River Irwell Barbel - Another Dream Realised


River Irwell Barbel On The Centerpin & My Own Floats.

Today was the last day of my river fishing season. I was planning on going to the river Tame but I got up late and the Traffic was really bad so I headed  off  to the Irwell to christen my Okuma Aventa VT 1002 Centerpin Reel.

My first peg looked good but unfortunately no bites were forth coming and after two hours I called it a day. It was interesting though because Mick Doddy - an LBA member - came down for a while to get some idea of how to use a centerpin. Why he chose to watched me on the pin I will never know as I am shite.......pmsl. I gave Mick a stick float as he’s is going to supply me with some elder pith for float making. He also gave me some new lures to try.....Cheers Mick.

My first swim drew a blank.

I was off to a new peg when Mick left further upstream. My new peg was a shallow fast run, ideal for the Irwell sticks. On my fourth trot down" Boooooosh " My home made float hammered under an a 10 minute scrap commenced. This was a very pacey swim carrying extra water to and the fish made the most of her environment kitting down stream at every opportunity. The last time my arm felt like this I was barbel fishing on the Severn with The Eagle in 1984……… !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eventually I landed this tired lady. This fish was the longest , leanest trout I have ever caught but the fight was tremendous, so much so it took me a further 10 mins to nurse her back to health and release her to fight another day.

Wild brown trout on the pin. Very nice.

A spawned out female I think..

A smaller trout followed but no chub or Irwell barbel. I am beginning to wonder if the Irwell barbel are like


I have never even hooked one !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was 15.00  now and I was off on my travels again to a preferred section of River Irwell controlled by Little Britain Anglers ( LBA ). The Eagle and Casterman were already there so I made my way to my chosen peg. My old man phone me before so Salford was my gillie once again  .....  lol.

Salford Pete arrived just as I was un- packing my gear from the boot of "The Mighty Megan ........lol " , so I did indeed have some help carrying my tackle. I had spotted a few of my target species here earlier in the season so fingers crossed because if I got one it would turn a few heads I can tell ya..........
Delving into my rover bag I chose a ready made rig. A 12 no 4 home made stick float was my weapon of choice along with my 14 ft Conni x and my new Okuma centerpin real.

With Salford Pete comfortably nestled behind me I was ready for my last session of the season.

 Fifth trot down I hooked good fish which tail walked all over my swim. It was a wild brown trout of about a pound and a half and I thought it had totally feeked up the fishing for the rest of the session.
Another hour passed with out any bites not a fish moved and Eagle who was in the next peg up stream had not had a touch.
The light was fading know. " Looks like there will be no fireworks for me at the close of the season " I though as my hand crafted 12 No 4 stick float was travelled nicely down the 
pool. I then started day dreaming a little with a heavy hart thinking

“ This is the last time I can trot a float for three months “

when  my float disappeared below the murky depths of the River Irwell  ………and the games began ………….....................

“ Its just the bottom dad “ I muttered as I applied pressure to free my hook length

 … and then ………..the bottom ….. MOVED

The bottom then moved some more.........

” Jesus it’s a fish …..and a good one to ………

My new Okuma started smoking as line poored from the spool …as the fish powered upstream straight for Eagles line his peg was strune with boulders and underwater debris so I could not afford the fish any more line but for some reason un-beknown to me the fish turned at that point and streaked back towards me.
Furiously gaining line on my pin I tried to keep in touch with her.  At this stage I still had not seen the fish so I didn’t know what species she was, could be a big trout or an enormous chub. Five minutes had  passed  now, I still couldn’t move her of the bottom so I gave her a little more pressure , boy , she did not like that and she motored off down stream this time on another smoking run towards the tail end of the pool where it shallows rapidly and changes into rapids. I have caught many barbel over the years but I am VERY rusty when it comes to playing these powerful fish. I remember the down stream runs towards shallower boulder ridden water as the most dangerous part of the battle due to the barbel swimming in and around the boulders and wearing the line or just plain snapping you off around a snag. With my thumb on the pin exerting as much pressure as I dared I tried to stop her second run, once , twice , three times ………… she still took line off me

“ Jesus. What do I have to do to stop this fish dad “

He just chuckled and smiled …………….. I would come to understand why latter …

I think he guessed what she was at this early stage but never said a word as he didn' t want to break my concentration.

