Chub lead the way with end of season catches

Geoff Collins 7lb 8oz chub

Geoff Collins smashed his chub personal best when he landed this 7lb 8oz lump from a stretch of the Great Ouse.

Geoff told Angling Times: “The bite was a tentative tremble which I struck at more in hope than expectation. 

Geoff Collins 7lb 8oz.jpg

“The rod then arched over and an epic battle followed.”

A homemade paste fished on a size 6 hook proved the downfall of the chunky Ouse chevin.

Geoff’s top tip – “Fish into the hours of darkness if you want to catch the bigger fish”

Martin Wood - 7lb 7oz chub

The Dorset Stour gave up one of its famous big chub to visiting angler Martin Wood, in the shape of this thickset 7lb 7oz fish.

Martin Wood 7lb 7oz chub.jpg

Martin targeted a stretch near Bournemouth, Dorset, with 10mm CC Moore Live System boilies which proved irresistible to his new personal best for the species.

Martins top tip – “Boilies are a great bait for big chub as they resist the attentions of smaller fish.”

Robin Cave - 7lb 6oz chub

An evening session on a flooded River Thames paid off in fine style for Robin Cave when he landed this 7lb 6oz chub.

Robin Cave 7lb 6oz chub.jpg

Commenting on his new personal best, Robin said: “It gave a savage drop-back bite and when I hit it I knew it was going to be a good fish. It battled really hard in the high water conditions.”

Robin used a 22mm boilie wrapped in paste and fed some free offerings of boilies and pellets to get the fish into a feeding mood.

Robins top tip – “A high river can spell good conditions for both chub and barbel.”

Simeon Osborn - 7lb 4oz chub

Simeon Osborn was left almost speechless when he landed two belting chub from the Hampshire Avon, topped by this 7lb 4oz beauty.

Fishing the Winkton stretch of the beautiful southern river, Simeon started his session by baiting several swims with a few pinches of homemade cheesepaste.

Bites came from the off, and it didn’t take long before Simeon had landed a 6lb 4oz fish, to be followed in short order by the big one.

Simeon used a 1¼lb Drennan Avon Quiver and a Fox Eos 5000 reel loaded with 6lb Korum Feeder line to tame the fish.

Simeon’s top tip – “A link-leger is perfect for roving, as you can easily adjust your weight to suit the pace of the swim.”

Simeon Osborn 7lb 4oz chub.jpg

Fantastic week for barbel fishing and close season looms

Anglers are taking advantage of milder weather and finishing the river season in fine style, with numbers of monster barbel and chub landed.

Biggest barbel of the week was caught by James Upton, who landed one of 17lb 15oz from a stretch of the Upper Trent.

James Upton 17lb 15oz River Trent Barbel.jpg

Arriving at the river for an evening session, it took James only two casts before he hooked the giant fish, which is believed to be one of the biggest ever caught from the upper reaches.

The 59-year old said: “As soon as I hooked it, I knew it was a decent fish as it moved away solidly. I could not believe it when the scales went round to over 17lb – I had to check them twice. There was such impressive depth to the fish.”

James caught his Trent whisker on a running feeder rig and a bait mix consisting of groundbait, pellets and fishmeal boilies.

Christopher Mendelsohn - 16lb 6oz barbel

Christopher Mendelsohn has been in fine form on the River Trent and has now landed his fifth 16lb-plus fish of the season – this cracking 16lb 6oz barbel.

Chritopher Medelson 16lb 6oz barbel.jpg

Fishing a slacker area on the middle river, Christopher caught four other double-figure barbel along with the 16-pounder. 

The rig he used consisted of a 5oz lead attached to a lead clip system presented on 12lb line.

Christopher’s top tip – “In high water, try fishing out of the main flow. This will avoid any debris that will be coming down the river.”

Paul Potter - 16lb 9oz barbel

Hinders-backed Paul Potter battled through snags on the Hampshire Avon to eventually land this beautiful 16lb 9oz pb barbel.

Paul Potter 16lb 9oz barbel.jpg

Paul was spending a week targeting the Hampshire river’s wary fish, but lost a few to hook-pulls before landing the big girl.

Paul got the barbel feeding over beds of Hinders hemp, Elips pellets and crushed Barbel Bomb dumbells, all glugged in Hinders Fish Pro.

Paul’s top tip – “Snags hold fish, but it’s best to fish above or below them for safety’s sake.”

Ton-plus of river tench... in march!

