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An Avon "Nine"

My first ever nine-pounder (9.04), from the Hampshire Avon at Ringwood, September 1991. I'd spotted it in a weed-bed, and presented a sweetcorn bait to it, with a hemp feeder. It took just a few minutes to accept the bait.

A Magic Moment

For me at least - my first-ever double, weighing 10.10. Fittingly, it was caught from the very venue that had inspired my early barbel ambitions - the Severalls stretch of the Hampshire Avon at Ringwood, September 1992. Rolling meat accounted for its downfall.

Lovely Chubbly

This chub weighed 5.13, and was caught from the Royalty. I lost a barbel shortly afterwards, and a Royalty barbel continued to elude me for several years, until a day of magic (see above)

A Record Perch

I fluked this perch in August 1993 while fishing for barbel on the Kennet. It weighed 4.05, and the Angling Times said at the time it was the biggest ever reported from the river.

A Fit Winter Fish

This fighting-fit winter fish of 8.07 came from St Patrick's Stream in February 1995, one of a catch of four barbel, which was the first signficant catch I'd taken from the stretch.

Off The Mark

My first Wye barbel, a superbly conditioned fish of 7.12, July 1995. Prior to this visit, I had done two of John Bailey's Wye courses at Bredwardine without success (not John's fault!), so this fish was especially welcome.

First St Pat's Double

This was the first of several doubles that I've taken from St Patrick's Stream. Weight was 10.02, and it came out in December 1995. This was the same fish that later became my first 13 pounder.

Wye Best

My biggest Wye barbel, 8.09, July 1996. This one took a couple of grains of sweetcorn. It was caught from Beat 2 of the well-known Moccas stretch at Bredwardine.

A Second Avon Double

This one weighed 10.03, and came from the top end of the Ashley Farm stretch of the Hampshire Avon in September 1996. The red fingers were caused by dye used to colour sweetcorn!

An Old Friend

This was a new personal best of 10.13 at the time it was caught in March 1997. I'd caught this fish two seasons before at 9.12, and then caught it twice in the space of three weeks the following December.

Last Cast Delight

I'd been fishing on St Pat's for several hours with only a four-pounder to show for it, when I decided to have a last cast into a swim that had only ever produced one bite for me in the past. Within two minutes, I was into this 10.14. November 1997 was the date.

Double Trouble (1)

The first of two doubles caught in the same four-hour session on St Pats, January 1998, this one weighed 10.02.

Double Trouble (2)

The second of those two doubles, 11.03. Both fish fell to flavoured meat baits.

Kennet Cracker

My biggest Kennet fish, 10.05, Upper Benyons, July 1998. It was covered in warts, but otherwise appeared to be quite healthy. In fact, my pal Graham had caught this fish almost exactly a year earlier, when it weighed a few ounces under ten pounds.

Lucky Thirteen

My frst barbel to go over 13 pounds, 13.02 to be exact. It was caught from St Patrick’s Stream on New Year's Eve, 1998. A large piece of flavoured meat fished close to the bank led to the fishes' downfall. It beat my previous best by almost two pounds.

Lovely Loddon

I had decided to spend the 1999/00 season in pursuit of a first Loddon double. This was the result, a fish of 10.09, caught in October. I caught it again two weeks later at 10.04. On both occasions it fell to a paste bait.

Cherwell Corker

The result of a lot of hard work over a season and a half, with many blanks suffered along the way. My first Cherwell double at 10.07, November 2002. After having used boilies all season, this one came out on the trusty old big lump of meat.

Bank Holiday Beauty

This fish, weighing 11.08, came from the River Loddon on August Bank Holiday, 2003. It was in superb condition, without doubt the best looking big barbel I've ever caught.

Lady of The Stream

A day's trotting for grayling saw me take this p.b. of 1.15 from the River Dever. I also added a p.b. trout of 5.00 from the same swim a few minutes later. My mate Andy was with me, catching his first-ever grayling and ending up with a best of 1.12.

Royalty Magic - 1

The first of a special trio of Royalty fish caught in October 2005. This one weighed 13.00 and was briefly the second biggest fish of my life. Pellets were its downfall.

Royalty Magic - 2

The second fish of the Royalty trio, this one going 14.09. It was the first 14 I'd ever caught. This one fell for a boily bait.

Royalty Magic - 3

My first 14 pounder didn't last long as a new PB, this fish beat it just a few hours later. It weighed in at 14.11, and snaffled up a couple of pellets.

And Finally - The Embarrassing One!

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of my first-ever barbel, but this was my second one, weighing 2.12, from the Thames at Hedsor Wharf, August 1973, on a lump of cheese. The year explains the "fashion" disasters.

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