The story of how barbel arrived in the Hampshire Avon is a fascinating one. What follows is an excerpt from an article by Peter Wheat in angling magazine September 1977.
"At the turn of the century the fishing rights of the tail end stretch of the Dorset Stour from Iford Dowis downstream to Wick ferry were held by Henry Newlyn, a local Bournemouth hotelier. Newlyn at various times stocked Rudd, Carp, Silver Bream, Raindow and Brown Trout in the Stour, wanted to add Barbel to his stretch and asked one of his rods T.W.Gomm if he could help.
Gomm a noted London trout specialist who frequently stocked parts of the Thames with Rainbow and Brown Trout, agreed to supply Newlyn with a batch of Barbel and to this end enlisted the help of his friend "Otter" Hones a famous Thames professional to bait a hot spot at Staines during the autumn of 1899.
Within the space of a few days fishing the two anglers bagged no less than seventy Barbel, ranging in size from 2½ lb to 4½ lb. These fish were put into metal containers transported to Christchurch by rail and placed in the Stour at Iford Bridge Hole. A further 30 Barbel also from Stains were added at Iford in October 1910 bringing the grand total of stock fish to 108.
These Barbel thrived and bred journeying up the Stour as far as Throop Mill and downstream into Christchurch Harbour where the Stour and Avon join forces to enter the sea.
As far as I can tell the very first Barbel caught from the Royalty weighed 6lbs and was taken in 1911, in a mixed catch made by four Nottinghamshire anglers. The men concerned were W Murfin, H E Birks, J Bailey (a son of William Bailey the celebrated Trent Barbel angler and author of the anglers instructor) and the legendary F.W.K.Wallis. Which one of the party actually caught the Barbel is not known, but the fish certainly caused a big stir at the time because it was the first indication that Barbel had moved up river into the Avon.
Eighteen years later the first doubles were reported. Two 13 pounders caught fairly and a 14 pound 4oz specimen foul-hooked by the then head keeper M. W. Hayter while Salmon fishing."