Den Willets 16lb 1oz Barbel

This sublime 16lb 1oz barbel has topped the list of specimen catches in what’s been another fantastic start to the season for the species. 

It was banked by Nottingham-based angler Den Willets and was the gem in the twenty barbel he caught during a week’s fishing on a section of the middle Trent.

Having arrived in his swim at 4pm on Friday 15 June, the 37-year-old caught steadily from midnight right through to Saturday the following week – but it was his catch on the Thursday that really got heads turning.

Den told Angling Times: “Some friends and I just sat down to start cooking on the Thursday morning when my left rod on the inside line ripped off.

“I got off to a bad start as it took me into a snag but after five minutes I managed to get it out.

“In another cruel twist of fate, it then swam into another snag that had been plaguing my mate Wayne during the week. I thought I’d lost it but didn’t give up knowing that something special was on the end.”

After a tense few moments, Den finally managed to free the fish and his other friend Luke jumped into the water to net the prize.

“When he brought it up the bank I couldn’t believe my eyes and I knew then it was a new PB,” Den added.

“When the scales read 16lb 1oz I was over the moon and couldn’t stop shaking – getting a fish that big on my first session of the season was unreal. I ended the trip with over twenty barbel, which included eight doubles.

“I lost at least five big fish and caught endless amounts of chub, a couple of bream and an elusive river carp. It’s a start of the season I shall never forget and doubt I’ll ever have another like it.”

Den’s new barbel best fell to Vortex Baits Hydroshrimp cocoons fished over a scattering of the same in dumbbell form.