I can't believe that I'm any different from other bloggers, in as much as I like to look at these numbers. Probably an egotistical thing in all honesty, but I do like to know what people are looking at and thus gauge the popularity of the various offerings I've made during the course of a day, week, month, year,etc, etc.... This ability has actually caused some rather surprising discoveries to be made, none the less that many visitors are looking at the archived stuff and not my most recent posts. I'm unsure if this is normal, or not? Just recently a post, that I made in January 2014, has been receiving a lot of "hits". Top Ten was a listing of the ten best fish that I'd captured since returning to the hobby, some three years previous. Having had cause to revisit the original, and a couple of similar offerings, I find myself reliving some very special times, transported back by the images on display. Looking at that original listing and, after much thought, I realised that only two of those fish would still make it onto my current ranking. Obviously such things are purely arbitrary, and hugely personal, subject to change with the passing of time and the experiences which are enjoyed along the way. I will, therefore, present my revised list along with the reasoning behind my current choices.
Number Ten - Common Carp 20 lbs 10 oz - 10th July 2015
This carp was the first over twenty pounds that I'd caught since Feb 1984. That it was caught deliberately, in as much as I was carp fishing, is incredibly pleasing and it became the fish that paved the way to many further, incredible, adventures out on the East Kent marshes. Not that I was to know that when I drew it over the landing net. Probably the most perfect fish I'd ever seen, as it glistened in the early morning sunlight. Emotionally drained, I was totally in awe of this stunning creature that had graced me with its' presence; like a priceless piece of carved mahogany and all to myself.
Number Nine - Pike 18 lbs 8 oz - 10th November 2011
This modest pike is included because it was the first English "double" that I captured following my return to the hobby. Fishing out on the East Kent drains, often with Gadget as company, this individual hadn't read the script when it powered off down the dyke, flat rodding me as it did so. It was to be the start of a winter campaign that provided all the ingredients to re-ignite the desire within. Wild pike, in wild places; size becoming secondary to the thrill of the capture and the stunning surroundings where these battles took place. Sadly it was to be a short-lived dabble with paradise - other anglers found out what was happening and the pike fishing was completely ruined by the actions of a minority, who fished for the table, not sport. As a direct consequence, all of my later angling exploits have been far less well publicised, especially the venues that I frequent.
Number Eight - Tench 5 lbs 2 oz - S&DAA Reedy Ponds - 16th October 2017
Number Seven - Eel 3 lbs 6 oz - 6th July 2015
This is a really weird one! I moaned about catching this fish when it actually happened. It was the same day as I caught my first ever carp from the East Kent marshes, also by accident, and this eel picked up a halibut pellet right on dusk. I only bothered photographing it because it weighed more than three pounds - it was still a bloody nuisance. It was after a comment by Darren Roberts that I actually gave the fish a little more thought and, little did I realise at the time, it was to provide the catalyst for a spectacular challenge which followed later in the year.
Number Six - Common Carp 22 lbs 2 oz - 29th September 2018
Not the carp I seek to complete my "split cane" challenge, this fish makes it onto the list by virtue of the fact that it's my first "twenty" taken using a centre-pin. As it was only a month ago, there's very little else I need to add.
Number Five - Mirror Carp 21 lbs 5 oz - Royal Military Canal - 30th May 2016
Another carp, another fist, this one the first "twenty" taken on a split cane. Benno and I were on a roll, at this time, having discovered a lovely, relatively peaceful, section of the canal where there were few fish worthy of our attention. In all honesty he kicked my butt, but I did manage to get my split cane project off the mark with this superb canal inhabitant.
Number Four - Pike 20 lbs 9 oz - Royal Military Canal - 13th February 2013
The pike that I'd been seeking since picking up the rods again in May 2011. All alone, out on a remote stretch of the canal, this fish provided a fitting finale to that particular challenge. Less than a fortnight after the passing of my Mother, it was a very special moment when I drew my prize over the draw chord of my waiting net. Even today I still smile when looking at photos of this fish, it really did mean that much!
Number Three - Eel 3 lbs 10 oz - 12th March 2016
At no time in my life, prior to embarking on this "fool's errand" did I ever think I would speak (write) kindly about this species. That winter project, a direct consequence of Darren Roberts' comment on an earlier fish, was to completely change my opinion of eels and their capture. That this individual was, not only, the heaviest of the entire campaign but also the one that saw me achieve my target of an eel caught, deliberately, during every month of the traditional pike season (October - March) remains one of my most cherished achievements. I walked off the marsh, that night, an extraordinarily happy guy! I'd achieved something that very few anglers have ever attempted; at my first try!
Number Two - Barbel 12 lbs 10 oz - River Stour, Canterbury - 27th July 2014
The second season of chasing shadows along the banks of The Kentish Stour. This fish is the only one, in all that time, I feel came to my landing net due to some level of skill, on my part, as opposed to pig headed stubbornness and time banditry. The winter floods had caused us to focus our effort on a new area and we were back to square one. On the night of this capture, for the first time, I was totally confident in my tactics and swim choice. I knew I was going to get a fish. Not too sure that I was expecting this result? The whole experience was very satisfying and confirmed, to me, that these barbel could be targeted deliberately, when located. Nowhere close to my heaviest fish from the river, it remains the sweetest memory from this period of, self inflicted, centre-pin spinning, lunacy.
Number One - Pike 24 lbs 10 oz - Kilchurn Bay, Loch Awe - 25th April 2015
If I'd have dropped down dead after landing this pike, my life would have been fulfilled by the achievement. Thirty-three years had elapsed since my first ever sojourn to the lochs of the Scottish Highlands and Islands and my desire to capture a twenty was finally realised with the events of that early morning bite. So intense was the pent up emotion that I had to spend some time on my own, just collecting my thoughts and composing myself for the subsequent photos. The day passed in a blur, although probably due, in some part, to the fact that I went on the lash from 06.30 hrs - happy daze!
So there you have it. My ten best fish, as gauged from a very personal perspective, using the power of recollection and associated emotions to make my judgements. By its' very nature, the list is a fluid concept and highly likely to change with the passing of time and my further successes whilst out with the rods (God willing!) I acknowledge that I've used this template several times, during my blogging, and apologise to anyone who is a little bored by the repetition.