Last night after work I decided to have an evening session on the upper river Lea after a couple of Barbel.

After finding that my favourite Barbel swims were already occupied I went in search of another swim. I found a couple of promising ones but there were lots of Chub in these swims and I caught several from around 8oz up to around 1.7lb but it was Barbel that I was after and on this stretch of river the Barbel seem to stay away from the swims which hold Chub in quantity; so I went in search of a swim with features that attract the Barbel and had very few Chub in residence then I would have a better chance of a Barbel or two.
After trying several swims I found the swim below:

The swim that I decided to fish. (NB. The flow was from left to right.)

The swim was at the tail end of a bed of streamer weed with a small eddie close to the bank, the flow increased where the bank narrowed slightly and there were several overhanging trees to the right.

I lowered a bait slowly into the eddie by the near bank and within a minute had a nice Barbel of 5lb 6oz; not big as far as barbel go but still a nice size for this stretch of small river.
The Barbel zoomed straight through the streamer weed upstream of me but at least I could bring it back down through the streamer weed to the landing net which would have been more difficult if the streamer weed had been below me. After a couple of heart stomping runs I was able to get its head above water and I knew it was in the net.

The First Barbel from this swim (5lb 6oz).
Ten minutes later I caught a tiny Barbel of around 12oz so at least they are spawning in this river. Over the next couple of hours I lost two more Barbel; one when the barbless hook came free during play and another when the line parted after catching on some underwater snag amongst the streamer weed. Unfortunately this spooks every other Barbel in a swim of this size so it was just a case of rebaiting and waiting. It got dark at around 9:30 last night and as soon as the light faded I got another smaller Barbel (see below) which weighed 2b 10oz.

the last smaller Barbel (2lb 10oz)
On the hook I was using double hair rigged Crab flavoured Sonubait Pellet ‘O’s coated with Dynamite Halibut Paste and for loose feed I used small soft Dynamite Halibut pellets. Line was 6lb and hook was a barbless size 10. I used a short ½oz link leger with a 6in hooklength.

I love fishing these stream-like rivers especially when they are less than half hour from your home. It makes a pleasant change from the overstocked Carp puddles that we have to fish in a lot of our team matches plus it keeps you thinking about the lost art of watercraft. I keep meaning to go to one of our upper Great Ouse stretches above Bedford where the big Barbel are; but I think I will leave my Barbel campaign there till around September time.

Meanwhile I have a couple of team matches to get won yet.