18lb bream tops three monsters

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.

Andy West 18lb 4oz bream.jpg

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.

Richard Wilby 16lb 2oz bream.jpg

 “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.

huge eels on the feed for specialists

Eels are an often overlooked species but those who have been targeted them recently have found great success with multiple specimens landed – topped by a 6lb 2oz beast.

The superb specimen was banked by all-rounder Daniel Woolcott who had an amazing session on a large gravel pit taking a further six eels over the 3lb mark with three others over 5lb. 

Daniel had targeted the venue for 18 nights last year without landing a single eel. He set things right this season however with the big hit coming after a two-week baiting campaign. 

The National Anguila Club member said: “This year I decided to target them earlier, when a lot of big eels get caught. It turned out to be a great move. Every eel was lip-hooked and most ejected once they were in the landing net, which is important, as fish care it a top priority for me.”

Dan’s haul of eels were caught over a bed of Dynamite Big Fish Green Lipped Mussel Method mix and dead maggots boosted with Dynamite worm liquid attractant. The biggest snake fell to a squid section while the rest fell to maggots. His rig comprised of a very short length of 50lb Arma Kord with a size 10 hook.

Former Drennan Cup winner Len Arbery has also been on the hunt for big eels and on his 80th birthday got the present of a personal best 5lb 9oz fish. Accompanied by son Tony, Len used classic swingtip tactics on a venue with previous good form for the species. 

Len Arbery, 5lb 9oz eel, 37.5 x 8.5inches, April 2019. 2.jpg

Big fish specialist Len said: “Fortunately for me the only chance of the trip came to one of my rods. It is the biggest eel I’ve ever landed throughout my 60-year-plus angling career. It measured 38.5ins long with a girth of 8.5ins.”

Len geared up for the eels with a 1.5lb Drennan Super Specialist rod, 10lb Drennan monofilament mainline and a 29lb Daiwa J-Braid hook link tied to a size 6 Cryogen Gripper hook used to present a big lobworm. 

Based on son Tony’s previous experience with the species, Len used a swingtip and link-leger to counter the eels extreme sensitivity to resistance.

Top tactic behind monster match hauls

Match scales have been groaning this week with several 300lb-plus bags of carp taken by competition anglers across the country. 

But while a number of methods can be responsible for mega-hauls, right now there is one technique that stands head and shoulder above all the others... ‘dobbing’.

Cambridgeshire’s Decoy Lakes has once again shown the way, with a 395lb winning haul for ace ‘dobber’ Chris Barley, who took his haul from peg 29 on the famous Beastie Lake. 

Chris Barley Catch pic.jpg

“Dobbing is a fantastic way of catching carp on the pole in warm weather with little wind” he said. “It’s a case of watching for fish and presenting a bait on the pole in the right way for them to take it without hesitation. You can see the fish, and you’re presenting your bait directly to them. It’s very accurate, and a often the fish won’t refuse it if you do it right.”

 The matchman from Kettering, Northants, takes several baits with him for a dobbing match, his choice determined by the depth at which the fish are cruising near the surface. 

“I’ll use either 6mm Dynamite Baits XL pellets, maggots, or casters,” he revealed. “Which one I choose on the day is determined by the height of the fish in the water. 

“Sometimes they’re right at the surface, in which case I’ll use a slow-sinking bait such as a bunch of maggots. However, on other occasions they’re a few feet down and I’ll use fast-sinking baits such as pellets to get down to them.”

Chris believes that carefully observing the fish is crucial to success: “When watching the carp you will notice that some will swim rapidly, whereas others move more slowly,” he added.

“A fast-swimming carp needs to be stopped, and a good way to do this is to lay your rig in with a splash, and also  to feed a couple of free offerings in its direction. 

“On the other hand, if a fish is moving around slowly then a rig laid in delicately can be the best way to fool it. To be honest, though, there are no hard and fast rules; it’s always best to find out what’s working best on the day.”

While dobbing is often associated with being a method for open water, Chris reckons the deadly ruse can be used in all areas of the swim, and that it’s worth targeting fish wherever you can see them. 

“It’s always helpful if you have shaded water, as it’s easier to spot the fish,” he said. “However, you’re not always in this position, so bringing some sunglasses will help cut through surface glare.”

Chris wasn’t the only angler to enjoy dobbing success recently, with a number of other matchmen amassing huge hauls.

