PB chub and barbel from in-form river

With many of the UK’s waterways rendered virtually unfishable by floods, one that has still been providing anglers with excellent sport was the River Loddon.

Going to the effort of creating his own swim on the venue provided Ken Hellewell with a 7lb 14oz chub, just an hour into fishing it.

The Farnborough-based rod told Angling Times that he had walked past the overgrown spot for three seasons but only recently decided to start clearing and attempting to fish it. It proved to be a great decision when he latched into the new personal best, fishing several yards downstream to a weed raft on his own bank.

“It was a real big, old looking chub and in the spring it will probably go over 8lb. There’s a bit of a crease with trees overhanging and it just looked perfect - I can’t believe I’d never tried this spot before,” he said.

Fishing 10lb mainline, a 10lb braided hooklink and a size 2 ESP Raptor hook, Ken had to play it hard to keep it away from the raft,  after which it held deep in mid-river.

“The fish was 21ins long with a girth of 17ins. I used a large lump of bread flake with a free running cage feeder filled with dry breadcrumb. If you use the crumb wet, I’ve found it makes too much of a splash and spooks the fish. Everybody is talking about the River Lea but the Loddon has some huge chub in too!” he added.

Also getting in on the action was James Picton-Robinson, who all but sealed a bet among a group of friends on who could land the biggest barbel of the season with a 16lb 8oz specimen.

The Hook, Hampshire-based angler had resigned himself to having to pay out after his angling companions Alan Muller and Matt Smith each netted 15lb-plus fish earlier in the season, but he took an almost unsurmountable lead when his new personal best fell for a 16mm pellet wrapped in Sticky Krill Paste.

He said: “I’d placed my bait close to a series of snags and I knew I was into a large barbel by the way it was plodding around. It managed to snag me up at one point but after a few tense moments it came free.”

With less than six weeks to go until the river season comes to an end, the 43-year-old is hopeful of taking a cash prize off his friends. “In June we all decided to place £50 each on which one of us would land the biggest barbel this season. I’m currently in line to win that and I’ll be doing my best to keep them off the best stretches until March 14!” he added.