Phil Buckingham 18lb 8oz Barbel

“If you’ve got a tactic, you have faith in, as I do in the maggot feeder, don’t be afraid to give something else a go..”

Phil Buckingham is no stranger to the Kings Weir on the River Lea, but nothing quite prepared him for what was about to unfold.

He told us “I spend a fair amount of time at Kings Weir, I know the river well, and whilst it’s a hard stretch, but if you get a bite, there’s a chance it’ll be from something a bit special, which makes the effort worthwhile.

Recently though, things have been exceptionally tricky. I’d been on a run of around 20 blanks! My usual approach is the maggot feeder, fished with a hooklink of around eight inches. I’ve had great success on this over the years, catching some very big barbel and chub. But recently, it just hasn’t been right. Although I hadn’t caught anything for a while, I’d had indications, so knew there were fish in the swim. I’d tried a range of things, including lengthening the hooklink, even shortening it, but wasn’t having any joy. I reckoned the fish were shying off the feeder, and, with fishing pressure on the stretch intensifying as the season comes to an end, it was time for a change.

My first port of call was to head to a swim where nobody had been fishing, away from angling pressure. Here, there’s an undercut bank, so I opted for a tactic not seen so often these days – a drilled bullet. These allow you to trundle a bait under a snag and, in this swim, one of 1oz would nestle perfectly under the undercut. I lengthened my hooklink to 18 inches – nothing crazy, as I didn’t want to foul-hook anything – and used a size 12 Drennan Specialist Barbel hook, which I filled with maggots. My thinking behind the longer hooklink was to add a bit of flexibility to the setup, and a more natural presentation for the fish.

After putting a few droppers of maggots in I slid a PVA bag up the hooklink and made my cast. Once darkness fell, I hooked what was clearly a big fish. It didn’t charge around like the small ones do – instead it used its weight and held bottom. Eventually, I eased it up, and had a very large fish on the bank. I’ve caught a few big barbel before, but the belly on this one was something else! At 18lb 8oz it’s a new PB and a great end to a run of blanks. It goes to show that making a small change can transform your fortunes. If you’ve got a tactic, you have faith in, as I do in the maggot feeder, don’t be afraid to give something else a go.”

Well done Phil!