Preston Innovations and Sonubaits ace Andy Power put 358lb 14oz on the scales at Viaduct Fishery’s Campbell Lake in Somerset, while Guru’s Pete Upperton put on a dobbing masterclass at Kent’s Monk Lakes to take an impressive 307lb 8oz.

Meanwhile, Catch More Media’s Jordan Holloway took a 300lb 5oz bag at Worcestershire’s Larford Lakes during a recent competition.

Hot action as bream go on the feed

Britain’s big-bream anglers couldn’t have been happier, with a string of huge fish landed across the country.

Less than ideal conditions saw bright skies and temperatures over 20ºC, but that didn’t stop the nation’s ‘slabs’ from going on the feed. 

Angling Direct-backed ace Justin Grapes was the first angler to find success when a 48-hour visit to Norfolk’s prolific Bawburgh Fisheries helped him to a 13lb 2oz personal best.

Justin Grapes 13lb 2oz bream.jpg

Targeting an eel-grass bed at 75yds, Justin introduced a bed of pellet, casters, chopped worm and maggots to draw a response.

He told Angling Times: “I caught this lovely two-tone bream at 1.30pm in bright sunshine using a heli-kit and black cap feeder combination.

“With this I used a short mono hooklink and a D-rig featuring a Korda maggot clip – which was mounted with two fake Enterprise maggots, chopped worm and live maggots.

“This tactic also helped me catch six tench to 6lb 12oz.”

Angling Times News Editor Ian Jones was the next angler to break his personal best when an overnight visit to Vauxhall Angling Club’s Sharnbrook Pits yielded a 13lb 3oz specimen. 

Ian Jones 13lb 3oz bream.jpg

The 27-year-old found an area of gravel at 50 yards and baited it with 20 balls of Dynamite Baits Marine Halibut and Betaine Green groundbaits mixed 50/50, which he laced with damp pellets and dead maggots. 

“Due to the hot weather I only planned to fish the night and received my first take at 1am from a 9lb 11oz bream, which was taken on a fishmeal boilie topped with fake corn,” Ian said. 

“At sunrise I thought my chance of a bigger fish had gone, but just 30 minutes before I intended to pack-up the popped-up fake maggot rod was away, with the 13lb 3oz fish proving to be the culprit. 

“I couldn’t be happier with the new personal best!”

Ian used a combination of Korda Method feeders and E-S-P helicopter rigs to help catch both fish. 

An undisclosed Welsh water played host to the next big bream catch in the form of another 13lb 2oz specimen, taken by Tom Parker. 

Tom Parker 13lb 2oz bream.jpg

It was a new personal best for the all-rounder who cast a maggot feeder outfit around 2ft from an island. 

The local angler said: “As the lake is in the region of 40 acres and sparsely populated, you can often go through a whole session without so much as a nudge on the rod tip – so I’m over the moon with this catch. 

“The initial take was so savage that I immediately thought I’d hooked into a decent-sized carp!”

The final big bream in the list fell to respected County Durham angler Simon Ashton in the form of a 11lb 3oz beauty. 

Simon Ashton 11lb 3oz bream.jpg

It was the pick of an eight-fish haul for the Drennan-backed angler who had to scale down his rigs on a tricky south Yorkshire reservoir to produce a bite.

He said: “The fishing was rock hard – there were nine rods to my right and three to my left and they all blanked. 

“I had to scale down to 8lb Drennan Supplex mainlines, 5lb Supplex hooklengths to Size 18 and 12 wide gape specialist hooks to catch in that sweltering sun!”

All of Simon’s fish fell to worms or flavoured red maggots fished over a bed of mixed Sonubaits particles.

Biggest tench of the season banked

Anglers across the country have been enjoying rod-bending sport from tench in recent weeks, but none more so than Si Llewellyn who has just landed the biggest tinca of the season in the form of an 11lb 8oz monster.

Si Llewellyn 11lb 8oz tench.jpg

The stunning specimen is a new personal best for the 32-year-old and was taken from a low-stock Nene Valley pit that he had been targeting this spring.

After seeing a lot of activity on the other side of the lake during his latest trip, Si decided to move swims which paid off in style almost instantly. 

“After making the move I got the rods out, and one of them absolutely melted off around mid-morning!” Si told Angling Times.

“It fought like hell and at first I thought it was a decent sized carp, but I couldn’t believe it was a huge tinca as it went over the net cord. 

“I’m absolutely over the moon with it!”

Si used a dedicated boilie approach to tempt the big tench. 

He said: “I fished with a fishmeal pop-up over the back of a weed bed, and fed some chopped boilie and crumb to get the fish interested.

