Autumn Barbel Bagged - James Hart

Autumn is the season for clonking great barbel, and here’s yet another! James Hart, of Eastleigh, Hampshire, has been in touch to tell us about a huge fish that he took from that most famous of southern chalkstreams, the Hampshire Avon. James takes up the story…

“This was my second visit to this stretch of the river and I decided to bait a few spots and then come back to them later. I mixed up a tin of hempseed with some 4mm and 8mm halibut pellets, halibut groundbait and also some crushed boilies. I put four bait droppers into a few swims, which all had overhanging trees in the near margin. The water is very deep on this stretch (over 10 feet in most places), so it's not possible to see the bottom and see if anything has come in for a munch.
I left the spots for about 30 minutes and then put in another four droppers before going back to rig up. I use a 3oz inline lead with a standard hair rig and I fish it in a PVA bag of the same mix. A while later I dropped the bag in and had a 5lb chub within five minutes, so I left the spot for a while and tried another spot I baited. Nothing was happening there, so just as it was getting dark I went back to the original spot. Shortly after casting in the tip went round and I was in. Immediately, I knew that it was a decent fish. The fight was more heavy and dogged because of the deep water but eventually I got it on the surface after it made several attempts at weeding me.

I have found that using the Korda Kaptor Wide Gapes in size 10 have really improved my results. I think it's down to both the extra sharpness you get and also the camouflaging of the hooks on the gravel river beds is key. I have also been using a lump of Dark Matter putty on the hook link, which I think has helped give better hook holds. The other product I have been using this season are Solidz PVA bags. These are great as they are so much stronger than other bags I have used, which means I can place them in holes in the weed and also move them into position on gravel runs before they melt.”