I'll begin by stating that this post is purely because of something my son, Benno, commented after the capture of that RMC "brace" on 3rd December. Obviously he'd been in on the news as events unfolded, such are the wonders of modern communications technology. Therefore, well aware of the adrenaline effect, via my incoherent rambling, as I relived my emotions of the two captures. So, at Benno's request, I've put together a Top Ten angling memories, yet have steered clear of the early years purely because they are no advert for anything other than selfish obsession, at the detriment of everything (and anybody) else. I would be a fool, and a liar, if I said that there weren't some exquisite moments of utter joy involved during those times of "tunnel visioned" lunacy. However, when looking back, I'm not particularly proud of that period of my life, certainly in no way wishing to glamourize such irresponsible behaviour, will concentrate on the angling I've experienced since returning to the hobby in May 2011.
I'm very lucky to have shared many of these experiences with a few others. of similar mindset. Amongst this small bunch of anglers, Benno, his best mate Luke, and my youngest brother Sye have played a major role in the adventure. It is an ability to derive pleasure from the success of others, as much as your own, which has made this choice of a top ten so much easier than a, self indulgent, "look at what I've caught" - type of list. So in true "Top Ten" fashion this will be a countdown from ten to one.
No.10 - Benno at Loch Awe - Pike 20 lbs 6 oz 5th May 2011
This is where it all started for me. The first trip back up to the magnificent scenery of Kilchurn Bay since 1992 and it proved to be a pivotal point in my return to angling. Conditions were very kind to us, and the fishing provided regular action, although never hectic. When Benno landed this pike, the first Scottish "twenty" I'd ever seen, the spark ignited the fire and I was back to being an angler again.
No.9 - Benno on The Stour - Barbel 11 lbs 6 oz July 2013
Looking back on the events of our barbel campaign, which was to last three seasons more or less, I'm glad we did it our way. It was a real struggle for the majority of the time but, when things went right, boy did you know how hard earnt that moment had been. This particular fish was only the second double I'd ever witnessed despite having learned my early lessons under the guidance of Fred Crouch down on The Royalty fishery, that most famous stretch of The Hampshire Avon. It was a garbled message on the walkie-talkie that had me rushing from my swim, a couple of hundred yards downstream, in order to arrive just in time to slide the net under this milestone barbel. Benno couldn't put two words together, such was the power of that moment - happy days!
No.8 - Me on The Royal Military Canal - Pike 20 lbs 9 oz 17th February 2013
Less than a fortnight after my mother passed away, events conspired to see me fishing alone on the canal. The second bite of the morning was to see me land my first "twenty" since 16th January 1990. It was a moment of such intense emotion that it's probably just as well I was on my own? A fish that I'd targeted since my return to the hobby was in the bag and I was totally blown away. Benno and Luke eventually arrived to get the photos done, both nursing sore heads from the previous night out in Folkestone, thus the reason I was alone in the first place
No.7 - Me on The Stour - Barbel 13 lbs 5 oz & 13 lbs 14 oz August 2013
|Saturday 17th August 2013 - 13 lbs 5 oz|
|Wednesday 21st August 2013 - 13 lbs 14 oz|
Without any doubt the most intense, and rewarding, days of fishing I'd ever experienced. Just two sessions, five days apart, both under four hour each, from dusk through to mid-night(ish) but what a way to smash my PB out of sight. We were concentrating our efforts of the notorious Willow Close section of this lovely river and had already enjoyed some reasonable success. These two barbel took it to another level and it was my privilege to land both of them with Benno close to hand, thus I was able to share the joy of the moments with someone who understands the emotions of such events.
No.6 - Sye at Loch Awe - Pike 20 lbs 8 oz ? May 2013
If I hadn't been part of the same angling adventure that Sye also experienced during our lives, this "twenty" would be just another pike which crossed our paths. However, knowing the level of effort involved in achieving this "Scottish" target is why it holds such powerful memories. This particular week was to see Benno, Sye and myself land thirty-eight doubles out of a combined total of fifty pike from Kilchurn Bay. It was an incredible sequence of events which was capped off by Sye's special moment.
No.5 - Luke at Sandwich Coarse Fishery - Perch 3 lbs 3 oz 17th February 2017
Luke is the quiet one in the gang, although well able to hold his own in any angling situation. Forever on the go, when out with the rods, this particular fish is but one, of many, which I could have chosen to illustrate his talents and shared enthusiasm. He and Benno were drop-shotting on the main lake, I had just stopped off for a quick chat and was parking the van when Luke hooked this magnificent perch, thus was able to enjoy the moment and grab a few photos. It could just as easily have been a big pike or carp that I used to demonstrate how the ability to derive enjoyment from the success of others can only enhance your own angling experiences.
No.4 - Me at Scroggin's Lake, Marshside - Perch -my finest hour! 1st December 2018
I had the first rod out just before 13.30 hrs but didn't manage to get the second one in play until well after 14.15 hrs, such was the hectic feeding spell that I'd dropped in on. I was using prawns as hook baits, with Krill & Tuna method mix as a ground bait. Between 13.45 and 14.45 hrs I landed five perch over two pounds! 2.04, 2.04, 2.07, 2.02 & 2.05, in that order, quite simply the best perch fishing session of my life!
No.3 - Me on The Royal Military Canal - Carp 22lbs 5 oz 30th May 2016
This fish provided me with one of the best experiences I've enjoyed since returning to the hobby. Everything needs to be put into context, because the reality revolves around the tackle, not the fish, on this occasion. I'd been presented with a 1959 B. James & Son "Dick Walker" Mk IV split cane fishing rod, by my family, to celebrate my 60th birthday. This carp was my first, over twenty pounds, that I caught using my wonderful gift. Put a Mitchell 300 into the mix, then add Benno with the landing net - doesn't get much better!
No.2 - Me at Loch Awe - Pike 24 lbs 10 oz 26th April 2015
Having witnessed Benno, Sye, and Tom Bradbury catching their first Scottish "twenties", all from Kilchurn Bay, I knew my time would come. Thirty three years had elapsed since my first trip to, the peat stained waters of, the highland lochs and at around 06.00 hrs on that fateful Saturday morning, my bite alarm signalled a take and battle commenced. As soon as it was in the net I knew my quest was over and it wasn't long after that a can of 1664 was cracked open! It was a moment that I dreamt of ever since that first trip up to The Isle of Bute in May 1982.
No.1 - Me on The East Kent Marshes - Eel 3 lbs 10 oz 12th March 2016
This was the fish which "sealed the deal" on one of the most outrageous projects I've ever embarked upon? I have no particular affection for these slimy, tackle tangling, pests, yet over the course of that "Winter Eel Challenge" became fascinated, bordering on obsessed, by these wonderful creatures. At 3 lbs 10 oz it is nowhere close to my PB, yet the absolute joy I derived from achieving my target, first time of asking, will stay with me forever. All I remember is walking off the marsh, that night, with a smile wider than my face! Enjoyment - it's what this hobby should be all about?