The Hampshire Avon is a river that has been on my wish list to give some serious attention to, and this desire was intensified when Pete Reading appeared in the Angling Times with a colossal barbel from the river in March 2019 weighing 19lb 11oz! Trips to Chew during the autumn & winter, Covid and a minor obsession with the Old Father Thames meant that any planned trips were always put on the back burner. However, this was all about to change and during the winter of 2021 a lovely mild spell swept across the country. These were textbook barbel conditions and I soon had my gear prepped ready to travel South during the festive period in the hope of landing my first Hampshire Avon Barbel.
Arriving at my chosen venue, I was greeted with a rising and slightly coloured river and as it was my first trip, I decided to put on a pair of boots and a warm jacket and familiarise myself with the stretch. I learnt a lot during those first sessions and over the Christmas period I fished the venue around six or seven times, which resulted in my first Hampshire Avon barbel weighing around 5-6lbs. During this time specimen ace Gavin Barret landed his dream babel from the river weighing a monstrous 19lb 3oz! I remember seeing the pictures on his social media pages and the length of the fish was incredible. It was the same fish that Pete Reading had landed a few years previously and I vowed then that next autumn, I would return.
Fast forwarding to August of this year and the long warm spell of weather we experienced had made the fishing the Thames very tricky. After some great advice from Rob Young, I decided on a few exploratory trips to the Avon. The sport was very consistent and over the course of six trips I landed 22 chub with the biggest weighing 6lb 12oz. I couldn’t believe how productive the fishing was in comparison to the River Thames!