A century of angling records!

To mark the 100-year anniversary of the longest-standing British record fish – Georgina Ballantine’s monster 64lb salmon from the River Tay in 1922 – we take a look at some of the record catches that have caused the biggest stir in the intervening century…

A century of angling records!

by Angling Times |

We reckon Georgina Ballantine’s 64lb salmon will never be bettered, as fish this size no longer run British rivers.

Georgina Ballantine’s 64lb salmon
Georgina Ballantine’s 64lb salmon

BIGGEST SHOCK

Schoolboy snatches perch record, 2002

It’s the stuff of fishing fantasy – a schoolboy fishes a tiny pond and catches a British record perch.

Twenty years ago, 11-year-old Dean Rawlings stunned the angling world with the capture of a then-record 5lb 9oz 8dr stripey from a small day-ticket lake in his home county of Oxfordshire.

Dean was floatfishing a bunch of maggots and the perch grabbed his hookbait as he reeled in to recast. For the first time the capture showed the predator promise of commercial-style waters. Today, such lakes are regularly targeted for their massive perch – indeed one, Stream Valley Lakes in Sussex – jointly holds the record of 6lb 3oz. But back in 2002, they were well off the radar of specimen anglers.

“The catch was 90 per cent luck, we know that, but nevertheless we’re all very proud of Dean,” said his dad at the time.

As wonderfully unpredictable as Dean’s catch was, James Benefield’s British record 21lb 5oz zander, banked in 2007 while fishing for bream with a halibut pellet on the River Severn, runs it pretty close!

Schoolboy snatches perch record, 2002
Schoolboy snatches perch record, 2002

MOST CONTROVERSIAL

The Redmire record that never was, 1980

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, carp fishing was still very much in its infancy. Of all the lakes to fish for a massive carp, the tiny Redmire Pool on the Welsh border was THE one to get on back then, having produced Dick Walker’s 44lb record fish in the 1950s.

But in June 1980 it was the turn of angling legend and writer Chris Yates to show what the pool was capable of by landing a 51lb 6oz mirror to beat the then UK best.

Unfortunately for Chris, his application for a record was cut down by British Record Fish Committee red tape, as the carp was ‘not made available for inspection’ by committee members. This would have meant taking it away from the lake but Chris wasn’t prepared to do that so the carp, which he named The Bishop, was weighed, witnessed, photographed and returned.

The Redmire record that never was, 1980
The Redmire record that never was, 1980

LONGEST-STANDING COARSE RECORD

Carper’s big ‘snake’ surprise, 1978

One British recored remains that no angler since has even come close to matching – the eel.

Hampshire’s Steve Terry broke the record way back in 1978 with a massive 11lb 2oz snake from a local lake. He took it on a legered boilie intended for carp, and since then, even though eels claimed to be bigger have been caught, none have passed muster upon closer inspection. In fact, 10lb eels are rarer than the unique breed of angler who deliberately fishes for the species.

Carper’s big ‘snake’ surprise, 1978
Carper’s big ‘snake’ surprise, 1978

SMALLEST RECORD FISH

Marvel in miniature, 1998

Size isn’t everything, we’re told, but to mini-species maestro Dennis Flack it was more a case of ‘size is relative’.

The 12 dram bitterling he caught in 1998 from Barway Lake in Cambridgeshire is the smallest fish on the official record lists... but it isn’t his only entry. Dennis also holds the records for several other mini-species, including a 4oz 9dr bleak he snatched on light gear from the River Lark, Cambs, in the same year.

In an age increasingly dominated by pounds and ounces, Dennis’s outlook was refreshing, to say the least, as he was never happier than when targeting the miniature marvels our waterways hold, but which are so often overlooked.

BIGGEST RECORD FISH

Supergran’s massive Mako, 1971

These days shark fishing is accessible to all, but 50 years ago the chance to do battle on rod and line with such fearsome creatures was rare. So, in 1971 when the opportunity arose, Norwich grandmother Joyce Yallop grabbed it with both hands to boat a monster 500lb mako!

Joyce was fishing with her husband from Alan Dingle’s boat Lady Betty around Cornwall’s Eddystone Reef when the skipper spotted a large fin and moved in for a closer look. Joyce was on the rods like a flash and her whole mackerel hookbait was soon taken.

That signalled the start of a three-hour battle. The fish is still a record for the line class, and at the time was the biggest shark ever taken from European waters.

Supergran’s massive Mako, 1971
Supergran’s massive Mako, 1971

THE ‘UNBEATABLE’ RECORD?

Tetley’s giant tinca, 2001

In the 20-odd years since Darren ‘Tetley’ Ward’s 2001 capture of a 15lb 3oz 6dr record tench from a pit near Shepperton in Middlesex, the British bests for all the other main coarse species have tumbled, with the bars for barbel and bream having been raised five times apiece in the intervening years. Yet, throughout history, only one other tench over 15lb has ever been reported, of which pictures were not released – and so doubts must remain regarding its authenticity.

Quite why tench have failed to display the same levels of growth as other species remains a mystery, even to experts like

Dr Paul Garner. He said: “I can only think it’s something to do with our relatively cool climate. Tench are rumoured to grow to 16lb or 17lb in some of the vast southern European waters, but they have longer, milder summers down there, so their growing season is also longer.”

Tetley’s giant tinca, 2001
Tetley’s giant tinca, 2001

MOST COVETED RECORD?

Redfins take the title…

A slightly subjective category, as one man’s top target is another man’s nuisance species – yet if our annual reader survey to find Britain’s favourite species is anything to go by, roach would be the record that most anglers would like to beat.

Problems with hybridisation (roach/bream, roach/rudd) can make the identification of ‘true redfins’ difficult.

Every year Angling Times receives numerous claimed huge roach, only for them to be dismissed by experts as ‘hybrids’.

One thing remains certain. On the rare occasion that a really big, bona-fide roach is caught from a river, the grapevine goes into meltdown as anglers from all disciplines fawn over the pictures.

For this reason, many still view Ray Clarke’s ex-record 4lb 3oz roach from the Dorset Stour in 1990 as the true British best, even though officially it lies second behind a fish 1oz heavier caught from a Northern Irish lake in 2008.

Redfins take the title…
Redfins take the title…
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