On the 15th of June I decided to make a last minute trip out after work. I drove round the M25 to my parents’ house where my gear is still stored with the intention of fishing Spade Oak gravel pit in Marlow. But when I arrived I realised that I really had to change the plan and fish the river. It was the start of the new season after all.

I was deciding between the stretches available to me on the Marlow Angling Club ticket, when I had a change of mind and decided to fish a local weir on the Thames.

Arriving by the weir at 2330 I setup, and at the stroke of midnight placed one rod behind a closed sluice gate on the nearside of the river, and a second rod further downstream alongside overhanging bushes where I’ve enjoyed previous success.

I lay down on my bedchair under the open sky and began to doze off. Waking at around 0400 to the freezing mist I considered packing up, but lacking any extra layers opted to stay under the sleeping bag and wait until the mist cleared when it would be a little warmer.

The next thing I knew it was around 0530 and I had a screaming buzzer from the rod tucked behind the sluice gate. I bolted up and lifted the rod, gently tightening up the loose clutch. I believed I’d hooked the bottom, until the bottom started to move and powered into the stronger flow in front of one of the fully open gates.

A few minutes later I had little doubt as to what I’d hooked, but its first appearance, slapping its tail on the surface as it dove back down deep, confirmed it was a double figure barbel.

A Romanian angler appeared from just upstream above the weir and offered to help net the fish. After a solid ten minute fight I was slowly dragging the fish over the top of the powerful flow and into the net. I was elated.

My new friend helped take a couple of snaps and I weighed the fish at 12lb 12oz, all while repeating the phrase, “Oh wow!” like a parrot. The fish bested my previous PB caught nine years ago by 1lb 4oz.

Just the one fish, but I decided things had peaked and so set off back home to spend the rest of the day with my nine week old son.

12lb 12oz Barbel PB

12lb 12oz Barbel PB