The nation’s barbel anglers have taken advantage of the improving conditions this week with a number rivers hitting top form again.
The biggest specimen was caught by Luke Ayling who landed a fish of 16lb 1oz during an overnight session on the River Thames.
Just days earlier the Oxfordshire-based rod had landed a 14lb 3oz barbel from a local stretch of the waterway and he returned to find the venue holding plenty of colour as a result of the heavy rain. He cast out a Lone Angler Sausage Sizzle Squab and shortly after the nearby church’s bells struck midnight he received a fast take.
“I initially thought it was a carp. I didn’t realise the true size of the barbel until I got it in the net and when I shone my head torch on it I had a few choice words – it was massive,” said Luke, who used a 15lb Lone Angler braid hooklink to a size 6 Pallatrax hook.
He was woken again shortly afterwards with another take. “Once again I knew I was into a very big fish. Incredibly, it was the same fish I’d landed at 14lb 3oz just days before!”
Elsewhere, an effort to raise thousands of pounds for charity via a unique challenge ended in success, with four anglers achieving their target of landing at least fourteen double figure barbel in as many days.
Phil Smith, Dave Chambers, Paul Floyd and event organiser Jerry Gleeson covered almost every major river in the UK in the process, with the biggest fish taken by Paul with a 15lb 2oz fish from the Kings Weir stretch of the River Lea.
Other notable fish taken during the quest – which ended with them collecting almost £3,000 for the Army Benevolent Fund – included Jerry’s 13lb 10oz barbel from the Colne and Dave’s 13lb 3oz Kennet specimen.
Staying on the River Kennet, Travis Robertson targeted an under-fished backed and landed a 14lb 4oz barbel, beating his previous best for the species by 4lb.
Returning to angling after a few years out, the 24-year-old visited the Reading DAA stretch after a rain storm where he fished a PVA bag filled with halibut pellets and a 12mm pellet hair-rigged on a size 8 Korum hook.
In-form barbel angler Thomas Finney also got in on the action, using a simple attack to attract a 15lb beast from a Midlands waterway.
The 23-year-old took his seventh double of the year from the waterway after he adopted a roving approach, rolling meat in several swims before his supermarket offering was taken.
Finally, a 500-mile round trip for Marcus Weaver from his Welsh home to the River Trent proved more than worthwhile as he took his first ever double in the form of a 14lb 4oz whisker.
A Three Foot Twitch Rubby Dubby boilie was the bait responsible for the capture, and Marcus said: “I thought I’d hooked the bottom until it started to plod off. Gaining control was tough but perseverance tired the fish out and it eventually surrendered.”