“It certainly seemed to do the trick!”

4lb 6oz perch from gravel pit

Specimen-ace Paul Faint kicked off his spring perch campaign in fine style with this clonking 4lb 6oz perch. 

Targeting a local gravel pit, Paul set-up in an area where he caught a couple of 3lb fish during a previous session. A feeder filled with chopped worm and casters was his favoured approach and a double dendrobaena hookbait on a size 10 hook was used to tempt a bite. 

He told Angling Times: “I had a few casts at a clipped-up distance to get some bait in and on the second cast the perch was taken.”

Paul Faint 4lb 6oz Perch.jpg

Two roach of 3lb-plus in the same session!

Catching a 3lb-plus roach is considered to be the ultimate angling achievement – so imagine James Champkin’s delight when he slipped the net under these mighty specimens of 3lb 2oz and 3lb 3oz in a single session! 

The Angling Trust Campaigns Officer from Cromer, Norfolk, pinned his hopes on an undisclosed southern stillwater, and wasn’t left disappointed when his plan of attack yielded two new personal bests during the early hours of an overnight trip. 

He told Angling Times: “I saw a roach top in front of me close on dusk, so my confidence was high – but I certainly never imagined that I would go on to bank two fish of a lifetime! 

“Both were caught on bolt rigs incorporating maggot feeders on a helicopter set-up. 

“The first to trip up was the 3lb 2oz fish at 1.15am, which was a new personal best for me – breaking my long-standing best for the species of 2lb 13oz caught from Lochnaw in Scotland back in 2012. 

“This was followed by the even bigger fish a couple of hours later – another new pb!

“They were the most amazingly thick-set roach I have ever seen,” he added.

James’ successful rigs included a size 16 hook tied to a short, 2ins fluorocarbon hooklength and an 8lb mainline. 

His maggot feeders were fished at 50 yards in 15ft of water over a few small Spombs of hempseed and Dynamite Baits Silver X Roach groundbait.

string of monsters topped by roach of nearly 4lb

A trio of 3lb-plus roach topped by a near four- pounder suggests now is the perfect time to target a personal best. 

All three fish were banked in a manic five-day window – proof that big roach are now packing-on weight ahead of their annual spawning period. 

We start with Wiltshire-based angler Mark Woodage who is no stranger to catching big roach having won two weekly Drennan Cup awards for catches in the 2018/19 season.

Mark Woodage 3lb 14oz roach.jpg

His success continued further when his most recent session produced the year’s biggest roach in the form of a 3lb 14oz beauty.

The Mark-One-Media man targeted an undisclosed southern gravel pit during his session and finally had a tentative bite after hours of inactivity. 

He said: “I was fishing a spot at 60yds with Drennan maggot feeder bombs fished over a bed of Bait-Tech chilli hemp. 

“After spending the whole day bite-less I was thinking I must be in the wrong area but just as I was starting to pack up my alarm signalled a single blip, which showed a drop back of about one inch.

“A good strike confirmed it wasn’t a crayfish and very slowly I brought the fish towards me during which time the typical thuds on the rod tip confirmed a roach was the likely casualty. 

“In the crystal clear water I got first site of what was obviously a huge fish. 

“I just became a wreck, shaking and praying that we kept in contact.”

Thankfully, Mark’s fears weren’t to be realised and soon he was able to slip the net under a new personal best.

“Thankfully the size 18 wide gape hook was firmly embedded in the roach’s lip,” Mark added.

“I called big fish angler Andy Cowley who was fishing a couple of swims away and asked him to witness the weighing which he kindly did for me.”

Second on the list of big roach catches was a fin-perfect 3lb 4oz specimen taken by Daniel Woolcott. 

Daniel Woolcott 3lb 4oz roach.jpg

Similarly to Mark, the London-based specimen hunter also targeted a large Southern gravel pit and cast a 50g cage feeder to a spot at 50yds. 

He said: “On my first night I managed a perfect roach weighing 3lb 4oz which was followed by a 2lb 12oz and 2lb 2oz brace.”

All three fish were caught on red maggots on a size 18 hook with short helicopter rigs and 5lb fluorocarbon hooklinks. 

The last of the three specimen roach reported fell to Lancashire rod Paul Houghton in the form of a 3lb 1oz fish. 

The all-round specialist journeyed the length of the country to fish a southern stillwater and just like Mark and Daniel decided to target the silverfish at distance with feeder tackle.

