Perseverance was the key to Steve Stringer’s capture of this superb summer barbel weighing in at a massive 18lb 3oz from the River Kennet.
Targeting a notoriously difficult stretch of the Berkshire waterway, the 56-year-old, from Basingstoke, connected with the huge fish after hitting his only bite of an evening session, beating his previous best for the species by exactly 1lb in the process.
The specimen is thought to be one of the largest barbel ever banked in the month of June, and is just reward for the numerous blank sessions that the Basingstoke rod has suffered in trying to better the 17lb 3oz giant he caught from a different, low-stock stretch of the same river last October.
“I got the bite at 6.45pm from a fast-flowing section of the river and it put up one hell of a scrap,” said a delighted Steve.
“At one point it became snagged up under a willow tree, and I had no option but to put the rod down, loosen the line and hope it would free itself.
“Thankfully, a few minutes later it dropped back down into the flow and I was able to start playing it again. From start to finish it took a good 10 minutes to land.”
The fish fell to one-and-a-half meat and worm boilies from Perfection Groundbaits, mounted on a size 8 Drennan Starpoint barbless hook, 1 2lb braided hooklink and groundbait feeder to which Steve added extra weights to hold station in the fast flow.
Unlike many modern barbel anglers, Steve has a lot of faith in barbless hooks, and finds it hard to believe why others don’t use this pattern more.
“I’ve been using the barbless Starpoint hooks since they were first released about 20 years ago. I don’t believe that barbed hooks offer any advantage when barbel fishing because of the way the species takes the bait.
“It’s not like with carp, which can shake their heads on the spot, trying to dislodge the hook with the aid of the lead. Barbless hooks are just so much easier to remove. Most of the time you can flip them straight out with your finger, with no need for forceps,” he added.