She was nearly at the rapids. I had no choice. I slammed down my thumb as hard as I possible could on my new Okuma Pin to stop her run dead or, get snapped………..

It was a gamble .............. my Conni X doubled over under the pressure, I shut my eyes and waited for the sound of a crack off !!!!!!!!!

It never came ...............

Luckily for me the gamble paid off and she turned , thank god and she bored up stream again but she was tiring now and I stopped her in the deeper water in front of me. “She wasn’t the only one who was tired after ten minutes ……..........

My arm was hurting now but the fish was nearly at the surface, just a little more pressure and I would see her. A large tail came into view along with huge golden shoulders which flashed in front of me as she turned once more and steamed back into the depths it looks at first glance to be the biggest chub I have ever seen in the River Irwell. I was buzzing. She was a crafty bugger to as the next time I brought her close to the surface she board straight for the 
decaying Knott Weed on the near bank. I could see what he was up to and kept her away under the watch full
 gaze of my old man.

Another five minutes passed, that’s 15 minutes and I could see my stots on my hook length.

She was coming up. Three seconds after I saw my stots she surfaced and time literally stood still !!!!!!!!!!!!.

My eyes nearly popped out of there sockets when I got my first real glimpse of her.

Huge golden flanks and massive pink pectoral fins rose from the depths into view, coupled with a pointed snout and whiskers …………..

It was an Irwell barbel………..

The adrenalin coursed through my veins at this stage as I still had not landed her.

I had been fishing for one of

“ The Irwell Unicorns “

for two years and now I had one in my grasp, and it was a belter.

She had one last little run for freedom which I stopped easily. I then turned her, lifted her up in the water and slipped my landing net underneath her. I was shaking at this point. I could not believe what I had just achieved. I shouted To Eagle ..............

“ Come and have look at this Eagle it’s a barbel. I have just won our bet and for filled our blood  oath“ lol.

“ Shut it Peanut ……you haven’t caught a barbel ……..............….have you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Eagle, with his feathers all a ruffled came bouncing over just as Salford Pete was taking a picture.

“Shit a brick laughed Eagle, you have caught one Peanut, get in there pal, well chuffed for you mate “.

 “ Ring The Casterman and get his arse down here with some scales quick sticks Eagle. Tell him I have a beard 
that needs  weighing……yeeeeehhhaaaaaaa “

Myself, Salford Pete & Eagle waited for the arrival of The Caster man...... we didn’t have to wait long.

“Lets  have look then Peanut “  says The Casterman from under his dodgy dearstalker hat............

I slowly pull in my keep net and reveal my prize.

“ Bloody Hell, that IS a bonny fish Peanut well done pal “

I could feel myself glowing with The Casterman s praise – He caught a barbel from the River Irwell 15 years ago…….  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Lets get her weighed and put back asap Peanut “. There was a lot of fungal growth on her snout, her tail looked like something had bit some off and she had some cormorant attack marks on her back. She was an old worrier make no mistake.

She weighed 7 lb dead minus the sling weight which was 9 ounces, so,

6 lb 7oz was agreed by us all as a total weight.

“I am happy with that I grinned “, “ So you bloody well should be “ replied The Casterman giggling like the rest of our merry band.

What a day. I for filled another dream, catching a River Irwell barbel on my Hand Crafted Floats & my new Okuma Aventa VT 1002 Centerpin Reel.
( Its the first barbel I have caught on the centerpin to)

I can not describe how I felt.

" Elated "

Is the best word I can think of.

It really doesn’t get much better that that guys & girls.

PS : I would just like to say this was a team effort as all of us - Myself, Casterman & Bald Eagle - have been systematically fishing possible barbel holding areas all winter. They are there gentlemen but very localised.

Mission complete.
Me & The Casterman.

Eagle on the last day of the season nursing the mother of all hangovers

Casterman & Salford Pete

Eric Own. 
Life Chairman of Little Britain Anglers.

"You'll catch nowt if your not out"


If you would like to look at all of the hand crafted floats I make please click on the link below and it will take you to my float page.



PPS : Courtesy of Tony Pete. Thanks Tony.

Courtesy of Michael Edwards. Thanks Michael.

Still buzzin  .....  LOL


Popular Posts


Reversible Pike Sliders - A New Colour Combination & Modification.

Manchester Perch Hunt Part 2