Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Picks of the Decade.

 Choosing candidates for this is pretty tough, so a few of these may not strike you as being particularly big for the species but in terms of its size relative to where it was caught it. Some of these places would surprise many anglers as to where the fish came from. Over the years I have been extremely lucky as to what I have managed to slip the net under, others have required the utmost skill and patience, often pushing me to the limit.

 Here are just a handful of fish from the 2010's and yes there are so many that some catches that mean a lot to me won't make this but I have to draw the line somewhere. Most of these are actually personal bests too.

This bream was my first double figure fish off a canal, since then I have been lucky enough to do it again, special fish and very special waters that certainly make you work for the rewards, a truly special fish for its environment.

Almost an entire days trotting culminated in coming away with one grayling, that one grayling weighed 2lb 11oz and still the fight gives me nightmares. The fear a big grayling puts in you when they turn broadside and power off downstream is quite something, you struggle to find words to describe it.

The river Cam is home to some special fish, this is one of them, March 13th, bitterly cold and bare footed holding one of the most awesome wild carp I'm ever likely to catch, 27lb 12oz, caught on rudd gear in the boat. Quite a fight indeed, Brian deserved a knighthood for getting that in a 22'' drennan landing net.

Having witnessed a 13lb 3oz zed to the boat the day before I had a burning desire to get back out. Less than 24 hours later I was posing with this incredible looking fish, again in the boat and with all light gone the take was so powerful the rod jolted to simply let me know it was time.

Not a personal best but my best lure caught pike off the mighty Wye, a Rapala X-Rap minnow was the savour to what was fairly tough fishing. A couple of shows just off some sunken trees indicated where the lure had to go, ten minutes later and a few casts she was in the net.

One of the best looking barbel I have ever caught, a comfortable double that fought so hard I had to rest afterwards. Just twenty feet wide and 2-3ft deep hardly seems the sort of place one would target barbel but it certainly doesn't bother them.

Two years on Newdigate with the sole purpose of catching one of the two big golden orfe had finally come to an end. 6lb 12oz of a brilliant looking fish, shame they fight so poorly but it can be forgiven. Ten trips after starting and a faithful buoyant maggot on the method feeder was the orfe' downfall.

Opening day on a sun swept Stour gave up a couple of its gems, this chub being the largest at 6lb 8ozs, there was a time I'd had two six pound chub ever, fishing the Avon/Stour that figure soon crept up quite nicely.

Canal rudd very rarely get up above 4oz and often are the bane of a surface anglers session, however this corker at 2lb 5oz certainly put a smile on my face, perfect in every way, just one day hope to follow that up with a 3lber from a canal, that would be something to rival any capture during a season. Especially off the somerset levels.

Enton....does that place need an introduction? such an awesome place but not as easy as anglers make out, many hours I spent on there in search of crucians and managed just a couple, my best here at 3lb 8oz, during all that time I didn't lose a single fish.

Possibly the shock of the decade, the river will remain nameless as I hope to one day cross paths with this incredible common once again. On my MARKIV split can rod and pin, freelined bread it really was the best way I could hope to catch such a carp, no name, wild and at 28lb 3oz she is my biggest common and river personal best, quite a fish. I still dream of that fight in my head at night after seeing the photos again.

Having literally stepped off a plane from Asia just six hours earlier this immaculate double figure barbel took a fancy to a trotted piece of meat, one of the prettiest specimens I've been lucky enough to catch, just over a foot of water, a tiny bush just hiding the front half, first cast...easy.

A snow carp? my only one of the 2010's and what a fight, 2.8lb bottom, 15ft float rod and pin, chub were the intended target. A double figure carp though certainly wasn't quaffed at.

Two hours and possibly six miles of marching the towpaths put me in touching distance of achieving an incredible feat, that being catching a cut carp. Over the last few years I devoted some considerable time to targeting canal carp with varying success. Carp however do not come better looking than that fish above, 19lb 9oz and possibly a lot older than I. 

My personal best carp and a fish known as the "ghostie leather", 35lb 8oz and on bream gear including 6lb line was not just the envy of myself, a few onlookers clearly appreciated its capture and after a couple of photos she went back like a trooper. Names and fish aren't my kind of thing, but this lake I'll make an exception to as it holds some iconic carp, this being one of them.

My first twenty pound pike (21lb 9oz) and thee prettiest I have caught, from a river too made this catch so much more impressive, I shook like a crapping dog for ages after I had landed her too, I was physically terrified! But not long after realised just how fantastic it was, simply superb.

Possibly the craziest catch from anywhere in 2010's, roach x bream hybrids are very rare throughout london and this was the first I'd caught since the late 1990's. Whilst stalking carp on a really cold morning I noticed a flash of silver under my feet as I walked along the towpath and realised this awesome/freaky creature was feeding on the weed clinging to the canal wall, a nice flake of bread soon captured its attention and forever opened my mind to the real possibilities these canals can produce. 5lb 1oz.

The last decade bore witness to some fantastic years after roach. My personal best of 2lb 15oz remained comfortably out in front but was joined by an additional 7 fish over the two pound barrier, all from Thames tributaries fishing a range of tactics. My favourite species and its not hard to see why.

My one and only dace of the decade that surpassed the 1lb barrier and fish that was immense, the images of this fish do not do it justice and have always found big dace difficult to convey in shots, however, at 8 drams over the pound mark I had numerous fish one winter over 14ozs, since then they have disappeared almost entirely.

When it comes to looks this towpath mirror has it all, black as your hat, a little battered as you'd expect a big wild carp to be, but also represented a personal best mirror off the canals at the time. 25lb 4oz and what was even better is I got to share the moment with my dad who was taken aback by its sheer size and the fight? of course it was of biblical proportions as it always is. Escape is the only plan.

I saved possibly the best barbel I'm ever likely to catch to last. First ever visit to the H.Avon and I decided to settle in the top swim on the pipes. Half an hour before dusk I popped out my 18mm pellet tipped with a grain of buoyant corn and just hoped for the best. As the light faded over the fields my tip slammed round and was locked into battle with a big fish but with no headtorch I couldn't tell what I had or how big it was. My mate Stuart made his way upstream to assist me with the weighing and photos. Having finally landed her she was resting in the net and could only make out a portion of the body, still not fully appreciating what I had just caught.

Once Stu had arrived with me I lifted the net out the river and then it hit me at what I'd just caught, she was a truly Hampshire Avon giant at 14lb 6oz and is still my personal best. The feeling of seeing that fish for the first time and holding her still plays back in my memories museum. 

What a first fish to catch off the most iconic of our rivers. Luck and skill in perfect balance and the reward was much greater than I could ever have hoped for.

 What are your favourite memories from the last decade of angling? feel free to pop a comment in the box. I am intrigued to hear your stories.


  1. Some impressive beasties, here's to the next decade.

    1. It was a great decade, let's hope we are as successful if not more so for the next ten years, all the very best Dave. Tight Lines.

  2. Cracking fish there... Was great to witness quite a few of them. And rumour has it your first fish of this decade was a lump as well!

    1. Great start to 2020 for sure Brian, let's hope it continues in the same vein eh!

      It was great to share some very memorable catches and like wise, you had some fantastic outings yourself, always a pleasure mate!

  3. Great post, really enjoyed these pics. Food for thought...

    1. Thanks Adam, variety is the spice of life as they say! What with work and family I've barely been out, hopefully that changes soon in time for autumn, hopefully this gives you a bit of inspiration!


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