Tench are a species usually associated with spring and summer, but one angler has just caught over 100lb of them from a river – and it’s only March!

The amazing haul by Bait-Tech and Cadence Fishing-backed Steve Cowley came from Norfolk’s Great Ouse Relief Channel. The fish averaged 6lb and fell to distance feeder tactics.

Steve said: “I caught 20 tench between 5lb and 7lb, for a catch dreams are made of – over 100lb of prime river tincas.

Steve Cowley brace of tench.jpg

“It was my personal-best river weight as well.

“On the day I fished the feeder at around 40m-45m using a mix of Bait Tech Omen and Bait Tech Kult Carp sweet fishmeal with a double worm hookbait. 

“I caught the first tench after an hour and picked off fish throughout the session – I even caught a sea trout, which was another first! It was a session I’ll never forget.”

Steve’s terminal tackle included a Cadence 13ft feeder rod, 6lb mainline, a 0.14mm hooklength and a size 14 hook.

over 100lb of tench for Steve Cowley.jpg

Two Wye thirties as pike go on feed

The capture of two 30lb-plus River Wye pike proves there’s still time to smash your personal best before fishing on running water stops for three months at midnight on March 14.

In recent weeks the weather has been bright and mild, but this hasn’t stopped the Wye’s premier predators from having a feed.

The larger of the two huge pike went 31lb 6oz and fell to Nick Goode from Herefordshire.

Nick Goode 31lb 6oz Wye Pike DOESNT WANT BACKGROUND REVEALED.jpg

Targeting a deep stretch of the waterway, Nick float-legered a herring deadbait and didn’t have to wait long before the orange tip sank below the surface.

“It fought so well, as Wye pike often do,” he said. “It took me right out into midriver and gave a great account of itself in the main flow – going on several large runs before coming to the net.”

To cope with the powerful lunges of any big pike hooked, Nick used Size 2 Sakuma treble hooks attached to 75lb titanium wire. 

A 60lb uptrace attached to 100lb Power Pro mainline completed the set-up. 

A switch of swims during a recent trip to a middle stretch of the River Wye helped James Wainwright put the next monster pike in the net.

James Wainwright 30lb 4oz Wye Pike.jpg

It weighed 30lb 4oz and fell to a paternostered eel deadbait cast into a snaggy area in the river. 

The 34-year-old from Leicester said: “A friend and I got to the river at 7am to be greeted by a frost and mist across the water. After no bites in the first swims we decided to move.

“This proved to be a good idea, as at 11am I got my first take, having spooked a big fish in the shallows when I first arrived.

“I decided to fish just downstream near some marginal snags where I spooked this pike, and 10 minutes later my paternostered eel bait was inhaled with enthusiasm! 

“After a 15-minute battle when it snagged me up on several occasions, she was finally in the net!”

Prime time for perch – as three 5lb-plus fish prove

Three anglers have taken advantage of perfect conditions for big perch and each racked up a five-pounder. 

Manchester expert Andy Cheetham was first on to the score sheet when he banked a couple of stunners from a Midlands river weighing in at 4lb 7oz and 5lb 3oz. 

Andrew Cheetham 5lb 3oz perch.jpg

The Perchfishers press officer has been in fine form over the last two weeks and has won two weekly Drennan Cup awards for perch of 4lb 9oz and 4lb 14oz – but his most recent session yielded his best catch of the season by far.

“As a result of increased boat traffic I had to fish at first light. Any later in the day and this shallow area would get too much disturbance for me to fish it properly,” Andrew told Angling Times.

“I baited the swim prior to daybreak with 200 chopped lobs and fished three half lobs and a chopped-worm feeder over the top.

“At first light I had a delicate bite and hooked a nice perch which fought really well under the rod-tip.

“It was an immaculate fish of 4lb 7oz and didn’t have a mark on it.”

After slipping the perch back Andrew toyed with the idea of packing up, but decided to stay for a while longer – a decision that proved fruitful when another gentle pluck on the rod-tip was registered. 

He added: “As I struck, a large perch shot to the surface and tail-walked towards the central channel and some reedbeds.

“It made several good runs before it finally went into the net – at 5lb 3oz it was a different perch to any I had seen from that waterway before.”

A stretch of the River Thames played host to the next specimen perch of 5lb 2oz for Justin Beale. 

It was the only bite during a two-hour, roving lure session for the Bait Tech and 30-Plus consultant, but one that helped him to his 5lb-plus perch from the Thames.

