Record bar­bel

Thames, Trent and ‘tidal Sus­sex’ rivers favourites to take the ti­tle

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME - CHRIS HAY­DON News re­porter

Where will it come from?

THE cap­ture of two 20lb-plus bar­bel from the River Thames has led many ex­perts to pre­dict that the na­tional record is set to be smashed out of sight this win­ter.

Si­mon Cook banked a fish weigh­ing 20lb 2oz from a stretch of the river while tar­get­ing carp – a fish be­lieved to be the sec­ond­largest bar­bel ever caught from the wa­ter­way.

It is a dif­fer­ent fish to the 20lb 9oz gi­ant ex­clu­sively re­ported by An­gling Times when it was caught by Rob Phillips in March.

How­ever, this week cam­era phone pic­tures of what could be an even big­ger fish have emerged, with some be­liev­ing that it could be the new record-in-wait­ing.

It was caught by Paul Buck­ley, and de­spite the poor qual­ity of the im­age, clearly shows a bar­bel of truly im­mense pro­por­tions.

Paul’s brother Steven con­firmed that the fish went un­weighed at the time, as the pair were not tar­get­ing bar­bel, and were in fact legering mag­gots with 4lb line off the back of a friend’s boat in the Wal­ton Bridge area when they latched into the gi­ant.

Steven told An­gling Times: “We didn’t weigh it and wanted to get the fish back into the wa­ter quickly – it took a long time to land be­cause of our un­der­gunned tackle. We just took a quick shot and re­turned it to the land­ing net to rest in the flow. If I were to es­ti­mate its weight I would say some­where around 20lb.”

The Thames is fore­cast to be the most likely can­di­date to break the record, and ru­mours of fish over the 21lb 1oz Bri­tish best have cir­cu­lated for sev­eral years.

In 2017 a 21lb 10oz fish was caught by a carp an­gler who de­cided not to re­port the catch to the press or cir­cu­late the pho­tos.

But while the Thames re­mains many peo­ple’s banker bet to wres­tle the ti­tle from the Great Ouse, it faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion from the River Trent, which has

pro­duced a stag­ger­ing ar­ray of mon­ster bar­bel to al­most 20lb over the past year. And there are other rivers that rank as con­tenders too, with some an­glers cit­ing tidal south­ern rivers such as the Arun and Rother as more than ca­pa­ble of caus­ing an up­set.

So why are Bri­tain’s rivers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such a surge in the num­bers of out­size bar­bel?

Many be­lieve that it’s down to the vast amounts of high-pro­tein baits such as pel­lets and boilies be­ing in­tro­duced into rivers, along with other food sources such as mit­ten crabs and cray­fish. How­ever, Dr Paul Garner gave an al­ter­na­tive ex­pla­na­tion.

He said: “Bar­bel from rivers in all four cor­ners of the coun­try have got markedly big­ger over the past two decades, and not just those in the Trent and Thames. It’s a boom time for the species, un­like any­thing we’ve ever wit­nessed be­fore. But the rea­son can’t just be down to an­glers’ baits, be­cause our rivers re­ceive vastly dif­fer­ent amounts of pres­sure.

“While some rivers hold crays and crabs, many don’t – yet their bar­bel have still put on huge growth. It has to be cli­matere­lated. If, in the space of a year, the wa­ter tem­per­a­turer rises by one de­gree, it can make a huge dif­fer­ence to their growth po­ten­tial.

“Bar­bel only re­ally ‘grow’ in wa­ter above about 12°C . Be­low that they just main­tain their weight. Small changes in tem­per­a­ture can have a pro­found ef­fect on a bar­bel’s me­tab­o­lism and, there­fore, its growth.”

Paul Buck­ley’s un­weighed gi­ant.

Rob Phillips’ 20lb 9oz Thames fish.

Big­gest bar­bel from the Trent last sea­son was this 18lb 14oz fish for Craig Lan­der. Is cli­mate change al­low­ing bar­bel to grow big­ger?

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