An untapped northern river targeted only by salmon anglers has produced an incredible 34lb 4oz pike.
Specimen hunter Tony Balfour made the superb capture — likely to be the fish’s first visit to the bank — from a secluded stretch of running water in the north west.
The 44-year-old bricklayer tackled the river with minimal roving gear after rain forced him to abandon work for the day.
He said: “I’ve been going after the barbel on this river for two or three years but over the summer I decided I would have a go for the pike in the autumn.
“I’d been rained off work that day so I just took a rod, landing net, rucksack and bucket of livebaits down to the river at dinner time.
“I’d been there for 20 minutes when I got the take on the first run in a new stretch.”
Tony, who took the impressive predator on a float-fished roach, is an accomplished pike angler with stillwater specimens of 44lb and 36lb to his name but admitted this one tops the lot.
“When I hit into the fish it was ripping line and going great guns, like they always seem to do at this time of year.
“When it first surfaced I presumed it was a 20 but when I lifted the net I knew it was something special.
“I don’t think it’s ever seen a hook. I’ve seen salmon anglers on this stretch but never any coarse fishermen.”
The Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain member added: “I don’t think they go any bigger in this particular stretch but I’ll be fishing another bit of the river this winter and if I can catch a 25lber I can die a happy man.”