Justin Beale 5lb 2oz perch.jpg

He said: “I was fishing a snaggy area and working the lure slowly across the bottom, at times leaving it almost static.

“All of a sudden I had a really subtle bite and the rod bent over.

“A big perch came up to the surface and around an eight- minute fight ensued before I eventually netted it.

“It was one of the finest-looking perch I’ve ever caught.”

Justin was presenting an FFS (Floating Finesse Stick) in White Sparkle from, mounted on a 3g jighead.

The final big perch catch was taken by Ash Costa, who latched into a 5lb 2oz fish after his approach with bait failed to produce the goods.

Ash Coster 5lb 2oz perch.jpg

He said: “My first session in five weeks went about as badly as it could have after I lost two good perch and hooked four pike on worms in the first two hours.

“I was thinking about heading home when I noticed fry scattering towards the far bank. 

“Hoping for the best, I flicked my lure just behind them and let it sink – a few twitches later and everything went solid.

“All of a sudden this thing that looked like a striped carp broke the surface – I was in complete shock.”

Ash’s latest perch catch came from a Lincolnshire drain and beat his previous personal best for the species by 2oz.

The winning lure was a Zed-Man TRD fished on a Carolina rig. 

Grayling just 1oz shy off the British record

An Enduring obsession to catch a huge grayling came to a successful conclusion for Neill Stephen when he slipped his net under a giant of a fish just 1oz short of the British record.

The 43-year-old caught the stunning 4lb 3oz specimen on sight fishing tactics from a southern chalk stream after spotting it sitting at the tail-end of a pool. It fell to an imitation nymph tied by his best friend Dave Lambert, presented on a size 14 hook and a 3lb fluoro tippet.

Neill, who over the past decade has compiled an astonishing list of coarse fish personal bests – including record-equalling chub and perch of 9lb 5oz and 6lb 3oz respectively – revealed how his desire to catch a huge grayling had gradually developed into something of a fixation during recent seasons.

He told Angling Times: “I’ve become obsessed with grayling over the past seven years and have spent much of my summers, autumns and winters fishing for them. I’ve loved the challenge offered by the low-stock, fly-only waters, where you can cover miles in a day looking for fish.”

“It’s never been easy, and it got to a point where I was searching in well over 15 miles of river for what seemed like a tiny handful of fish. I lost one at the back end of the previous season from a different carrier stream which could have been over 4lb, and I was just thinking my chances of a fish like that had gone when I stumbled across a huge dark male fish sitting at the back of a pool.”

“For once everything went right from start to finish, even after it took me 50 yards downstream and I fell in off a high bank! Seeing the scales go well over 4lb was an extraordinary moment in what has been one of the best fishing adventures of my life. I’ve learned a lot, made some great friends and loved every second of it!”

The impressive fish measured just over 21 inches long, with a girth of almost 14 inches, and beat Neill’s previous best for the species by 7oz. 

Grayling 4lb3oz 6.jpg

Incredible week for specimen fish!

Huge River Thames barbel that looks set to challenge the British record heads up another superb week of catches as the river season draws to a close.  

The impressive 19lb 15oz specimen was just one of a jaw-dropping array of big fish to hit the bank, with massive zander, chub, dace and perch also taken. Here’s a round-up of the week’s best catches...

Ryan Pevy - 19lb 15oz thames barbel

When Ryan Pevy headed out to go fishing he had no idea he was about to bank one of the biggest barbel of the season - this 19lb 15oz beast! 

The Bucks-based rod was fishing a night session on his local River Thames when he received a powerful take just before midnight. 

He told Angling Times: “The fight was incredible – the fish just kept hugging the riverbed and taking line.”

Ryan’s new personal best fell to double hair-rigged 8mm garlic pellets, fished alongside a 3oz open ended swimfeeder loaded with mixed pellets and hemp.

The near-20lb giant is the latest in a string of huge Thames barbel to hit the bank this season, and could easily challenge the 21lb 1oz British record for the species later this year.

Top Tip: “When fishing for barbel in cold water scale down your hookbait from 14mm to 8mm, with small pellets in the feeder.”

Ryan Pevy 19lb 15oz barbel.jpg

Ian Jones  - 17lb 2oz zander, River Trent 

After losing five zander to hookpulls during a previous trip, Angling Times News Editor Ian Jones returned and enacted revenge in fine style by catching this superb 17lb 2oz specimen. 

