Drennan Cup runner-up Rich Wilby got his season off to a flyer with a 16lb 2oz bream, but he had no idea he was going to smash it just a couple of months later with this 16lb 15oz belter!
The Airfield Lakes fishery owner pinned his hopes on a large Midlands stillwater, and after walking the banks at first light he managed to find fish rolling at 50 yards.
He said: “I cast flatbed Method feeders at the showing fish every 20 minutes or so, and my first bite came after just three casts.
“I used a Pukka Method mix laced with pre-digested fish proteins, molasses and hemp oil which they managed to find very quickly.”
Rich’s tactics produced four other double-figure bream, and all fell to chopped worm and fake maggot hookbaits.
Britain’s tench are enjoying one of their best feeding sprees for years with two 12lb-plus fish heading up a host of huge specimens reported this week.
Angling Direct-backed Justin Grapes hooked into the larger of the two in the shape of a 12lb 12oz beauty taken during a trip to Bawburgh Fisheries in Norfolk.
It is the second-biggest tench caught this season and was part of a 14-fish haul for Justin that included four eight-pounders, three ‘nines’ and a 26lb 12oz carp.
He said: “I planned four days at Bawburgh and pinned my chances on Lodge Farm Lake, but by Sunday morning I’d not had a bite so I decided to move to Colney Lake.”
After finding a fishable spot among the weed, Justin baited it lightly with maggots, casters and chopped worm.
“Almost straight away I started to catch tench,” he said. “At midnight my rod was off again and this huge fish came to the surface and wallowed around before being netted. I rang my good friend Darryn, who drove down to take pics and witness the fish.
“My previous personal best was 11lb 6oz, so I’m over the moon to have demolished that with this incredible specimen.”
Justin used a chopped worm ‘kebab’ rig fished with a Korum Heli Kit and a Kamasan Black Cap feeder filled with chopped worm and soil.
The week’s other monster tench, at 12lb 2oz, fell to Mike Lyddon. The Gardner-backed specimen hunter targeted a large southern gravel pit and found a 7ft-deep gravel hump in around 11ft of water at 20yds. He baited this with maggots and hemp, before casting maggot feeder helicopter rigs with popped-up maggot and chopped worm hookbaits over the top.
“I only had a small bream on the first night, but a steady trickle of bait and regular casting saw the 12lb 2oz big girl slip up to the worm rig before dawn,” Mike said.
“A couple of hours later I lost another fish that managed to wipe out both rods, but as soon as I had untangled them and cast back out a 10lb 10oz tench picked up the maggot rig before I’d even managed to get the bobbin on!
“These two were my only tench of the session but I was more than happy with a new personal best!”
Eel fanatic Tony Arbery has banked the biggest ‘snake’ of the season so far.
The 7lb 6zo fish was part of a three-eel haul and was taken during an evening session on a southern pit with his dad Len.
Tony told Angling Times: “I was unsure whether it was an eel or one of the water’s rare big carp that had been hooked, for it made repeated efforts to reach a sunken tree – but pretty soon after the fight suggested it was an eel.
“At this point my knees went wobbly, for it very nearly made the snags, taking line in a series of short, sharp, almost uncontrollable bursts of power – despite that I managed to steer it to the net.”
A dead roach hookbait mounted on a size 4 ESP Cryogen Gripper tied to 35lb Kryston Quicksilver hooklinks proved to be the downfall of the specimen.
Tony’s running rig incorporated a light 1oz bomb.
After years of struggling to get to grips with a southern gravel pit, specimen angler Ryan Hayden was rewarded with this 9lb 14oz tench.
Ryan said: “It was caught on Saturday morning but I hadn’t seen a single tench roll at all.
“I was anticipating an early pack-up when the middle rod, fished in a deep marginal channel, went into meltdown.
“After the hardest fight I’ve ever had from a tench this beautiful fish of 9lb 14oz reluctantly rolled over the landing net.”
An 85g Method feeder with a double fake maggot hookbait presented over a bed of hemp and dead maggots was the successful tactic.
Woking-based specialist angler Alan Rio recently enjoyed the session of a lifetime where he landed this 11lb 15oz tench.
