The capture of the year’s biggest tench – a specimen weighing 12lb 6oz - has led to experts predicting that some of the sport’s longest-standing records could be broken this year.
Following one of the mildest winters on record, fisheries scientists are now urging the nation’s anglers to ‘get out there and target big fish’, as many believe that species such as tench, carp and roach could have already reached record-breaking sizes.
In the depths of winter icy water temperatures slow down a fish’s metabolism, meaning they need to consume far less food compared to other times of the year. But thanks to the unseasonably warm February and March, many species have carried on feeding during times when they would normally be lying dormant.
This theory has been supported by the capture of Paul David’s 12lb 6oz tench from a Berkshire gravel pit – the biggest of the species to be caught in the UK since June 2013.
“I’d caught several tench to over 9lb the week before this session which just shows you how the mild weather is bringing the fish on the feed as I never expected to be catching huge tench this early in the year,” the Hampshire-based rod told Angling Times.
“Most tench anglers leave it until after Easter to get their rods out but I’m so glad I didn’t wait because if I had, I wouldn’t have caught what is by far the best fish of my angling career.”
It is only tench that have been caught at huge weights relatively early in the year, as two record shaking carp, weighing 66lb from Elphicks Fisheries and 64lb 2oz from the Wasing Estate, have also come close to the British best of 67lb 8oz in the last month.
Leading Fisheries scientist and consultant, Dr Bruno Broughton, is not only convinced that species such as tench, carp and roach would have been feeding throughout February and March, but also revealed that warmer water temperatures would result in the earlier development of eggs in the female sex of these species.
“This means that many fish could have already reached, or surpassed, their optimum weights normally gained before they prepare for spawning,” he explained.
“My advice to specimen anglers would be to stop looking at the calendar and get out there now.
This year is truly an exception to the rule and there’s huge potential for records to be broken. I’d say that we are at least a month ahead as far as water temperatures go meaning that the development of eggs hasn’t slowed down anywhere near as much as it would have during past winters.
“In simple terms, tench, carp and roach will now be fatter because their bodies will be developing as if it was already early May. The capture of this huge tench, along with the fact that there have also been two carp over 60lb caught in the last few weeks just shows what is out there to be caught.”