“I fished two rods over a lightly baited area of hemp, corn and dark groundbait at 50 yards,” Paul said.

Paul Houghton 3lb 1oz roach.jpg

“My rigs were 35g Drennan feeder bombs, 3ins 5lb Drennan Supplex hooklinks and red maggot or corn was used on the hook.

“These tactics helped me catch two roach weighing 2lb 10oz but the 3lb 1oz specimen was by far the best – beating my old personal best by 3oz!”

Specimen angler's go on the hunt after incredible week

It’s been an incredible week for big fish across the UK, with huge tench, bream, rudd and pike coming to the nets of specialist anglers. 

Korum’s Dai Gribble was the first angler to strike when a trip to Oxfordshire’s prolific Linear Fishery yielded a 15lb 4oz bream and a 9lb 2oz tench.

Dai's Bream 15lb 4oz.jpg

The two-time Drennan Cup champion’s session wasn’t expected to be quite this successful – however, as Dai explained: “Originally I had planned to have a bit of a social for Mike Lyddon’s 50th birthday, but one of the lads couldn’t come – so rather than doubling up in a swim I jumped into the extra space that became available.” 

Fishing to a spot 30 yards out with a yellow Sonubaits pop-up topped with an 8mm pineapple Oozing boilie, Dai’s alarm sounded at 1.30am and a 9lb 2oz tench proved to be the culprit. 

At first light Dai then topped up his swim with micro pellets, hemp and two tins of F1 sweetcorn and fished popped-up maggots over the top – a tactic that proved irresistible to the big bream just 30 minutes later.

“It came in like a dead weight!” Dai added. “I saw it was coming in backwards then it rolled, and I knew then it was a big fish.

“There’s a handful of big bream in this lake and I knew there was always a chance of catching one.”

Bream were also the focus for specimen ace Jim Matthews, who made the most of a low pressure front in extreme conditions to bag eight fish – five of which were doubles topped by a 13lb specimen.

Adapting to the conditions was key to success, as Jim explained: “The wind had been fierce for some time and the undertow was horrific – casting too far out was threatening to pull the baits out of position. 

Jim Matthews 13lbs bream.jpg

“So I dropped the baits shorter and cut down on the feed rate. 

“There was no point spreading bait everywhere, and I was sure the bream might prefer the relative calm closer in.”

All Jim’s fish fell to whittled-down Atlantic Heat boilies fished over a bed of groundbait, dead maggots, bloodmeal pellets and broken boilies.

Predator fanatic Stefan Jensen also got in on the action when he landed a tremendous 38lb 2oz pike from Harelaw Dam in Scotland. 

Stefan Jansen 38lb 2oz pike.jpg

The big predator was banked in less than ideal circumstances, however… 

“As I struck into the fish my dog decided to do a runner,” Stefan told Angling Times.

“I had to play the pike hard so I could go and get my dog back! As soon as I bundled the fish into the net it spat the hook out, so I was lucky to land it.”

Stefan’s new personal best fell to a lamprey hookbait, and smashed the previous lake best of 34lb 12oz.

Hull-based rod Colin Hebb was the final angler to enjoy recent specimen action when he netted a rare 3lb 1oz canal rudd. 

Colin Hebb 3lb 1oz.jpg

The fish was caught on a piece of sinking bread flake, and was Colin’s reward for putting in a long campaign in pursuit of the species.

He said: “I’ve been searching my local canal for big rudd and it has taken me about a year to find them, as there is three miles of canal bank to search!”

There's never been a better time for a massive bag of bream!

The stillwater season has kicked off in fine style with massive bags of bream across the UK.


The action started at Starcarr Lakes in East Yorkshire, where fishery owner Shane Turrell landed 27 bream alongside a solitary carp and a tench for a bag close to a 100lb total.

The catch was no fluke, as Shane explains: “Between February and March I fished The Pit seven times and caught a 203 bream, which gives an average of 29 fish a session. 

“When we consider that the bream weigh between 3lb and 5lb, with the odd fish of 6lb thrown in, I’m averaging more than 100lb of fish a session.”

Shane added that these weights can only improve in the coming months: “As the water warms the fish will feed even harder, and around September time we have had people catching over 100 bream in a session. Given their average size, catches over 300lb are a real possibility.”

When targeting the bream of Starcarr there is no need for complicated tactics, and Shane favours a flatbed Method feeder: “I use a 28g feeder and load this with 2mm micro pellets. At the moment, three white maggots are the best hookbait, but it’s always worth bringing a few other options to try on the day.”

