Just how many coarse fish of record breaking proportions are swimming around in the UK¹s flyfishing reservoirs, such as Toft Newton in Lincolnshire?
That's the question being asked this week after Angling Times learnt of the hush-hush capture of two huge specimens ¬ a potential British record bream and a 3lb 15oz roach - by game anglers at Toft Newton Reservoir.
Rumours have circulated in the past of large perch to 5lb being taken from the Lincolnshire trout fishery, but the potential of the venue¹s roach and bream stocks was never known until now.
Although it wasn¹t weighed, there can be no questioning the sheer size of the bream caught by Stadbuck, Sheffield angler Lee Hanson in August 2008.
The massive fish was taken on a tiny size 16 black parachute fly and fought with such vigour that Lee (41) was convinced he was attached to one of the reservoir¹s famed big brown trout.
“We didn¹t weigh it because we wanted to get it back in the water as quickly as possible after the 20-minute fight, plus it was obviously in spawning mode. It was definitely over 15lb and could feasibly have been much, much bigger,” said Lee.
Just months earlier, John Wood, from Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire, landed one of the biggest roach of the year while fishing a black buzzer near the tower area at Toft, before taking it ashore where it was weighed at 3lb 15oz by fishery staff. It¹s not the first coarse fish the 62-year-old fly angler has caught from the fishery, having also taken big perch, chub and even eels.
Toft Newton has never been stocked with coarse fish, so how did these fish get into the reservoir in the first place and then grow to such proportions?
Fishery manager Jason Foster believes that the fish probably originated from a neighbouring river.
“We drained the venue in 1980 and refilled it with water from the River Witham via a 48ins wide pipe which was 12 miles long ¬ some fish are bound to have been swept down this. We have very few pike in Toft, so once the fish grew too big to be eaten by trout, they just carried on growing,” said Jason.
Hugh Miles and Martin Bowler filmed at Toft Newton for their highly-acclaimed Catching the Impossible series and Martin was surprised by the numbers of 2lb-3lb perch that the pair caught.
“I always get excited when I fish venues like this for untapped populations of coarse fish, as you never quite know what¹s in there. The problem with these trout reservoirs is that the fishing for coarse anglers is at the worst time of year.
Nevertheless, if I was to visit it next year I¹d fish a maggot feeder and keep twitching the bait back for the perch,” said Martin.