The River Trent has produced the biggest barbel of the season so far at 15lb 15oz.
The whiskered whacker fell to Andrew Knots, who fished on four consecutive days from June 16. He said: “I was with my good mate Alfie Naylor, and most evenings after work both of us went down and put some grub in for the fish.
“Over the first three sessions we caught good numbers of barbel to double figures, plus chub and a couple of big bream – then on day four I hooked something more substantial.
“After a long and slow fight, where I had to stand in the water, I was looking at the fattest barbel I have ever seen.”
Andrew’s Spam hookbait was presented on a metre-long hooklength below a feeder filled with micros and crushed boilies.
l Further south, Ben Fairweather kicked off his river season on the legendary Hampshire Avon with an immense 7lb 11oz chub.
Targeting an undisclosed stretch, the boat builder from Bournemouth fished six evenings on the trot before the fish took his homemade boilie.
“After a few reconnaissance trips I decided to concentrate on a particular swim that had produced during the winter for me,” said Ben.
“The second session saw me bank my first chub of the new season, at 4lb, but with more activity after dark I was sure bigger fish were about.
“The next three sessions were blanks, but the following evening I returned and introduced some hemp, pellets and a handful of my chosen hookbait via a bait dropper.”
Just after 10pm Ben’s rod-tip banged around and he was into a hard-fighting fish. When it was finally netted, he couldn’t believe his eyes: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and when I lifted the net my hands and knees started shaking.”
l Heading the week’s stillwater catches is Mike Lyddon’s 12lb 4oz tench. After baiting a 12ft-deep marginal gulley on a southern stillwater for three weeks with maggot and hemp, and landing a good run of bream to 11lb 9oz, Mike connected with a string of tench, topped by the double-figure tinca.
“I had a slow twitchy take that straight away felt like a much better fish,” Mike recalled. “Two minutes later I could see a very big tench in the clear water.”
The tench is a new personal best for the Gardner Tackle-backed ace, who had all his fish on bunches of maggots fished helicopter-style in conjunction with a maggot feeder.