MARK CASPER followed up an amazing spell of big River Thames pike following a big pre-baiting campaign that included particle plus chopped fish, with this near venue best 18 lb barbel.

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The Specialized Hook Baits boss had to play the giant barbel for 40 minutes after hooking it on one of his own 10 mm GLM boilies to a size 8 Gardner Wide Gape Talon Tip hook and 12 lb main line.

Reading, Berkshire-based Mark said: “I was absolutely blown away. It fought so well, as ‘old Father’ was flowing pretty hard and she ragged me all over the river.

I’d prebaited in the early afternoon and returned at 7pm and the bite came within ten minutes.

“Unbelievably, this is my first ever Thames barbel by design. I’ve had some very big ones in the past, whilst carping the river, but never actually by design.”

The fish falls just 5 oz below the official river record, run by the Thames Anglers’ Conservancy, held jointly by Chris Whapshott and Chris Wylot.

CAUGHT A BIG FISH? Email photos and details exclusively to: anglersmail@timeinc.com – you could star in the magazine.