Coarse Fishing

Barbel

Our brief, plain speaking guide to the moustachioed bandit barbel



The name barbel originates from the Latin word Barba, meaning beard – a reference to the two pairs of barbs on the side of the mouth, recognisable to so many in coarse fishing. They have elongated bodies, almost round in cross section but also flat bellied, with a body covered with fairly small and deeply embedded scales, numbering around 55-65 scales in the lateral line. Colouration is a warm greeny-brown on the back, golden yellow on the sides and abdomen, with yellowish orange fins. A typical barbel will range from 25cm to 100cm in length and between 200g and 10kg.
 
Finding them
Coarse fishing usually finds barbel in slow-flowing water where the current is moderate and the river bottom of gravel or rock. Also, they prefer highly dissolved oxygen water. Barbel are typically most active at night, usually in schools, and though it is not the most elusive fish in the river – and is in fact pretty easy to catch – it will fight hard. But it won’t cope well out of the water so get them back in the water quite promptly.
 
Food and bait
Barbel feed on bottom-dwelling invertebrates, crustaceans, insect larvae, and molluscs. The best baits for coarse fishing are maggots, worms, luncheon meat, halibut pellets, and fish-meal based boilies. The best way to fish barbel is ledgering, float fishing, or free lining your bait down the flow of the river.
 
Breeding
Barbel spawn in late spring following an upstream migration to clean gravel beds, looking for gaps between stones in which to lay eggs.
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