I was looking at my blog stats, recently, and saw that the Top Ten post had received a number of visits, so checked it out and, having re-read it, felt sure that my perception of the ten most important/pleasurable fish would be very different in October 2017. First off is the realization that I haven't caught some of the most memorable fish over the period, thus it can't be all about me. There is an undeniable joy to be had by simply being part of someone else's successes. So; this time round, I hope to purvey that sentiment by including fish that I have witnessed, along with those I've been fortunate to catch myself. There are three of us who regularly fish together, Benno, Luke and myself, but we are occasionally accompanied by Sye (my brother) and Bryn (my grandson). Attempting to narrow this down to ten fish might get messy and, chronologically, things will go a little awry? But here goes!
No 10 - Benno at Loch Awe, 5th May 2011 Pike 20 lbs 6 oz
|Kilchurn Bay, Loch Awe - Benno with the first Scottish "twenty" I had seen in 29 years of trying!|
No.9 - Sye at Stream Valley Fishery, East Sussex. 10th June 2012 Perch 3 lbs 6 oz
A social at this lovely little venue was to produce perch fishing like I had never known. I can't remember just how many of these fabulous fish we took between us? A great many being over two pounds, my own PB of 2 lbs 10 oz was amongst them, but it was this stunning example which stole the show and made the whole gang happy to have been part of Simon's special moment.
No.8 - The Royal Military Canal, 17th February 2013 Pike 20 lbs 9 oz
A very special fish which produced some intense emotions. Taken just a few days after the death of my Mother; I was alone on the canal when the bite came. Only when I'd secured it within the folds of my landing net did I realize how special a fish it was. The pike I had been seeking since picking up the rods again in May 2011. My first English "twenty" since January 1990 and I had time to savour the event all by myself. It was an hour, or so, later when Benno and Luke arrived to witness the fish, take some photos and share in my enjoyment of such a wonderful wild pike.
No.7 - Benno on The Stour, Canterbury. 5th July 2013 Barbel 11 lbs 6 oz
Rod Stewart once sang "Every picture tells a story" and never has that been more true than with this image. It proved to be a pivotal moment in our project and was, at the time of capture, the largest barbel I'd ever seen. Just a few days after we returned from a trip to The River Severn, at Hampton Lode, where I'd managed to land my first barbel since September 1985, this fish was the one that ignited the flame. Caught during a very short evening session, the walkie talkie message "Dad, I'm in!" was catalyst to a magical experience as I netted this PB specimen for my son! I remember ringing him the next morning and the phrase "smiling like an idiot" being part of the conversation. Benno had said it, but it applied to me in equal measure - a truly wonderful experience for me to be part of.
No.6 - The Stour, Canterbury. 21st August 2013 Barbel 13 lbs 14 oz
That River Stour barbel campaign was to be as exciting, an angling challenge, as I'd ever experienced, yet never did I feel that we (Benno and I) had learnt anything about the fish that graced our landing nets. Such was the random pattern to our successes. If, however, I look beyond the obvious and simply seek the impact and enjoyment of a fish then this barbel is right up there with the best. Benno was fishing nearby, thus able to share the experience and grab the photos. It was a very special time, and place, for us both
No.5 - East Kent Marshes 10th July 2015 Common Carp 20 lbs 10 oz
I am no fan of modern carp angling, completely unable to buy into the mind-set of the current generation of devotees. There can, however, be no denying that they are a fabulous species and provide a challenge like few other fish. I'd packed up carp fishing in February 1984, having caught my PB from Stanborough Lake, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. All 23 lbs 14 oz of it! It was a crazy twist of fate that contributed to my being out on the marshes, at this time. I'd been going barbel fishing, only to learn of an Environmental Agency weed cutting operation, so had reverted to plan B. I'll go tench fishing out on the marshes. Well that's what I'd planned, what actually happened was I caught an 18 lbs 2 oz carp! This fish is the result of my second, and carp focused, session and is everything I wish for from my carp angling. Probably never seen a hook previously, it provided a stern test of my angling techniques before it was drawn over the landing net. In the early morning sunlight it looked as though it had been carved from mahogany, a beautiful creature to behold and well worthy of inclusion in this list.
No.4 - Luke at Sandwich Coarse Fishery 12th February 2017 Perch 3 lbs 3 oz
Luke is the quiet one within the group, he's also a very accomplished angler. I wish I'd been able to use his 30 lbs carp in this listing, but wasn't present when he landed it so will have to make do with his PB perch instead. He and Benno had been fishing with Bryn (my grandson) in order to get some material together for our Freshwater Informer articles. I was stuck indoors with jobs to do, but a phone call from Benno had me making excuses and driving over to see them. As I parked my car the phone went again with Benno informing me that Luke had just landed his PB perch on the drop-shotting gear. I was there within a minute and gazing down on a truly stunning fish - Luke's soppy grin spoke volumes about the capture!
No.3 - Royal Military Canal. 23rd April 2017 Carp 23 lbs 5 oz
A milestone fish, in an unfinished project. It is only special because it is the heaviest fish I have so far managed to catch using the B James & Son Mk IV split cane "Dick Walker" rod that was my family gift to celebrate my 60th birthday. That promise to my Father, to catch a "thirty" using it, is the driving force behind this challenge. I realize that it's a very tall order but, I did make that commitment and will do my utmost to make it happen. Dad passed away in August 2016 and I have much to do in order to honour my word and his memory. St George's Day, on the canal, was everything I wished for. A savage bite, a prolonged battle and a nice fish to pose with. The split cane comes alive under these conditions and the use of a Mitchell 300 reel just adds to the fun. What will it be like when the dream becomes reality? I'll certainly have to re-write my Top Ten, that's for sure!
No.2 - East Kent Marshes. 12th March 2016 Eel 3 lbs 10 oz
At no time, in my life, did I think that eels would feature in my angling highlights until I received a comment from Darren Roberts about my dismissal of a 3 lbs 6 oz fish that I'd caught whilst carp fishing. I had always thought of eels as slimy, tackle tangling, pests - it didn't matter if I was after carp, barbel, pike or perch, these Sargasso Sea interlopers were a problem, no matter what time of the year. Then I became aware of "critically endangered" status that had been placed upon the species and set about a project to catch an eel in every month of the traditional "pike season".
I succeeded, and it is this fish which completed my challenge. The largest of the whole winter period, I can't recall being happier with any other fish of any other species. Eels had certainly gotten to me!
No.1 - Kilchurn Bay, Loch Awe. 25th April 2015 Pike 24 lbs 10 oz
The feeling of contentment, of personal fulfillment, was the overriding emotion as the day panned out - plus the fact that I went on the piss from 06.10 hrs.might have helped? If there is ever going to be a fish to replace this one, at number one, then a split cane rod, or my grandson, will have to be part of the story