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