Common name: Barbel
Latin name: Barbus barbus
Family: Cyprinidae
Current UK Rod Caught Coarse Fish Record BARBEL (Barbus barbus) 21lb 1oz 2006 Grahame King, Adams Mill Fishery, Bedford

Description and habitat of Barbel:
The Barbel is light brown to greenish brown with yellowish sides. The Barbel's fins are darker except for the pectoral, pelvic and anal fins which are yellowish orange. The body of the Barbel is elongated with very small scales and appears scale less. There are 55 to 65 scales in the lateral line of a Barbels body. The head of the Barbel is pointed and its eyes which are rather small are set high on the sides of the head. The Barbel is recognised by its under slung mouth with thick lips with two short barbules on the top lip and two longer barbules at the corner of its mouth. These barbules have taste and touch cells and help the fish to locate food on the riverbed. Barbel spawn in late spring between May and July and when the eggs are fertilized by the males they take around 10 to15 days to hatch. The small hatchling Barbels of a quarter of an inch long remain in the gravel for three or four days and live off their yolk sacks. then form shoals moving into slacker areas where they live off small particles of food. Barbel are predominantly bottom feeders, rooting around and feeding in the gravel bottom of rivers. They feed extensively on bottom living invertebrates, fresh water shrimp, snails, insect larvae, caddis larvae, nymphs, crustaceans and molluscs, grubbing around among the bottom debris for the many micro-organisms which live there. Barbel grow fairly rapidly and mature when they are five or six years old with the female barbel larger than the males. Barbel grow to 21lb 1oz (UK record) with a fish over 7lb considered a good fish and a 10lb barbel a specimen. The barbel much sought after by anglers for its hard fighting qualities. The Barbel is a large powerful fish with the shape of its body perfect for living in fast powerful waters. They are regarded as the hardest fighting coarse fish in the river. Like the Carp angler, many anglers devote all their time in pursuit of the Barbel. When you hook your first Barbel you are unlikely to forget it because when a Barbel is hooked it will tear off like a steam train. If you are not tackled up with the correct gear you'll have little to no chance of stopping it, let alone landing it. Barbel do not give up easily and fight with great determination and fishing tackle is needed to match the Barbel's power. Although Barbel are caught all year round they are more of a summer and autumn fish. During the summer months Barbel can be found in weir pools and the faster stretches of water. During the winter months Barbel favour the deeper more slower waters.

Fishing Methods for catching Barbel:
Barbel can be caught using various methods including float, ledger or feeder but the feeder is considered the best method. Barbel inhabit strong, fast flowing waters, so a good rod with a fixed spool reel fitted with a minimum of 6lb line should be used. Hook size will depend on the size of the fish and the size of the bait used but hook sizes between 12 and 4 are ok. I use barbless hooks because they cause less damage to the fish and are easier to unhook. It is important if legering to use a weight or feeder heavy enough so that it will hold the bait close to the riverbed. The weight will be determined by the strength of flow of the water. A typical approach when Barbel fishing is to use a swimfeeder or blockend feeder on the 6lb.mainline with a 24 inch 4lb hook length and size 10 hook baited with a large piece of luncheon meat. When float fishing in faster waters try using a big Avon or a Loafer that carries a lot of shot. Fix the shot near the hook to keep it closer to the river bed.
Advice : When a Barbel is hooked it will NOT give up easily and it will fight until it is exhausted. Try to land and unhook the Barbel quickly. When landed and unhooked, hold the Barbel in the flowing water facing upstream until it is ready to swim away. This can sometimes take between a couple of minutes and 15 minutes or longer.

Baits for catching Barbel:
Luncheon meat, sausage meat, cheese and cubes of cheese, worms, dendrobaena worms, red worm, brandlings, grubs, bread (either crust, flake or paste), casters, hemp and caster, maggots, pinkies and sweetcorn and boilies have all proved to be successful in catching Barbel.


Home .. Species .. Bream .. Carp .. Chub .. Crucian .. Gudgeon .. Perch .. Pike .. Roach .. Tench