New Year's Eve barbel brace

TOP all-rounder James Crameri celebrated New Year’s Eve in the best possible fashion by banking a stunning 34lb 1oz barbel brace.

After shunning the pull of the local pub in favour of a session on an undisclosed Midlands river, the 42-year-old took fish weighing 16lb 10oz and 17lb 7oz in successive casts.

Large chunks of luncheon meat presented on a simple leger rig in floodwater conditions did the business for James who, following the capture, becomes the first angler to bank 17lb-plus barbel from four different rivers, the other three having been taken from the rivers Great Ouse, Wensum and Ivel.

He said: “I got there at lunchtime and spent the afternoon fishing a number of swims, trying to locate where the barbel might be holed up in the high-water conditions. With nothing to show for my efforts and dusk approaching, I set up in a spot offering an area of slack water immediately in front and dropped my rig out. Within 10 minutes I had a bite and landed a small barbel of about 3lb.

“A quarter of an hour later the rod tip wrenched round and I was into a very powerful fish, which gave me a wonderful scrap. It was an extremely long and lean fish and I was surprised when it went 17lb 7oz on the scales – I weighed it three times just to be sure!”

At that point, James, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, would have been more than satisfied with his night’s work. However, within the hour he once again found himself doing battle with another big barbel.

“I had to bully the fish quite a lot to keep it out of bankside bushes and reeds, and I could feel the line pinging off submerged stems and branches. Everything held firm and within five minutes it was in the net, where I could see it was another heavyweight. I was delighted when the needle on the scales went round to 16lb 10oz - it was the perfect way to end the year!” added James, who beat both his fish using 12lb mainline, a 15lb braided hooklink and a size 8 hook.