CARL AND ALEX SMITH – two of the keenest and fastest learning young anglers in the UK- appear every week with a top tip in Angler’s Mail magazine.

The schoolboys have also built a following online at ANGLERSMAILTV, with regular video blogs charting their varied fishing trips, and offering handy hints to help you.

Here we bring you a special feature to link with Carl’s inspiring My Say comment piece in our magazine (January 3 cover-date, 2012).

Carl recounts their stand-out river adventure last year, and to back it up we bring you links to all four parts of the brothers’ video blogs.

Please feel free to add your comments below.



Almost a double – this 9 lb 12 oz barbel gave Alex Smith a personal best… one he went on to beat during a memorable week on the Wye.



Special diary for – by CARL SMITH

For the past three years, since reading an article in Angler’s Mail, I have been desperate to catch my first barbel.

So when asked what I would like to do for my 16th birthday, a trip to the River Wye in pursuit of a barbel was top of my list!

We decided to make a holiday out of it and so, at the start of half-term week last October, we left home.

The joys of heavy traffic meant we arrived later than planned and did not have time to fish, but we managed a bit of filming before it became dark.

That night as we slept in our cottage, situated between Hereford and Hay On Wye, we dreamt of catching a barbel in the morning!

It’s easy to see how the lads got up early in each day during their holiday… with the stunning River Wye on their doorstep!



We woke early, about 6 am. It was still dark as we collected up our fishing gear; two rods, net, mat, and a rucksack.

It was only a short walk down to the river where I decided to roll a large lump of Bait-Tech Polony (luncheon meat) through some deeper channels and near to snags. Alex tried some spinning for the pike.

Two swims and no bites, we moved on to a spot where the majority of the water flowed close to the far bank, rumoured to be one of the deepest swims on the stretch. I cast my meat across landed it – very luckily – right next to the overhanging trees on the far bank.

I felt the bait bounce along the bottom and then stop momentarily before the line was pulled from between my fingers. I closed the bale arm, struck the hook through the meat and connected… with a big ‘un.

The unseen fish moved extremely slowly upstream until I could just make out a gold flank beneath the surface. Yes! I had my first river barbel within netting distance.

Then, as I lowered my net into the water, the fish turned and went on a hard, fast run. Disaster struck and the hook pulled.

I was terribly disappointed, especially as the fish looked as if it could have been over 7 or 8 lb.

Five hours later we returned to our first swim – in the garden of the house where we were staying.

There was deep water close in here, about 6 ft in places. We also spotted some streamer weed which we reckoned may hide a barbel or chub.

Pellets and hemp – could any barbel refuse?

I set up a static bait rig with a 1.5oz flat lead, a 3ft hooklength with a size 14 hook and an 8mm pre-drilled halibut pellet. I wrapped the lead in some sticky groundbait, pellet and hemp mix, then cast out. The bait was probably a meter from the bank but ten yards downstream.

From the second the bait reached the bottom I received taps and knocks on the rod tip – the IQ barbel twin tip from 30Plus. A few minutes later the tip pulled round.

Chub, I suspected… but then when the fish reached the surface I noticed the bronze flank of a small barbel. Lifting the net around the fish, I was still a little disappointed about losing a large barbel previously, but this little beauty made up for it. With fins of almost purple, and golden scales I was over the moon.

My parents, on the far bank, watched me jumping for joy as I released my first-ever river barbel!

After stopping for lunch and to meet up with some friends, we returned to explore further upstream to a place no one had fished for years.

When we arrived there were chub lining the bank; in one foot of water beneath the overhanging trees lay chub of proportions I had never witnessed before. I’m not one for telling a fish’s weight before getting the scales out, but I estimated some of these chub to be 5 lb-plus. Wow!

Alex lowered a freelined lump of white bread onto the surface presented on a size 10 and 6 lb main line. The chub were a little wary at first, but second cast a small chub came up and engulfed the bread.

After a short fight I netted the fish for Alex and we unhooked his new PB chub, 1 lb precisely. And the smallest of the shoal.

We would be back to this swim for sure!

Dr Paul Garner and Alex wait for a bite, as Carl does the camerawork. Watch the excellent video blogs from this Wye trip by clicking on the links (below).



We met up with Dr Paul Garner, with the hope that in his company we would learn more about fishing the Wye for barbel and chub. We were not disappointed.

We walked the stretch with Paul, chose three swims to prebait with a baitdropper or catapult. In went hemp, Fish Frenzy 6mm halibut pellets and some bigger 8mm pellets as well. We hoped the barbel would get their heads down and feed confidently before we fished for them.

Rigs were similar to the day before with the exception that when we fished the slower, deeper swim; Paul recommended a large feeder rather than a lead.

After four hours without a fish, Alex’s rod suddenly fell off the rest. When he picked the rod up of the floor he felt a tap – and then the fight commenced!

The fish surged upstream, slowly but powerfully. He reckoned it felt as though he’d hooked the bottom of the river but it was moving!

When it was closer in Paul held the net ready, and after a number of fast runs the fish gave up and a long lean Wye barbel slid into the mesh.

‘Looks about 7 lb 8 oz,’ Paul remarked. What we had not seen was the width of the fish. When Alex placed it on the mat we all realised it might be even bigger than 7 lb! The scales shot down to 9 lb 12 oz minus the sling.

