An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The best Barbel catch of all time?

News surfaced recently that Barbel angler, Nigel Bryans had managed three 16lb+ fish in one session on the Nene. As you can imagine, Nigel was not only shocked but delighted and shared his unbelievable news on Barbel Fishing World (here). The thread, which started off with sincere congratulations has however threatened to turn sour.

Catching a Barbel over 15lb is a fish of a lifetime, to manage three in one sitting has never been done as far as I’m aware and I doubt it will happen again. Tension started to appear when a debate began regarding whether the three fish were individuals or were they two fish, with one of them being caught twice. Ray Walton, of rolling meat fame, was the main protagonist and studied the photos long and hard under the guise of the 'River Records Committee', claiming that for the list of records to maintain credence then the three fish would need to be scrutinised as each one could be a potential new record. Ray even went on to question the dates on one of the photos as it did not correlate with the capture of the other two. Nigel then saw himself trying to defend his catch. The three fish are pictured below so you’re free to pass your own opinion as to whether the fish are different or not. However, my view is whether this is what fishing is actually about. I appreciate that some people take it seriously, in their quest for fame, sponsorship and whatever else floats their boat but is it worth all the fuss and bad feeling that has undoubtedly been felt in the thread on Barbel Fishing World?

Although it’s unlikely I’ll ever be in Nigel’s position, I think he did the right thing in highlighting is catch. Anglers want to know that such catches are possible since many would have doubted catching three huge fish was a possibility until last week. However, I can imagine Nigel is perhaps regretting going public with his news given some of the flack that’s come his way and I’m sure it soured his feelings of euphoria. The local Peterborough Telegraph (here) even ran a story where it apparently names the stretch although this is based on a guess rather than fact but I can imagine that stretch will come in for some attention in the coming months from the glory hunters, which again is regretful.

 Anyway, in closing I think the photos prove that the fish are of the weight claimed and given there was a credible witness it should have been a straight forward river record claim as far as I was concerned. I am not entirely sure where the doubt has come from and whether it was required given the friction it has caused. As I mentioned earlier the three fish are pictured below so let me know what you think about their identity and would you have gone public if you’d managed the feat? Before I go, I think Nigel deserves a pat on the back, well done!

Barbel number 1 at 16lb
Barbel number 2 at 16lb 8oz

Barbel number 3 also at 16lb 8oz


  1. At first I thought the first and the last photos were the same fish but on studying the pics the fins are very different, no quibbling here on weight either so fair play to the chap, jealousy is a terrible thing. (now I must get back to work!)

  2. I feel a bit sorry for the chap as it must have soured things from him.

    1. I can confirm all 3 fish exist and have had all 3 over the last 2 seasons. The only downside of releasing the photos is that from 6th January 2013 the landowner has stopped people fishing this stretch. A week after the details being released it became a circus on this stretch.

    2. It was always going to happen unfortunately as people these days are not willing to do the spade work and search fish out for themselves. They'd rather just catch the same fish twenty times for a quick fix.

  3. After scrutenising the pictures carefully, in my self appointed role of keeper of all records of a non descript and nonsensical nature, I can definately say it's the same fish in all 3 photo's as it's the same hat in all 3piccies.


    Lord Daresbury

  4. I doubt this feat (if that's the right word) will ever be topped in all honesty. Three 16lb+ barbel in one session is extraordinary and an accomplishment the captor will cherish for the rest of his days. I think Ray has been keeping records for decades and I suspect he's very particular when it comes to details. I doubt he meant anything by it however sometimes things should be done by PM or email rather than said in a public domain.

  5. It's a quirk of angling that using the activity as a form of competition has one inherent flaw, and that is; no matter the skill, dedication and efforts of the angler, it all comes down to needing the presence and co-operation of the quarry itself.

    My own home waters used to be teeming with fish. However, the lethal combination of low breeding success, plastic particles, cormorants and signal crayfish has reduced these places to fishless deserts.

    Proving oneself in these circumstances has only one outcome. Futility.