Friday 28 September 2018

Warwickshire Avon - Big Barbel, Baboonery and Bass-bins

"Dad, turn the volume up !!!"

Sam nodding his head to a psytrance mix with annoying beats of repetitiveness, the Wife rolling her eyes.

"We'll take my car next time !!!"

A recent trip to Ibiza to Pacha with Sven Väth and Solomun playing loud progressive beats boarding on techno pace confirmed my love of the genre and the sound system in Pacha similar to Twilo in New York, you could get a full body massage just standing a couple of feet from the speaker.

I wonder if little Sam will be in to low frequencies and the volume of air movement that goes with the territory like I was, even though he's only 6 years old he wants me to take him to the White Isle.

The second car I bought when I was a youth was a Storm Gray Metro Gti and it was kitted out with some decent kit, but then looking back it was probably why it ended up being nicked and stripped of it's sound system of ridiculous proportions.

I had money to burn at the time, that was the problem and ICE got addictive, it really did. My brother was the same until a MDF parcel shelf he fashioned-up with two 12" drivers mounted underneath, however when they nearly decapitated him when he had to make an emergency stop and it became dislodged. 

Those quickly went for obviously reasons, and he like me replaced it with something boot mounted that could be easily restrained .It basically matched the booming heart of my system at the time, a homemade and calculated dual bandpass enclosure that housed a 12" Cerwin Vega woofer and in addition I also had 6X9" drivers in the rear quarter panels covered in acoustic cloth for disguise.

The amount of air it shifted literally took your breath away, those mix tapes I used to make and the electronic music I used to fashion up had a medium that showed the frequencies off down to the lower ones you can feel rather than heard. 

I suppose the problem was, ok on a plus point my Mum and Dad knew I was arriving for Sunday dinner a good mile down the road, but being so loud, the local toerags knew despite me hiding everything out of sight it wasn't rocket science that I had something special that they wanted. To be fair I enjoyed it for a good while before that fateful day that still lives with me till this day. 

Yeap, it was nicked !!!!

Not only was the whole system stripped but the car was found abandoned in a school car park in Birmingham after it has been ragged and raced to it's eventual death. No reverse gear, a misfiring engine and despite me driving like I stole it from time to time, exploring it's lift off oversteer moments a little too frequently, I never managed to kill it like they did. With 99k miles on the clock it was still driving as well as it came out of the factory, it was my pride and joy, it really was. 

The amp required to drive something like this was a quarter the price of the car, and obviously the wiring has to be upgraded to deliver the current the system required.

Looking back it was madness, not only the amount of money I spent but also how loud I used to have it. It was a hobby after all though, and be suspicious those that don't have hobbies, because everyone needs an interest of some sort. 

For this short session of my current pastime I was back out with the big hitters. I decided to venture down to the lower reaches of this particular stretch that I know does contain some nice Barbel and I'd not fished for a while. I don't fish for them that often but at least I know they are there. So the plan was to fish this particular area I had earmarked with a big bait. A huge piece of GARLIC spam would be positioned in the swim and I'd sit back and wait. I find it difficult doing this as I'm a roving angler at heart, but sometimes needs must.

I managed to track some down on Ebay and now have 7 tins of the discontinued proven Barbel catcher. Should last me to the end of the season anyway, jobs a good'un. Fishing is all about confidence and I'm as confident using this for Barbel more than any other bait. 

Now like an ample blossomed lady walking through a packed Nanjing Road in Shanghai, a bait this big is a veritable head turner and something a little different than the humdrum, a crowd stopper so to speak and often can get a bite when another bait would be ignored. The large hook is pulled through the meat with a large baiting needle, turned 90 degrees so it grips one side of the meat. Although spam is relatively tough, it's not when you need to get a line and hook through it when a fish picks it up.

