Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary April 2012
Steve is still down under and, this month, reminiscing about Barbel Shows – and there is a terrific prize up for grabs for FishingMagic browsers.
“April come she will, when streams are ripe and swelled with rain”
Appropriate words from Simon and Garfunkel considering the recent weather in the UK heralding in what is surely the most barren month in the barbel anglers’ year.
The previous season has gone, filed away in the deeper recesses of our mind, a chapter now to help fill our ever increasing book of memories. The new season still seems just a little too distant at this time of year and I’m not one to wish the time away, each day is far too precious.
But as someone whose life is dominated by all things of a fishing nature, there is always time to think and reflect on barbel related matters. Uppermost in my mind is the Barbel Show which takes place at the Hinckley Island Hotel on Sunday 03 June.
The Barbel Society has been running these events for the past seventeen years and just about anyone who is anyone has graced the stage to entertain the many hundreds of people who have attended. This year the star attraction is just about the most well-known and respected angler in the country, none other than John Wilson himself. Apart from giving what will be an amazing presentation he will be around all day to chat, sign books and answer all your questions, you could always ask him why he laughs so much on screen!
Peter Wheat, who is an absolute legend, will also be in attendance all day and if you have never met this man, trust me you have missed out, he is a special person and when Peter takes the stage in the late afternoon to present the Gordon Scott award it is one of the highlights of the day.
Dave Harrell is another big name appearing this year, a hugely successful matchman Dave is now spreading his wings and will no doubt enthrall with his own personal approach to barbel fishing.
Phil Smith is a man who needs no introduction, one of the most respected big fish anglers in the country, whenever he talks people listen. He’ll be around all day as well. And then we have the two guys who make up The Avon Roach Project. Budgie and Trevor are truly inspirational and if you do not know what they are about then have a look at their website
There’s an adjacent room packed full of trade stands to delight and tempt you just before the start of a new season. It promises to be a memorable day, don’t forget it’s part of a long weekend thanks to our beloved Queen so make it a family day out, great value for just a tenner! There’s more information HERE and check out the competition at the end of this diary piece.
I have attended every one of the shows put on by the Barbel Society and it goes without saying I have lots of memories and stories, more than enough to fill a chapter in a book.
First of all the venue, it really is excellent, as central as you can get with easy motorway access and the facility to stay overnight, as I always do, and the Saturday nights have become the stuff of legend. But credit where it’s due and I have to thank NASA, the much missed National Association of Specialist Anglers, for drawing my attention to it.
I had been invited to give the opening address at a NASA conference which was being held at Hinckley, it was a day that left its mark in more ways than one. The gist of my talk was that the growing political pressure would probably see the demise of NASA as an organization, I was not wrong. My talk upset a few and I remember being hauled into an ante room to explain my actions – I stood by my every word. Time has moved on, the Barbel Society is still here running shows, NASA is now a distant memory.
Here’s a thought, I’m a firm believer that if you want to get the majority of anglers onboard anything political then you have to win their hearts and minds to reprise a well-used cliché. The angling world would surely rally towards a well-run show along the lines of the old NASA conferences but obviously brought bang up to date, perhaps this is something that our representative body, the voice of angling should consider?
The time is right and if the Barbel Society can put on a show every year for the past seventeen years, the pike and carp Anglers for a lot longer then surely the national organization can put one on for all. Mustn’t digress or get too controversial so back to some memories from the past barbel shows.
Like the time when we had Fred J. Taylor, Peter Stone and Peter Wheat on stage together reminiscing about the old days, it was an absolute joy and fortunately we captured the fantastic three on CD for all time. I’m just pleased to say I was there to witness a truly special occasion.
Chris Yates once held the audience spellbound as he recalled the time he was involved in a gudgeon catching contest, magical stuff from a magical man. Matt Hayes receiving an ovation when he expressed his concerns at the way barbel fishing was heading still sticks in my mind as does the sight of Martin James resplendent in full Isaac Walton costume and Des Taylor bringing the house down; there have been so many outstanding moments.
But for me the one that made the most impact and will stay with me forever was watching Peter Stone make an impassioned plea for the retention of the close season at the time when it was under threat and when his own health was failing, anyone there could not have failed to be moved by Peter’s oratory.
