So, by way of a fill in, and using the Steve Gale Design Ltd template, here is another top ten offering. This one is my personal highlights of fish landed, by myself, since May 2011. I am very conscious of a Bureboy post which included the phrase "Nothing more depressing than the photo album of a single species angler!" (4th December 2015) I do hope that this post doesn't cause a similar reaction although I realise I won't please everyone.
No. 10 Common Carp 18 lbs 2 oz - Long Shaw Farm
This old warrior was taken on a small cube of floating bread fished under the rod tip. The breeze was pushing into my swim and this fish was feeding on scraps that were building up in the surface scum. It was simply a matter of scattering a few cat biscuits then wait. I actually watched the fish take my bait. Tring Tench rod and my Match Aerial centre-pin - great memories of my time spent at Long Shaw Farm.
No. 9 Pike 19 lbs 4 oz - Royal Military Canal
This fish was taken during a short spell, when Benno and I were to enjoy the best pike fishing we've experienced in England. Generally one bite per session, but three different 19's and a 20 - not too shabby for a canal?
No. 8 Chub 5 lbs 2 oz - River Stour, Canterbury
My first "five" and a PB. Taken from a tiny free stretch between two bridges on the Sturry Road, right opposite Viking Mercedes Garage. A Robin Red pellet accounted for the savage bite and tremendous scrap that ensued. They are quite magnificent fish which I don't spend enough time with.
No. 7 Pike 19 lbs 5 oz - East Kent Marshes
The culmination of my original pike project - I was after a twenty from the local drains. I experienced some fantastic pike fishing out on the marshes but, sadly, that target fish eluded me. I took this particular individual three times during the 2011-12 season and had to conclude that I had nothing more to fish for; my twenty would, therefore, have to be sought in pastures new!
No. 6 Barbel 13 lbs 5oz - River Stour, Canterbury
August 17th 2013 and my world went into meltdown as the barbel challenge developed into a fairytale. I'd caught my first ever double, a couple of weeks previous at 11 lbs 9 oz,, so this fish was to blow my PB out of sight. It's pointless attempting to describe the intensity of the experience, I lack the eloquence, and ability, to write such stuff. Benno was with me and added to the moment - he also took the photos. Even now, when looking back, they were magical times where reality became a blur of the surreal.
No. 5 Pike 20 lbs 9 oz - Royal Military Canal
Just a few days after the passing of my mother, this fish ended up in my landing net. A fish that I'd targeted since my return to the hobby; it was an intensely emotional experience, given the timing and circumstances. I'd arranged to meet up with the boys - they'd been on the piss in Folkestone the previous night and failed to show up. Therefore, I was alone, with my thoughts, when this fish was deceived by my "Red Herring". I still look at those images with a great deal of nostalgic feelings, there was more going on than simply fishing during that period?
No. 4 Eel 3 lbs 10 oz - East Kent Marshes
March 12th 2016 - the realisation of another challenge. By setting targets I now feel that my angling has greater focus. "No shit!" That eel project was as mad as any I've been on yet, as it turned out, fulfilled a great many things I'd previously not explored. I pushed myself, but also pushed the thinking of others, by delivering my results. Me being happy about catching an eel - that's something in itself!
No. 3 Barbel 13 lbs 14 oz - River Stour, Canterbury
21st August 2013 - just five days after capturing my first "thirteen" this fish adds another 9 oz to my PB statistics. A barbel known as "The Long Fish" was taken from the same swim as my previous fish and is the pinnacle of my barbel angling. A PB which would, surely, make Fred Crouch very happy, I think? I fished well, but am not too sure that I deserved such a fish, so early in the campaign? Looking back, I'm very happy with my results and can now go off chasing other dreams without any regrets.
No. 2 Common Carp 20 lbs 10 oz East Kent Marshes
10th July 2015 - at 02.00 hrs I'm out pre-baiting three swims on the marshes. I'd put my gear in the car, just because I knew Bev would have the "raving hump" should I return too early and disturb her sleep for a second time. That third swim had signs of fish activity and this magnificent wild Common Carp was my reward for my efforts. The first "twenty", to my rods, since Feb 1984 - what a fantastic fish and probably never been caught before?
No. 1 Pike 24 lbs 10 oz Loch Awe
At 05.50 hrs, on 26th April 2015, my "Optonic" bite alarm sounded as the monkey rose up the needle, and then dropped free, allowing the centre-pin to trickle the braid off almost resistance free. Somewhere, out in the loch, 120m away, a pike had picked up my bait and what a pike it proved to be. Thirty three years after my first visit and I finally get my first Scottish "twenty" - without any doubt my finest hour - ever! I've caught bigger yet never has a pike impacted upon my emotions like this one did. Memories of time spent at this magnificent venue with Cuddles, and the Mitch's, during the late-80's, were in the mix as I savoured that moment. Alan Gray came down to witness the fish, only four of us saw it - Luke, Benno, Alan and myself - but within five days this fish had metamorphosed into a "Thirty-two" such is the power of social media.