The official car-park was full which services the pegs I wanted to fish so I had to drive to a car-park much further away and walk down. It's a decent walk too and after passing quite a few other anglers on-route I thought I was wasting my time. Luckily the area I had earmarked was free so I settled in the downstream peg and got set-up, you know me, I like to plan ahead so if I couldn't fish where I had intend to, then I'd have probably gone home. 

Anyway the sun was beating down and after an hour without a bite it was becoming uncomfortable, so after a wander to the next peg up to try and seek some shade, I decided to move. 

The swim just looked right, I got that feeling that us anglers get when we know, yeap, fish would like it here. There was a much better pace here, downstream is much deeper where the waters have carved out the bottom, but although shallower which probably doesn't suit a big fish, there was a clear visible crease which looked ideal to place the bait. I use a centerpin in the main for my Barbel fishing and casting of any ain't all that, but this was in clear reach of the Wallis cast I use. 

With the bait positioned I sat back to enjoy the peace. I often turn up an hour before dusk for my Barbel sessions so after another 45 minutes went by without a nibble I knew this hour left when the sun starts to go down will be make or break. It was an odd sunset, the sky opposite was a muted orange haze and behind me the broken cloud made it a visual treat. Fish started to top, the rod top now having the odd tremble where small fish start to attack the bait. 

Dusk, or the end of civil twilight according to my app was 19.28 so I needed to be off before 8.00pm, with the long walk back I thought I was on for a blank, but then things got interesting with the fast countdown dusk. The odd tremble turned in to a pull, then another, and another, and an inch pull turned in to a foot, and them, Whammmmmmmmmm !!!!!! the bite is ridiculous the centerpin ratchet caught off guard.

A fish is on !!!!!!!!!

It powered off downstream and was staying low and I knew instantly it was a BIG Barbel, It was hope and hold for the first run that the hook didn't pull as I had to use both hands to try and restrain it, but eventually I felt like I was getting on top of it. I managed to turn the fish and was teasing it upstream without rushing it. It was staying low but then as it got closer it broke the surface and I saw the size of the fish, it was massive. It went on another run that needed abating but then like a lot of big Barbel do it put it's fins up and decided that I was on top.

Turned again and headed towards me it's head comes out the water and I safely netted it. Letting it rest for a while I punched the air in celebration with a big "YES !!!!" A quick look at my watch, 19.25 so down to the wire as I'd be packing up now looking at a blank if I hadn't had this fish. That's fishing for you though, and why we love it.

So after resting it and packing up I've not lifted it out the water, on the mat I'm now looking at the biggest Barbel I've ever seen. I've a dedicated Barbel weigh-sling which fitted like a glove. 

So the scales go 12lb and 6 oz's and I've smashed my PB, "Go on my Son !!!"

Looking back at the photos quite a distinctive fish in a couple of places so hopefully we will meet again when it's got it's winter coat on . Now the front camera on the iPhone has had a software update recently where the screen goes bright white and glows when the photo is taken but I wasn't happy with it, so outcomes the stupidly bright LED portable floodlight that Danny has seen in operation for a better low light shot albeit it makes the sky appear black in most of the shot, still light left if you look at the left of the pic. Problem it's probably a little to bright hence the glow, oh well, hopefully a better pic next time I catch it.

I love it when a plan comes together !!!!


  1. Yessss!!!!! Mick. Seeking some solitude away from the madding crowd paid off big time,I'm very pleased for you,I can detect a sort of stunned happiness on your expression. She's a cracker,well angled. A spring in your step today no doubt.

    1. I have indeed Mark, I've had a great season so far and the best months to come as well !!!!

  2. Well done Mick , one Saturday morning in the 90’s my friends and me left crunch night club in Birmingham and headed for his XR2 .. only the car was gone ! The funny thing was they took his stereo out and left it on the road where the car was 🤣🤣🤣

    1. LOL !!! great looking car the XR2 we were youths in a good era looking back, 2018 is so different, and not in a good way either.

  3. Fantastic fish, congratulations on your new PB!


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