I've been doing just this and stumbled across a post which was an advert for this bloggers book, "A year chasing big fish" or something along those lines. I won't offer a link, or name the guy, because I have no reason to promote such things. I had a little peruse of the site and checked out a list of PB's that had been proudly displayed, alongside a gallery of digital images. A very nice blog, well presented, but it didn't work for me. Why? Because, basically, the angler hadn't caught many (other than carp) "big fish"! And a year is a very claustrophobic timescale. My angling isn't solely about such captures, as important as they are, it's also about a lifetime's interaction with people and the enjoyment of places. That there's a pleasure to be gained from a plan coming to fruition is beyond doubt, however the frustrations and disappointment when things don't go your way is also part of the journey. The incredible high when that special fish is finally within the folds of the landing net and you are reduced to an adrenaline induced, gibbering, wreck is what keeps us coming back for more! Only a small percentage of anglers will understand this viewpoint - the vast majority, of which, being on the wrong side of fifty; at a guess?
Is it really possible to recall a lifetime's "big fish" angling highlights in a single blog offering? Probably not unless I take several weeks, to produce it, going back over my angling archives. Therefore I am going to give it a go; as a one off - might get messy? What species are included is purely arbitrary, they're the ones I have been successful in capturing unsurprisingly. That they span a period stretching back over four decades is probably the best indication of my journey and my belief that angling isn't a hobby, it's a way of life.
|Wilstone Reservoir in the 1980's - I was there!|
|Maggots, not boilies, were the downfall of this magnificent bream. I caught by design - not accident!|
|Benno with a 21 lbs plus cat from Claydon Middle Lake - 1992|
The species which provides the name for my blog, the one that, to this day, is able to conjour some of the most intense memories from my school days. A small jack, caught on a live roach fished under a Fishing Gazette bung, was my introduction into a world of marvel. I'd caught plenty of decent pike before that fateful encounter with, a very young, Eddie Turner. His input was to elevate my pike angling to something which I'd never have achieved without it. He, along with Vic Gibson and Billy Hancock, showed me a direction that I'd completely no idea existed. Just to be able to call these guys mates is more than enough for me - I've been a very fortunate man to have enjoyed such company.
|When everything comes right - Wilstone 1987|
|Benno goes close - 19 lbs 14 oz of commercial carp, on a zig bug!|
There has been a lot of water under the bridge since I last cast a bait in the hope of catching a Zed. The 1980's, out on the Fens was a period of discovery, of madness, copious amounts of light ale and hilarity. The fishing was excellent and matched the company. Big Les Dudley is central to my recollections. Larger than life, he remains key to all that was great about that time during my life.
|Cuddles with a Fenland Zed - Great times and sadly missed|
I'd have nothing to say if Benno hadn't been part of this story, however, long before he was born there was a guy called Fred Crouch who was to provide the spark. Barbel are, without doubt, one of the finest challenges which face any UK angler. That I can recall my apprenticeship, under the guidance of Mr Crouch is something of which I am very proud. As I've already said, I'm a very lucky man to have made acquaintance with so many characters, within this hobby. My love of centre-pins and compound taper Avon rods is all directly attributable to this wonderful man. The fish that have come my way, since Ben and I started to fish The Stour would make Fred very happy, I hope?
|The very essence of angling. A magnificent River Stour Barbel caught by design - but I have no idea how?|
I have absolutely no idea if this post will work for others - it's taken far too long, in preparation, to change it now!