Perseverance finally paid off for Richard Lee when he slipped the net under this superb 17lb 12oz barbel from the Dorset Stour.
Braving howling wind and torrential rain, the 49-year-old took the huge fish after receiving only his third bite of the year from a difficult clubowned stretch on the middle reaches of the southern river.
The first resulted in a 16lb 12oz fish on New Year’s Day, while his second, bite, in March, was missed. But it was third time lucky for Richard, from Corfe Mullen in Dorset, when he finally connected with his adversary during a short evening session.
“Most anglers just walk straight past the swim in question, which is a 4ft-deep gravel run situated behind some pipe reeds. It’s nothing special to look at, but I had seen a fish there the previous week, so figured that it had possibilities!” said Richard.
The specimen, which took a small 8mm pellet on a long hair half-an-hour after darkness fell, beats Richard’s best for the species by 6oz.
“She fought really hard, and when I eventually managed to get her into the net I left her to rest for 10 minutes before weighing, photographing and then getting her back in the water to let her fully recover.
But all went well, which was a huge relief,” he added.
Getting somebody out to photograph your prize catch can be a problem at the best of times, but thankfully Richard managed to call on the services of a friend whom he had been fishing with earlier in the session.
“I had a pristine 5lb chub a quarter-of-an-hour before the barbel, and called my mate back, who hadn’t even managed to get to his car.
When he arrived he was muttering about ‘madmen’, ‘horizontal downpours’ and ‘Force 8 gales’, asking me why I didn’t fish nearer the car.
Then, when I called him back for the barbel a bit later on, he was actually on his way home! I’ll always be grateful to him for that,” joked Richard.