Swim off the beaten track produces 17lb 6oz barbel

THE biggest barbel of 2013 so far has been landed weighing in at 17lb 6oz….and captor Carl Welch has revealed he had a bicycle to thank for the stunning capture!

In order to access areas of the River Thames well off the beaten track, the specialist straps his rods to the frame of his trusty old bike and clocks up hundreds of miles every season finding new areas to target his chosen quarry.

Carl’s latest quest saw him embark on a tiring two-hour round trip from his Felton, Middlesex home to a length of the waterway at Chertsey. After pre-baiting his chosen swim the night before and meticulously searching his swim for an area of gravel, he flicked out a simple leger rig baited with a worm-flavoured boilie and within 15 minutes was playing the huge barbel.

“It’s hard work to cycle with all of my gear attached to the bike and it was so cold on the morning of this latest session that my drinks had frozen solid and I couldn’t even feel my hands!” Carl told Angling Times.

“But it’s definitely worth it, because using my bike gives me an advantage over the other anglers in terms of the places I am able to access, and it’s often that kind of edge that you need to catch the biggest fish.”

Carl is no stranger to outsized Thames fish; his personal best list makes for impressive reading, boasting a chub weighing 9lb 3oz - just 2oz short of the current British record, plus a barbel falling just 1oz shy of Guy Robb’s Thames best of 18lb 2oz.

“I watch so many anglers just rock up in their car and fish the first pegs they get to - then they wonder why they aren’t catching much,” Carl continued.

“You still have to get all of your tackle and bait right to fool fish like this, but I’m positive that without my bike I wouldn’t have had the success that I’ve enjoyed over the last few seasons.”
Carl used 12lb Drennan mainline and a 15lb Gravel Braid hooklink from the same company, attached to a size 8 hook.