“I’m ob­sessed with catch­ing bar­bel.” We meet Phil Smith.

Phil Smith’s quest to catch giant bar­bel from 30 dif­fer­ent rivers

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

HE’S one of the UK’s most suc­cess­ful spe­cial­ist an­glers, and last year he reached his tar­get of catch­ing dou­ble-fig­ure bar­bel from 27 UK rivers.

Now Phil Smith is bid­ding to make it 30! The Coven­try man has an im­pres­sive list of per­sonal bests which in­cludes bar­bel to 17lb 1oz, perch to 5lb 4oz, bream to 17lb 15oz and roach to 3lb 13.5oz, over an angling ca­reer span­ning more than 50 years.

Angling Times quizzed Phil about his ob­ses­sion with the bar­bel... and his next goal.

Q: When did your quest for dou­bles start, and why? A: It started in the 2004-2005 river sea­son, re­ally as some­thing to keep me in­ter­ested, a tar­get to go for rather than to just go out and catch fish. That first sea­son I man­aged dou­bles from seven dif­fer­ent rivers, then six in the next. How­ever, in the 2006-2007 sea­son we had some se­ri­ous floods and the bar­bel re­sponded well. I added 16 more rivers to the tally, by far my best-ever sea­son for bar­bel. I did at least 20,000 miles in my car go­ing fish­ing that sea­son, but I’m 72 now and I’m less in­clined to travel like I used to.

Q: Which river has been the tough­est nut to crack for a dou­ble? A: The River Sev­ern, daft as it might sound! I think I did 22 or 23 days on there, though not all at once. I can re­mem­ber one week­end hav­ing 19 bar­bel but none were in dou­ble fig­ures, while my mate had only two – but both were over 10lb!

Some­times I’ve had a dou­ble straight away on a new river. On the River Wey last year, for ex­am­ple, I caught one within 30 min­utes of get­ting there and the bailiff said it was prob­a­bly the only dou­ble on the stretch. I was very for­tu­nate.

Q: How do you go about track­ing down big bar­bel? A: I de­cide which river is next and then I try to pin­point where to fish. I watch the angling me­dia and some­times I get a bit of help, some­times a lot! I don’t need to

The early days of bar­bel (and keep­nets). This was Phil back in 1973.

River num­ber 27: Phil with a 10lb 12oz fish from the Wey taken last year.

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