Barbel Challenge Update | James Denison

James Denison is not shy of a challenge, undertaking a mammoth quest to catch a double figure barbel from 40 different rivers. Here is a little update from the man himself…

I’ve fished a fair few rivers this season already, trying to catch doubles off of venues I’ve not managed so far and targeted other rivers I’ve never fished before.

My first trip to the Loddon after a hard season last season turned out to be a brilliant opener at the end of June as I managed to locate one of the very elusive Barbel, thankfully for me, it was a double which gave a great account of itself. Weighing 10lb 7oz it meant that my trips to the Loddon were done (at least for now) and it meant I’d registered my 19th different river double-figure fish, a great start to the season.

From that session on things got tough and found myself blanking a few times with trips to the Colnbrook, Kentish Stour, and Nene. It wasn’t until I got on to the banks of the mighty river Wye that I finally halted the run of blanks, even when conditions were really against myself and my mate Brian, I did manage to have what I can only describe as very good haul given what we were faced with, 11 Barbel to 8lb 4oz made it to the bank but that elusive Wye double will have to wait another day!

Then I found myself fishing the River Blackwater for the first time and although I had heard of the river I’d never fished it before, having had some good intel on sections to try I still struggled to find any Barbel, it took me three visits before I did finally contact the species I desired in the shape of a 9lb 1oz fin perfect Barbel. Again, not a double so I will be returning to try and get that double that would add to my slowly growing list.

Days later I found myself back on the River Nene, battling the dreadful traffic heading up north. I hoped I would finally get the chance to improve upon my 8lb 7oz Barbel caught in September 2021, unfortunately, I came away from my trip there (second of the season) with another blank, however, I did see a large fish of around 12lbs moving through the weed and flanking on the gravels, it was a fish I was hoping to fool into taking the bait, but it just didn’t happen. To make matters worse my journey home which should have taken 1hr 45min took 4hr 20min owing to roadworks and road closures, it really was a rubbish journey!

Last but not least, as I write this I’m on a family break in the Lake District having a well-earned rest from work which has been unrelenting, however about 50miles south of where we are based is the mighty River Ribble, a river that I visited in March with no joy, this time around things seemed to be a lot more settled and although I wasn’t expecting much I thought it would be a good idea seeing as I’m up here to at least try…well, 45mins after setting up my upstream rod tore off in typical Barbel fashion and once my battle with this powerful fish had finally come to an end I slipped the net under what was a certain double figure Barbel, at the second time of asking I had got what I wanted! A River Ribble double!! What an inspired decision to cram the gear in the car.

The scales read 10lb 13oz, I couldn’t ask for much more. This also meant that I had achieved the halfway point of my epic challenge, 20 out of 40 now on the scoreboard, from now on I’ll be counting down and not up!

I stayed until midnight without further incident so decided that was it for me, I got what I came for! An hour later I was home and in bed, perfect!

Tight lines to you all!