Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Last four fishing days - day 3 - Best fishing day ever?

6:00am finds me tackling up 30 yards upstream of Hawthorns 1, the scene of yesterday's lost fish, which I have now fully convinced myself was a barbel. No new free baits, just a freelined boilie under the Hawthorns by my own bank. 45 minutes fishing produce no bites, so more bait goes in and I had planned to return every few hours to fish this spot again.

Further downstream I added more free bait to swims 3 and 4, before settling in my current "chub banker" swim, which today produces my best chub of the year, a really fat fish of 5-12. I am rather pleased with this although it is not my targeted 6lber and in the next swims are rather content to watch the wildlife for a bit. Swims 5 and 6 are fished with no new bait having been adding, but no bites are forthcoming. They are baited and then its back to Hawthorns 1 and 2, where another 45 minutes in each produced nothing.
A very fat 5-12
It was now about 1:00 and I settled in swim 4, a swim dominated by a fallen tree. I cast to mid river and let the boilie swing round on a light ledger till it settles well under the branches. I planned to leave it there for around 45 minutes, but after 25 minutes or so I got a huge bite that lifts the rod butt off the ground, pivoting on the rod rest. A strike meets very solid resistance and there were a few worried moments as I eased the fish out from under the snags. Soon after, it dawned on me that the fish was hugging the bottom surprisingly easily and I soon saw why - it was my much sort after barbel, which I got a brief sight of before it powered off upstream, thankfully now well away from the major snags. Gradually it came back to me and after a further two or three powerful runs that caused a few worries as line spilled off the reel again - given yesterday's experience, were all my knots ok, etc - it finally allowed me to net it.
Only then then I really realise just what a huge fish it was. In the water I had thought a definite double but it was clearly well above a "mere" double. I had nothing big enough to weigh it in, so it went into the landing net. I'd not zero'ed the scales for the net and my initial weighing was 16-10!! Weighing the net next gave 1-06, so the barbel was 15-04. I re-zeroed the scales with the net attached and re-weighed the fish, this time getting 15-05. But I have stuck with 15-04.
Luckily there is an angler fishing just downstream from me and he took a couple of pictures on my mobile phone. These are never great but it was all I could do. It really was an incredibly fat fish, with the most enormous girth (as shown by the net photo below). It beats my personal best by nearly 3lbs and combined with the 5-12 chub earlier is by far the best brace of fish I have ever taken or are ever likely to in the future.
The fish was returned in the net and took a few minutes to recover, but it swam off strongly settling under a near bank tree for some minutes before powering off.
My most incredible barbel of 15-04!!
Look at the girth!!
Totally amazing!!
I did stay on at the river for another few hours but only fished about half of that, remaining in the same spot in case there were others there. Didn't even bother to try the Hawthorns again. But really I wasn't that fussed. This has been my finest angling day ever, and I doubt any fish would have made it better (unless perhaps I had caught a 7lb chub!).
I wonder what the biggest Thames barbel have been. I suspect that 15-04 is among the biggest ever. I shall resist the temptation to send a picture to the angling press - I wouldn't want to breach any club rules on no media contact!!

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