When Pat Gillett isn’t in France fishing for carp you’ll find him bankside at a number of English rivers. Here’s his September diary so far…

Tuesday 2nd September – Upper Trent

Back to a stretch I had not fished since the start of the season. Once again I wanted a swim which was flat and not very far to walk. I found a lovely looking area on the inside of a bend with a good depth and flow, and judging by all the bull rushes, a nice clean gravelly bottom. The only thing that concerned me was the lack of streamer weed. I am sure this is one of the biggest factors with the rivers being so clear at the moment.

Even with the river being so low, it soon became apparent that the amount of loose weed coming downstream was going to be a pain. I was forced to use 6oz to hold just a third of the way out.

It was a really warm and bright start to the evening which saw my old mate Geoff Dace catch a tiny barbel of about 12oz. Now as daft as it sounds, fish of this size are much rarer than ‘doubles’ from the area’s we fish!

barbel fishing in england diary

A very rare capture!

Come darkness and it clouded over and there was no moon, it was warm as well and so was a perfect evening for barbel fishing.

I ended up with a chublet of about 3oz and Geoff never added to his small barbel. With the conditions we had and the utmost confidence I have in  my bait and methods, I can only conclude there were no barbel in my swim. But that’s the chance you take when you keep on trying new areas!

barbel fishing in the uk

Geoff fishing in the late afternoon sunshine

Thursday 4th September

This was a really nice evening on the Derwent with my old mate Geoff Dace . The river was still really low and clear and so I opted for a swim with plenty of streamer weed for cover.

Starting at about 4.45pm it was bright and sunny but as soon as it got dark the atmospheric conditions were spot on – overcast, dark and humid. I had my first barbel at about 8.15pm, a lovely fish of 11lb 1oz and my last one at 11pm just as I was packing up.

barbel fishing in the uk

First fish of the evening

I ended up with barbel of 7lb 8oz, 9lb, 10lb 5oz and 11lb 1oz and judging by the amount of knocks and pulls I was getting, I would have caught a fair few more if we had stopped for another couple of hours.

To keep the fish interested, I fed a small ball of feeder mix about every 30 minutes and half a dozen half boilies about every 15 minutes. All my fish falling for the Quest Baits Special Crab fished with the usual feeder mix. At around 10.30pm Geoff ended his recent barren spell with a cracker of 13lb 8oz. Nice one mate! This one fell to the Quest Baits Absolute Seafood.

barbel river fishing in england

Geoff’s cracker at 13lb 8oz!

So two sessions using exactly the same baits in exactly the same ideal weather conditions but with two totally different results!

Monday 15th September- River Derwent

After a long break to rest my bad back and bruised ribs it was back to the Derwent for another short afternoon / evening trip. The river is now has low has I have seen it and painfully clear and with the bright sun, conditions couldn’t really have been much worse for barbel! With this it mind I chose to fish the area that produced four barbel on my last trip.

I was fishing for about 4.45pm and adopted the same feeding policy has mentioned above. This has now become my standard ‘go to method’, has it really does seem to work anywhere. Anyway the river was very quite, but at least the sky had clouded over as it got dark, so I was much more confident that something would happen. At about 8.30pm I had my first bite on the downstream rod but unfortunately this came off straight away. This came to the rod on the Special Crab.

I added a bit more bait and about 15 minutes later, this rod was off again. A chunky barbel of 12lb 2oz was the culprit and as usual it bought up a very powerful fight.

river fishing derwent diary

12lb 2oz, the first of a tremendous brace!

Within 90 minutes the upstream rod was away, this time on the Absolute Seafood. This time the fight was quite strange, with none of the real powerful runs that these Derwent fish can make. It was just slow and hugging the bottom and I thought I may have hooked a carp. After a few minutes I had got the fish to the surface and could clearly see that it was a barbel and indeed a big one. I has I got it closer to the net I thought it was the river record fish I had caught last season. But on the landing it this fish was ‘bigger’, it was longer but had no belly, the tail was huge and the pectoral fins were has big has my hands! The scales said 15lbs exactly, but I reckon with it’s length it would have been closer to 18lbs if it had the girth of some of the other Derwent fish.

derwent river fishing diary

15lb 0oz, the second of a tremendous brace! The pictures don’t really do it justice.

river fishing diary tips

And the other side.

It was a really mild night (16 deg C) but I packed up after this fish even though I reckon I would have caught another one. I have never been greedy and was more than happy with what I had achieved.

Wednesday 17th September – Upper Trent

Again it was a perfect night weather wise, warm, overcast and really dark. But this trip was like ‘chalk and cheese’  compared to the last one. I never had a sniff in about 6 hours of fishing.

There was loads of weed coming downstream with the rods being bent double within 5 mins even though the level was a paltry 0.89m.  It was one of those trips which left me wondering ‘Why do I fish the Upper Trent so much’? The fishing conditions are often really difficult and the barbel are generally not quite as big as the Derwent and Dove.

There is more than one answer to the above question. There is the superb isolation (you never usually see anybody), they are ‘truly wild fish’ not known or named and to catch a big one is one of my biggest goals left in angling now.

Wednesday 24th September – River Derwent

Well this evening was like being in a different country to the previous couple of trips with a strong cold North wind .  I missed an absolute screamer at 7.00pm, I had just reached round to grab my torch from my rucksack when the bait runner started really motoring. It really makes you wonder sometimes, the only thing I could come up with was that some silk weed was on the hook, which ‘may’ have stopped it penetrating the barbels rubbery mouth properly.

It  then turned into a bright and cold evening and with loads of dew. Again not great conditions. I changed the bait on the downstream rod to the special crab and paste combination (about 10pm) and just 15 minutes later was rewarded with another nice barbel of 12Lb 1oz. Did the change of bait make a difference? Who knows, but I hadn’t had a tap since 7pm. I packed up after taking some trophy shots.

river fishing tips and tactics

12lb 1oz – just 15 minutes after a change of bait.

Friday 26th September – River Dove

I really had never seen the Dove so low and clear, you could actually see the bottom half way across in 5ft of water. For some reason there was loads of silk weed being washed downstream, making fishing very difficult. A barbel of about 7lb on the Absolute seafood, saved a blank, on what was another very cold clear evening.

We really are in desperate need of some rain (and colour) to get  the barbel moving properly. The only problem is that the rivers haven’t had any significant flush through’s this season, so the conditions will more than likely be really difficult after the first heavy rains has there will be loads of weed and other debris being washed downstream.

So only approximately 30 hours spent on the river bank in September, but some cracking fish caught, that once again ‘backs up’ the reputation of the Quest range in barbel fishing!

Pat Gillett
Courtesy of the Quest Baits blog


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