Predictions that the nation’s rivers would be in red hot form for the start of the season were proved correct as match, pleasure and specimen anglers alike enjoyed one of the finest opening weeks in history.
Confidence was high that the River Trent would kick-start with the same memorable sport that it produced last year and Richard Easom got off to a flying start when he netted this 14lb 1oz barbel.
The fish was the biggest of a trio of barbel landed by the Three Foot Twitch Baits boss which also included another double of 12lb 8oz. He said: “I fed a kilo of Dubby boilies and once the barbel turned up it was non-stop. After a long and tiring 20 minute fight from the biggest fish it finally came over the net – I couldn’t have asked for a better start the season.”
Further south, Ade West celebrated opening day in style with the capture of a huge 7lb 14oz personal best chub. Having struggled to get a bite on the Throop Fishery stretch, the Gillingham-based rod decided to visit a secret spot for a couple of hours.
Several handfuls of 4mm pellets were introduced before a link-leger rig consisting of an 8lb braided hooklink and a size 10 hook baited with a boilie was placed over the top.
“I received several small taps on my rod tip and struck in to a powerful fish,” Ade told Angling Times.
“When I saw the size of it on the surface I knew it was bigger than my previous best of 7lb 8oz which I caught from the same swim.”
Bream dominated proceedings on the Thames, where numerous triple figure catches were landed in the overcast yet mild conditions.
The biggest catch reported came to Michael Homer who banked an estimated 500lb of slabs from a stretch at Kingston. After balling in 2.5kg of Vitalin at the start of the day he started catching straight away and ended up with over 100 fish to just shy of double figures and averaging 8lb, all falling to worm and corn baits.
Former Fish O’Mania finalist Tony Curd embarked on a rare pleasure session on a stretch of the Thames above Teddington Weir and proved his bagging prowess isn’t solely reserved for the competitive stage when he took 40 bream to 7lb for a 150lb-plus netful.
A feeder attack with a 50/50 groundbait mix of Bait-Tech Kult Sweet Fishmeal and Omen held the shoal for several hours.
Bream were also top of the agenda for Burt Baits boss Tony Wynnick and Laurie Summers who both used an open end feeder approach for over 270lb from the capital’s most popular river.
Team England Lure squad member Sam Edmonds showed why summer predator fishing on the Thames is a worthwhile exercise as he took a 3lb 4oz perch and a 26lb 2oz pike.
The large stripey fell for a Berkley Havoc Rocket Craw Texas lure from a spot close to a weirpool and despite searching several other areas throughout the day, it was exactly the same swim where the rod was bent almost double by the specimen pike.
“It fought so hard in the fast current that it actually up-anchored the boat, which made for an incredible battle as we quickly drifted downstream! It was a bit hairy but thankfully we got it in the net,” said Sam.
The famous Royalty Fishery on the Hampshire Avon hasn’t disappointed either as the chub fishing has been second to none with specimens to 8lb reported by anglers fishing the area known as the ‘Telegraphs’.
Maggots have been scoring well for this species, but the big barbel are also showing a liking for this bait presented on the float or feeder as several ‘doubles’ have graced the bank topped by a fish of 14lb caught from ‘Watersmeet’.
Last but by no means least, silverfish enthusiast Mike Townsend stumbled across a shoal of large rudd while patrolling a Fenland river and used his vast experience to tempt a 2lb 10oz fish.
Floating crust presented alongside a well-balanced waggler rig enticed the specimen into feeding.