Mark Woodage recently headed over to a stretch of the iconic Hampshire Avon with his very good friend Martin Taylor in search of barbel and was rewarded for his efforts with this lovely 17lb 11oz specimen.
He told us “It was a miserable day, with relentless rain and very strong winds. Not that this bothered up because we were ‘Fishing’. Barbel fishing on the Avon this season has been hard, very hard indeed and apart from a few chub, I had returned home on most occasions having blanked. If it wasn’t for the fact that other anglers were also struggling I would have started to question my rigs, bait, approach etc.
I decided to fish a swim I hadn’t fished for a couple of seasons and although the swim had been kind to me in the past all the barbel I had caught from there weighted 7lb to 8lb never anything smaller, nothing any bigger. So it was no surprise that after an hour or so a stunning barbel graced my landing net weighing, unbelievably 7lb 12oz! The size didn’t matter one bit, it was a stunning Avon barbel and most welcome. I decided to try another swim and told Martin to jump in my swim as I was sure that I had seen a second larger fish. However, with the rain getting heavier by the minute, Martin was reluctant to leave the comfort of his brolly! So before heading off I scattered a dozen or so “Big Squid” boilies to keep any barbel still there interested.
My second swim produced an 8lb 3oz bream, which was actually a pb from a river. By this time I was soaked to the skin and decided to head back to my first swim. I had previously agreed with Martin that we would fish until 20:00, but due to the conditions we agreed to fish until 18:00. Lowering my rig in which consisted of 2 x 12mm Big Squid boilies, attached to a hair rigged size 12 Drennan Specialist Barbel hook and a 3 foot long length of 10lb Gravel Braid with ESP 10lb Syncro as my mainline.
I felt it “donk” as it landed on a small patch of gravel, perfect. One tip I was given sometime ago is to place small amounts of tungsten putty approx every 6 inches along the braid to help pin it to the ground. By now we had around 10 minutes before pack up time and my confidence grew as I saw a good fish “flashing” not far from my hook bait. However, no action followed and at 17:59 I walked to pick up my rod. Incredibly my centre pin burst into life, had it been seconds later my rig would have been out of the water! From the second I hooked it I knew that this was a good fish as it stayed deep as it powered upstream with me having very little control apart from hanging in there. When we got our first clear sight of the fish we both agreed it was a double. Ten minutes later Martin slipped the net under her and we could see it was “Slightly” bigger than we originally thought, possibly 12lb to 14lb. It wasn’t until it was on the unhooking mat did we realist the enormity of it and realised that this was a very special fish. Weighted on two sets of scales, it registered 17lb 12oz on one set and 17lb 11oz on the second set which I was happy to take. Funny, but all of a sudden all those blanks, all those hours, and all those miles was forgotten!”