The match record on the River Thames has been smashed by Shakespeare’s Neil McKinnon who bagged a phenomenal 203lb 3oz of bream during a competition at Medley.
It capped an amazing month for the species on the rivers, which has also seen pleasure anglers topping the ton on the Thames and a 103lb match weight on the Great Ouse.
Gloucester matchman Neil was drawn on an end peg below the noted ‘dead tree swim’ at Medley, where he used an open-end swimfeeder to take 52 fish to 6lb 8oz during the third round of the Match Fishing Cup, an invitation knockout competition.
Having decided to target bream from the outset, Neil bagged his first 5lb specimen after just 20 minutes. He regularly cast to the same spot in the middle of the river, all the while building up a bed of feed for the fish to settle on.
He never looked back from that moment on, with the fish coming thick and fast to his groundbait mixture of chopped worm, casters and 3mm pellets, which he delivered via a large Drennan gripmesh feeder, plugged at each end with Dynamite Baits Marine Halibut and Swim Stim Green groundbait.
“I knew the area held a few bream and I saw one roll before the start but even so, my target weight was 15lb to qualify for the quarter finals of the cup on the Gloucester Canal. I’d got this after 45 minutes, so I just tried to enjoy myself and catch as many slabs as possible.
“It was one of those rare red letter days where you just couldn’t put a foot wrong!” said Neil, whose outstanding net eclipses Mike Stratton’s long-standing Thames match record of 175lb.
Neil fished 6lb Shakespeare Targa mainline, a 0.16mm hooklength and a size 14 hook, and finished a country mile ahead of runner-up Darren Davies, who took 23lb 1oz from the next peg.