Local makes it look easy with 10 barbel for a win

Bridgnorth AS ace Mark Beard is well ahead of the chasing pack

Local makes it look easy with 10 barbel for a win

by Angling Times |

The grand finale of this exciting new river event, aimed at anglers in the running water match hotbed of the West Midlands, saw the 41 finalists descend on Bridgnorth. But they found the Severn up and coloured from recent rains – and it rose another foot during the match!

That meant barbel would be the target species, and the captor of 10 of them lifted the trophy and pocketed a very tidy £8,000 for his efforts. That was Bridgnorth AS man Mark Beard, who took 57-7-0 to the scales to win with ease. Second place went to one of the UK’s best river match anglers, Hadrian Whittle, with 32-8-0 of barbel, the top three being rounded off by Severn regular Tony Moreton with 31-10-0. In all, £18,000 in total was shared by the top three individuals and generous section payouts.

Ten Severn barbel earned Mark the trophy
Ten Severn barbel earned Mark the trophy

“I drew peg 72, just down from what’s known as the Damson Field. As a Severn regular, I knew that a shoal of barbel always live in that area – what concerned me was the sudden rise in the river level which can be too much, even for barbel,” Mark said.

“An extra 3ft of water in 24 hours can put too much colour into the water. Bridgnorth match organiser Brian Preece told me my peg was a potential winner as he actually pleasure fishes it a lot, but catching on a rising river is an entirely different matter!

“Setting up two rods, I began by getting as much halibut groundbait into the peg as I could in the first half-an-hour by casting regularly with an open-end feeder. Then I changed over to mainly halibut pellets plugged with a bit of groundbait into the deepest water down the middle of the river, using a hair-rigged 8mm halibut pellet on the hook” he continued.

“After an hour I’d not had a sign. I even had a few chucks with my other rod for fishing meat. Around 20 minutes later, I got my first barbel of around 5lb, and for the next hour and a bit it was steady – not hectic, but it allowed me to put a fish in the net every 25 minutes or so.

“Hour three was a non-event, with just one fish, as the river had come up another 12 inches, but in the last 60 minutes I had a bit of a purple patch with my two biggest fish weighing 8lb and 9lb 6oz,” Mark revealed.

“I can only think that was down to the time of day when the light levels were fading a bit, and that pair helped give me a bit of a cushion over everyone else. With 10 fish in the net, and having fished the river a lot in matches, I felt that would put me in with a really good shout at winning.”

Mark Beard, inaugural winner of the ABC Baits Midlands River Masters Final
Mark Beard, inaugural winner of the ABC Baits Midlands River Masters Final

For runner-up Hadrian, on peg 36, it was simple matter of using groundbait feeder and maggot at the start to catch a 4lb barbel early on before a change to the maggot feeder produced two more fish. Back on the groundbait feeder he put another brace of barbel in the net, then, with 90 minutes remaining, the Daiwa ace dropped in on his swim close in where he’d fed hemp via a bait dropper at the start. With a bomb rig and meat on the hook, two more barbel obliged.

Sadly, just when Hadrian thought the peg was about to take off, the bites stopped and he had to be content with seven fish.

Pictured from left to right are ABC Baits boss Denzil Thorpe, Hadrian Whittle, Mark  Beard and Tony Moreton
Pictured from left to right are ABC Baits boss Denzil Thorpe, Hadrian Whittle, Mark Beard and Tony Moreton
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us