Passion For Barbel. 15/06/2021
I might have moved West, but I’m back East right now, plotting to film on the tidal Bure tomorrow as the season kicks off. It would not be my choice, but as my stepson says, it is what it is. My point is that I did fish in the East on the upper rivers all the winter just gone. What I found was that flood after flood, roach and chub were pushed out of everywhere they had been found as late as November. Terrific beats then proved to be totally fishless by the end of the season. No matter how hard I, and those around me, tried to relocate them, we did not come even close.
We all know that in the past dredging produced canalised rivers that rushed water to the sea, fish of all species being washed away in the process. The modern mantra runs that by allowing habitat to re-establish, there is enough refuge created for fish to shelter from the full force of the worst of all floods. My winter experiences mean I am not quite so sure about this as are the fishery scientists. My trips to the West during this period did nothing to set my mind at rest. The Wye and the Severn both flooded hugely for long periods and, to be honest, my heart is in my mouth as the new season breaks. Yes, I’ll be fishing here in Norfolk, but what my friends are doing back on the Wye will be equally on my mind.
I am heartened, however, by news of 'The Last Wensum Barbel Shoal'... yes, there is such a thing! The past three summers I have been aware of seven, sometimes eight, barbel that have inhabited a long, gravel run in the middle of nowhere. There they have been week in, week out, for three years and my source two days ago reassured me that they are still in residence. I’ve only fished for them once during all this time, and I won’t be doing so again. Nor as far as I am aware will anyone else. The stretch is unofficially sanctuary, off limits. Those last few fish can rest in peace and most importantly, perhaps spark a population revival. ( I have little doubt that if the fish were targeted and caught, the shoal would break up and hopes of repopulation would dissolve with the shoal.)
So there you go! I’m not all about bad news. I’ll include a couple of shots of the fish. They are hardly exhibition standard but you’ll get the gist.
And wherever you fish this wonderful June, may the barbel gods go with you!