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Eutopia - noun,

1. a place in which human society, natural conditions, etc., are so ideally perfect that there is complete contentment.

After 215,603 miles the big green fishing machine expired at junction 16 on the M6 enroute to another day/night on the river Dove with a mate who's yet to catch a double figure barbel. I stood at the side of the motorway in a dignified manner like a captain going down with his ship, it was a sad day.

However I'm not one to worry about logistics and it's times like this you find who your friends are so take a bow Mark Dutton for agreeing to take the car at your garage and Bill Last for dropping everything and meeting me at Marks garage to collect me, the fishing gear and 5 years worth of shite from ole faithful, goodnight god bless it's been fun but by 11am the next morning..........

Well hello sexy, new fishing wagon sat on the drive and good to go thanks again to Bill for taking me, proper mate, no bull just there when you need him hopefully I can return the favour at some point.

So there she is a mere youngster at 115,600 miles and for a very pleasant change everything works, the doors lock on the press of the key fob so no more asking the kids to lean across and press the 'button' no more dodgy electrics and will she won't she start arguments, it works as standard and it'll do me for another 50,000+ miles so happy days.

That scuppered the weekends fishing but as you'd expect I was already planning the week ahead, a trip to London with work on Tuesday/Wednesday and the Chub Study Group weekend on the river Dove the following weekend.

I'd looked forward to this weekend since it was voted in at the AGM in February. I had, of course, arranged the guest tickets and day passes with both Burton Mutual AA and Stoke AS who's beats have in recent times rewarded me with some very special fish so 14 miles plus on both banks plus the river Trent with chub to 7lb+ and barbel to 18lb+ what's not to like!!

Thursday and Bill and Bruce arrived on the river Trent at Sutton, well Bill arrived 6am and Bruce arrived fashionably late sometime later. The three musketeers had one sole objective which was to get Bill his first double figure barbel, much effort had gone into the planning and failure was not an option.

They started on the well known 'bush' peg and set about pitching feeder after feeder of maggots to the far bank. This was a proven technique but it somehow didn't feel right and a bold decision was made to up-sticks and head off downstream in the afternoon.

At 17:59 a thumbs up text from Bill indicated the news we'd all been waiting for, was it his first 10lber? nope, 11lber? 12lber?13lber nah not Bill he doesn't muck about with lower division fish like that!! Say hello to his new PB 14lb 7oz of River Trent wide boy barbel glistening in the Sutton sunset, well done mate I'm still smiling writing this what an achievement.

Mission accomplished it was off to the pub for a celebratory burger and a few beers to wash it down with. Huffy had arrived just in time to see the 14lber and said at the time it's the biggest barbel he's ever likely to see, well more of that later but for me it was happy days and pressure off for an enjoyable weekend amongst good friends and hopefully a few fish thrown in for good measure.

The Friday morning was spent in the Castle Hotel sorting out the guest permits and making sure everyone was sorted for a beat to go chub fishing. I'd arranged to meet Bill and Bruce at our usual beat after lunch and we'd fish into dark hopeful for a barbel or two.

The next day we awoke to learn that Huffy had a new PB too, he'd sent Bruce a message to say he'd had a 12lber then and incredible story unfolds for which I'll let Huffy take up the story....

Theatre of Dreams by Huffy What a crazy 48 hours I have recently experienced. I doubt in my lifetime I ever will again. My friends Bruce Ruscoe and Bill Last had made plans to fish the River Trent for a night and then drop onto the River Dove for a night, managing to get a last minute holiday for the Friday I drove down straight off 6-2 on the Thursday afternoon and met up with them. Later that evening I witnessed Bill land a P.B. Barbel of 14lb 7oz it looked absolutely stunning. AsI stared at it, I could not help thinking that I may never ever see a bigger barbel on the bank in my lifetime again.

Little did I know.....

The following day Bruce and Bill left around midday and drove down to the River Dove, I was tempted to go with them but I had put a fair bed of bait down and was hoping that at some point the Barbel would start to feed on it. In hindsight the right decision for once.

To cut a long story short, around midnight I hooked and landed the biggest Barbel I am ever likely to catch. When I first looked at it in the net my knees started to tremble ( been a few years since that last happened :) ) and I realised I had something special. After checking the weight on two sets of scales several times, I went for its lowest weight which was 16lb 8oz. In my haste to drive down to Nottingham I had forgotten my selftake stuff for the camera so I had to improvise with a chair and bucket. Managed to get some half decent shots.

Huffy continued by saying a very big thank you to Matt Marlow and Paul Floyd who gave me some sound tips and advice on how to tackle the mighty River Trent before I even got to see the stretch, also a thank you to Mike Quinn from Viking Baits who managed to get my Tiger nut boilies ready on the day before I left.

It would seem that everything had fallen into place and we'd reached a state of Eutopia - noun, 1. a place in which human society, natural conditions, etc., are so ideally perfect that there is complete contentment.

The Chub Study Group weekend was declared a huge success by all involved and even I managed to fluke a couple of 4lb+ chub out from a familiar swim and had the honour of the CSG Chairman assist me with the netting and photo.

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