Great barbel and chub catches kick starts river season

Anglers celebrated a return to running water sport this week with impressive hauls of barbel, chub and bream heading catch returns.

Pleasure and specimen rods from the North East right down to the South West got in on the action as they ventured on to the riverbanks for the first time in three months.

Leading the way was the mighty River Trent, where Sheffield-based chef Lee Swords targeted a stretch on the middle river to land over 160lb of barbel to 13lb 1oz and chub to 6lb 3oz. All his fish were tempted on clusters of small pellets Superglued to a hair and wrapped in paste fished over a bed of fermented particles.

Elsewhere on the river, local government officer Chris Smith, from Barnsley, landed his first double from the tidal in the shape of a 10lb 2oz specimen which fell to a feederfished 10mm halibut pellet at first light.

Further south, on the River Thames Francis Francis Club members Keith Clark and Bill Rushmer shared an impressive 180lb-plus bag of float-caught bream to over 8lb on bread hookbaits, while London cabbie John Gard achieved a long-held ambition to catch a Thames carp on the float by netting commons weighing 25lb 8oz and 23lb 14oz on plastic corn.

Opening day on the Great Ouse saw Simon Todd-Hunter land five bream for 25lb, the best of which topped 6lb, from the Olney and Clifton stretch, a catch that was beaten by another local angler Adam Short who caught seven slabs to 5lb, plus a single tench, for a 39lb 2oz bag.

After two hours without a bite on the River Wellend, Martin Porter (40) decided to change swims and went on to bag 160lb of bream in five hours. The highlight was a personal-best slab of 9lb 7oz, which was backed up by the Peterborough-based engineer with 22 other bream and three perch. All his fish fell to worm or maggot hookbaits.

One of the biggest river fish of the week was taken by Gavin Hughes, who got his season off to a flying start with a 13lb 14oz barbel from the Bristol Avon. He also caught another barbel of 9lb 3oz and several small chub.

Meanwhile in the far north, Nigel Collins and his daughter Anne Marie banked three chub in just four casts from an overhanging bush on the River Wear, including fish of 4lb 12oz for the 13-year-old schoolgirl and one of 5lb 5oz for Nigel.