5lb 7oz perch tops run of massive fish

The venue tipped to break the British perch record has produced two huge fish weighing 5lb 7oz and 5lb.
Friends and lure fishing fanatics Tony Chesworth and Lee Garner both banked the fish of their dreams when they fished from kayaks during the highly anticipated Cotswold Lure Festival staged at Cotswold Water Park.
The big-perch credentials of this famous collection of waters are well known to specimen anglers, and the belief of many that it will produce a record-breaker was justified when Devon-based Tony, a retired Royal Marines Commando, netted the biggest perch of 2015 at 5lb 7oz, smashing his personal best for the species.
“It was a really subtle take on a 6cm Daiwa Duckfin lure but then she got really angry, and after a string of powerful runs I saw the fish for the first time. It looked like a stripey bream! I was shaking like mad,” said a delighted Tony, whose perch topped the event.
“I’ve been lure fishing for 20 years and this fish really is a highlight.
“Perch are without doubt my favourite fish and to have this one from such an exciting, challenging venue is really special.
“To share this catch with Lee, whose 5lb fish was every bit as impressive as mine, was an amazing experience. For both of us to land fish like this is what fishing is all about, and it still hasn’t really sunk in,” said Tony.
Lee, from Leicestershire, beat his personal best twice during the weekend, with a perch of 3lb 10oz backing up his fish of a lifetime. Both were taken on the same pattern of lure used by Tony.
“The first couple of hours of the second day of the event were slow, then a shoal of six huge perch cruised by me – it was so surreal,” said Lee, who won the kayak fishing event on the second day of competition.
“The first from the shoal was the 3lb 10oz fish, then I found the group again and bang – the five-pounder was on. It was the longest 10  minutes of my life.
“I’m amazed and overwhelmed by the experience. To think that all the fish in that shoal looked to be of a similar size is nothing short of incredible, and this is just one lake on the complex!”
Event organiser and owner of Cotswold Angling, Trevor Gunning, said it’s a case of not ‘if’ but ‘when’ one of the lakes at Cotswold produces a fish over the current 6lb 3oz British best.
“These are truly incredible fish and I’m confident that more than one of the waters here already contains several fish that will beat the record,” he said.
Another kayak angler to get in on the big-fish action was Charlie Halliday, who smashed his perch personal best with a mint-conditioned 4lb 12oz perch that helped him win the category of the best combined overall length of fish caught over the weekend of competition.
But it isn’t just Cotswold Water Park that has hit top form for perch – Woodside Fishery, near Kidderminster, has produced a huge 4lb 7oz stripey.
It was caught by 23-year-old local specialist Scott Reynolds, who lured his new personal best into the swim with a smelly concoction of spicy groundbait, prawns, chopped worms and dead maggots, with a lobworm hookbait presented over the top.
“I started the session with a fish weighing 2lb 8oz and then just 20 minutes later I had a take from what I thought was a carp,” he said.
“I was totally gobsmacked when I realised it was a massive perch.”
Cambridgeshire’s Grafham Water is renowned for its huge predators, and James Aris became the envy of many perch anglers out there when he netted a pair weighing 4lb 6oz and 3lb 13oz.
The amazing fish fell to drop shotting tactics with a Drennan Pearl White Minnow lure.
James’ boat fishing partner Adam Perna also got in on the action with Grafham perch weighing 3lb 10oz, 3lb 8oz, 3lb 5oz and 3lb 1oz.