One of the UK’s longest-standing barbel records has finally been broken by a giant 16lb 5oz specimen.
Andrew Allard this week wrote his name into the history books by banking a 16lb 5oz River Severn specimen almost 12 years after Howard Maddocks rocked the specimen world by setting a new British record with a 16lb 3oz fish from the West Mids waterway.
The 39-year-old has been a regular on the venue for more than 25 years and ‘fulfilled his fishing dream’ when he landed the powerful fish from a stretch near Worcester. After spending most of the day fishing with maggots, by the time evening came around Andrew had just a handful of small roach and chub to show for his efforts. A switch to pellet hookbaits at dusk brought a rapid change in fortunes and he was soon connected to the biggest authenticated barbel the venue has ever produced.
“I knew the fish was special, but I didn’t know that it was a new venue record until I made a call to Angling Times,” said Andrew, who lives locally and beat his quarry with a pellet feeder set-up constructed from 12lb mainline and a size 12 hook.
“The great thing about this river is its size and unpredictability, and that’s why this specimen means so much because fish over the 15lb mark from here are almost unheard of.” Since the capture of Maddocks’ British record back in 1997 no fewer than 15 other UK rivers have produced barbel bigger than his 16lb 3oz fish - some with unprecedented regularity.
So why has the Severn seemingly fallen so far behind the likes of the Wensum, Great Ouse, Kennet and Dorset Stour?
Barbel Society chairman Steve Pope fishes the lower Severn frequently, and also witnessed Maddocks’ fish first-hand. He remains sceptical whether the venue will ever produce fish approaching record proportions again.
“I’d be confident to say that the Severn will never produce a 20lb barbel.
It’s just too vast and impossible to set your stall out for specific fish or groups of barbel,” Steve told Angling Times.
“This, coupled with the fact that few anglers target the river, means it’s difficult to paint a true picture of exactly how big individual fish can grow.” Another theory, one which is supported by barbel historian Dave Mason, puts the river’s lack of big-fish potential down to the strain of the resident barbel.
“I can only think that it’s because the Severn barbel simply don’t have the growth potential of those in other venues. The fact that there are only a few 15lb fish reported and very few back-up fish just amazes me because it’s a vast, healthy river and should be producing lots of big barbel - but it’s clearly not capable.”