Orchard Lakes – Match Fishing Showdown

On Sunday the stakes were high, two fishers reputation were on the line. Orchard lakes, New Milton, was the venue. We fished the match lake for a few hours on a warm afternoon. The lake holds a mixed bag of species including carp, roach, tench and my old nemesis the barbel. The rules of the match were simple, most fish caught wins the match and can sleep peacefully knowing they are the superior angler and an all round better human being than the loser.

I set up to fish match style on the method feeder, using Dynamite Baits Robin Reb pellet on the hook, topped with a small piece of plastic corn. I rustled up my usual method mix of Silver X method mix, sweetcorn and some mixed pellet. The lake is a snake style lake with margins slightly shallower than the main channel through the middle. I decided to fish the island rather than the margins as the trees on the far bank made a really nice little shaded feature that I was sure fish would feed confidently under. General Ben decided to roll the big guns out and fish with a boilie and bag approach, to try and target the bigger fish.

As is the norm with these packed out commercial style match lakes the bites came thick and fast from the start. I opened my account with a small carp and Ben then followed suit with a much larger common. After releasing both fish, we recast and I was straight away into another fish. The fish fought like a ‘roider down Wind Street on a Saturday night but she eventually succumbed to my tiny tackle. As the bronze flanks followed the angular head into my landing net I immediately knew that I had caught my first barbel, a fish which has firmly resisted my advances for over a year (more angling and barbel-less shenanigans here). The next few bites were also mine and soon they were coming steadily enough to encourage Ben to change onto the method. This increased his catch rate dramatically and the competition was soon close again. I soon showed my class and humility, by crushing Ben into the ground like a piece of shit on my shoe, with a grand total of 14 fish to 9.

I was over the moon with the day’s bag; despite catching a still water barbel which plays second fiddle to his running water cousin. Ben’s bag also included his first ever barbel and another barbel for me which was a unsurprisingly a new PB. Finally I added a tiny tench to my account which was another PB, a disgraceful PB I know but since I reset my PB’s for this blog I haven’t crossed paths with any of these slimy little buggers. After the match we headed back to Ben’s for a bloody good game of monopoly (which I also dominated), but I will save that story for my upcoming blog which will document, in great detail, every game of monopoly I have ever played throughout my entire life. At least then, this will not quite the most boring piece of writing in the entire world.

Pure Barbel Baits

Home Made Boilies


Stephen Fleming owner of Pure Barbel Baits had this too say…

Written by Stephen Fleming – Pure Barbel Baits

I would like to start this write up by saying a massive thank you to Anthony Wood for all the help he has given me over last few months on the more technical side of the bait making process..

I have been making my own Baits for nearly four years with five solid ingredients that I have mainly been working on which for me had been working really well providing a big increase in my catch rate. In the early stages of bait making I used to experiment with all sorts of new things as I just loved rolling Boilies and trying new baits out.

Since Joining Home Made Boilies I’ve had a new inspiration to create new things to try and tackle our rivers and ponds alike with new and…

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Pure Barbel Baits

Pure Barbel Baits.

River Ribble Rampage

Avid readers of my blog will be used to two recurring themes I am abit of a moron and I am fairly useless at catching fish. Your probably thinking to yourselves, “Why do I even read this bulls**t”. I’ll tell you why! It’s because you are completely addicted to fishing, just like a little crack head, desperate for your next fishing fix, not knowing where it will come from. You have stooped so low your willing to read my hopeless ramblings and laugh at my feeble attempts at catching fish.  Well cast your looks of disdain elsewhere because today I have turned this sinking ship around.

1970-01-02 13.05.04

Of course this change of fortune had little or nothing to do with me, I have to (reluctantly) give credit to fellow fisherman and my guide for the day, Paul Dallolio, who accompanied me on our ill fated trip to Salford Quays. Paul took me to a secret spot on the River Ribble which had produced numerous double figured barbel for him in the past. We set up early afternoon, barbel and chub our quarry for the day. Paul informed me the river was running low and extremely clear, there were few clouds in sight all in all pretty shoddy conditions for barbel fishing, the rising temperature predicted for the evening being the only saving grace.We would be fishing two rods each loaded up feeders using a combination of oily pellets and bread flake as bait, classic barbel attractors.

An hour soon passed and the sky started to gently cloud over. Quite suddenly, Paul started to receive a few enquiries on his left hand rod. Then was a  particularly violent tug on the left hand rod, Paul struck into it, a solid resistance confirmed a nicely hooked fish making a desperate bid for escape. As Paul expertly played the fish, we wondered whether it was a large chub which had scoffed down his worm. It wasn’t a small chub in the end but a healthy looking  sea trout of around 1/2 lb which we gently slipped it back, not wanting to keep the famously fragile fish out of the water for too long especially during a long faff about to set up a camera.

