Can a record roach ever be claimed without bombproof DNA evidence t back it up?
That’s the question being asked this week after the opinion of scientists and big- fish anglers was divided over whether this 3lb 15oz 8dr fish, caught by Duncan Chairman, is a hybrid or the ‘real deal’.
The Aldershot, Hampshire-based rod is adamant that his fish is a genuine roach after scale and fin ray counts ticked all the right boxes, but a number of prominent figures in the sport believe that the fish looks ‘wrong’ and insist that the only way to be certain is to take a fin cutting or scale sample for DNA testing.
“I’m convinced this is a huge roach and a new personal best for the species.
I’ve been fishing for 40 years and I know the difference between a hybrid and the real McCoy,” insisted Duncan, who caught the fish from an undisclosed southern stillwater on bolt-rigged maggot feeder tactics.
“It’s come to a sorry state when every time someone catches a big roach, rudd or crucian someone else feels the need to question the fish’s authenticity. In hindsight I’m gutted that I didn’t take a sample because I could probably have claimed a British record for a DNA-tested roach if I had,” he added.
One man who believes Duncan’s fish is a bona fide roach is Sparsholt college lecturer and keen angler Simon Scott. He said: “Having done a couple of scale counts and had a very good look, I’m confident that the fish is a roach. The pictures are reasonable but, being dark and shadowy, they do make the fish look a bit odd.
However, in my opinion, it’s a very big roach! Well done Duncan, said Simon.
But others are less sure, claiming the photographs aren’t clear enough to make a positive identification possible.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a definitive answer on the fish. I can’t see enough of the key features to confirm whether or not it is a roach,” said the Environment Agency’s Nigel Hewlett, scientific advisor to the British Record Fish Committee.
This view was echoed by BRFC committee member Andrew Nellist, an angler who has caught plenty of specimen roach ad a man who has championed the need for DNA testing of record claims.
“My opinion is that the fish isn’t a true roach but a roach/rudd hybrid. I think the head, mouth and body are the wrong shape and the eye is in the wrong place. It’s a shame Duncan didn’t take a DNA sample so that we can know for sure,” said Andy.