SIX OF THE BEST OF PHIL’S DOUBLES...
be told what peg to go on – just knowing which stretch to target is a good start. If I’m travelling, say, 100 miles and I have two or three days’ fishing I want to give myself the best possible chance.
Q: What does it take to be a successful specialist angler? Do you need to be one of a kind? A: You need to be very dedicated and single-minded, as does a person wanting to succeed in any sphere. If you don’t give it 100 per cent, you won’t get results!
Having said that, one of the main ingredients you need is luck. I’ve had a fair few fishing partners who have been as good as I am, or even better, but when I’ve been with them I’ve always caught the big fish.
Lots of anglers have bags of ability, but just don’t get that rub of the green. I’d also say the final element required is watercraft.
Q: Can you remember catching your first-ever barbel?
A: Yes, it was about 5lb from the River Thames in the early 1970s. In the Coventry Specimen Group we’d go all over the place looking for barbel – they were very hard to find and just catching one was an achievement. That first fish was probably the equivalent of a 15-pounder in today’s terms.
Q: Realistically, how many more different rivers can you achieve a double from? And which are next on the agenda?
A: I think I can get to 30, whether I do it this year or the next. I’m looking at the River Ribble and the River Frome – I’ve already had several fish to 9lb from the Ribble. After that there are a few more possibilities in the North, such as the Yorkshire Ouse or the Don.
Q: What’s your best bait and time of year for a large whisker?
A: Baitwise, it’s probably a 10mm 15mm boilie, and my favourite types are Pandemics, The Crave and The Source. The best time is October or November, especially at the start of a flood.
Also, look for any increases in temperature after a period of cold weather. That usually sparks the fish into feeding.
There’s no real secret to big barbel because they don’t suddenly become hard to catch once they reach a certain size.
Just set out to catch them, and if you’re fortunate enough some of them might be doubles!
“Sometimes I’ve had a double straight away on a new river”
5 Up North, and a 12lb 2oz fish from the Swale.
4 A 10lb 9oz barbel from Surrey’s River Mole.
6 Made it – a 10lb 2oz from the Kennet.
3 An 11lb 10oz whisker from the Severn.
1 A 16lb 12oz Derbyshire Derwent fish.
2 The Dove gave up this 10lb 13oz specimen.