Still Searching For That Monster – Barbel

I have been concentrating on targeting Barbel recently in the hope of catching a good double and beating my long standing PB of 10lb 8oz. I have had some Autumn success and caught some cracking Barbel to just under 9lb (see previous post) but still the big girls elude me. I managed to get out for another two nights and didn’t have the best of sessions starting of the first night loosing two suspected Barbel. The first one was a standard hook pull and as frustrating as it was at least the fish would come to no harm from trailing line but the second loss was a line cut from a snag which was more like someone slicing through my line with a samurai sword. I’m sure the Barbel will be absolutely fine and rid itself of the hook very quickly but I did loose some sleep over it. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do when luck isn’t on your side.
The second day arrived and I finally managed to land a small Barbel pictured below that I estimate to be around 5 – 6lb.  I was off the mark and it was a nice consolation for the two losses the day previous. This was followed up with an early morning chub of around 2-3lb but despite its small size the fish was immaculate which is great to see.
My next session on the river was a quick overnighter and I decided to move to another section of the Medway further upstream. I felt that I had fished the previous swim hard and caught enough Barbel to warrant it a danger zone for the fish. I kept the rigs, approach and bait the same because of my success in the other swim. I had full confidence in these tactics. At 5am I was woken up to a take on my left hand rod and connected with a decent fish which decided to head straight towards some sunken snags. I managed to gain some control and redirected the fish into safe water. In the hast of my excitement I had forgotten to grab my head torch and with my brolly positioned up a steep slope it was far from reach. Its always difficult to land a fish in complete darkness but there I was with no other option. I gained line on the fish and he was about to surface when all of a sudden I realised I hadn’t caught a fish but a giant carrot! The colours were almost luminous in the dark water and I easily directed it into the waiting landing net. It turned out to be an amazing bright orange Koi Carp with black markings to the top half of the body and orange eyes. I didn’t weigh it but it was around 8lb and I was just in awe of its beauty. What a strange fish to catch, but as weird as it was to catch an 8lb koi carp from the Medway it was truly exciting and this type of surprise reinforces my love for rivers and the unknown stock they contain.
I was back down the river within a couple of days and decided to target the same swim where I had the carrot from two nights previous. As the light faded I drank a cup of coffee and thought about catching a massive Barbel of record proportions. Without a moments notice my bite alarm began to sing and I stumbled down the treacherous banks to my rod which was bent over double. I leant in to a good fish and after some strong powerful surges it came to the surface and I realised that this was the fish I had been after all Autumn and it was definitely a double figure Barbel. I grabbed my net and then everything went wrong. I managed to get the mesh of the net well and truly caught up with my bank stick tightening nut and it wouldn’t come free. The fish was ready for netting and I was trying to untangle the mess with one hand when it occurred to me that this Barbel wasn’t worth losing for a bank stick and bite alarm. I turned the net inside out with a flick of the wrist and threw the bank stick complete with Delkim into the mesh. I lowered it down into the river and scooped up my prize.
After a few minutes of allowing both the fish and I to recover from such an epic battle I lifted her onto the net and she went 11lb 7oz on the Rubens smashing my PB by a 1lb. For a Medway Barbel this is a huge fish and I was elated to say the least. I had achieved my goal for the Autumn and had enjoyed my fishing on such a beautiful river catching some stunning fish. To top off such a great session, after hair drying my Delkim for a few minutes it came back to life and still works so all ended well.

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