Fantastic Barbel Sport In Spain

Lee Swords has been enjoying the river fishing in Spain and catching some unusual barbel varieties. Here’s his insight into some of the fantastic barbel he’s been catching.


I recently spent a week in Spain where I landed 63 barbel, all on Super Specialists. I have been on these hooks for years and I will be on them for years to come!

There are about seven species of barbel in Spain, but the rivers I fish don’t hold them all. The Guardiana and Aragon rivers have comizo, gypsy/andalucian, small head and common/bocagei barbel.

Drennan Oval BlockendThe fishing is awesome. It is like 1985 River Trent fishing with a gallon of maggots and a big feeder! Drennan flat Oval Blockend Feeders also work a treat in the 2oz and 3oz range. There are areas where these fish have never seen a boilie or a pellet. It’s all maggot and there’s nothing fancy needed, just a bit of watercraft.

The common or bocagei barbel has the most unstoppable first run of any freshwater fish I have ever encountered. It’s absolutely blistering, they may look a little dainty compared to comizo, but they will test your hooks and line like nothing else!

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Drennan Spring Festival – Day 4

The fourth round of the Messingham Sands Spring Festival upset the form book, which sets things up for an exciting final round tomorrow.

messingham-spring-fest-4After three successive lake wins, Simon Gale looked to have an unassailable position going in to Day 4. However peg 12 on the Swan Pond let him down badly and his 51lb catch was only good enough for 8th place on the lake. This slipped him down to 2nd place on the leader board and turns the competition wide open.

Swan Pond.

Swan Pond.

Steve Bingham won the day with 116lb 8oz from peg 54 on the Islands Lake. Despite a slow start he eventually caught carp on 8mm pellet on the waggler and the peg got stronger as the match progressed.

Second on the day and top scorer on the Swan Pond with 100lb 7oz from peg 6 was last year’s festival winner, Andy Bailey. Andy caught quality carp at 14 metres with 11mm hard pellets.

Day 4 Result:

  • 1st Steve Bingham, Upton 116-08
  • 2nd Andy Bailey, Doncaster 100-07
  • 3rd Simon Drayton, Upton 95-11
  • 4th Sean Holbroke, Barnsley 78-02

Top 10 after four matches:

  • 1st Kevin Johnson 10
  • 2nd Simon Gale 11
  • 3rd Andy Bailey 14
  • 4th Jack Turner 15
  • 5th Steve Ellis 15
  • 6th Sean Holbroke 16
  • 7th Steve Bingham 17
  • 8th Simon Drayton 18
  • 9th Don Hudson 19
  • 10th Mark Lidgard 22
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Drennan Hooks For Triggerfish

Italy’s Mario Tomatis has been successfully using Drennan hooks for unusual species, as this impressive grey triggerfish shows!


“I finally caught it in Liguria, Italy, after three days of hunting because the fish are very cunning!” he explained. I used your size 6 Wide Gape Specialist hooks with 12lb Series 7 line. Very good hooks and very strong for the beak of the fish!”

Follow Mario’s angling exploits in his walking on the riverside blog.

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Drennan Spring Festival – Day 3

After scoring his third consecutive lake win, Simon Gale has the wind in his sails and looks to be odds-on favourite to win the Drennan Spring Festival at Messingham Sands.

messingham-spring-fest-3While the conditions have been best described as wintry, with another prolonged hail storm today, the fishing remains red hot. Simon drew peg 8 on the Islands Lake where he fished pole in the margins with 11mm pellet to land some cracking carp for a 92lb lake win.


Simon Gale.

Overall match winner on the day was Jack Turner who drew peg 4 on the Swan Pond for the second time in his rotation. He improved on his first day total of 126lb by fishing 8mm pellet on both the bomb and the pole. Despite a fishless first two hours, he went on to catch 30 carp for a 168lb total.

The silverfish are also still feeding well and worth catching as second-placed Kevin Johnson’s 96lb mixed bag shows. That consisted of skimmers, perch and roach from peg 8 on the Swan Pond.

Day 3 Result:

  • 1st Jack Turner, Scunthorpe 168-06
  • 2nd Kevin Johnson, Messingham 96-09
  • 3rd Simon Gale, Grimsby 92-00
  • 4th Steve Ellis, Scunthorpe 78-02

Top 10 after three matches:

  • 1st Simon Gale 3
  • 2nd Kevin Johnson 6
  • 3rd Jack Turner 9
  • 4th Steve Ellis 12
  • 5th Mark Lidgard 13
  • 6th Andy Bailey 13
  • 7th Don Hudson 14
  • 8th Sean Holbroke 14
  • 9th Geoff Wilde 15
  • 10th Steve Bingham 16
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Immediate Success For Simon

All-round specialist angler Simon Ashton set his sights on landing a double figure bream from a new venue this Spring and succeeded on his very first session!


