THERE are sure to be a number of new faces lining the banks of the Ribble over the holiday period, following the release of information concerning the capture of another fantastic barbel.

Mark Halstead, an Accrington engineer and holder of the current river record for the species, has revealed details of yet another very big fish.

You will not be surprised that Halstead is keeping the location of the stretch to himself, but he has said that it is a different one to that which produced the record (14 lbs 7 oz).

That in itself is encouragement enough to have barbel specialists from all over the country making their way here, since it is evidence that big ones are possible from a number of different areas.

There are also a number of day ticket stretches available for them, but I suspect that Presto Federated Anglers plus Wigan DAA and Warrington Anglers will notice an increase in ticket sales.

I know that there have been double figure fish from the stretch at Sunderland Hall (Osbaldeston) that Barrowford anglers control.

A visit before the holiday to Carter's Tackle in Preston would be a worthwhile exercise if you are unsure what is available, where they know plenty and sell the club cards as well.

Anyway, back to Halstead's fish.

The river was about 4ft up on normal when he arrived for the session (obviously not last week then) and floodwater debris was a constant problem. The water temperature was however just about right and he set about it with some confidence.

Utilised feeder tactics with a pellet and particle mix and loaded the hook with paste. He had fished for two hours, into the darkness of the night, before he had his first bite.

That was a fish of 10 lb 8 oz and he had just returned it, after weighing, when his rod lurched again. This time it was the biggie and, at 13lbs 14oz, it put up a mighty fight.

The cold snap we have endured over the past week is forecasted to give way to milder, wetter, conditions.

A bit of fresh water into the river will do no harm whatsoever, and conditions promise to be just right towards the end of the week. It is very tempting I know, but make sure you have appropriate tackle if you give it a go.

These fish will just not be landed on lightweight gear. You need a rod with a test curve of at least a pound and a half, married to strong line (10lbs b.s. or so) and an appropriate hook pattern in size eight, tied to a braided hooklength. Most barbel tend to lie in the main flow, so heavy feeders are required and you will probably have to attach extra lead to hold in position.

Debris (leaves and stuff), as Mark encountered, will cause the rod to nod constantly and you need to be ready, yet not over anxious.

You will not mistake the bite from a barbel, believe me. They are by no means timid and the rod is likely to drop back, as the fish moves the feeder, then it will lurch violently forward.

You must have a landing net of an appropriate size, of course, to get the fish onto the bank, or the rest of it will have been a waste of time!

Nelson match angler Dave Wells returned to the scene of last week's triumph, the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at Saltaire, hoping for a similar winning result.

There were no pike for him this week however, yet his small fish net of just 1-2-0 was enough to secure second spot in a pretty awful affair.

The dynamic duo from teAMS H&B, Harrison and Jones, were in good form at a very poor Pilsworth. Harrison led the charge, weighing in a disappointing 6-12-0 to take first spot.

Team-mate Jones brought 4-8-0 to the scales, worth third place money.

The ice will have receded from the canal by the time you read this, but the actual water temperature may not have risen sufficiently to encourage the fish to feed heavily this weekend.

It should certainly have by Boxing Day when, no doubt, there will be loads of new tackle being tried out. Breadpunch will take some fish for sure, but unless the water is gin-clear pinkie or squatt will do better.