Chub are to barbel what bream are to carp (barbel article)

Anyone who fishes for either barbel or carp on a regular basis will know exactly what I’m talking about. How many times has the carp angler been woken in the middle of the night by the sound of his bite alarm going off, only to have his excitement quickly dampened to discover a bream on the other end of the line? Likewise for the barbel angler – after many hours of patiently watching his lifeless rod tip, he is suddenly striking into a fish, only to encounter a chub instead of his target species.

Both the above scenarios have happened to me many times. But the difference between many other anglers and myself is that I’m actually not bothered about catching other species. Certainly the prospect of being woken at 2.00 am by a 10lb bream instead of a 20lb carp, is one I don’t mind one bit! And as for catching the recent 5lb 8oz chub whilst after barbel on the lower Severn, well, I can actually say I was not in the least disappointed.

And so it was on the first session I am writing about this week. Although it was another lower Severn barbel trip, the fish were not playing the game. Even though my previous fish on the river was 12lb 10oz, on this occasion they were having none of it. It was just one of those nights. For as much as some anglers talk about inducing fish to feed, I believe that there are times when no matter what we do, we are destined to blank.

Well, it wasn’t quite a blank as I did manage a chub! And that fish, taken early on in the session, proved to be the only one. Although there were numerous fish crashing all over the river at various times during the night, none of them wanted to know as far as taking my hook bait was concerned.

In eleven sessions on the lower Severn so far this season, I’ve yet to have a blank. But that is due, in many ways, to the chub, as there have been two occasions when only that species obliged. They are certainly there in both quantity and quality this season. And as I’ve already referred to in my writings in the last few weeks, I do intend to have a session or two for chub once winter draws in.

As I’ve been doing regular visits to the river below Worcester in recent weeks, I’ve noticed the hand-over from late summer to autumn. Many things happen in nature as the year inevitably wears on, but none is more noticeable than the trees, as they go through a definite change.


Some trees do little more than shed their leaves, who in themselves do nothing other than go from green to a dull brown. But other trees seem determined to go out in a literal blaze of glory and do their utmost to put on a show for all to see. Hence I couldn’t resist stopping the car and taking a photograph of a particular group of trees that really caught my eye. This is what angling is all about, it’s more than just catching fish but about enjoying and appreciating the whole spectrum of nature.

For my second session of the week, I decided to return again to south Worcestershire in pursuit of barbel. As the light levels are lower compared to summer, fish can now be caught in the day, even when the river is relatively low and clear. And so it was, within a few minutes of casting out in late afternoon, I caught a barbel, albeit a baby at just 3lb 5oz.

A number of chub pulls followed this fish, but at 9.00 p.m. on the dot, I was into another barbel. This fish was much bigger, although still relatively small compared to what lurks in the lower Severn. At 6lb 14oz, it put up more resistance than its little brother I had caught earlier in the session. But it still fell in the ‘below 7lb’ category, where I put the smaller fish in my angling log.

But, as the title of this article suggests, it wouldn’t be real barbel fishing without the odd chub or two, and so it was! This one was another quality fish, one that weighed in at 5lb 2oz. I keep very detailed records of all my fishing trips and I was wondering how many of my best chub have actually been caught whilst after barbel. Hence, when I got home I checked the records for my top twenty-five chub.

Out of the previously mention figure, no less than eleven of the fish have been caught while pursuing barbel. And if you add to the equation the two that were caught whilst carp fishing, it means that actually less than 50% of my best chub were caught intentionally! Still, as I’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I caught them, and that’s good enough for me!

However, when it comes to the similar list of my best barbel, every single one of the fish was caught while being targeted. Of course, even if one did hook a decent barbel whilst chub fishing, it is unlikely that it would be landed on the light tackle used.

Anyway to wrap up the session, I did catch another barbel. I could tell it was a good one as I played it and I did wonder whether it was a double or not; but it fell some distance short of that mark. But at 9lb 4oz it was the best of the session, and a nice fish to end on, so I’m certainly not complaining!


(Article 15, originally published October 2003. If you like, why not share? Thanks)