The bream have also been feeding hard on Willows Lake in Hertfordshire, where match aces Graham West and Simon Willsmore both had catches topping 80lb in a recent contest. 

Both anglers used the feeder to great effect, with Graham just pipping Simon for the win, with 83lb 8oz to Simon’s 83lb 2oz. 

Graham caught a few fish early on a long line, before chucking short and really bagging up. 

Wold Farm Fishery in Northamptonshire has seen some hectic silver fish sport, with some sensational catches of bream coming out of Moat Lake. 

Wold farm fishery bream and quality roach.jpg

Chopped worm and caster is the bait combination to beat, and 100lb bags with some quality roach thrown in are not uncommon here.

Over in Wales the bream are also on the munch, and at Mathern Mill Fishery venue-expert Norman Sterry bagged 79lb 9oz of silver slabs. 

Fishing maggot over groundbait on the long pole, Norman reckons that even bigger catches can be made: “I think 100lb could be possible, especially if you specifically target the bream all day,” he said.

It’s not just stillwater bream that have really switched on, as a cracking 31lb bag of slabs from the Loughborough Canal shows.

These were caught in a match, with the successful angler starting on bloodworm over joker before switching to lobworm later in the contest.

huge perch banked as stillwaters take over!

The capture of two 5lb-plus perch and a host of other specimens shows that despite the closed season there’s still a chance of netting a pb stripey. 

In a manic week for the species, stillwaters, reservoirs and canals have revealed that they are just as prolific as rivers for a perch of a lifetime.

Michael Barnshaw was the first to enjoy stillwater perch success with this fin-perfect 5lb specimen (right). 

Michael Barnshaw 5lb 0oz perch.jpg

Targeting a pit in the South West, the Surrey rod baited a near-bank swim with groundbait laced with maggots, soil and worms and fished a small tail-hooked perch livebait over the top. 

He told Angling Times: “My swim was tight to an overhanging tree and the big perch gave the smallest, most delicate drop-back bite which the indicator only just picked up. It was my only fish of the day and trumps my previous best of 4lb 7oz, which also won me a Drennan weekly award back in 2013.”

Michael’s terminal tackle consisted of 6lb mainline to a 6lb Drennan fluorocarbon hooklink and a size 6 Drennan Wide Gape hook. 

Fox Rage-backed lure fanatic Kevin Cox was next on the scoresheet with a 5lb 1oz fish. 

Kev Cox 5lb 1oz Perch.jpg

Targeting a hard southern reservoir in the company of his friend Matt French, Swindon rod Kev racked up no fewer than four perch over 4lb using by drop shotting with Spikey Shad, bloodworm imitations and pintail lures.

“I was first to strike with a fish of 4lb 1oz, then Matt had four smaller ones up to 2lb,” Kev said.

“My next fish was 4lb 5oz, followed by my 5lb 1oz giant. Matt then chipped in with a 4lb 2oz fish before I landed the final perch of the session at 4lb 3oz. It made all the blanks worthwhile!”

Oxfordshire complex Linear Fisheries might be better known for its prolific carp fishing, but Darren Clarke has been enjoying some fantastic sport from perch of late.

Darren Clarke 3lb 7oz perch.jpg

The tackle shop manager from Cheshire targeted Brasenose Two during a recent trip and succeeded in slipping the net under a pair of perch weighing 3lb 3oz and 3lb 7oz.

“I’d actually gone down to target the roach at night but I switched to targeting the perch during the day using lobworm hookbaits and 50g maggot feeders,” he said.

“I had the 3lb 7oz fish first, then the 3lb 3oz fish came five minutes later!”

Season's biggest perch landed

The final specimen of the week fell to Andrew Cheetham... and is the season’s heaviest river perch at 5lb 4oz!

Andrew Cheetham 5lb 4oz perchBIG.jpg

The Manchester rod has been in fine form over the last three weeks, netting a string of perch over the 4lb mark from a Midlands waterway.

In his most recent trip he managed to slip the net under this, the biggest river perch of the season at 5lb 4oz, alongside a 4lb 13oz specimen – both in a 15-minute window!

He said: “The two perch were caught very early in the morning within 15 minutes of my starting fishing with lobworms fished alongside a chopped worm feeder.

“I’d baited my snaggy swim heavily with chopped lobs prior to casting out and had to bully the perch out from the snags once I’d hooked it.”

