Angling: Rain is an answer to our prayers

Brian Hooper with his prize barbel at CoultershawBrian Hooper with his prize barbel at Coultershaw
Brian Hooper with his prize barbel at Coultershaw

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Someone up there must have heard my plea for rain – if so, then local anglers desperate to get our rivers, ponds and lakes topped up with a drop of the wet stuff will be grateful to me, writes Roger Poole.

As I write it’s pouring down – sorry about that if you are down here on holiday or planning a weekend barbecue. But spare a thought for the fish and wildlife that depend on the climatic changes that only living in our green and colourful island can provide.

It’s always a pleasure to report catches – this time it’s a club member, Brian Hooper, proudly holding what for him is a personal best for a barbel.

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He caught it from our stretch of the Rother at Coultershaw, Brian has been chasing barbel on and off for the past 25 years, so no wonder he looks so happy with what he believes is at least a 10lb-plus specimen caught on a boilie over hemp groundbait.

Fishing for barbel has become very popular.

Although some commercial still waters have barbel, they are mostly found in rivers. They prefer fast running areas in particular over gravel beds, where they search for food using the barbels that protrude from beneath their mouths – hence their name.

But these are excellent feelers that search for grubs, water shrimps and, in this case, Brian’s boilie, which was sucked up and eventually ended up in his landing net.

As with all coarse fish their return back into the river to fight another day gives anglers a feelgood factor. All fish need a recovery time and I cannot emphasise how important it is that barbel in particular need to be held in the water, facing preferably upstream, until they are ready to swim off.

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They need this time to regain their strength – barbel fight hard so their proper return to the river is really essential.

These lovely strong barbel have been in the Rother for quite a long time.

They were introduced more than 40 years ago and, apart from Coultershaw, they are found throughout the river, as far up as Midhurst and certainly downstream below Fittleworth Bridge, thanks to the fish passage at Hardham, close to where the Rother and Arun join.

They are often caught from the club’s stretch on the Arun at Watersfield.

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In fact I would suggest there are some record-breaking barbel in the Arun and already some really big ones have been caught by the club’s keen barbel anglers.

These barbel, along with other fish, can now move between both rivers. Sea trout are a regular feature in the club’s catch record books.

Going fishing at this time of the year is a wonderful experience if the weather is fine – not too hot and not too windy. Pick the right day, choose your spot, take a picnic and remember to check your membership handbook and ensure you have a valid Environment Agency fishing licence.

Whether you prefer rivers or lakes, the fact remains we live in a lovely part of the country and when fishing you are surrounded by wildlife.

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It’s such a pity so many youngsters are missing out preferring, as they often do, computer screens of one kind or another and today’s other technology. I hope some make time to go fishing. Find out more at

Read Roger Poole’s What’s The Catch? column in the Observer once a month

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