The 27-year-old targeted an area of deep, slack water on a stretch of the tidal River Trent and received a tentative bite 30 minutes after casting out.

“The rod-tip knocked twice and that was enough for me to strike,” Ian said. 

“Straight away I knew it was a big fish as it stayed deep before surfacing, at which point it thrashed the water to a foam. In the net I couldn’t believe the sheer size of the fish – it eclipsed my previous personal best for the species by nearly 10lb.”

Ian used a 1.5lb test curve Daiwa Powermesh rod coupled with 10lb mainline and a braided wire trace. A small dead roach was the successful hookbait. 

Top Tip: “Make sure you use an adequate hook size and don’t be afraid to use a barbless version.”

Ian Jones 17lb 2oz zander.jpg

Rob Innes - 1lb 1oz 2dr dace, Local River 

Unsure whether his local river still held big dace, Rob Innes trotted maggots in an attempt to catch one and was rewarded with this pristine 1lb 1oz 2dr specimen.

The 37-year-old said: “The river used to hold a good number of big dace but their numbers have been decimated. I felt with regular baiting with corn, maggots and particles I might still be able to locate a few, and so it proved. 

“I had some real bigguns, topped by this 1lb 1oz 2dr gnarly, battle-scarred, old warrior.”

Top Tip: “When fishing for big dace always have a change bait of corn or worms, which often winkle out the bigger fish.”

Rob Innes 1lb 1oz 2dr dace.jpg

Robert Horwood  - 8lb 4oz chub, River Thames

A small piece of luncheon meat has accounted for the biggest reported chub of the season, weighing 8lb 4oz. 

It was banked by Robert Horwood from the Cookham stretch of the River Thames and eclipsed his previous chub best by over 2lb.

“The river was fining down and moving quite quickly, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to fish for chub,” he said. “I used a size 10 hook baited with a small piece of meat. It was my only bite of the session and obliterated my PB.”

Top Tip: “Luncheon meat is an excellent change-bait for chub, especially if they see a lot of pellets and boilies on the river you fish.”

Robert Horwood 8lb 4oz chub.jpg

Andy Cheetham - 4lb 14oz perch, Midlands River 

Targeting an area of slack water on the edge of a fast run proved pivotal to the capture of this 4lb 14oz perch for Andy Cheetham.

The Perchfishers press officer hit the headlines last week with a 4lb 9oz stripey but switched to a different river to tempt his latest specimen. It proved to be an expensive trip for Andy too, as he fed 300 lobworms to keep the perch in his swim.

He said: “As the light faded I had a positive bite and hooked a hard fighting perch. It hugged the bottom in the flow but I got its head up and eventually netted what was a lovely fat fish.”

Andy used a cage feeder loaded with chopped worm and a size 4 hook tipped with three half lobs. 

Top Tip: “Once you’ve found perch in your swim make sure you introduce plenty of bait to keep them there.” 

Andrew Cheetham 4lb 14oz perch.jpg

New river, huge perch

The pursuit of big perch on a new river paid off in spades for Andrew Cheetham when he bagged this 4lb 9oz specimen.

The Perchfishers press officer fished a swim most anglers would walk past – a small gap between trees. With three lobworms on the hook and chopped worms in a feeder, Andrew lowered his rig into an area of slack close in. “Once in the net I was sure it was a four – it was as fat as butter and in pristine condition,” he said.

Andrew Cheetham 4lb 9oz perch.jpg

Big roach spree on the avon

Anglers fishing the Hampshire Avon enjoyed some superb roach sport last week with a host of 2lb-plus fish topped by one of 3lb 1oz which was caught twice!

Charlie Dawkins (17), from Verwood in Dorset, was the first to encounter the giant redfin when he targeted what he believed to be roach surfacing in a slacker part of the river.

The fishery management student said: “Before the fish was netted it was in fast-flowing water. Suddenly it surfaced and only then did I realise that it was an exceptionally big roach. After careful weighing on two sets of scales it settled on 3lb 1oz.”

Charlie Dawkins roach 5.jpg

Charlie’s roach fell to maggots on a size 14 Drennan Super Specialist hook tied to a 16ins, 3lb breaking strain hooklink. 

Tom Sampson managed to tempt the same large Avon roach – easily identified by the scale pattern on its flank – this time landing it at 2lb 14oz. Like Charlie before him, Tom used feeder-fished maggots.

