In between bream fishing I had a few trips for barbel and after a couple of doubles up to 12lb I started to struggle. By October I was on a run of about ten trips where the scales hadn’t been out of my bag, but I knew if I stuck at it that I had a good chance of beating my long-standing personal best of 14lb 2oz. I had planned a couple of nights bream fishing on Cop but on Wednesday the forecast was for 12 hours heavy rain overnight which I knew would be the kiss of death on Cop, so I decided to head to the Upper Trent which was at a perfect level, about 4 feet up with plenty of colour.
Mid-afternoon I hooked a fish that tore off and after about 20 yards shook its head and everything went slack. At least they were feeding! Two hours later, just before dark, there had been no further sings, so I decided to move swim just before dark as I thought the lost fish may have spooked any others present. I also decided to change one rod from paste covered boilie to one and a half Sonubaits Spicy Sausage pellets. Second cast in the new swim and the rod with Spicy Sausage on just tore off. Gradually it came back upstream and after a couple of minutes I had it under the rod top. I thought it would soon be ready for netting, but it was the start of a 5 minute tug of war, with first me and then the fish gaining a few yards of line. Finally the fish broke the surface and I was fairly certain it was a barbel which was a relief as I was beginning to think it could be a big carp. Oddly after such a strong fight when it came to the net after one more surging run it went straight in.
It was clearly a good fish and I was pretty sure it was going to be a new PB. I pegged my net at the edge of the river with a bank stick and sorted the mat and scales. It was only when I lifted the net that I realised how big it actually was. At 17lb 4oz it exceeded any expectations I had from the stretch I was fishing. It’s fair to say I’m still smiling at the image I have of it in my mind and will be for a long time yet.