Wensum’s heavyweight barbel weighs in at a mighty 18lb 11oz

Nerves of steel were the key to Tony Bidwell’s capture of this massive 18lb 11oz barbel, the biggest example of the species taken so far this year.

The Norwich-based specialist had to endure a frustrating few days watching the mighty fish feed agonisingly close to his hookbait on the River Wensum before it eventually slipped up, smashing his old personal best by more than 6lb in the process.

Tony believes it will be only a matter of a few months before the huge specimen, which is known as ‘The Beast’, breaks the British barbel record of 21lb 1oz.

He said: “Over the previous week I did four or five short sessions lasting a couple of hours each, and actually spotted the fish in my swim on every occasion. Twice it was literally millimetres from my small boilie hookbait, only for a greedy little chub to dart in and take the bait at the last minute.

“I took several other fish to 13lb 15oz during the sessions, beating my old pb of 12lb 4oz, and on the day I caught The Beast I wasn’t even planning to go back down because I was due to go catfishing later that day.

“I thought sod it, I’ll go down and have a look, and when I got there I could see that it was the only fish visible in the swim. I waited for it to move off before lowering my bait on to the spot, 6ft from the bank. Ten minutes later the rod slammed over and I was in.”

Once he had it in the net, Tony rang his pal Darryn Stolworthy, a previous captor of The Beast, who told him to look for the fish’s easily-identifiable split tail lobe. Once verified, the celebrations began.

“I can’t repeat what I said. Needless to say I was over the moon and I still am! The fish was very long, but empty, and I have no doubt come the winter it will break the record,” said Tony, who used a size 6 Gamakatsu hook attached to an 18lb Korda Supernatural hooklink and 1.5oz lead on a safety clip set-up.