Sunday 4 February 2024

River Itchen Double, That's A Wrap!!


 Well, I can honestly say the R.Itchen really made me work hard and it very nearly didn't happen, sometimes angling is a game of chance and I played my hand a few times on this trip and came up, in the end, with a royal flush.

 I originally planned to head down Friday night after work and fish through to sunrise then head home, but the mrs unbeknownst to me had plans so my trip to the Itchen had to be put on ice a night. Conditions were still good on Saturday night so I chose to go then instead. 

 A day was spent at the sister-in-laws before heading home where the youngest decided to puke everywhere in the car, not once but twice. Time was spent sorting that out, however the smell lingered for the duration of my journey down to the river, even with windows partially open the smell was still there, thankfully an hour and half later I was at the river and getting myself set-up.

 I opted to fish two rods, one on meat with a 5oz cage feeder and the other on 8mm (Robin Red) pellet with bouyant maggot tip. The plan was to set-up base for a while and move if things did not materialise and after 5hrs thats exactly what happened. Oddly the level rose and the colour was getting heavier which I didn't know if it would help or hinder me. The only negative thing I was faced with was debris coming down and at times my 5oz feeders were being swept out of position, so I had to re-evaluate my approach.

 The best option for me I thought was to rove around and give each spot 20 minutes as the bait and wait approach wasn't working. I spent the next hour and a bit hoping around slacks and creases to try and illicit a bite, 3am had come and gone and I was just tidying up the boot of the car which I was now fishing next to when I caught the glimpse of the rod tip tap and hold about two-inches which grabbed my focus, I crouched down to see if it would materialise and as I was about to pick up the rod it ripped round, giving me no doubt as to what it was and within the first few seconds I knew it was a very big Barbel. 

 The way the big ones hold out in the flow on the bottom is mighty impressive and took me 2/3 minutes to gain some control before it cruised up into the back-end of a weed bed where it got temporarily jammed before easing back down and under full contact again, it really was a hairy battle but knew the kit was up to the task. 

 A couple of minutes later I could sense my time was coming close to wrapping it up and it didn't dawn on me how big she was until it came into full view through the coloured water and steam from my breath as my BPM possibly reached 140+, my fixed rim 26" net never looked so under-gunned for a fish, until now.

 Somehow I managed to land her and allowed her to rest after her exertions, I staked out the net in the margins so I could get my mat, camera, sling and scales all set-up. Once that was done it was time to lift her out the water, I did honestly think I was gazing at a new personal best Barbel, she really was that big!

A fish I never thought I'd lay eyes on.

I was in awe at first when I laid it on the mat, but when cradling it for photos I felt privileged to have managed such a feat, the words captioned in the title were words that I didn't think I would be writing, this was my 13th trip to the Itchen and the previous 12 trips resulted in blanks across 140.5hrs.

It was a true Itchen beast.

 As the digitals settled it obviously confirmed it was a double, that was never ever in doubt as the scales read 15lb 2oz and river number 24 of my epic challenge has now been completed, it's a fish that made me work bloody hard but the result of all that hard work could not have been better! 

Cigar time!!!!


  1. Beauty! 140 hours well spent!! Wye double to round off the season?

  2. I think there's time for two more rivers, I'm definitely heading up the Wye for a couple days and doing 2/3 days on the Wharfe too before the season is out, I could finish on 26 completed if all goes well, but the Itchen was a very difficult river as you know with all my venting of how much its kicking me in the Queen Mums!

  3. Replies
    1. As efforts go, it's probably the most effort I've put in so far to complete a river. What a fish to do it with.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks mate! I couldn't believe the size of her when she came into view, it was one of them moments when the heart was in my mouth and the sphincter loosened off a little!

  5. Awesome stuff James, another river ticked off and with a huge fish too !!

    1. Can't quite believe it still, she made me wait but if I knew if I stuck to my task it was a possibility, even if it was a slim one.

  6. Hard won and well deserved, congratulations James.

    1. Thanks Dave, it was and still is a surreal moment, firmly perched on cloud 9, if I don't chalk off another river between now and March 14th I don't think I'd mind much.


Six Foot.

   Well, winter still hasn't arrived and the rivers are in a constant state of flood, now for Barbel that isn't the end of the world...