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Big Fish Column: Like buses, several River Kennet barbel turn up at once

Variable conditions at the start of the new year brought variable results from around the local fisheries but the results, at a time when a lot of anglers were out on the banks, were generally good.


Kennet barbel

Large Kennet barbel have been a little like hen’s teeth in recent seasons, but just like buses, you see none for ages and then several turn up at once! So it was that following on from John Collins’ excellent catch of three fish over 9lb, topped by a specimen of 10lb 12oz, just before Christmas Maidenhead’s Alex Parsons weighed in a lovely fish of exactly 11lb from a lightly fished Reading and District section of the river.

Alex took advantage of ideal barbel conditions when exceptionally mild conditions followed on from a cold snap and presented a mini pellet wrapped in paste to hook the fish in a steady glide above an area of dense snags. Baiting the open water above snaggy area with a light trickle of pellets, Alex presented his hook bait on a size 8 hook to 15lb braid and 12lb main line and struck into the fish just before midday, landing it after a spirited five-minute battle.

Also enjoying some warm winter weather barbel action was Taplow’s Andy Best who fished the River Loddon near Dinton Pastures with the maggot feeder to net a fish of 7lb 14oz along with three chub to just over the 4lb mark. A bunch of red maggots on a size 12 hook to a 6lb fluorocarbon hook length and 8lb line did the business for Andy.


Thames in great shape

The Thames remains the best of our local rivers with good chub and perch action from several beats, a few rods are also finding decent pike, roach and some winter bream too.

On the chub front a specimen of 6lb 1oz was the reward for Windsor’s Frank Chapman who presented a cheesepaste bait on a size 6 hook direct to 6lb line on a roving session on a local beat. Frank also netted fish of 3lb and 4lb 4oz during his session and told me he met one angler putting together a good net of roach to around the pound mark on trotted maggot.

Thames perch are currently feeding hard too and the river at Temple brought fish of 1lb 12oz, 2lb and 2lb 8oz to Marlow rod Darren Hughes who legered worm on light gear. Darren also netted a couple of bream to 4lb during his afternoon into evening session above the weir.


Winter trout

The return to warmer weather brought some superb trout fishing with the highlight of the week on Haywards Farm Lake an incredible bag for Martin Thumbwood, who landed 24 fish, including doubles of 12lb and 15lb 3oz using tadpole patterns and di3 lines.

Also getting amongst some huge trout was Game Fishing Centre team member, Nick Clewlow, who took a day out from work on the site to land 15 fish, including a 13lb 8oz rainbow which, like most of the big Haywards Farm doubles, was put back to fight another day.

Fishery boss, Jonno Randall, reckons if you are looking to visit then make sure you have mini lures with you and that Montanas, tadpoles and blobs are all likely to produce lots of fish.

The mild weather has seen lots of small black buzzers coming off the water too, a certain sign of spring - but I suspect the weather will have more than a surprise or two to throw our way before we see some real spring fishing.

Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at


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