Huge 29lb salmon hooked on luncheon meat from the Hampshire Avon

“A fish beyond my wildest dreams” is how a delighted Paul Robinson described the incredible 29lb 1oz salmon he caught last week while barbel fishing on the Hampshire Avon.

The Surrey rod became the envy of game anglers nationwide when he landed the rare ‘springer’ from Christchurch’s Royalty Fishery
– his first encounter with the enigmatic species.

It intercepted a lump of luncheon meat which Paul was ‘rolling’ around a famous swim known as The Trammels, marking the start of an arm-aching 45-minute fight.
“As soon as I hit into the fish, it immediately tore upstream and I realised that it could only be a salmon. The fight was unlike anything I have experienced in terms of sheer power and strength – absolutely amazing,” said a still shell-shocked Paul.

“It made several incredibly powerful runs and for long periods stubbornly sat on the bottom – I couldn’t budge it. By the time the fish was eventually netted, I had developed a gallery of other anglers. The hen fish was in magnificent condition, a fresh springer that had travelled from the sea overnight.”

Following the epic battle, Paul was keen to ensure the safe return of a fish he admits to having been ‘honoured’ to catch.

“After such a drawn-out fight we couldn’t risk taking the fish out of the water for photos, so we jumped in to weigh, revive and return it. The photos don’t really capture its scale and size, but this is more than compensated for by the memories and the fact that this magnificent salmon survived to continue its journey upriver.”

“The fishery manager estimated that this magnificent fish would have run up the salmon ladder that night and would later in the year be laying her eggs in a local tributary, supporting the next generation of these creatures – a great thought early the next day as I fought my way up the London Tube network!” said Paul.

The magnitude of the catch was not lost on Nigel Gray, owner of Davis Tackle in Christchurch, which runs the Royalty fishing.

“The spring fish are few and far between, as rare as hen’s teeth in fact, and so to get one on meat is remarkable. Salmon do get caught on the bait – I’ve had three myself in recent years to 19lb – but most are grilse.

“Paul’s fish is the biggest for eight years – an unbelievable capture.”