So many special times and there will be more to come I’m sure.
While I’ve been spending some time looking back, I’ve also been looking forward and the new season is all set to be my busiest yet.
My diary has very few empty days from the beginning of July till the end of October. I have trips planned for the Wye, Teme, Severn, Kennet and Avon and I’m really looking forward to the Wye Valley Experience that I’m involved in with Bob Roberts. Lots of new venues, new ideas and new baits that hopefully will produce thousands of words and many photo’s to share with you on here.
I had expected to be back in the UK at Easter, the flights were booked and I was ready to return, but plans have changed. I’m still needed here in Sydney to lend a helping hand as grandad and I won’t now be back on home turf until the end of May – just in time for the Barbel Show!
So my next Diary piece will also be coming to you from Sydney and I should be in a position then to tell you more about the scene over here, there’s much to learn and I’ve even joined the fishing forums to see if I can get on the fast track!
A few days ago I did have an interesting encounter while fishing with my new buddy over here, Big Geordie John or ‘Snatcher’ to his fishing mates. John is here for much the same reasons as me and we’ve struck up quite a friendship; neither of us can understand a word the other says so we just nod in agreement and have developed our own language. I find myself saying canny quite often and I never ever mention mackams!
Now Snatcher is an accomplished sea angler back in England and on his trips to Australia he has been logging all the different species he has caught here, there are many hundreds to go at down under! Surprisingly he had yet to capture a flathead and as I had managed a couple from the rocks at the back of the house I invited him over to have a try and hopefully tick another species off the list.
We spent a couple of hours casting plastics and squid baits but all to no avail and I decided it was time to nip up to the house for a mini break, no sooner was I indoors when the phone rang, it was John telling me to get back quick because he was into something that was pulling pretty hard!
Two minutes later and I was down on the rocks next to John who was not kidding me, he was firmly attached to something that was putting up a solid resistance without making darting runs. Eventually the pressure told and when it eventually broke surface we both couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing, a bloomin’ great turtle hooked fair and square.
Luckily I had a net but it was hardly big enough, and I have to admit it was one of the more challenging moments I’ve ever experienced in landing…a reptile!
I extracted the hook with the help of John’s pliers and I can happily report that this awesome creature was returned quite safely and swam away none the worse for wear. These things can grow up to five feet long and weigh 700lb, luckily for John and me this was a comparative baby, although you can see from the photos it was still a fair handful!
John became an overnight local celebrity, news of his strange catch reached the daily paper and his picture and tale became a major story, it’s not every day of the week a Geordie catches a turtle from the rocks off Manly!
I’m hoping to catch up with my expat carp fishing pal again next week and we will be planning a trip for the Murray cod but that will have to wait until next year, in the meantime I’m hoping for a couple of twenty pound river carp.
It’s a topsy-turvy world here down under, redfins, our perch, are a class 1 noxious species and must be exterminated. Cod are not a fish you buy at the chippie with a bag of chips, oh no, they are revered, are iconic and just about the biggest freshwater species you’ll see in these parts. Bass you find in the rivers and estuary perch, well they are in saline environs, golden perch are the ones that live further inland and in billabongs.
It’s all very confusing, so much to learn and do and so little time!
Next time I’ll be talking about fishos, yabbies and hook ups, I do love the Aussie take on fishing, for them it’s all about a lifestyle, for most in the UK it’s a hobby. For me? It’s a way of life and as they say down here, it’s all good!
This is open to everyone who visits the FishingMagic website.
Just purchase a ticket for The Barbel Show and mention FishingMagic and you will go into a draw to win a fully guided fishing day with me that will also include a full write up with lots of photos here on FishingMagic later in the year.
Just email me at email@example.com saying you have bought a ticket after reading about it here on FishingMagic and you will be in with a chance of winning.
That’s it for now; see you at the Barbel Show on June 3rd.
By the Same Author
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: April 2013
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: February 2013
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: January 2013
- Barbel Fishing - The Wye Valley Experience 2013
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: December 2012
- Barbel Fishing - The Pope's River Diary: November 2012
- Barbel Fishing - The Pope’s River Diary: October 2012
- Barbel Fishing - The Pope's River Diary: September 2012
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: August