Irwell Barbel Quest Pt 1

Over the years there have been persistent murmurings that people have been catching Barbel from the Irwell, and it seems to be an accpeted fact that 500 of them were stocked into the river in the early 1990's. Despite having fished the river on a regular basis over the last few years i have still yet to see one even though i am assured by some very reliable sources that they are there.
So - rather than continuing roach fishing down near the city centre i have decided to make a concerted effort to catch one of these mythical whiskered beasts.
Because i have been told in strictest confidence the location of swims from which Barbel have reputedly been caught in the past i am not going to post any photos during my Irwell Barbel Quest.

Tuesday evening saw me on the river, tackled up with an avon rod, bait runner reel, big lead and a bucket of 10mm halibut pellets. As this was my first ever trip using this type of gear, i set off in hope rather than expectation.
I dont often use baits this big so having no idea of how to fish in this style i chucked in two or three handfulls of pellets and then gently lobbed in my hokbait over the top.
I was only using one rod - so i had to ask myself basic stuff like how long i should leave my bait in the river before re-casting, should i band the pellet or hair rig it, is the lead too heavey, should i cast into the central flow or on the edges of the main flow, how far will my loose fed pellets carry downstream before hitting the bottom etc etc etc?
It was only to be a short session, 6.30pm til 9.15.
At 8.30 my rod tip hooped over and the bait runner screeched as line was ripped off the reel. Heart in mouth i struck into a fish which continued to streak off down the river making the main clutch on the reel sing.
I realised that this wasn't a chub as the fish made run after run after run. I thought that i couldn't be this jammy to hook into a barbel on my first trip out - and i was right. I wasn't that jammy -it turned out to be a lovely Irwell brownie of 3lb 4oz (I've rediscovered my digital scales).
Alas it jumped ship between weighing and photographing so i cant show it to you - however its tail was enormous - as is the case with most big Irwell trout.
After that i had no more bites or twitches on the tip. Hopefully I will get out again one evening next week for another crack. This weekend there are pb's to be broken as I'm off to "tench heaven" with Phil K.