Targeting a southern gravel pit, Alan spent two mornings walking the lake before finding a swim where he saw fish showing on a spot around 50yds out.
Arriving at his peg he Spombed three pints of caster, three pints of hemp and three pints of red maggot over an 8ft smooth gravel spot where he’d seen the tench show.
The successful rig incorporated a size 12 Drennan Barbel Hook, a 10lb braided hooklink and a 2oz Drennan inline block end feeder.
A carp angler has made angling history by banking the biggest-brace of rudd ever to be caught from an English venue.
Thirty-year-old Thomas Jacklin was half-way through a 24-hour session on a North Lincs gravel pit when rudd of 4lb and 4lb 8oz devoured his boilie hookbaits in the space of just 10 minutes.
Speaking exclusively to Angling Times about his catch, Thomas described the unforgettable moment when the fish of his dreams slid over his net cord.
He said: “I was absolutely blown away by the size of these rudd.
“I knew they were in here, as carp anglers had caught them by mistake, but they’d only been coming out to around 3lb.
“So to catch a 4lb 8oz rudd and then a four-pounder just 10 minutes later is something I never dreamed would happen.
“I’m itching to get back down there to catch them by design!”
Targeting a clear area around 40 yards out, Thomas introduced a bed of chopped and whole DNA baits Secret Seven boilies and fished a standard lead-clip set-up with a matching hookbait.
Despite carp being his intended quarry the 4lb 8oz rudd put up a good scrap before eventually being netted, as Thomas explained: “Out of nowhere my left-hand rod shot off and the tip pulled round,” he said.
“I had no doubt that it was a carp until I lifted into the fish, at which point it darted around before eventually surfacing. Instantly my heart was in my mouth!
“I weighed it, took a few snaps then slipped it back, but before I had time to take it in the rod was off again with another 4lb rudd. I took a video of this fish but in the hysteria I didn’t take any photos.
“I wished I’d left the bigger rudd in the net so I could have taken an incredible shot of the pair.
“I was over the moon with this once-in-a-lifetime catch, and I very much doubt I will ever catch one bigger.
“The fact that I’ve held what’s possibly the biggest-ever English rudd in my hands is taking time to fully sink in.”
Dai Gribble’s pursuit of a new personal best eel was rewarded in style when a recent session produced this fine specimen weighing 5lb 12oz.
The two-time Drennan Cup champ had spent two trips targeting a Southern gravel pit in search of a monster and finally achieved his goal when the eel picked up his maggot and worm cocktail hookbait.
Dai said: “I’d fish for tench during the day and knew that the live and dead maggots I’d fed would still be around for the eels in the evening.
“After dark I’d cast out my eel rigs and I’ve had all but one of my eels during darkness. Over the two trips I’ve managed eels of 4lb 7oz, 5lb 6oz, 5lb 7oz and the 5lb 12oz fish, not to mention lots of tench including a brace of 9lb 13oz fish topped by a 10lb 5oz specimen.”
An epic pre-baiting campaign has helped lead to one of the biggest tench of the season in the form of this 12lb 8oz specimen.
It was banked by Dynamite Baits, Aqua and Cygnet-backed angler Matthew Fernandez who had been baiting a southern estate lake since April.
During his most recent trip action began at first light and after landing an 8lb tench and preparing it for photographing, Matt’s other rod tore off.
“The tench pulled me through several weed beds before I began to regain line!” said Matt.
“I knew this tench was big, but I didn’t know how big. The eight-pounder was in the net resting and this tench dwarfed it! The previous spring I had tench to 10lb 8oz and I was happy with that result but this capture has blewn my mind!
“I’m over the moon with the new personal best.”
Matt used a mixture of Dynamite Baits hemp, worm extract, pellet and boilie to bait the swim and fished Drennan open-ended feeders in conjunction with helicopter rigs and boilie hookbaits over the top.
Monster eels have been feeding hard across the country this week, topped by the season’s best weighing 7lb 4oz and three others over 5lb.
The biggest of the season fell to maintenance engineer John Mott, who was targeting a Lincolnshire gravel pit for carp when the big eel picked up his boilie hookbait.
