Britain’s army of running-water anglers kicked off the new season in fine style despite high water affecting many rivers after heavy rain.
Catch reports have flooded into the Angling Times News Desk throughout opening week with the pick of the bunch being a monster chub of 7lb 15oz.
The exceptional summer fish was caught by Samuel Everist, who took advantage of his lunch break at work to head to the River Lea – taking the fish on only his second cast.
“Photos don’t do it justice, but in the flesh it was an absolute lump – I think it was full of spawn,” said Samuel.
Samuel used freelined bread mounted on a size 6 hook tied to 6lb mainline on a centrepin reel.
This wasn’t the only big chub caught either with another colossal 7lb-plus fish reported by Northampton river specialist Adrian Barford.
While fishing a stretch of the Great Ouse in Bedfordshire on the first day, Adrian slipped the net under a 7lb 6oz chub... a fish he felt sure was a barbel from the fight it gave.
He said “With the river up and pushing through with good colour, hopes were high. When the fish came into view, it was heart-in-mouth time.”
Adrian targeted the coloured water with a groundbait feeder and a large piece of bacon grill mounted on a size 12 hook.
Another popular early-season river species is barbel, and social media was alive with reports of low double figure fish hitting angler’s nets.
One of them was Mark Dutton who enjoyed a fantastic session in daylight hours on the 16th – taking a brace of double figure barbel weighing 13lb 7oz and 12lb exactly.
Mark was fishing the River Dove after he found his intended stretch on the upper Trent in the fields.
Mark caught his fish on a mixture of Impulse Baits boilies and pellets, with a quick change to pop-up baits taking him an additional brace of chub, both over 5lb.
A species not often associated with rivers is rudd, but Andy Childs used the opening day to smash his personal best for the species by landing a clonking 3lb 3oz specimen.
The fish was caught from a stretch of the River Cam which Andy and two friends had raked and baited in preparation for the new season.
He told Angling Times: “Casting out just after midnight, the bite came at first light. The best fish I’ve ever been fortunate to catch.”
The big rudd fell to a 10mm Richworth tutti-frutti boilie presented on a method feeder.
To round off a phenomenal start to the season on the rivers there were also some truly exceptional match and pleasure bags taken.
The pick of the match bags taken came from the new club stretch on the Bristol Avon known as ‘Chequers’. Nearly 300lb of bream were caught in the match with winner Jerry Pocock bagging a 104lb net of slabs (for more on this new stretch turn to page 18).
Another angler who landed a bumper bag was Cheltenham based Graham Didcote, who enjoyed a 26-barbel hit on the River Wye.
With the river carrying 8ft of extra water, 48-year-old Graham feared the worse, but got the barbel feeding over the Evolved Baits Barbel groundbait.