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Big Fish Column: Collins employs 'proper barbel tactics' to net 7lb 5oz whopper from River Kennet

My somewhat pessimistic prediction last week that the end of the season on the rivers could be tough did, thankfully, prove to be largely unfounded. The fishing last week certainly wasn’t brilliant but the snowmelt did filter through quickly and the temperatures recovered surprisingly rapidly.


Kennet barbel

The result of the week went to a longstanding friend of this column, Bourne End’s John Collins, who enjoyed a terrific afternoon’s sport on the River Kennet

John started his session at Padworth, opting to employ what he calls ‘proper barbel tactics’ presenting plain legered luncheon meat on a size 8 Kamasan hook to 7lb Reflo line and an Avon rod. The traditional approach certainly worked and John had just one bite, but a terrific bite it was, resulting in a barbel of 7lb 5oz. Moving downriver to another stretch he wanted to try John picked up a chub of 3lb 8oz before connecting with two further big barbel, one weighing in at 9lb, the other, netted shortly after, 10lb 5oz.

John told me, “All the fish were in superb condition and the fights from the two big barbel were as good as any I have caught.”

At around 5pm, despite the fact it was still daylight and a couple of hours away from prime barbel time, John decided the big fish was a nice end to the day so he packed up and headed home - a decision he perhaps regretted slightly when traffic chaos on the M4 forced him back to Bourne End via an alternative route.

Also enjoying a decent afternoon session in the wake of the poor weather was Stuart Moore who fished a roving session on the River Loddon at Dinton Pastures to net chub of 4lb 12oz and 5lb 15oz. Both fish fell to legered bread baits on a size 8 hook to 6lb line fished in conjunction with a cage feeder.



Thames perch

The Thames fared less well than the smaller rivers, taking longer to warm up, and fewer anglers seemed to be on the main river last week but there were a few fish to be caught, including a 2lb 8oz perch to Bray angler Spencer Smith who used light lure tackle to tempt the fish, along with two others around the pound mark, from a section of the river at Bourne End.


Trout returns

Despite the weather, Haywards Farm Lake continued to perform well above par and fish continued to be found in the top few feet of water with Hare’s Ears and Buzzer patterns successful when fished on floating lines, particularly under an indicator. Head honcho Chris Hayward also reports that anglers have had good results with intermediate lines fishing with Cat’s Whiskers, Montanas and Blobs too. His advice, whatever your chosen method, is to keep moving until you find the fish! Rod average for the week was an excellent 4.4 with the largest specimen a 7lb 1oz fish to James Koltan.


Season finale

With temperatures finally beginning to feel almost spring like anglers taking the traditional end of river season holiday could well find a few fish feeding, a full report of the season finale next week!

Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at


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