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THE river season ended with a real bang for barbel anglers with string of brilliant beards caught around the country.

Biggest reported to Angler’s Mail was a 17 lb 6 oz beauty caught by Kevin Sanders from an undisclosed Bedfordshire river.

The 33-year-old from Cambridge said: ‘It fell just after dark using a big piece of hair-rigged hot chili luncheon meat. I got the bite from slack water in the near margin of a bend in about 3-4 ft of water.

‘I had previously caught a 3 lb chub and lost a pike! The fish fought hard and I had the drag set tight as I did not want the fish to reach the far bank snags. It fought hard for five minutes,’ he added.

Kevin used a running leger rig with 10 lb Fox Soft Steel line and size 8 ESP Raptor T6 hook.

Recent Inside Line star Andy Loble smashed his PB in style when he matted a 16 lb 12 oz stunner from Berkshire’s River Kennet – after deciding to give a great boozy party a miss as conditions were great.

Winchester, Hampshire-based Andy said: ‘I was determined to beat my PB of 9 lb 14 oz as I have had plenty but never got into double figures.

‘I am having to deal with the grief of not attending the party but I think it was worth the sacrifice. I just hope that one of the larger fish that are present there will be kind and come my way over the course of next season,’ he added.

The fish was caught on two CC Moore XXX boilies and new Ultima Power Carp Ultra line and Gardner Covert size 6 Wide Gape Hook and added a 5 lb 1 oz chub.

For the full picture of Kevin’s 17-pounder and four other 15 lb-plus barbel, grab a copy of this week’s this week’s Angler’s Mail magazine.