Continental cousins show how big UK fish could possibly grow


Tench to 22lb, pike to over 50lb, near-40lb barbel and 100lb-plus carp... no it’s not a new, dream specimen water, but solid proof of just how big these species can grow.
The captures this week of a 26lb Spanish barbel, a 23lb 3oz French zander and a 31lb 6oz French pike underline the big- fish potential of Europe’s freshwater fisheries and prove that our own native species could grow much bigger than present records suggest.
Holidaying English angler Mike French landed a 26lb barbel while targeting carp on the Orellana fishery on the River Guadiana in Extremadura, Spain.
Mike, who was travelling with tour guides from Extrema Fishing, hooked the huge barbel on a legered 26mm Dynamite Baits boilie presented in 50ft of water.
Another Brit experiencing success abroad was Solar Tackle owner Martin Locke, who tempted a new pb pike of 31lb 6oz on a freelined sardine at former world record carp venue Rainbow Lakes in Bordeaux, France.
But, arguably, the pick of the bunch was Pro Logic consultant Denis Curot’s 23lb 3oz River Saone zander, caught on a new Savage Gear soft plastic Cannibal lure, which really underlined just how much potential our native species have to outgrow their present records.
Denis has caught numerous French zeds over the present British best of 21lb 5oz, topped by a personal best specimen of around 28lb caught on a 1lb-plus bream livebait meant for catfish.
But, while the potential is undoubtedly there, exactly what conditions are required for the growth of exceptional fish and how likely is it that we’ll see captures of British fish to rival the weights of those caught elsewhere in Europe?
“Fish on the Continent have a longer growing season due to higher year-round water temperatures,” explained fisheries biologist Dr Mark Burdass, of Sparsholt College in Hampshire.
“Warmer waters tend to be richer and more productive ¬ all the species grow bigger faster, including the invertebrates and prey that fish feed on.
“Our native species are unlikely to grow as big here as they do in warmer climes. Carp, for example, are a subtropical fish that’s right on its extreme northern latitude here in the UK which limits its reproduction and growth potential,” he added.
Mark’s views were echoed by Bernd Haenfling, a German-born lecturer at Hull University’s department of biological sciences.
“All cold-blooded creatures grow at faster rates in warmer temperatures, but you have to set against that the consideration that organisms which grow faster tend to die at a younger age.
“Conversely, fish that live in colder climes tend to live much longer which can lead to higher growth, a factor often applicable to salmonid species.
“Geology can also play a significant role in respect to the nutrient base present in an ecosystem. The more nutrient-rich the water, then the bigger all the species present will grow, as can be seen in England’s chalk streams such as the Test, Kennet and Wensum,” added Bernd.


Where do Europe's biggest fish live?


British records

European whackers


46lb 13oz, Llandegfedd Reservoir, 1992

55lb 10z, Lake of Grefeern, Germany, 1986


9lb 5oz, Surrey stillwater, 2007

18lb, Dniestr River, Moldova, Ukraine

Grass Carp

44lb 8oz, Horton Church Lake, 2006

89lb 5oz, River Danube, Hungary, 1993

King Carp

67lb, Conningbrook, Kent, 2008

123lb 110z, Don Delta, Russia


21lb 1oz, Adams Mill, Great Ouse, 2006

35lb 4oz, Dyje River, Czech Republic


19lb 10oz, Ferry Lagoon, Cambs, 2005

25lb 6oz, Lake Vesijarvi, Finland, 1912


15lb 3oz 6dr, Middlesex stillwater, 2001

22lb 1oz, Ostroher, Germany, 1961


4lb 9oz 9dr, Hampshire stillwater, 2003

8lb 4oz 5dr, Lake on Zealand, Denmark, 2006


4lb 4oz, Northern Irish stillwater 2006

6lb 14oz, River Rhine, Germany, 1981


1lb 5oz 2dr, River Wear, 2002

2lb 7oz, France, 2004

Euro Eel

11lb 2oz, Kingfisher Lake, Hampshire, 1978

15lb 7oz, Orlik Reservoir, Czech Rep. 1987


4lb 10oz, Clay Lake, Co Armagh, 2001

6lb 10oz, River Danube, Austria, 1989