There are however, many anglers that travel hundreds of miles to follow up stories or rumours of big fish taken by others. It is just part of angling in the same way that some like to compete with the man next to him in win matches. Good luck to them I just don't swing that way. Perhaps its the norm. I'm often accused or it is mentioned in my presence with an air of deep suspicion that should anybody catch a big fish from the Red Lion stretch then I'd be in their swim like a shot as soon as they leave. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I fish the river in search of barbel just like anybody else but I gain much more satisfaction from finding a modest fish with an unblemished mouth than from a much larger fish with umpteen previous hook marks in its face. Such captures are inevitable but I do not embrace them. For me, knowing the swim where a big girl was caught means I can avoid it in order that the fish, if its a resident fish, can have time to recover. I will note the time and conditions of the capture and maybe use them in a future session or season.
We have certain 'goer' swims and big fish swims on the river that get hammered on an almost daily basis. When I find such a swim empty I am more likely to walk on by to allow it a rest than to take my turn at a tired shoal of nervous fish. If you want second hand sport its your choice, I just choose to avoid it when possible.
I also dislike the vitriol and spite shown by the modern angler and the barbel angler really does take the biscuit. It is common for so called anglers to claim an enormous or even record fish then produce a photograph of a modest specimen held right out to the lens. These jokers are generally rumbled just after the Weeklies have made themselves look stupid by printing the rubbish and I have also made my feelings known in the past. But occasionally a genuine fish or at least one big enough to allow the benefit of doubt comes along and a bunch of know nothing idiots jump all over it a give the poor chap who caught it a right pasting on Faceless Book and other hidie holes for the emotionally challenged.
Just such a 'discussion' was held recently when this apparent 17.6 fish was caught from the Lower Severn...
Yes, the fingers won't fit up the nostrils of the angler (the golden test) but it is undoubtably a large fish and unworthy of the hammering I am told the gentleman received. Barbel can be very difficult to estimate.
I had ended this blog with a tale reported about the fish above and an alleged incident that followed it. I decided to print it in order to hopefully throw some light onto the subject - fishing if you like - but, instead of facts I inevitably got more bile and vitriol and have been accused of cronyism by somebody who probably does not understand the term for he has a chequered past in that area. I have however, decided to remove those comments and to carry on as normal.
One point though was raised by Jeff Hatt. Jeff's a long time and respected angler and stated that were he to claim a record it would be accepted as he is known to be good to his word. He further states that one must earn their reputation with a faultless past. That's all well and good but we all know that fish do not know who's bait they are picking up and a first-time angler has almost as much chance of a biggie happening along as a long time pro. It has happened before and shall doubtless happen again. Are we then to treat such people with poisonous words just because they have not 'earned' our respect? Likewise, what of the anonymous angler? I know guys who have far more skill and angling ability than many of the self promoting, fame chasing magazine writers, what if they catch a lump?
I suppose t'was ever thus but with social media its all a bit louder than the past. Were I to catch a Wye record would I claim it? I really don't know..... which is a shame.