Barbel spawning

whitty

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I went for a walk along the river Ivel yesterday,took a box of pellets,but hoped to see barbel spawning,well I did,sadly there were only three of them,all around 5/6lbs,it was lovely to watch them cavort around,breaking for a moment for an obvious male to chase the chub off,where are the others,have they survived,or have they still to join the party,or have they left it early. Anyway I fed a fair few chub,some looking around 6lbs or so,all very nice.
 

The bad one

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I'd have thought the party hasn't got underway as yet, barbel being one of the last riverine species to spawn.
For Bills to start spawning (shedding eggs not just chasing one another) the water temperature needs to reach 14 C and/or above.
I'd doubt the water temperature has reach the lower threshold yet Alan. Therefore I'd say the fish you saw were the early arrivals mate.
 

whitty

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Possibly Phil,I've popped up there again today,one of the fish was still there(the chub chaser),but today there were four much smaller barbel present,the smallest which was 6-8ozs was thrashing at the gravel,delusions of grandeur from the little hussie I think,can't possibly be old enough to spawn yet,the bigger fish must be holding station close by,if they are there...
 

fishface1

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Normally the smaller male fish turn up first and the ladies arrive once the temperature is right.... keep an eye on the spot, the larger ladies won’t be far behind.
 

Weirdoh

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I have been able to film Barbel spawning below a weir from a bridge and it never ceases to amaze me how little effort is needed by them to hold a position in strong current. Lovely to watch them preoccupied so much they are not bothered by me, a vulnerability by trust.
 
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theartist

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I went for a walk along the river Ivel yesterday,took a box of pellets,but hoped to see barbel spawning,well I did,sadly there were only three of them,all around 5/6lbs,
Do you remember when they were upper doubles and even the odd lower twenty? Like dogs they were back in the day
 

s63

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I have been able to film Barbel spawning below a weir from a bridge and it never ceases to amaze me how little effort is needed by them to hold a position in strong current. Lovely to watch them preoccupied so much they are not bothered by me, a vulnerability by trust.
That would be a fascinating watch, please share.
 

whitty

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Do you remember when they were upper doubles and even the odd lower twenty? Like dogs they were back in the day
I do indeed,to my knowledge last season had one big fish fish out(15lbs),I saw three doubles(11-13lbs),but every year the bigger fish get predated,I was fortunate to have the big fish in 2012 at 18lbs exactly,the fish had an abnormality on its pec,chub numbers are fair,but with low water conditions and predation the average sizes are down and if you walk the river today most fish look between 1.8 & 3.8lbs,with far less fish over the 4-8 mark....a bit like the river was when I first fished it twenty plus years ago. Today the river is hardly worth the effort of barbel fishing,as numbers are low,had one in three trips last year,with the fish i had (9-14) being taken first cast and it wasn't worth fishing on after that as I'd spooked the hell out of the other two barbel in the swim.
 
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whitty

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Been again today,only saw one barbel and then only for a moment,the chub however we're chasing each other around on the shallows...
 

Jim Crosskey 2

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Alan - I do wonder sometimes if barbel populations, particularly in smaller rivers, have a habit of being a little bit boom or bust? It seems like sometimes there's populations where you get good numbers of much smaller fish in shoals, say mostly between 2 and 4 pounds (where if you caught a 7 pounder you would have had a proper specimen!).... then as the years tick by, that population gradually becomes a slightly smaller number of larger fish, where those 7 pounders become the norm and low doubles are the bigger fish... then a shift occurs again where 8 or 9 pounds becomes the smallest around and mid to even high doubles become common... however, those older fish are ironically now at their most vulnerable, because both predation and old age are knocking on the door. The weird thing is that whilst those big fish are in their pomp, there seems to be a real shortage of lower year classes behind them... but one they get cleared out, gradually a new head of fish start to establish themselves.

I should point out that this is an entirely anecdotal observation and I have no science whatsoever to back it up! Just what I've observed on the thames and some tribs. All of that aside, the rivers around my way are visibly not the prime barbel habitat that they once were (I'm thinking here particularly of rivers like the thame and the windrush) so I don't think they'll ever support the same numbers again. However, it is a fact that I've heard confirmed reports (and had catches myself) from rivers recently where four or five years ago, anyone you asked would have told you that the barbel had all gone.

All that said, it's still not sufficient to stop me from making a couple of pilgrimages every year to the river wye, where I can realistically expect to catch a barbel on pretty much every trip!
 

whitty

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I've said this before,but the Ivel had good numbers of barbel,between 3/4lbs and upper doubles,with obvious year classes,with decent numbers of each,then the otter hit the stretch,which is not enormous,maybe a mile tops(the rest not being as barbelly),within around 4/5 years the population was decimated and with the EA stocking smallish fish in trying to cover up the damage to what was the apple of their eye,most fish that are seen are stockies,they used to successfully spawn because kids used to catch gudgeon sized ones on the shallows below the weir,I just think that otters deplete barbel severely on small rivers,for whatever reasons,the Ivel in many spots only had small areas where they lived,easy targets in afraid.
 

theartist

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A lot of the boom and bust is down to stockings too, when Barbel fishing got big in the 90/00s it seemed they were popping up everywhere and in some pretty random rivers so maybe they are now finding their natural level? On my local rivers everyone seemed to be targeting them and a new type of angler was seen on the banks as opposed to when chub were the main quarry. Barbel are easy to catch and can suffer from poor handling more than some other species. It would be horrible if some missing recruitment years were down to late breeding where the spawning has been affected by poor fishing, of course there is no proof of this but it's possible, add to that poor flow levels and too much silt in the gravels, which some clubs are countering now by pumping the gravel clean with hoses.

More questions than answers but many of these rivers have suffered so badly due to abstraction in the last thirty years and that's something there's no denying. If you throw in proven cases of otters and poachers then the assumption would be that the distribution of barbel will never be at the levels they were at 20 years ago
 

whitty

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Rob,I've fished the Trent,Severn,Gt.Ouse,Kennet,Lea when they boomed,at different times,I remember the ivel fish going in and the Ouse,in fact I was at Biggleswade,Radwell,Sharnbrook and Milton Earnest the days they went in,I remember how long it took for them to start coming out on these venues,sadly I seen these venues become a shadow of their former selves,unless all you want is a handful of barbel a year with the chance of a monster,me,I'd rather have fair populations of average fish...
 

theartist

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Rob,I've fished the Trent,Severn,Gt.Ouse,Kennet,Lea when they boomed,at different times,I remember the ivel fish going in and the Ouse,in fact I was at Biggleswade,Radwell,Sharnbrook and Milton Earnest the days they went in,I remember how long it took for them to start coming out on these venues,sadly I seen these venues become a shadow of their former selves,unless all you want is a handful of barbel a year with the chance of a monster,me,I'd rather have fair populations of average fish...
I feel for you as know the Ouse and Ivel well and despite what others have said on the matter in previous discussions both you and I know the main cause of these rivers demise as Barbel waters, sure they became a bit of a circus when the big fish were coming out but now they have gone totally the opposite way, I too would have liked some middle ground regarding natural stock surviving in healthy numbers rather than just the odd fish here and there.

I would say that's nature but it was man's meddling that's caused both the ups and the downs in those rivers
 
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