Barbel Fishing Q and A

What are the best barbel baits?

In match-fishing waters, maggots are often best. On waters such as the Kennet or Avon anglers favour sausage meat, meat loaf, raw meat, or perhaps crayfish, a worm or a minnow. Cheese has always been successful, so too has bread paste flavoured with cheese. For float fishing try wheat, sweetcorn or hemp. And use groundbait ‘little and often’.

Why do barbel often get so tangled in a keepnet?

The barbel’s heavily serrated first dorsal spine often gets caught in open mesh. The fish twists and turns in an attempt to free the spine and the tangle worsens. Take care not to damage the spine in freeing it: better still, use a mini-mesh net and don’t leave your barbel inside it too long.

When returned to the water, why do barbel so often float away belly-up?

Even when a barbel is returned immediately after unhooking, this often happens. It’s a sign that during your battle to land the fish, or more probably while being unhooked, it has taken too much air into its swimbladder, upsetting its balance in the water. The problem is made worse by the species’ stubborn struggle: it rarely comes to net until it is exhausted, and takes time to recover. To save a barbel from this fate, support it the right way up in sluggish water, its snout upstream, until it recovers. With no current to whisk it away, it can simply lie on the bottom to recover.