2017 was the year that never got off the ground, well at least where my fishing was concerned anyway! Don’t get me wrong, I still managed a few sessions throughout the course of the year however they would have collectively totalled my usual monthly average time on the bank in years gone by.

It would be easy to say I couldn’t be bothered or was not motivated, but the truth of the matter is real life just took over. Sometimes you must cut your cloth accordingly, and when you have a family and busy job fishing was the sacrifice that had to be made. With a promotion at work, overseeing the opening of 2 restaurants, the birth of my daughter and a house move factored into the middle of it all, it’s easy to see why something had to give. That said I did have a few thoroughly enjoyable sessions on the bankside.

My new role at work sees me travelling around the Midlands on a regular basis and one of the places I regularly visit is West Bridgford on the outskirts of Nottingham, literally minutes from the Trent. As it stands, if you are a barbel angler and have a desire to catch big barbel, or indeed have a chance of a multiple catch of big barbel, then the Trent is the place to be.

I did a bit of research and found a local club that had plenty of water that also allowed night fishing. This fitted in with work perfectly, as I could finish work at the restaurant and head straight to the river for an overnighter before going home. The stretch I had chosen has a reputation of being tough, but when you do catch something then a really big barbel or river carp is a distinct possibility.

It was a few weeks before I could actually get on the bank and fish so when I did I intended to make the most of it and managed to persuade my good lady to let me off the leash for 2 nights! Usual fare on the Trent is rods pointing skywards on a tri-pod with a minimum of 6oz of lead whilst fishing out in the powerful flow mid-river. This is undoubtedly a very effective method of fishing the river but I much prefer a slightly more delicate and subtle approach.

I found myself looking at a swim with a nice crease line of walking pace water just 2 rod lengths out that had a large willow tree overhanging the water about 10 yards downstream. After a quick lead around I found that the bottom along the crease line was clear of streamer weed, about 8 feet deep and perfectly clean gravel. It screamed barbel and for me was the ideal run that a barbel or 2 may use as a patrol route.

At the start of my session I deposited 2 kilos of micro pellets and crushed fishmeal boilies along the crease line via a baitdropper. This may seem a lot of bait, but with large shoals of small silver fish and the fact that the majority of the bait was smaller than 3mm in size the bait would be dispersed quite quickly. I strategically base my barbel angling around large amount of attraction in the swim, but only 1 actual large food item, my hookbait. This gives me confidence that the only large item available to a hungry barbel is my hookbait and this normally means it’s likely to be picked up quite quickly once barbel are present.

One other thing worth mentioning regarding my Trent barbel fishing is my set up. The river is powerful, snaggy and the fish can be big, so with that in mind I tackle up accordingly. A leader made up of Camflex Leadfree fished helicopter style coupled with 15lb Pro Blend Light a 4oz lead, 25lb coated hook length and size 6 Wide Gape Talon Tip hook is robust to say the least, but it gives me confidence that when I hook a barbel I have a very good chance of landing it. In daylight I wouldn’t usually fish this heavy, but after dark it makes no difference. During the daylight hours I’ll just switch to a slightly lighter hook length and make it longer to keep it away from the obvious leader and large lead.

So how did the session pan out?

Well as expected with a large expanse of water and low stock it was slow going, with the first night and day not yielding a bite. At this point I questioned my sanity as I’m confident that had the barbel been present I would have caught one. However, being sure I was fishing a patrol route I was confident that I’d have a chance sooner or later.

Thankfully the second night was more productive. I lost a monstrous ‘thing’ that snapped my 15lb line like cotton! There was just nothing I could do and the general consensus among friends when I mentioned it on Facebook was I had hooked into one of the rivers catfish population. The rest of the night passed quietly however upon first light I had 2 bites in quick succession, resulting in barbel of 12.8 and 12.14. A fantastic brace and my first doubles from the venue. It had taken a while but the wait was worthwhile.

Another session that stood out was taking my 2 year old son on his first fishing trip. This was something I had been really looking forward to. On a bright summer day we made a picnic, put a few items of tackle in the car and headed off to a local commercial. The plan was simple, float fish corn or small pieces of diced meat to catch anything that was swimming. It was thoroughly enjoyable and hugely memorable few hours on the bank with a succession of small bream and carp to about 4lbs making their way to meet Riley. He was fascinated, although I’m not sure whether it was solely by the fish, or his stone throwing ability or sweetcorn consumption! Whichever it was I think it was deemed a success and hopefully this summer I’ll take him for his first overnight session. Wish me luck!

Now that we are well into 2018 and my life is a little more settled I fully intend to be on the bank a little bit more often. In fact I’ve managed 2 x 48-hour sessions at Linear Fisheries in the last few weeks. I’ve blanked both times in dreadful conditions, but they were thoroughly enjoyable sessions where I learnt a lot and it’s re-lit the fire making me want to be on the bank with a bit more regularity.