Bob Roberts’ angling notes: Target deep water on Trent if you’re after beautiful barbel

Bob Roberts with Trent Barbel
Bob Roberts with Trent Barbel

As a kid growing up I’m sure the summers were longer and the winters far harder. 

It might be my memory playing tricks but I certainly remember the beautiful ice patterns on the inside of my bedroom window each morning and seeing an inch of frozen cream protruding from the tops of milk bottles in those far off days when schoolchildren enjoyed free milk at playtime.

We are currently in a spell of remarkably mild temperatures, especially when you consider Christmas adverts have been playing on TV for at least a fortnight and although the Trent is still at summer levels and running crystal clear specimen barbel are still feeding well and are packing on weight ready for the winter ahead.

In a normal November barbel tend to become crepuscular, which means they are more active at night, reluctant to feed much before the sun sets with the first few hours of darkness being peak feeding time. This year things are late and big fish are still being caught during daylight hours. An added bonus is that the river banks are practically empty.

If you fancy taking advantage of the mild spell we’re enjoying then you’ll need to adapt your tactics to the conditions. The water temperature is dipping below 10 degrees Centigrade so choose a bait that is easier for the fish to digest. Leave the usual boilies and pellets at home. You need nothing more complicated than maggots or casters.

Swim choice is important as the fish are beginning to shoal up. You can safely ignore the shallows and target the deeper water but only if it has flow. On arrival, cast out a lead and drag it along the bottom to feel whether you are on silt or clean gravel. Avoid the silty areas at all costs.

Tactically the fish are now much more cautious than they were in the summer so scale down your end tackle. A strong forged size 14 hook tied to 6lb line will land any barbel that swims providing you take your time.

Make sure the drag is not set too tight on your reel and make sure you cast accurately.

Re-cast a maggot feeder every ten minutes or so to keep a stream of bait trickling through the swim and you will be in with a great chance of success.