Tom Sampson 2lb 14oz.jpg

There are plenty more big roach in the Avon, though, as proved by Joe Froggett, who landed a different fish of 3lb 1oz from the Christchurch AC stretch at Winkton. 

Joe Froggett 3lb 1oz Avon roach.jpg

The immaculate roach was caught on trotting tactics, a ploy that also resulted in several other redfins and a good chub for the Ferndown, Dorset, angler. Joe dedicated his catch to fishing friend Colin McDonagh, who recently passed away after a long illness. 

To top an incredible week of Hampshire Avon roach, Simon Daley amassed a beautiful bag of fish all over the 1lb mark – capped off by one of 2lb 7oz. 

Simon Daley roach haul topped by 2lb 2oz.jpg

Snow-covered banks didn’t prevent Simon from trotting,and he went on to bank fish of 2lb 7oz, 2lb 2oz, 1lb 14oz, 1lb 13oz and 1lb 12oz. 

It’s safe to say that Avon roach are back with a vengeance!

Maggots fool top chub!

A maggot approach gave Brett Longthorne this 7lb 6oz chub in freezing conditions. 

The specimen angler from Manchester wasn’t confident going into the session on the Tidal Trent, but at 1.30am his rod sprang into life. 

“I’d put three Spombs of maggots and hemp in at the start and used a size 16 hook, a 4ft, 8lb hooklink and a 3oz maggot feeder. Not much happened – the maggots on the hook were not getting touched – but at 1.30am on Saturday morning I got my first bite and was not disappointed!” he said. 

“A huge chub at 7lb 6oz graced my net – it was just 1oz off my personal best and was my third 7lb chub this season!”

TOP TIP: “It’s time to scale down your baits when chub fishing in cold weather.” 

Brett Longthorne 7lb 6oz chub.jpg

Month-long pursuit for a monster dace

Richard Wilby’s month-long pursuit of a monster dace came to an end last week with the capture of this pristine 1lb 8dr specimen. 

The Airfield Lakes Fishery owner had walked more than 100 miles and fished six different rivers before finding silver on a stretch of the Little Ouse.

He said: “I put so much effort in for this specimen, but it all paid off when I was tipped off about a stretch where dace had been caught to over 1lb last winter. 

“I would like to say I caught it on a stick float and pin, but instead I used my light feeder rod with a small redworm – this was a tip I picked up from reading John Wilson’s ‘Guide to Fishing Norfolk and Suffolk’ book. 

Richard used a 10ft Drennan Acolyte Ultra rod, a single SSG shot, 4lb mainline and a light size 18 Drennan hook to nylon.

TOP TIP: “Small redworms pick out the bigger dace.”

Richard Wilby 1lb 8dr dace.jpg

Winter rudd beats PB

A 170 mile-round trip to a Fenland river proved fruitful for Andy Waters when he slipped the net under this chunky 3lb rudd. 

Lowestoft rod Andy smashed his previous personal best of 2lb 10oz when the large silver fish devoured a breadflake offering fished over a bed of mashed bread. 

TOP TIP: “Rudd are surprisingly excellent night feeders – don’t be afraid to target them after hours.”

Andy Waters 3lb rudd.jpg

Youngsters lead the way with incredible angling week...

Two young anglers are headlining the specimen fish show this week with huge perch and barbel – proving that there’s still some monsters to catch despite the freezing conditions.

We start with eight-year-old Harry Heywood, who managed to hook into a superb 4lb perch (right) during a livebaiting session on a stretch of the River Thames. 

“Harry caught this superb 4lb perch while we were fishing the Thames with the Fling Your Hook guiding service,” said Harry’s dad Duncan. 

Harry Heywood 4lb perch.jpg

“It gave a very good scrap, considering it was taken on fairly heavy tackle!

“He was thrilled to catch such a huge fish, which I’ve explained is a fish of a lifetime – especially from a river. 

 “My own perch personal best is only just under 2lb, so he’s well and truly done me there!

“Harry can’t wait to show all his mates his capture in print.”

Harry’s winning method was a bleak livebait trolled off the back of a boat. 

The River Trent played host to the next catch in the form of an immaculate 16lb 5oz barbel (above) for Aaron MacInnes.

The 15-year-old initially intended to fish for zander and pike on a tidal stretch of the river before an encounter with a barbel angler changed things altogether.

“I caught this barbel thanks to a mystery man,” Aaron said.

