You were fit then Mal, long walk if I remember ! You could go to the Kennet in the late eighties and get a good bag of barbel then, sometimes the matches were getting huge barbel catches ! Lobworm was my favourite bait there, used to out on the lawn catching the buggers, boy were they hard to get out of the ground without breaking them in two!
Used to get some cracking barbel on the stour , but again the otters and " others" decided they were good to eat and that ruined it.
As you say..........they fight like a bass......but on steroids!!!
Another good barbel river we used to fish was the windrush at Kingstone Bagpuize .