Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bitterling and Stillwater Barbel

I failed to locate bitterling on two trips to the Burwell Lode earlier in the summer. In desperation I decided to follow up a tip off that the famous carp bagging water Decoy Lakes near Peterborough contained large numbers of these fish in Willows Lake.

My approach was to fish Crucian style with a pole float in the margins. I planned to fish for the bitterling initially and then set my stall for my first stillwater barbel. My hooklength was 1lb 14oz to a size 24 hook (the smallest I have ever used) baited with a pinkie. Within a few casts I had my target fish.

Bitterling are an interesting fish in that the females develop a tube from the vent known as an ovipositor and through this lay their eggs inside swan mussels. There are small colonies in Cambridgeshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Lancashire which it is believed resulted from escapes or illegal introductions from aquaria.

Scaling up the hooklength strength to a size 16 hook to 5lb line and fishing at dead depth saw me catch nine small barbel upto maybe two pounds and loads of small carp and F1s despite the cold northerly wind and driving rain.

The barbel I caught appeared to be in perfect condition, however to my mind barbel are a river fish and I suspect that mortality might be high in summer in carp puddles as barbel require highly oxygenated water. I hope I am wrong!