“I had arrived at the river with my uncle to do a bit of predator fishing and we spoke to this guy about barbel fishing, as that’s what my uncle usual does.

Aaron MacInnes 16lb 5oz barbel.jpg

“He asked me if I had ever caught one, to which I replied ‘no’ because I hadn’t, and while we were there he had an aggressive take. The first thing he said was “here lad, have this”, and minutes later I had this beast of a barbel on the bank.

“I can’t thank this man enough, I highly appreciate what he did!”

Aaron’s new personal best for the species fell to two krill pellets fished over a bed of the same, and a running leger rig with a 4oz lead and 15lb mainline. On these pages is a round-up of the other specimen catches this week.

Aaron’s TOP TIP: “When feeding small pellets for barbel in the winter makes sure your hookbait is scaled down too.”

Harry’s TOP TIP: “When livebaiting for perch, a large single hook nicked through the lip of the livebait is all that is needed to ensure good presentation.”

Predator ace banks 17lb 2oz zander on lure

Professional fishing guide Gary Palmer has continued his superb run of form this winter by landing a monster 17lb 2oz zander from a stretch of the Gloucester Canal.

It was the climax to a successful spell of guiding and lure fishing for Gary, which started with a pair of doubles with Dursley angler Matt Hindle. The fish weighed 10lb and 14lb, respectively, and were caught on long-range drop shotting tactics.

Returning to the area the following Monday, Gary then encountered the giant zed. 

The Gloucester lure ace said: “After 20 minutes, and with the light starting to go, I tried a couple of faster retrieves with the lure about 12ins off the bottom. This resulted in a zander of around 6lb. 

“I changed lures again, cast out and waited for it to settle. I tried a nice steady retrieve about 12ins off the bottom – a couple of turns later it went wallop.”

The big canal zander fell to a 14cm Westin Shad Teez lure on a Trokar Pro V tungsten 5/0 jig head rigged with a Trokar Stinger.

The 17lb 2oz monster

The 17lb 2oz monster

Another great week for specimen perch

Matt Atkins 4lb 13oz perch

Matt Atkins’ phenomenal run of big perch continued during a recent session on an undisclosed southern venue when he landed this 4lb 13oz stripey.

The big sergeant has upped Matt’s tally to 10 fish of 4lb or more this season, topped by two over 5lb.

The keen specimen hunter said: “I changed my approach for this fish, which was the only bite I had during a late afternoon session following a freezing morning.”

The fish was caught on a 3ins roach deadbait fished on an ultra-light leger set-up.

Matt Atkins 4lb 13oz Perch.jpg

Keith Gurney 4lb perch

A Bedfordshire river provided a run of big perch for Keith Gurney, topped by this 4lb giant. The fish was just one of six stripeys over the 2lb mark caught by Keith over a week-long period. 

The 45-year-old factory worker told Angling Times: “Never having had a three-pounder, I was pleased to pull the net up around a 3lb 3oz fish. Things then got much better when I revisited the spot with the lure rod.”

A Fire Tiger pattern Spikey Shad lure brought about the downfall of the four-pounder.

Keith Gurney 4lb Perch.jpg

Top carp angler lands special grayling

After spending the last two winters targeting a Yorkshire river for grayling, Mark Pitchers headed further north in search of an elusive 3lb specimen – and was rewarded with this stunning 3lb 2oz fish. But this trip almost didn’t happen, as Mark angler explained: 

“Thirty six hours before my planned trip my uncle sadly passed away very unexpectedly, and I very nearly cancelled the trip because my heart just wasn’t in it. But I decided that staying at home would probably only make me feel worse, so the trip went ahead as planned.”

On the second day of the trip Mark targeted fast, shallow water and was rewarded in fine fashion:

“On my third run down my float buried, and after striking my rod hooped over. I was in no doubt whatsoever that I was connected to something special, he said.

“After a 15 minute battle the fish was finally netted, and I could breathe a sigh of relief.”

Mark used floatfished maggots to tempt the big grayling, that fell to two red maggots on a size 16 hook.

Mark Pitchers grayling 3lb.jpg

Border raid for a 3lb 1oz grayling best

Simon Ashton’s New Year’s resolution was to beat his grayling personal best, and it didn’t take him long to achieve when he slipped the net under several 2lb-plus fish – topped by this 3lb 1oz beauty. 

The Durham angler’s previous record was 2lb 2oz, but during a two-week spell he managed to smash this a number of times from an undisclosed Scottish river. 