The 46-year-old said: “I kept getting funny dropped runs the first night and after talking to the bailiff he suggested doubling up my baits. It turned out to be the right choice but the wrong species. I’m shocked to catch such a special fish on carp gear.”
The large serpent picked up two 18mm Essential Cell boilies presented on a size 6 Fox Arma point curve hook.
Those who have gone out specifically targeting eels have also enjoyed success this week – as proven by former Drennan Cup champion Len Arbery who caught a 6lb specimen.
Choosing to fish short sessions Len and son Tony took multiple 4lb-plus eels with the 6lb fish being the pick of the bunch.
Len said: “The six-pounder thought so hard I suspected at first that it was one of the waters rare big carp. It continued to be a handful on the bank too but swum off strong following a few pictures – it was certainly much livelier after the event than its captor!”
Len’s tackle for the eels consisted of a pair of rods frequently used at Redmire Pool in the 1970’s by his late lifelong-friend, Bill Quinlan. These were 11ft fibreglass, original Jack Hilton Carp Rods. He coupled these rods with Drennan bait-runner reels loaded with new 10lb ESP Syncro XT, and Kryston original Quicksilver braid hooklinks.
The 6lb eel took a dead bait mounted on a size 4 Cryogen Gripper hook.
Another former Drennan Cup winner who got in on the eel action this week was weekly Angling Times contributor Dai Gribble, who caught four eels to 5lb 6oz from a Southern gravel pit.
All four eels came from a swim Dai had raked the previous afternoon.
The Korum backed ace said: “I’ve found that at dusk eels move into tench swims and feeding maggots and worm really draws them in, so I put rods out for them just before dark.”
Dai caught all his fish on a bunch of red maggots on a size 8 Korum Power hook with a short hook link of Gardner Vigilante and a 2oz in-line lead.
There’s never been a better time to bank a personal best if this week’s abundance of big catches are anything to go by!
Warmer water and a rise in air temperatures have prompted many species to get on the feed – including tench, bream, crucians, zander and pike... and Britain’s specialists have been quick to get in on the action
Here is a round-up of the very best reports from the last week of fishing:
Darryn Stolworthy 11lb 3oz tench
Just two weeks after catching six remarkable double-figure tench from a difficult Midlands gravel pit, Darryn Stolworthy returned to slip the net under this 11lb 3oz beauty.
The current Drennan Cup champion fished for 36 hours on the 80-acre venue and received his only bite of the trip by fishing a worm hookbait over a bed of maggots, casters and chopped worm.
He said: “My mate Greame had popped in for a chat and was there to witness the fish and take some great pictures.
“It’s a very hard pit but this was definitely a different fish from the big hit of tench I had previously from here – absolutely insane fishing.”
Darryn used a bait-boat to help ferry his rigs out to a clear spot at 220yds from the bank. He misses out on a Drennan Cup Weekly Award after recieving one for a similar catch last week.
Top Tip: “You can give yourself an edge by using a bait-boat to reach clear areas that anglers can’t cast to.”
Kevin Durman 11lb 7oz tench
Angling Trust coach Kevin Durman smashed his personal best tench this week with this 11lb 7oz cracker from a Medway Valley Pit.
During a manic four hour feeding spell he backed up the double figure fish with a brace of eight-pounders and several smaller fish of 5lb-7lb, all taken on a worm kebab.
Top Tip: “Tench love weed, but fishing in it can impact how your rig works. Find a clear spot.”
James Champkin 15lb 5oz bream and 36lb 1oz common carp
A pioneering campaign on a 90-acre southern pit yielded this ancient-looking 15lb 5oz bream for specimen ace James Champkin.
Over several nights between April and May, James targeted a shallow plateau at 60yds and baited heavily with pellets, Dynamite Marine Halibut Method Mix, corn, partiblend and broken Source boilies, and managed to land bream of 8lb, 11lb 1oz, 13lb 2oz and 15lb 5oz – not to mention a bonus 36lb 1oz common carp.
All of James’ bream were caught on helicopter rigs incorporating lead-free leaders and stiff coated braid hooklengths, with two grains of artificial corn as the hookbait.
Top Tip: “Bream can eat masses of bait so don’t be afraid to top up your swim with a Spomb every hour or so.”
