Tuesday 27 June 2017

French Barbel

" But best of all I love the barbels because they roll like big brown and white cats upon golden shallows and sing in the moonlight with the joie de vivre of June. And because, so, they are all Thames to me and wild rose time and streams running down from the weir "

Patrick Chalmers
At The Tail of the Weir

The Mighty Turdster said to me a few weeks ago he'd like to catch a barbel, a fish he'd never caught before. It's been ten years since I caught one too, so it seemed like a good idea. I looked on the internet at a few stretches of the Wye and Severn and then stumbled across a video of a very boring man catching loads of barbel on a beautiful French river.

It turned out to be the river Meuse in the Ardennes region of France and after a bit of further investigation I tracked down a B and B right on the banks of the river run by a bloke from Norfolk.
A phone call later and we were booked up for mid June.

Ade, the B and B owner, said it was a big, powerful river and recommended heavy gear. 15lb main line and long rods capable of throwing 3-5 oz feeders. I put my engineering head on and modified a sea fishing tripod with a little bit of help. See photo below. This ranks alongside the shelves I put up in 2014 as my greatest feat of DIY.

Sod's law prevailed and our trip coincided with boiling hot sunny weather with temperatures in the early 30s. Never mind, better than rain, although it was too hot ( for me anyway ) to fish in the middle of the day.

The first evening I managed to lose a couple of barbel and catch a load of bream. NeXt morning Turdster and me both got off the mark with two barbel each, not big fish, maybe 3-4lb, but a start.

It certainly is a beautiful area. The far bank is very heavily forested for miles. We saw three different types of buzzards, peregrine falcons, kingfishers and a wild boar bathing on the opposite bank.

A local French bloke we spoke to had caught carp to 45lb and cats to just under 100lb in the past few seasons, so there's some big fish there.

We managed, barbel, chub, dace and gudgeon, but there are roach, ide, sneep, pike and zander too.

On the last evening we went back to our favourite swims. I baited with half dozen big feeder fulls of sweetcorn, pellet and seed and left the swim to settle for half an hour. Turdy fished his swim straight away and was instantly into bream. A day or two ago he loved those bream but by now wasn't keen on them at all.

My first cast resulted in a screaming take and a barbel about 6lb ploughed up and down the swim before hitting the net. A few minutes later I was in again. This continued as the light faded and in that magical hour around dusk I managed six barbel, a nice chub and a few bream, as well as losing something big to a hook pull ( may have been a cat I think )

The Turdster had a couple of barbel and lots and lots of those lovely bream.

Considering the conditions we did pretty well I think. I'd like to fish it in the autumn when it's got a bit more flow and colour. We learnt plenty too and I've got the hunger back for freshwater fishing.

Another great trip.


  1. Engineered my arse. You and that fecking shelf.. sounds like you and the Turdster had a corking time. If not this autumn I'll do something similar with you next year. Retirement present to myself perhaps.

    1. You can't contain your jealousy about my DIY skills can you ? Yes, make thebtrip happen Wak. This autumn.

  2. Beautiful barbel. You need to try them on fly rod in Spain now! John