Simon said: “During the Christmas holidays I did some research and came up with a plan to cross the border and fish one of the Scottish rivers for its rich stock of hard-fighting grayling. 

“The trip proved to be a fruitful one as what was meant to be a recce trip soon turned into a red letter day.

“Not only did I smash my pb by 10oz, but I beat that many times, landing 20-odd grayling to 2lb 12oz.

“The next weekend I raced up the M6 to fish the same pool and after feeding the swim with maggots for 10minutes, my first trot through produced the 3lb 1oz specimen.”

Simon’s winning rig included an 8g loafer float with two grains of flavoured corn mounted on a size 14 super-spade wide gape hook.

Simon Ashton 3lb 1oz grayling.jpg

Roach hits the target

Matt Atkins’ target this winter was to catch a big roach – and he’s now ticked that off the list with this 2lb 13oz specimen. 

It was a new personal best for the Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire angler who fished maggot feeders on ultra-light Garbolino rods on a stretch of the Hampshire Avon.

Matt said: “As the sun was coming up I had a mad bite and took a 2lb 13oz fish. For the next hour the tip kept going round and I managed another specimen roach of 1lb 8oz”

Matt used 28g Drennan Black Cap feeders in conjunction with a small leger boom.

Matt Atkins 2lb 13oz roach.jpg

Avon PB landed

A 12mm halibut pellet was too much to for this 16lb 8oz barbel to pass up.

The fish was caught by Gary Moth from a stretch of the Hampshire Avon, and is his new personal best for the species.

Following the capture, the vehicle technician from Southampton revealed: “I’ve been after a very big barbel for a long time and it’s finally happened. 

“To be honest, I can’t wipe the smile off my face.”

Gary Moth 16lb 8oz barbel.jpg

zander explosion is highlighted by 17lb 4oz nene best

A series of monster zander catches – topped by a new River Nene record – suggests that now is the time to target one of the nation’s most popular – and controversial – species.

Zander are widely blamed by many for declining silver fish stocks in canals and rivers, although those who have been targeting them have been enjoying bumper sessions, with specimen fish being banked. 

One is 23-year-old Harry Langley, who took this 17lb 4oz leviathan from the River Nene in Cambridgeshire. 

Harry Langley 17lb 4oz zander.jpg

Harry, who already owns the Nene perch and zander records with fish of 4lb 12oz and 16lb 8oz, upped the waterway’s ‘zed’ record once again when a lure session yielded the 17lb-plus beast. 

“From the moment it smashed into my lure I knew it was a huge fish,” said Harry. 

“I never thought I’d beat my previous pb of 16lb 8oz but when I saw the 17-pounder in the net I just knew it had topped that. 

“I’m 6ft 3ins tall and have pretty big hands, but holding that zander up made me feel small!”

Harry cast a Fox Rage Zander Pro shad into a deep hole on the river to fool the fine fish. 

Another 17lb-plus zander also graced the Angling Times newsdesk last week, and it fell to Ian Wilson in the form of a superb 17lb 13oz specimen.

Ian Wilson 17lb 13oz Trent Zander brighter pic.jpg

The Retford-based zander expert demolished his previous personal best of 16lb 13oz when a trip to the River Trent turned into gold.

He said: “After catching a recent brace of zander I decided to try that section of river again. 

“I fished three rods – one in the margin and two out in the flow with roach deadbaits on two of them and lamprey on the other. 

“After many hours of inactivity I got a run on one of the roach rods just as the light was fading.

“It gave a good account of itself making two short but powerful runs, but when I got it in the net I knew it was what I had been after for some years.”

Ian’s winning set-up boasted a 2.25 TC Shimano rod coupled with 50lb whiplash braid and two size 8 treble hooks.

These were mounted on 28lb Drennan trace wire and a running 4oz ledger.

The final angler to round off an incredible week for big ‘zeds’ was British record zander holder James Benfield with a beauty weighing 16lb 8oz. 

James Benfield 16lb 8oz zander.jpg

The 31-year-old predator ace struck into the fine beast during an evening roving session on a deep stretch of the River Severn.

He added: “I reached my second swim of the session and lowered my rig into a hole of about 14ft-15ft deep.

“I received a subtle knock on the tip soon after and struck into a heavy fish, which begin to plod deep followed by heavy headshakes – a tell-tail sign of a big zander.”

James used half a dead roach mounted on a single treble hook to tempt the fish.