The Barbel Society Barbel Challenge

The Barbel Society Barbel Challenge – By Jerry Gleeson

Well after months of planning and replanning the time had finally come for me and Paul to set off on our 14 rivers adventure to raise money for the army benevolent fund, that was proudly sponsored by The Hook Bait Company, Wraysbury baits, The Print Biz and Gforce tackle. Along the way we would meet up with good fishing friends Phil Smith who would join us for 4 rivers and Dave Chambers who would join us for the 7 rivers on the southern leg.

11lb 3oz Dove Double
11lb 3oz Dove Double

our 1st river was the Ribble in Preston we had plenty of action on here but it was Paul who scored 1st with the doubles with a 10lb 8oz beauty, next we were off to the Goyt where Paul again produced the goods with a good fish of 10lb 3oz. Off to the dove next to meet up with Phil smith who was too fish with us for the next 4 rivers and Mark Dutton who was to be our guideand fish as a guest angler.
While Phil and mark were getting plagued by chub Paul and I were getting amongst the resident barbel but it was Paul again who had the double and a new pb to boot with a barbel weighing 11lb 3oz. The following morning we said our thanks and goodbye’s to Mark in the morning and made our way to the river Derwent where we were guests of Derby County at the suggestion of Phil, like on every other river we had a good walk before deciding on our chosen swims.

This time it was my turn to get amongst the double’s landing a barbel weighing 11lb 4oz, not wanting to be outdone Paul continuing his run of luck landed another barbel and again another pb weighing 11lb 7oz what a trip he was having.

11lb 1oz Trent Double
11lb 1oz Trent Double

With a last minute change of plan Phil advised we might have more luck on a stretch of the Trent at Long Eaton and again he wasn’t wrong, his knowledge on stretches of rivers was proving second to none, we managed 3 barbel here a nice brace to me weighing 12lb 8oz and 11lb 4oz, Phil taking his 1st double at 11lb 1oz.
We were all ecstatic at this point as we had taken 8 double figure barbel from the 1st 5 rivers, far better than what we had ever anticipated.

Next we off to the river Soar another length Phil had suggested, now i don’t mind saying after having a really bad day i was not feeling it on this river, but once again Phil’s wisdom proved invaluable when just after 10pm in consecutive casts i landed another nice brace weighing 10lb 3oz and 12lb 10oz. Phil got also got amongst the fish with an 8lb barbel and a double figure carp.

12lb 10oz Soar Double
12lb 10oz Soar Double

The following morning Phil departed from the challenge leaving us with 10 doubles from 6 rivers, we certainly
couldn’t have done it without him.

We were on a very big high when we arrived on Kinver freeliners stretch of the lower Severn, unfortunately the river was running very low and early reports indicated that those who had fished it had struggled. Still we gave it our best shot and despite being our 1st barbel blank we did manage some nice chub and bream.

With the northern leg finished we headed off to the river Lodden where we met up with Dave Chambers, not only is Dave a very fine angler he is also very funny and kept morale high all week even if half the time it was at my expense.

The Lodden was to prove another difficult river, although Dave had a lovely 7lber and a nice chub both Paul and I struggled, even the crayfish avoided us.

After a hearty breakfast it was time for the river Kennet, this was the river i had been looking forward to the most, it was a stunning bit of river, and many thanks to RDAA for allowing us to use upper benyons at such short notice. We managed 3 Doubles on the Kennet again Paul doing the business with another 11lber and another pb his 3rd one of the trip coming in at 11lb 9oz, Dave managed a 10lber as back up but not before Paul had his second double followed by an 8lber, me on the other hand all i could catch was weed and lots of it.

10lb 10oz Kennet Double
10lb 10oz Kennet Double

Slightly tired and worse for wear we arrived at the river Colne a stunning little river where Dave Gauntlet was to guide and fish with us. Although 5 Barbel were taken we unfortunately missed out on the double, we will return.

The river Thames next probably the widest river I’ve ever fished and also the slowest for a river of such size there was hardly any flow, although we was put in some good swims by Gary Lucas the one thing he couldn’t provide was extra water, I opted for an early night and left the lads to it, by this point i was knackered god knows how the other lads felt.

Paul managed a nice 6lber during the night but that was the only bite, after breakfast it was time for the long drive into Canterbury to meet Iain Macdonald who would show us around the wonderful river Stour.

We were all sat in good swims amongst the masses of streamer weed, and we could all see barbel moving in and out of the masses of weed beds, Dave lost a good fish early on and landed 2 good bream and i managed a 7lber, i did have a very nice double in my swim but i struggled to get it to feed. Although we were struggling on the Southern leg we weren’t doing bad overall, 13 doubles so far from 12 rivers.

Our 13th river next the Arun,  we were met here by some of the committee of Petworth and Bognor who gave us a cheque for £100 to go towards the amount already raised, absolutely fantastic what a nice surprise.

If there was one river we expected to blank on it was this one, with a very low head of barbel spread over a long distance the arun has to be one of the hardest barbel rivers in the country.

Dave Chambers did the magic on here before me and Paul had cast out, we were still prebaiting when we heard his cheers, to say he was happy was an understatement, and myself and Paul were equally delighted for him, that was one of the many special moments we had on the challenge.

With the job done we set off early for the Hampshire Avon and the Royalty fishery where Davis Tackle had paid for us to fish the compound and the main river.

For us this was the only stretch of river where we could end this challenge, the royalty is steeped in angling history and to be able to end our challenge on there was fantastic, if only we could get that double.

I decided to stay on greenbanks all night and Paul and Dave went up onto the compound, I was having fun catching some nice bream between 6-8lb, not what we came for but cracking fish all the same, my phone went at 3am and it was an ecstatic Dave who had just had a barbel weighing dead on 11lb he had certainly done his stuff on the southern leg.


When the morning came as much as we didn’t want it to the challenge was over, we had done 15 doubles from 9 of the 14 rivers, Paul had 3 new pb’s, id had 2 braces of doubles from 2 rivers on the same day, we’d had the pleasure of fishing with Phil and Dave, we’d met some cracking people along the way, but more importantly by the time the final penny is in we should have raised in excess of £2500 for the army benevolent fund.

To donate to to the cause please visit Jerry’s Just Giving page here :