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Size doesn't matter / Booty guiding services

#1
Just thought I'd share a short tale - with a bit of a preamble....

Having grown up by the banks of the Bristol Avon at Limpley Stoke the mighty Barbel has always been the fish I hanker after. As a kid in the 80's I caught an eye-poppingly large fish of 8.11 which was the biggest I'd ever seen by some distance. After drifting away from the sport with girls and music and all manner of other things getting in the way I came back to angling 12 years ago and was caught by the bug again. My first Royalty fish at 11.10 was a moment to remember and was soon followed by some unbelievable fishing culminating in the 2008/2009 season where I had 29 Royalty Barbel, of which 23 were doubles. This was crowned by a might beast of 16lb 2oz which was just a few ounces shy of the venue and river records. Given the rivers I fish I surmised that this would never be beaten as a PB. Fast forward a few years and I stumbled across the fishing on a river north of London where there were 6-7 fish that could beat my PB and a new hunt was on. After a miserable year of blanking while sat in nettle beds and dog sh*t, finally one of the monsters fell to my rod. I was a little disappointed as at 15.10 it was not enough to beat my PB but still a magnificent fish. After putting in a lot of effort my tally for the year was 4 fish, although with another 15 and a 14.2 it was far from a complete disaster. What was a disaster was the toll this had taken on my passion for Barbel fishing. Rather than the excitement of seeing some orange fins materialize on a patch of gravel, or seeing a ghostly shape drift out from under some ranunculus, I was just fishing spots blind, and often at night. It wasn't fun and on one occasion spent 5 hours sat hoping for a take when in truth my hook had caught in some willow branches on the surface of the spot I was fishing. 5 hours sat with the overpowering stench of dog poo with my bait dangling just under the surface. What a berk.

I'd also missed the social aspect of the Royalty - I'm not a 'sit there in complete solitude' kind of guy - so recently I've been keen to get some of my mates who'd fished as kids to come with me and hope to get them hooked again. I took one to Chew Valley last year and I was lucky enough to break the 30lb mark by a couple of ounces. 20 minutes later my mates rod went and he went on to land a 31lb 7oz fish. I couldn't give a hoot that it was bigger than mine and we both had grins a mile wide on our faces when we landed at the jetties at the end of the day. Trying to build on this I took another friend on his first Barbel session a week ago. We arrived early and made our way to one spot I knew - I flicked the bait out for him as it was a bit of a tricky cast and was busy getting the rest of the gear ready when he called out 'Oi've got one!!'. 10 mins later an absolute monster barbel was in the net. A shade (and I mean a shade!) under 17lb and 15 minutes into his first barbel session. Lady luck did grace me a 13.2 at last knockings but in two trips with two friends they've both managed to get a bigger one than I have despite everything!