Catching a fish was an instant morale booster for the both of us.  At this point Paul helped me sort out my rigs which, admittedly, were abit cowboy’ed together out of my tackle box, They weren’t really up to the job of catching a notoriously wary barbel. Paul lent me all the tackle bits and pieces I needed for a decent barbel rig and I was soon back in action with a fairly basic in-line feeder setup onto a 12 lb leader. We had opted for this fairly strong breaking strain due to the snaggy nature of the water. With all the rods back in the water we sat back started playing the waiting game……. and then I Spy……then Simon says…….

Paul Ribble Chub

We didn’t wait long until one of Paul’s rods started gently twitching as a fish plucked at his pellet hook bait. Paul hit the rod with another well timed strike and was into another fish.  Paul had a chub on, it felt a better fish too, it gave a short vigorous fight  and then finally succumbed to gentle pressure from Paul’s specimen feeder rod. The chub (shown above) tipped the scales  at 4lb 3oz. By far the largest chubby I had ever seen, well second largest (hehe), the Bickerly millstream chub of my youth being deemed elusive monsters and anything over  1/2 lb felt impossible to catch.


As darkness started to fall Paul soon had another chub in the net this one slightly smaller at 3lb 4oz it was a proper little chunker much shorter than the first but loads fatter. Probably beefed out abit with spawn. Paul finished off his day with a possible recapture of the first chub of the day, the scales showed  4lb 4oz this time but it had the same distinctive markings along its flank. It had clearly been indulging in a spot of ground bait comfort eating  after its brief tenure on the bank.


Bringing up the rear with the smallest chub of the day was master of de caster, queen of carp, bringer of barbel, the Northern Coarse Angler A.K.A Jack Danger Cartlidge BEng.  In the end the barbel never came on the feed perhaps due to the clarity combined with the low water level being the decisive factors, I wasn’t bothered though. My humble chub weighed in at just under 2 lb, hardly a monster by today’s standards, but it transported me back to my first foray’s as a young whippersnapper chasing the chevin on the millstream.

1970-01-02 18.04.04

Chocolate Rain on the Dorset Stour

During a recent trip home to the South I couldn’t resist spending an evening on one of my favourite stretches of river , despite having fished relatively few to be honest.  The stretch in question is on the Dorset Stour in Muscliff, its lovely, its local and its free to fish. Over the summer, I fished the stretch a few times for pike and had some good results even in a high coloured river. Because of the recent weather and fairly severe flooding I headed to the free stretch in search of a new quarry; the elusive barbel. Now through out my angling career I have inadvertently caught most species in my local rivers, but never a barbel.

The barbel is a beautiful fish and is known for being one of the hardest fighting fish found in our rivers if I were to compare fish to footballer’s then carp would be Fat Ronaldo’s because they are big and fat, roach would be Paul Scholes cos they both have red bits, bream would be Peter Crouch’s because they are tall and skinny and finally barbel, being similar to carp but without the excess body fat, would have to be like fit Ronaldo.

Being wary biters and thriving in high oxygen Barbel are said to like a high coloured water, as the extra colour will camouflage the rig, whilst the extra flow oxygenates the water. When I arrived at the river’s edge, I would say at the river’s banks but I was at least 137 km from the banks because of the  extreme flooding, the worst I have ever seen it. Hence, this leads me onto my swim selection procedure. Whilst a fishy looking spot would be a bonus (for once-wheeeeey!), the primary criterion was a swim where drowning was not a distinct possibility. Having found a swim, where my pants would be remaining dry (unless I caught a monster barbel). The swim in question even had a likely looking feature in an overhanging tree I set to work deploying my ridiculous looking swim feeder that weighed about 10 kg to hold bottom. I simply plopped it in the margins and played the waiting game.

2013-02-03 14.12.27

I had decided to use boilies on my first barbel attempt because I am familiar with this type of baits from carping. Another main factor in bait choice for me especially when travelling light and food is scarce, is to choose something which I don’t like eating, this means that many traditional barbel baits: cheese, luncheon meat, hot dawgs, were off the menu, for me and the carp. I opted for The Source boilie which is a little meaty red number with a hint of spice much like a hangover curry poo, unlike a hungover curry poo though fish find them delicious, especially barbel or so I am told.

2013-02-03 14.13.13

After probably an hour or so, the unthinkable happened, I had a bite. It immediately went into the snags and I lost it. But this was my first encounter with a barbel and I made a complete hash of it. I eventually retrieved the feeder and the hook which had been transferred to a nearby underwater tree. Having scared the absolute s**t out of the fish in the swim with my angling prowess, I decided to move down the river to try a few different spots. As light levels faded and turned into darkness I bravely fished on trying a  few likely looking places but to no avail. I eventually got scared and went home. The End.


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