Lee McManus 16lb 4oz bream
A 100-acre gravel pit has been providing Lee Mcmanus with some superb bream sport in the last few weeks – as proven by this remarkable 16lb 4oz slab.
The fish is the biggest of 22 bream for Lee in just four nights fishing, 13 of which have been doubles with three over 14lb including the 15lb 2oz example.
Rig and bait details to come!
Top Tip: “When spodding out particles for bream, try to keep your baiting as accurate as possible. This will result in quicker bites.”
Gord Burton 30lb 12oz pike
Gord Burton enjoyed one of his best sessions in recent years at a large Scottish Loch last week.
The renowned predator ace from Southport topped a remarkable day with a 30lb 12oz pike to go with fish of 23lb, 21lb, 18lb and 14lb.
Gord fished lamprey on float-leger tactics in 25ft of water.
Top tip: “Always look for signs of scattering silverfish if you’re after a big pike.”
One of the biggest rudd of the season has been landed... a 3lb 6oz beauty taken by Drennan Cup runner-up Richard Wilby.
The Airfield Lakes Fishery owner is no stranger to catching big rudd, having taken five to 3lb 6oz in a single session last year – but his most recent trip in search of the species paid off in spades with the capture of the personal best-equalling specimen.
The rudd was banked from a difficult Norfolk stillwater that Richard knew only held a few big fish – but that was enough for him to consider having a cast.
“I knew they were in there, as last year two carp anglers had caught 3lb-plus rudd by mistake on boilies,” Richard said.
“The lake is crystal clear and weedy, so I spent a few short trips walking around just looking for signs.
“I finally found a couple of fish on a very dull and overcast day and presented three bits of corn on a size 10 hook, fished 2ft below a small waggler and line straight through.”
Richard flicked his rig past the two big rudd and tweaked the float back, although all was nearly lost when one of the rudd bolted.
Richard added: “I was holding my breath the whole time and thought the chance had gone, but while one fish swam away, the other inhaled the bait.
“It was a fairly easy fight but I was just praying it didn’t drop off. At 3lb 6oz it equals my best for species, and it was the most beautiful rudd I’ve ever seen.”
A bream angler who endured 150 nights in search of a new personal best finally struck gold with fish of 16lb 8oz and 17lb... within five minutes of each another!
Joiner Lee Snow had been targeting a tough southern gravel pit that he knew held monster bream, but he was made to wait for his prize after a string of blanks in pursuit of the species.
He told Angling Times: “As you can tell I’ve not had a lot of luck with the bream at all, I’ve just not been able to get among them.
“The pit has a very low stock, and at 100 acres it’s very difficult to locate where they are, although on this session I found a silt gulley at 180 yards from the bank and decided this would give me my best chance of a bite.
“I spent five days fishing to make sure I did!”
In order to present his baits perfectly the Leicester rod used a boat to introduce his feed and rigs.
Over the five days he fed a gallon of maggots, hemp, sweetcorn and pellets and fished fake maggot and real corn hookbaits over the top – but it wasn’t the bream that struck first…
“My first take of the trip was from a 9lb 9oz tench, which was a new personal best,” he said.
“I then had a crazy five minutes when I managed to bank the two big bream.
“My previous personal best for the species was 15lb 9oz, so it was brilliant that I managed to break that twice in such a short space of time… albeit I had to wait a very long while to even get these bites!
“Two days later I had a 36lb 5oz mirror carp which was another personal best!
“I must admit that I was bream fishing, and those captures are my biggest achievement from the trip, but I’m absolutely delighted to have beaten my tench and carp pbs along the way.”
Lee’s winning rigs incorporated drop-off leads and Korda Heli-safe kits.
It’s been another phenomenal week for tench with two of the biggest-ever catches of specimen fish hitting the banks.
The first fell to Hastings-based James Montier who landed seven of them, six of which were over 10lb topped by a 12lb 2oz giant.
James amassed the impressive hit during a week-long session at a private Southern gravel pit.
He began the trip alongside seven-year-old daughter Faye, who was the first to catch with a fish of 10lb 9oz.
The proud father then went on to take six fish of his own, weighing 10lb 12oz, 12lb 2oz, 10lb 13oz, 11lb 1oz, 10lb 2oz and 8lb 1oz.
