Jason Smith 18lb 6oz Barbel

“Conditions were mild the week before and with a rising levels & water temps it was a prime opportunity..”

A 3 year campaign finally ended when Jason Smith slipped the net under his target barbel, in the shape of this stunning 18lb 6oz specimen.

He told us “I have been fishing a low stocked stretch of the River Thames for 3 years now, over that period of time I’d learnt what area the big girl gets caught from most, photographing her a couple of times for other anglers. Once I gathered this information together I knew where I needed to be so it was a big tick off ‘to do’ board.

I was fishing a crease on the edge of a small slack about a rod length from the bank which I had been prebaiting for a week & knew she liked the area. Conditions were mild the week before and with a rising levels & water temps it was a prime opportunity.

I had blanked in the swim a couple of times but managed to nab one out at 10lb 10oz on the Tuesday and new the timing was spot on. I returned Wednesday evening and under armed my two rods with 8oz gripper leads just into the flow and sinking them so they fell onto the edge of the crease. With 20mm Red Fish Pro boilies on each rod fromBlakes Baits I wrapped them in matching paste and dipped them in Calanus Liquid to give them a real pungent smell, hooks were size 5 ESP Cyrogen Grippers attached to 14” mono hook links which is same as mainline.

Attached via hook were two small pva bags of ground halibut & hemp with boilie crumb, hemp oil and added GLM & Liver powder. I introduced no free offerings as I’d prebaited when leaving the night before. I’d recast every hour or so to freshen up the swim and to remove any leaves etc which had built up on the mainline due to the conditions. On a very wet night with a rapidly rising river the take came around four and a half hours into the session and absolutely beasted me, heading off downstream like a steam train, I instantly had a good idea which fish it was. Using her weight against the flow it took incredible amounts of coaxing to get her back into my swim. After seeing the fish surface a couple of times and knowing what I was attached to the knees started knocking, with a small problem with a snag for a few minutes of going back and forth I slipped the net under my prize.

The last time she made an appearance she was 17lb 4oz so I was hoping she’d be mid to upper 17. After resting her for 20 mins or so and phoning a mate to come down myself and an angler fishing further down assisted me with the weighing and we all agreed a weight of 18lb 6oz. Absolutely blown away with the weight, she had certainly been on the munch on the prebait and was looking in excellent condition. Worth waiting three years for. After resting her again for a few minutes she returned powerfully. A truly fitting end to my time on the stretch and now after catching her I will moving on to hopefully find some more large Thames barbel.”