CARL Welch has come within 1oz of breaking the River Thames barbel record with this 18lb 1oz specimen which has headed up another phenomenal week for the species on rivers across the UK.
The historic fish was landed by the Feltham, London-based security guard, who continued his unbelievable run of form on the waterway, which recently saw him land a British record-shaking chub of 9lb 3oz, when he concentrated on a stretch at Chertsey.
Just a few days earlier the 35-year-old had landed an impressive barbel of 15lb 12oz from the same swim, but knowing there was a chance of an even bigger fish he returned and stuck with his winning combination of an Aqua Dynamix Worm boilie offered in conjunction with a small PVA bag of crushed baits.
After a couple of missed bites his rod was almost pulled off the rest by the new personal best that weighed fractionally less than Guy Robb’s river record of 18lb 2oz caught in 2005.
“I cast back out after failing to connect with a take and sat back to check a couple of e-mails on my phone when out of the corner of my eye I saw the rod start to literally take off. I simply grabbed hold of the handle and hung on for dear life as the fish powered off downstream,” he told Angling Times.
“I’ve had some big fish from the river, but the sheer power of this one was staggering and it took me over 20 minutes to land it. By this time a crowd of other anglers, dog walkers and joggers had gathered behind me and were all willing the fish into the net.
“This has been the most productive October for barbel that I’ve ever had. I can only put it down to the weather as I know that so many other anglers are also reaping the rewards.”
One of those fishermen was Red Darling who now holds the River Derwent record following the capture of a 16lb 6oz specimen.
The fish, which smashes his previous biggest for the species by over 5lb, was taken from a Derbyshire County Angling Club stretch when the waterway was high and coloured after recent rain.
Hair-rigged pellets on a size 8 hook attached to 10lb line proved to be the winning method and the all-important bite came when he flicked his rig out just over a rodlength from his own bank.
“I was in total shock once the fish was in the net as I knew I’d smashed my personal best. That feeling was magnified once my friend Dan Golding and another angler came along to help me weigh and verify it as a new river record,” said Red.
You can always count on the famous Throop Fishery on the River Stour to produce some big barbel when the conditions are right and Luke Guarguaglini used the tried-and-tested method of rolling meat to beat his barbel personal best with the capture of a 15lb 5oz specimen.
After landing two chub to 5lb in the morning, the huge fish made an appearance just after lunch time when he trundled his hookbait, which was flavoured with mild curry powder, through a slack area in an otherwise fast-flowing swim.