Paul Allen 16lb 4oz Barbel

“Little did I know my campaign was about to reach its pinnacle..”

Paul Allen had a successful start to his winter campaign on the Hampshire Avon when he landed a 16lb 4oz barbel back in November but went one better recently when he landed himself this impressive 19lb specimen.

Paul told us “Little did I know my campaign was about to reach its pinnacle as during my latest session I managed to bank what’s possibly the largest barbel in the Hampshire Avon at 19lb on the nose – the same fish that Pete Reading caught at 19lb 11oz to take the official venue record.

With all the recent rainfall we’ve had the Avon has been rising quickly so I just had to get down there and fish it. I arrived at the same peg I caught the 16lb 4oz fish from at around 2pm and sorted out my free running rig – which was a 14mm Big Squid boilie wrapped in matching paste with a PVA bag of crumbed boilie attached to the hook. I also attached two back leads to my line to stop debris from catching and pulling my rig out of position.

Once the rig was made I left the rod on the rest and went downstream to chat to a mate for a couple of hours before coming back to my swim just before it got dark to cast in. Around a rod length out there’s a slack just off the main flow with a hard gravel bottom, so I lowered the rig into place and sat back just as the rain and wind arrived. For two and a half hours I held onto my brolly questioning what the hell was doing here but then my rod bent over and line whizzed from my spool out of nowhere!

This fish bolted downstream and before I had a chance to put my headtorch on my head I was walking down the bank to keep in touch with it. Before I knew it I was 25 yards away from my peg playing this barbel for a good 20-25 minutes in the raging flow of the Avon. Finally it was beat and I managed to guide what looked like the silhouette of a monstrous fish into my net, but I didn’t have my headtorch so I couldn’t really see it.

When I lifted the fish out of the water though I just knew it had to be ‘the record’ as it was so heavy. There just aren’t any other barbel that big in this stretch. After removing the hook I rested the fish in the margin and went round to get my camera kit and headtorch. By this point my mate and another angler had come down to the area where the fish was and we got it up onto the bank to have our first proper look.

It was the largest barbel I’d ever seen in my life! My heart started racing when I put her into the sling and onto the scales, as I knew that this barbel was going to be at least 17lb, so when the needle went past 17, 18 and settled on 19lb, I was in complete shock. We weighed it on another set of scales brought by the other angler who was with us and the result was the same.

Needless to say I’m still buzzing about it now. What a fish!”