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Barbel on the Ouse

Haywards Heath Youngster lands massive Ouse Barbel

The Upper Ouse has produced yet another cracking fish this year. Young angler Michael Wickens landed a 15lb 11oz Barbel on 9th March. The fish, which is a club record, is also a record for the Ouse as a whole. After the capture of a big Barbel by Petworth and District AA member Christophe Pelhate on the Arun in January it would seem that Sussex is fast becoming home to some big fish.
It is a maginificent catch, all the more so because Micahel is 17 has only been fishing for 6 years, 5 of those on the Ouse. He is currently studying on a Level 3 Diploma in Fisheries Management at Sparsholt College, Hampshire, where he lives but goes home every few weekends to Sussex to fish.

“I pre-baited my swim around an hour and a half to fishing it with Bait Factory's Krill and Crab ground bait, laced
with Bait Factory's mixed flavoured pellets. The way I did this was using PVA mesh bags with a large stone in the
bottom, which I believe causes far less disturbance than using a bait dropper, however effective they may be.
Rig-wise I opted to take a leaf out the carp angler’s book, and use a combi-rig. The stiffer fluorocarbon was
connected to a short section of supple braid (my choice being 12lb Drennan gravel braid). In addition to this, I had ‘kicked’ the hook with some shrink tubing to create a really aggressive angle of the hook, sure to nail any takes, which in the fluctuating conditions have been few and far between. A large blob of rig putty over the connecting rig ring ensured the rig stuck to the bottom, with a supple section of braid to allow free movement of the bait, ensuring it looked as natural as physically possible. Hair-rigged fairly close to the size 8 hook shank were two 8mm Bait Factory halibut pellets, renowned barbel bait. I have caught several barbel from the Sussex Ouse, the biggest weighing 8lb 14oz, as well as chub to 5lb 11oz, and carp to 12lb 7oz. Catching the potential river record means so much to me, and it is a lot of hard work and blanks paid off.”

Michael Wickens CMP

Michael has clearly spent a lot of time working out how to catch these rare, for Sussex waters, fish. It seems that a number of barbell were stocked in the Adur, Arun and Ouse in the early 80’s but the stocking was never properly followed up and the fish left in he river courses have never built up a critical mass of population. There are a few anglers who do know where these fish can be caught and understandably they are very reluctant to reveal the locations. Since they’ve spent long hours working out where they are and stalking them you can’t blame them for being a bit secretive.

Fishing on the Sussex Ouse

Fishing on the Ouse varies between great coarse fishing for Roach, Chub and Carp in the upper and middle reaches and some excellent Bass and Mullet fishing in the tidal reaches at Piddinghoe. Sea Trout also run up the Ouse and very often can be seen at Barcombe Mills, a few miles North of Lewes.

The river has good Chub, Pike and general coarse fishing and in some of the upper tributaries contains Barbel .For more information about the river and it's excellent fishing