He said: “Faye had caught her very first tench and a specimen fish too.
“Words cannot describe that moment – I was one very proud dad. From then on with consistent baiting of the spot little and often, the tench kept coming.
“When the second double figure fish was landed, I knew this was something special. The fishing was so good I decided to stay longer. This turned out to be a wise choice as I took a further three doubles the next day. At this point I was just in dream land. I had never heard or seen of a catch like this in 20 years of fishing!”
All of James’ tench fell to a simple hair rigged piece of artificial corn presented on a size 10 hook and with a 1.5oz lead on a Fox weed green lead clip.
For extra attraction James attached a small PVA stick of mighty meaty groundbait on each cast.
The second remarkable tench catch fell to Drennan Cup holder and Tenchfishers member Darryn Stolworthy, who also took six double figure tench to 11lb 10oz in an incredible 48-hour session.
The mega catch was part of an 11-fish haul which included two 20lb-plus carp, and all were taken on a very low-stock Midlands Gravel pit of 80-acres in size.
“Reflecting on another dream session, Darryn said: “I couldn’t believe my luck when I arrived at the venue and found fish rolling at 55 wraps (220yds range).
“Unfortunately though, my bait boat ran out of battery and I could not cast the distance.
“My good mate Justin Grapes saved the day however and travelled from Norwich to bring me his bait boat so I could reach the fish.
“I waited four hours for the first bite but after that they came steadily through the remainder of my 48-hour session. To get these fish in such a short space of time is unbelievable.
“In addition to the tench I’ve managed to catch two carp, and only five others have been caught from this lake all year!”
The Drennan Cup Champ landed his latest haul on maggot feeder tactics fished helicopter style. Alternating between maggots and worms throughout the session he got through five pints of casters, four pints of maggots and two kilos of worms.
To round off another great week of tench, Liam Dore from Devon reported a staggering 144lb bag of tincas from his local club water.
The bumper catch was taken at Newton Abbot Angling Associations Dores Pond and was made up of 33 fish averaging 4lb.
Waggler fished red maggots were the winning tactic on this occasion proving it’s not all about specimen fish or rigs when it comes to tench.
There’s only a handful of bream in Dai Gribble’s chosen lake, but he managed to winkle one out in the form of this fantastic 16lb 8oz specimen.
The two-time Drennan Cup champion targeted an area of silt and gravel at 60yds during a 48-hour trip to a difficult southern gravel pit and was rewarded for his efforts at around 1pm during the second day.
To draw the bream into his swim he fed 2kg of Sonubaits Superbream groundbait, hemp, pellets and worm, and fished a helicopter rig over the top incorporating a worm kebab hookbait.
He said: “It was a classic bream bite with a huge drop back registering on the indicator, but there are so few bream in here I wasn’t sure if it actually was one.
“My doubts were silenced though when this big, old slab surfaced and slid over the net!”
It’s been a brilliant week for tench anglers across the UK, with five double-figure specimens reported... topped by the biggest so far this season at 12lb 14oz.
The year’s best fell to Bolton-based rod Mark Rogers, who was targeting a North West stillwater for tench and carp when his bait fished close to the pads was picked up.
Forty-year-old Mark said: “I knew there were good tench present so always fish for them. I didn’t realise they went this big though. The way it tore off I thought it was a carp and then when I saw its head I knew it was a pretty special tench.
“The fish smashed my personal best and is the result of time and effort. I would advise others to keep putting in the work on these neglected waters that are just full of natural life.”
Mark caught the cracking specimen on two grains of corn fished on a size 6 hook on a running rig with a Kryston hook link and 2oz lead.
Daniel Woolcott continued his incredible big fish form this week too, taking a remarkable 20lb-plus brace of tench weighing 10lb 12oz and 11lb 11oz. The pair came from a 28-acre water with only handful of tench present.
Daniel said: “I must have the fishing gods watching over me. To bag a pair of tench this size is beyond anything I ever expected.”
Both tench were caught at 30yds on red maggots presented on a size 12 Super Specialist hook tied to an 8lb fluoro hooklink with a 50g groundbait feeder. Daniel’s successful bait consisted of dead maggots, Dynamite Baits Grubby Groundbait and Frenzied hemp.
