bag of chub and bits we caught three barbel of maybe a couple of pounds or so, we'd never even seen the species before but certainly knew when we hooked them as we had to wade down the rapids to net then after their initial blistering run.

Soar babies, unfortunately we knew nothing of the risks of barbel in keepnets back then

Not long after that episode my fishing turned almost exclusively to carp and River Soar barbel were forgotten until around 2005 when I started to take an interest in other species again and started to dabble for the species. I started to catch the odd barbel here and there mostly on conventional quiver tipping gear with corn or worm until I started to consider the constant disturbance from hooking other fish to be detrimental and turned to boilie and pellet on long hair rigs which were considerably more selective. My catch rate increased and I started to venture into areas of the river new to me, I had taken a number of fish around 8lb's in weight and was happy with that, I had no expectation, or even hope of a double figure fish to be honest. And then on one dark September night I netted a fish that left me totally shocked, at 11lb 11oz it was a fish that I didn't even begin to imagine lived in the river and it really fired my interest up.

11lb 11oz, the one we came to know as the scar fish

Since that time a fair few more Soar doubles have come to my net with the biggest an ounce short of thirteen pounds, the river is really starting to come into it's own now and I personally know of quite a few different fish in excess of that weight spread far and wide along the rivers length and no doubt there are more that remain uncaught or unreported, and they are the ones that really interest me. I don't plan on spending too much time in their pursuit, after all if I followed my plan I would be carp and bream fishing now, but it is a very interesting sideline and one that I enjoy so we shall see.

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