Here is Simon’s account of the trip:

One of my angling resolutions for 2017 was to target some specimen bream with the hope of landing a new personal best along the way. The problem with living up in Durham from a specialist angler’s perspective is that you have to travel and by that I mean 90 miles or a lot more in some cases,  so the right venue is a must.

With a new venue in mind, plans were made to do a recce trip. All I had to go by was a tip off from a friend that it had done a couple of bream upwards of 8-9lb in recent weeks. So, on Friday morning, I set off and headed south on the A1, van packed to the roof with the kit.

I opted to fish off the back of a cold easterly wind that was set for the duration of the session. I began by spending some time with the echo sounder to scope out the lake bed. I found a big change in depth, going from 26ft to 8ft quite rapidly. This sort of feature can never be overlooked when bream fishing, especially when the wind is blowing into it.

I set up on the point swim leading into a large shallow bay. After a few casts with a 3oz lead, I clipped up at 45 yards just at the bottom of the shelf. The whole area was relatively clear with some lovely clean gravel. Presentation is always paramount, so if you can find clear spots like these, fish on them.

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Drennan Spring Festival – Day 2

Terrible weather failed to dent the catches on Day 2 of the Drennan Spring Festival at in-form Messingham Sands Fishery.

messingham-spring-fest-2With overnight temperatures falling to -3ºC, a biting northerly wind, rain and hail to contend with, the conditions were reminiscent of the previous year’s festival. Some suggested it should have moved to January when it is warmer!

Simon Gale did not let the weather get in the way of another lake win and maximum points for the second successive day. Fishing 11mm pellets shallow on a waggler he had around 25 carp for an excellent 161lb from peg 10 on the Swan Pond.

On the opposite bank, bemoaning their luck at drawing with the wind in their faces, Mark Lidgard and Simon Drayton had a ding-dong peg-for-peg battle. Ultimately it was Mark claiming the bragging rights. His 126lb 5oz was exactly 1lb more than Simon and good enough for second on the day.

The Islands Lake was won from peg 55 by Sean Holbroke with 107lb of carp.

Day 2 Result:

  • 1st Simon Gale, Grimsby 161-11
  • 2nd Mark Lidgard, Brigg 126-05
  • 3rd Simon Drayton, Upton 125-05
  • 4th Sean Holbroke, Barnsley107-13

Top 10 after two matches:

  • 1st Simon Gale 2
  • 2nd Kevin Johnson 5
  • 3rd Don Hudson 7
  • 4th Mark Lidgard 7
  • 5th Steve Bingham 8
  • 6th Jack Turner 8
  • 7th Andy Bailey 8
  • 8th Simon Drayton 9
  • 9th Steve Ellis 10
  • 10th Sean Holbroke 11
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Drennan Spring Festival – Day 1

Day One of the Drennan Spring Festival at Messingham Sands got off to a great start, with 11 anglers recording over 100lb from the Swan Pond and Islands Lakes!

messingham-spring-fest-1Although carp dominated most of the weights, it was an all-silverfish catch from peg 37 on the Swan Pond that led the way. This consisted of 245 roach, skimmers and perch caught on maggots, pellets and corn for a total of 127lb 8oz. This was just 1oz ahead of second placed man Simon Gale who was drawn on peg 2 on the Islands Lake!

Jack Turner was very close behind in third place with 126lb from peg 4 on the Swan Pond and Jamie Wilde completed the top 4 with 122lb from peg 31 on Islands.

Day 1 Result:

  • 1st Kevin Johnson, Messingham 127-08
  • 2nd Simon Gale, Grimsby 127-07
  • 3rd Jack Turner, Scunthorpe 126-03
  • 4th Jamie Wild, Barnsley 122-09
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White Acres Drennan Junior & Intermediate Festival

The Drennan Junior & Intermediate Festival was once again held at the prolific White Acres Holiday Park in Cornwall with up and coming youngsters catching plenty of fish and showcasing their skills.

The Junior Event

Will McCranor is this year's White Acres Junior Champion.

Will McCranor is this year’s White Acres Junior Champion.