Nutrabaits-backed Brett Longthorne is another specimen-hunter getting among the tench, this week taking a personal best of 10lb 6oz during a quick overnight session. Brett braced the big tinca with an equally impressive bream of 15lb 8oz. Both species fell to white Nutrabaits Trigga pop-ups, fished over Trigga carpet feed, pellets, corn and 12mm boilies.
To round off a great week for one of Britain’s favourite species, Tenchfishers member of 15 years, Colin McMahon, smashed his PB twice in the same session with fish of 9lb 15oz and 10lb 4oz.
The fish were caught from a tricky Southern gravel pit and were caught on maggots over a baited area. This tactic also accounted for five other tench.
Three double-figure tench topped by the largest reported fish of the season suggests that right now is a superb time to target one of the nation’s favourite species.
Specimen-hunter Simon Aldred capitalised on mild conditions to bank the biggest of the trio in the form of a chunky 11lb 11oz female.
The Northampton-based rod spent two nights on a Lea Valley Pit in search of a personal best and was duly rewarded on the first morning of the trip.
“At 9.30am the left rod ripped off and I bent into a fish which seemed heavy compared to the usual 6lb-7lb tench in the lake,” Simon said.
“When the fish finally came into sight in the gin clear water I couldn’t believe how big it looked.
“I called a couple of lads from around the lake to witness what had graced my net – a fish that a day before was just a dream!”
Simon’s giant tench fell from a margin swim to a Sticky Baits Krill boilie fished over a bed of matching boilies and pellets.
His tactics also accounted for other tench of 7lb 1oz, 8lb 14oz and 9lb 6oz.
Korum-backed ace Rob Thompson was the next angler to enjoy tench success when a pristine 10lb 15oz example devoured his fake maggot hookbait.
The Leicestershire-based specimen hunter spent a day targeting a big Midlands pit and lightly baited a spot with a dozen medium Spombs of groundbait, Sonubaits F1 pellets and mixed particles in search of a bite.
He said: “I had two bites mid-morning resulting in a seven pounder and a lost fish then nothing until 5pm, when I had a flurry of bites and three more fish.
“It then went quiet and I thought it was game over but just as the light faded I had another bite and landed the biggy, which was something of a shock to say the least.”
Rob’s set-up included 2oz Korum Swivel Grub feeders with 10lb Smokescreen nylon hooklinks and size 12 specimen hooks incorporating plastic maggot hookbaits.
An area of lily pads just 20ft from the bank produced the final big tench in the form of a fantastic 10lb 1oz specimen.
It fell to 36-year-old James Smith who fished a 10mm Sticky Baits Manilla pop-up boilie over a patch of bubbles next to the pads on a syndicate water.
Assistant manager of Carp Team England, Graham Mabey, continued a brilliant year as an all-round specimen hunter this week – taking a catch of five double figure bream to an impressive 13lb 10oz.
The South Coast Rods, Clearwater Angling Solutions and For Life Experiences Director was fishing a Colne Valley gravel pit when the big group of slabs turned up.
He said: “I’m happy to have had another good specimen session. This year I’ve had some large perch, chub, carp, river roach and now bream. Might have to break the tench gear out soon!”
All five bream were caught on single fake pieces of corn fished on size ten hooks over a bed of hemp and pellets. Graham also attached a small PVA stick of groundbait to the rig on each cast for extra attraction. His specialist tackle consisted of Free Spirit Hi S 10ft rods with a 2.75lb test curve. These were matched with Daiwa GS 4000 reels.
AFTER seeing a large eel swim past his feet while tench fishing, Steve Grinham has been in pursuit of the monster fish – and this week he took what could have been the culprit – a 5lb 2oz specimen.
Steve was fishing close in on a Hertfordshire stillwater when the big serpent picked up his bait. He said: “It’s been tough conditions for the tench but the eels are certainly worth targeting. I knew there were big fish in here and have heard of larger eels caught.”
The superb snake fell to a legered lobworm on a size 6 wide-gape hook, fished over a pint of dead red maggots and pellets – which Steve believes are a great attractor for eels.
These tactics also resulted in another large eel of 4lb 8oz.