Monster chub landed to end river season in style

Paul Allen’s perseverance paid off in spades when he netted this clonking 8lb 1oz chub (above) from a notoriously difficult stretch of the Dorset Stour. 

It was only Paul’s second fish from the stretch this winter, and it fell to a cheesepaste offering during an evening trip on the bank.

He said: “The fish jumped out of the water when I first hooked it and shot off to the far bank like a very large trout or small salmon. 

“Luckily I managed to coax it back across some fast water and netted it first time.

 “I looked down into the landing net and there lay a very solid breeze block of a chub!

“After enduring many blanks, this fish made it all worthwhile.”

Paul Allen 8lb 1oz chub.jpg

20lb 12oz barbel tops big finish on rivers

A thames record barbel has rounded off the best river season for years.

The 2018/19 season has been nothing short of exceptional, with multiple specimens of different species reported week-in, week-out – and, as recent catches have proved, the last seven days have been especially kind to the UK’s of running water fans.

John Llewellyn 20lb 12oz barbel.jpg

We begin with the season’s best barbel, a 20lb 12oz specimen banked by bait company owner John Llewellyn from a stretch of the River Thames. It’s believed to be the biggest ever reported from the waterway – bettering Rob Phillips’ 20lb 9oz Thames specimen caught back in March 2018 and falling just 5oz short of the official British record.

John had been baiting three likely swims in search of a monster on his chosen stretch since October. His efforts had resulted in a few bream and a 14lb 6oz barbel – until an evening trip turned the tide.

He told Angling Times: “The tips stayed motionless until 7pm when, just as I was pouring myself a cup of tea, the right-hand rod knocked twice – a typical bream bite.

“I wound down and pulled into what I thought was a bream, so I was surprised when the rod hooped over and an angry fish pulled hard downstream.

“It felt like a carp, but once I got it back under the tip there were the typical heavy thumps of a big barbel.

“After a dogged fight I finally guided it over the net – I couldn’t contain myself, I was dancing around like a madman!”

After realising just how big the fish was John called two friends to come down and witness the weighing. “I knew the British record was 21lb 1oz and the scales pulled round very close to 21lb,” John added.

“It was so close to a new record that I wanted to be certain of the weight, so later that week I took my scales to Trading Standards for testing and the fish’s weight was verified at 20lb 12oz.

“I am still on cloud nine – what a beautiful fish and what a memory. This barbel is certainly the fish of a lifetime.”

John’s new pb was caught on a Big Carp and Big Cat Ltd boilie wrapped in matching paste and fished over a handful of loosefed boilies.

Tip off leads to 2lb 14oz warrior

A tip-off from another angler helped steer Richard Wilby towards the capture of a warrior of a roach weighing 2lb 14oz. 

It fell to a small piece of breadflake during the first trot through at a secret River Waveney swim, and was a catch that fishery owner Richard – who runs Airfield Lakes in Norfolk – described as ‘one of the best fish I’ve ever caught.’

“It’s possibly a river record,” he added, “And I wouldn’t have caught it without being tipped off by another angler while I was perch fishing last week – so a huge thanks to him.”

Richard used a 13ft Drennan Acolyte Ultra rod, 3lb mainline and a size 8 Super Specialist hook to help beat the battle-scarred redfin.

Richard Wilby 2lb 14oz roach.jpg

Big perch heads up a fine end to season

Britain’s specimen anglers have enjoyed a spectacular end to the river season topped by a massive 4lb 10 oz perch.

Ryan Hayden 4lb 10oz river perch.jpg

Oxfordshire ace Ryan Hayden kicked off a flurry of stunners when he slipped the net under the immaculate fish (pictured right). 

The 26-year-old didn’t think his session could get any better after landing a 3lb 4oz perch from a Midlands river... until a change in tactics tempted the huge specimen. 

 “After bites dried up on lures I switched to a link-legered lobworm and the 4lb 10oz perch took the bait within five minutes of casting,” he said.

“I’d introduced plenty of lobworms and maggots to help keep the predators and small silver fish feeding in the area – and it worked. 

“When the four-pounder popped up within netting range my knees turned to jelly!

“It’s my biggest-ever river perch and a new personal best that I’m incredibly proud of.

“Big perch are what got me into specimen fishing in the first place, and this one is a true fish of a lifetime.”

Ryan’s winning set-up consisted of 6lb mainline, a 1oz fast-taper glass tip for sensitivity and a size 4 wide-gape hook to ensure a firm hookhold. 

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”