25/11/2021 - My 12 lb Barbel Story by Tony Koziol
12 lb 1 oz Barbel
Tony writes This all starts in 2000 when I move to the area and learn of the little river, also the fish it holds chub, dace, grayling and in hushed voices barbel. I spent a few years catching a good number of all species except the barbel, until one evening in autumn when I caught one of around 4lb on maggot/feeder. My appetite for these fish needed to be fed, several more were caught but of no real size.
I then went through a bad patch in life lost most of my gear, then lost membership to one of my clubs due to own actions. 2013 came and I was in a good place at last and my hunger for barbel on the little river started a bit of an obsession. My PB was growing to over 8lb but bigger fish existed, I’d been told by reliable sources that a double figure fish existed, over the next year or two more anglers turned up to fish for the barbel people. The river had changed by 2017/18 although never easy it had become harder, my diary shows for 50/60 sessions per season anything from 10/15 barbel was a good result, which compared favourably to other anglers results. In 2019 I lost a heavy fish to a hook pull, also I was hearing on a regular basis that doubles were still coming out albeit probably just 2/3 fish over 10lb, just under 11lb. A river record of 11lb 4oz was claimed in 2020 and this increased to 11lb 14oz.
During the close season I was hoping I could make plans to get amongst these fish as the year passed I planned to get on the river from September onwards, sadly the cards dealt my wife Cath and myself a blow, with the passing of Cath’s Dad. So a quiet time was spent mourning his loss. A consolation as Cath. “We will have more time on our hands come October, we could probably get on the river after work perhaps two or three sessions a week”. During October I caught two barbel of no real size, but always welcome mid-November, another two were caught, I’d also heard that an 11lb fish had been caught just upstream. Two sessions upstream saw one chub just over 4lb but no barbel, Tuesday 23rd would see me back downstream!!
I arrived as usual around 14.15 my chosen swim was free as expected only two other anglers were on the river but I knew they would not stay too long. These days I start with a maggot feeder and a second rod down the edge baited with meat the river is barely 15 yards wide and fairly shallow around three feet at normal level in this spot. It was odd as normally within an hour I have managed a bite or two on the feeder but not even shredded maggots. By 15.30 my old mate Ernie he is a great angler and at 83 still gets out once a week although not on the river these days, in the past he has had doubles from the river. As we chat I change my feeder rod to worm and gently lob it over to the other side of the river, as we chat a Woodcock flies over, Ernie makes a comment about my meat rod doing the business tonight then leaves me at around 1615 hrs. Nothing happens for an hour or so, then a small tap comes to the meat rod on my left, I take hold of the rod but nothing materialises. I recast both rods just changing the direction of cast but still both taking the same line as before.
Success At Last
Just before 1800hrs the worm rod bangs over, the bait runner does its business, grabbing the rod in a blink, I feel a good fish is on, although my brain tells me it’s just a chub. I soon have it on my side of the river, then all of a sudden the fish does not want to make my acquaintance just yet! it decides it is going back to the other side of the river, I didn’t mind as the well balanced tackle was capable, 10lb bs line with a 1.75lb t/c rod also there are no snags about. Slowly I bring the fish back over to my side of the river, in the beam of my head torch I get confirmation, it’s a barbel, it looks a good one, the tussle continues for a while, soon I could clearly see what looked like my biggest barbel. With the net in the water I slowly draw the fish closer to the net, at this point that I realise this is the Big One”
Being on a high bank I struggle a little to stretch my landing net out far enough to net the fish, but eventually I managed it. Putting the rod on the ground I use both hands to pull the landing up the. It is clear this is a good double. Looking in the net I see a shortish fish, deep and broad with a big tail. The weigh sling and scales are zeroed as I always have them close by, the scales show a reading of 12lb 6oz, quickly the fish is photographed then taken down stream a few yards then returned it safely where it swims of strongly. I return to my swim and reweigh the sling at 5oz so my first double from the little river is 12lb1oz. Reality now sets in, eight years and my first double is a 12 pounder it is an anti-climax to a hard challenge.
There have been one or two disappointments along the way and envy at those who came, conquered and disappeared. I pinged a text off to Cath, then call Ernie, "Have you had one at last” he said "is it a ten" "no" I reply "you've not had an 11" he asks again "no" is my reply "its 12lb 1 ounce Ern" I reply....in true Ernie fashion he says "you deserve it mate well done" I recast as I still have a little time left, I ping off another message or two. Tackling down I walk back to the van for the short drive home, it seems much easier than normal I’m still on cloud nine. I get home put the gear away, recall my success to Cath, have a shower the eat my sweet and sour chicken, followed by jam roly-poly, ping off another text or three, and happily reflect on my adventure. Wednesday I started catching up on texts, then some work, the underlying feature was that I had crowned myself as "King for the day"
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