Catfish weighing 59lb 2oz has been caught by design on the fly from Todber Manor’s Paddock Lake – potentially the biggest-ever of its kind to be caught in the UK on this tactic.
The cat was landed by fly fishing addict Stuart Watson, who had exclusively booked on to the
two-acre water in Dorset with good friend Danny Parkins, the aim being to tempt one of the whiskered predators on the fly.
The experienced duo have long been fly fishing for predatory species, and Stuart has already notched up pike over 30lb and carp over 25lb on the tactic.
The 37-year-old Pike Fly Fishing Association member said: “Danny and I set a goal at the start of the year to catch a catfish on the fly, and we achieved it on what turned out to be one of those magical days on the bank.
“With very little previous information on fly patterns to go at, we tied our own. These are based on the main senses of the catfish – touch and vibration. To do this we added ‘wriggle tails’ and tied the body of the fly to incorporate a rattle.
“We knew areas on the lake where the locals had told us catfish liked to hole up, one being in a trough behind an island. We had some interest in the morning but missed a few takes. You have to get the hook right in the corner of that massive mouth.
“The bites are so strange, not like from pike or perch that hit the fly hard. The catfish take is very slow and deliberate before it turns and takes the fly back to its lair.
“When you hook into one all hell breaks loose. This one put up an epic battle on the 10 weight fly rod I was testing. I must have played it for 20 minutes, sometimes having to drop to my hands and knees to keep it out of the undercut bank.
“We eventually managed to bundle its head into the 42ins net we had borrowed, before falling back and hugging each other, knowing we’d done something special.”
Stuart’s successful set-up consisted of a 50lb fluorocarbon leader, 28g Barrio predator line and a AHREX 6/0 stinger hook. He used a Deercreek 10 weight predator rod and reel to stand up to the power of the large fish.
“I urge people to get out and give fly fishing a go. You can catch some great coarse fish doing it”, Stuart said.
Todber Manor was quick to congratulate Stuart on his achievement: “We were interested to see how they got on and were excited to hear ther results they had,” said a spokesman. “
We’ve had catfish caught on the fly here in the past but none as big as this. We have no problem with people coming and chancing their arm at catching one on this method, provided they use sensibly heavy tackle, as was done on this occasion.”
The fish wasn’t a one-off, either, with Stuart banking a further catfish of 25lb later in the same session.
A trio of specimen bream topped by the largest reported specimen of the season suggests that now is the perfect time to bank a new personal best.
We start with an 18lb 4oz giant that proved to be the only bite of the session for its captor, big-fish enthusiast Andy West.
The Northampton-based angler had previously fished five 48-hour sessions on an undisclosed gravel pit with just four tench to show for his efforts, but his determination to catch his intended quarry finally paid off during a recent trip.
“I arrived at my peg and baited a spot at 60yds with 4kg of pre-soaked fish meal pellets and 0.5kg of 15mm Dynamite Baits Source boilies, corn and some hemp,” Andy said.
“The first night came and went with no action, but still confident I topped-up the area with six Spombs and fished a single Source boilie on each rod.”
This additional bait proved pivotal as by 2am the next morning, Andy’s rod was way.
“Lifting the rod, contact was instant and you could tell it was a heavy bream,” he added.
“My previous best was a fish of 17lb 2oz, a weight I thought I would not reach again but you can never tell with fishing!”
The next big bream catch in the list fell to Nutrabaits-backed Brett Longthorne in the form of a 16lb 10oz fish taken from a low stock northern venue.
Brett baited a deep hole next to an overhanging bush with a mixture of 4mm-6mm pellets and a scattering of Nutrabaits Trigger Ice boilies.
He said: “At 4:30 am I had a take and after a short fight I slipped the net under a huge bream which was a new PB and the fish of a lifetime.”
Brett’s session also produced three other bream around 10lb.
The final bream of the trio fell to CC Moore and Fox-backed angler Richard Wilby. It weighed 16lb 2oz and was a new PB for Rich, who targeted a new venue with Method feeders coupled with CC Moore Pacific Tuna boilies.
“It was my first proper big bream caught by design and was backed up with a 13lb 8oz fish all from my first night on a new venue,” he said.