A Section was very close on Day One with Ethan Etherington weighing 45lb from peg 17, just ahead of Aaron Brotton’s 35lb 6oz from peg 15. B section was won by Will McCranor from peg 19 with an excellent 57lb 10oz and second in the section went to Ryan Kennison with 24lb.

They then moved to Acorn Lake for the two-day event. Jake Pope was top weight in A Section with a hard-earned 54lb 4oz from peg 3, with Ethan Etherington on 47lb 2oz from peg 5. Match winner was Will McCranor with 91lb of carp and F1s, caught mostly on the feeder and on the pole down the margins. That helped to secure him the overall result with 8 points and an excellent 148lb 9oz total.

Junior Result

  • 1st Will McCranor, 8pts 148lb 9oz
  • 2nd Ethan Etherington, 7pts 92lb 2oz
  • 3rd Jake Pope, 6pts 76lb 11oz
  • 4th Ben Paul, 5pts 84lb
  • 5th Billy Pitman, 4pts 69lb 6oz
  • 6th Ryan Kennison, 4pts 48lb 4oz
  • 7th Aaron Brotton, 4pts 45lb 2oz
  • 8th Freddie Bacon, 3pts 52lb

The Intermediates Event

Ben Pope is this year's Intermediate Champion.

Ben Pope is this year’s White Acres Intermediate Champion.

Ben Pope was top weight on Day One of the Intermediates with an excellent 80lb 8oz from peg 8 on Jennys, catching mostly with pellets shallow on the long pole. Second was Jake Nightingale with 61lb 8oz from peg 9.

Canal was their destination on the second day and this time it was Jake’s turn to shine with a 47lb 10oz winning weight from peg 16, just ahead of Ben Pope’s 43lb 6oz from peg 19.

On the all-important third and final day they moved to Acorn Lake. Another nail-biting weigh in saw Brad Proctor just in front with 68lb 12oz from peg 16, with Ben Pope just behind on 67lb 14oz. Fortunately for Ben he had still done enough to secure the overall victory, finishing with 13 points and a fine 191lb 12oz total.

Intermediates Result

  • 1st Ben Pope, 13pts 191lb 12oz
  • 2nd Jake Nightingale, 11pts 150lb 8oz
  • 3rd Aidan Williams, 9pts 139lb 14oz
  • 4th Brad Proctor, 9pts 130lb 4oz
  • 5th Rebekah Thompson, 3pts 62lb

Thanks to the White Acres fishery team and congratulations to everyone who took part!

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User Report: Acolyte 12ft Carp Waggler

The Fishing Republic’s James Carlin had a successful weekend catching carp to 12lb with his Acolyte 12ft Carp Waggler rod. 


“It felt light yet powerful and I never had any doubts while playing the fish,” he commented.

Visit the Fishing Republic’s Blog section of their website for a full user report and in-depth account of the session.

Learn more about the Drennan Acolyte Carp Waggler rods.

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Messingham Sands Latest

Carl Swetnam’s eyes lit up when he drew peg 15 on Tripp Lake in the penultimate round of the Drennan Silverfish League and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 


Carl Swetnam

Despite being pestered by carp for the first half of the match at the prolific Scunthorpe venue, his dead maggot and groundbait approach still produced a 108lb winning weight. That comprised a real mixture of skimmers, roach, ide, F1s and crucians.

Runner up Dennis Pattinson also fished maggots on peg 10 for a 90lb mixed bag.
The final match is on the Swan Pond next Saturday and will effectively be a two-horse race for overall first place between Carl Swetnam and Kevin Johnson. Both men won their sections this week to keep the interest going right to the end of the 13-match series.

Weights have fluctuated during the week, but 100lb has been a realistic target on most matches. This has put results in anyone’s grasp, as both carp or silverfish approaches could produce a win.

Lenny’s Lake continues to fish well for the Syndicate members, with plenty of good sized carp and catfish reported. Scunthorpe angler Neil Graham pulled out seven carp over the 20lbs mark, the best a 27lb mirror, as well as a 29lb cat, all in the same session last week.

The Drennan Spring Festival Commences today and, in keeping with the past couple of years, poor weather is forecast! Hopefully it won’t be as bad as last year, when winter returned with a vengeance for the entire week. Despite this, the fishing was excellent and fingers are crossed for more of the same this year.

Drennan Silverfish League, Tripp Lake, Saturday
1 Carl Swetnam, Rotherham 108-02
2 Dennis Pattinson, Grimsby 93-00
3 Kevin Johnson, Messingham 84-04
4 Steve Ellis, Scunthorpe 60-07

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