TARGETING chub on the River Lea for the last few seasons, Simon Baker never really had the chance to fish for its famed big barbel. But knowing the venue was going to be in flood, he decided to have a go for them, and grabbed some big chunks of spicy luncheon meat from the freezer. With the river up but slowly dropping, he used big leads and backleads to pin everything down.
His first cast brought a few plucks on the rod top and then a wrap round, which he missed, but marks on the hookbait suggested eels were the culprit.
Simon cast out again and, after an hour, received a single, violent bang on the rod that stripped about 10 yards of line from the reel, causing him to jump up from his seat. He was just about to sit down again when the spool went into meltdown, and after several powerful runs he’d netted the longest, most pristine barbel he’d ever seen, at 18lb 2oz.