Incredible! Alex’s first river barbel and it nearly reached double-figures!

I took some photos, we released the fish and it swam gracefully back into the depths. This was definitely a good swim.

Carl gets to grips with running a float through a fast-paced swim.

We went on to float fish using a loafer. On Paul’s advice, to get the bait tripping across the bottom, we continued making the rig deeper until the float started dipping beneath the surface. It worked, and a small barbel was mine – on the float. Great fun!

After some bleak, chublets and dace, it started raining and we decided to head back to the cottage. It was time for Paul to head off home, but before he left he gave us some new baits he had been working on with Fish Frenzy at Nash – special additive, maize pellets due to come out this year and some sticky pellets to try as well.

Paul is a lovely guy, immensely knowledgeable and it was great to spend the day with him and to catch some barbel. Thanks a lot Paul!


We did not fish this day. After all, man cannot live by fishing alone!



We woke up to a misty morning. It was about 7am and the sun was slowly rising over the Wye. There seemed to be more colour in the river, this was due to the rain upstream yesterday.

I fancied my chances and fished a new swim we had not yet tried. It was mainly slow flowing but it increased in depth towards the far bank.

I filled my feeder with some hemp, pellet and groundbait, and hair rigged an 8mm Bait-Tech pre-drilled halibut pellet. It took about an hour and a half before the tip tapped twice and then dragged round.

Carl shows off the catch of the fourth day, an 8 lb 14 oz barbel.

Lifting the rod, all I could feel was a solid weight on the line; I pulled hard away from the snags. Slowly but surely, the barbel lifted from the bottom and glided towards my waiting net.

This was not the time to make a mistake, the hour or so before was as relaxing as it gets, but now my heart was thumping. After another run the fish lay on its side, beaten.

Once in the net, I let the fish recover from the fight, then we took some photos and some film. The barbel was a new PB for me of 8 lb 14 oz!

We returned for a cooked breakfast, and then went out with our parents to look at old buildings. Yay!


No fishing but we prepared our gear and baits for the next day; there was plenty of rain and the river was coloured and rising.


The early bird catches the worm. Well, in our case the early fisherman catches the fish!

We woke even earlier as it was to be our last proper day fishing. We started in a new swim but after two hours we had not even had a nibble, even though we had baited the swim with a can of hemp the previous day. Never mind, we decided it was time to move to the swim where I had my 8 lb barbel from a couple of days before.

The same rigs (details below) were cast out by Alex. Both hair rigs wielded a big Bait-Tech drilled halibut pellet – he was hopeful!

Dad came to see how we were doing. Alex was just telling him nothing was biting when dad, who is not a fisherman, said his rod was moving. Alex turned round to see his quivertip whack round!

He lifted the rod and the fish made a run… a strong run… for the sea! After gaining back all the line, Alex strained to get the fish up towards the surface. Eventually, after about ten minutes it ended up in the net.

Dad who knows so little about fish but reckoned it was a double-figure barbel, Alex was not so sure. Itís hard to tell how big a fish is before it is lifted from the water. Once on the mat, we realised that the mouth could almost engulf a tennis ball!

On the scales it reached 10 lb 12 oz (pictured below). A new PB for Alex and a double-figure barbel!

Could it get much better? This week was turning out to be a holiday of a lifetime.

They went to the Wye in hope of catching a barbel, but they conquered giants. This was the star fish – 10 lb 12 oz to Alex.

It was time to go out again with our parents. After admiring more old buildings, we found a tearoom and enjoyed some tasty food.

Upon returning, it was straight back to the river with the hope of another barbel or even a chub. We had spoken to another angler a few days ago and he recommended the swim near the end of the stretch. So we walked about half a mile or so downstream.

The river here looked fantastic; deep slow water shallowing up to some rapids at the end of the swim. We cast our rods out towards the fallen trees on the far bank. Not more that three minutes later, Alex’s rod pulled over and he tightened up to another barbel.

This one, however, shook its head a bit and was not fighting as much as his ten-pounder. After a short scrappy fight the fish gave up and let us take some photos. At 5 lb 6 oz it was not huge but a good looking fish all the same.

My rod also knocked, but rather than a barbel I played in a chub of 2 lb 15 oz, the biggest chub of the trip. Later that evening I lost a barbel, and a pike grabbed Alex’s feeder as he reeled in! What a great day.

The lads caught some chub too. This was the best of them, to Alex.



We fished very early in the morning before we had to leave. Alex managed a chub of 3 lb 6 oz, a new PB, and he also lost a barbel.

I did not have a single bite. But was I disappointed? No.

One blank session out of the week did not bother me, I had achieved my target. I had come to the Wye and caught a barbel.

The simple rig.


For most of the fishing we used a 3 oz 30Plus Tunnel Barbel Feeder, a bead, then a quick change swivel. Looped onto the swivel was a 2 to 4ft hooklength of 10 lb line to a size 14 hook and a pre-drilled pellet on the hair.

Alex shows a selection of the baits used.



We tipped a can of Bait-Tech Super Seed Hemp into a bait bucket and added some 2mm pellets to soak up the hemp juices.

Then we poured in some 6mm and 8mm halibut pellets.

Finally, we sprinkled some groundbait over the mix to stiffen it slightly.

The result is a pellet based mix which will gradually tumble out of the feeder, bringing barbel and chub upstream.



Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4