FORMER British pike record-holder Neville Fickling rolled back the years recently when he landed an enormous 40lb 12oz fish that left him ‘shaking’ as he tried to hoist it on to the scales.
It’s only Nev’s second ‘forty’, coming fully 37 years after his first – a 41lb 6oz fish he landed from the River Thurne in Norfolk back in 1985 to take the British record.
Yet, despite all his experience with huge predators, Lincs-based Nev admitted that this pike – which came from a Midlands lake he’s spent the last few years fishing – reduced him to a ‘wreck’ on the bank.
“A good friend of mine told me about a 33lb pike caught from this lake, so a ticket was duly bought,” he told us.
“Over two years I fished it a bit but couldn’t really figure the place out. Someone I knew caught the big fish at 35lb, then a year passed with no sign of it. With otters on the water, hope was diminishing, but one Sunday lately I found myself at a loose end, so I gave it a go.”
After casting two deadbaits out and laying his rods on the ground, Nev went to fetch his banksticks and buzzers when he heard a clicking sound coming from the right-hand reel.
“My initial thought was that a naughty jack had taken the bait on the drop,” he explained, “but as my float sailed away, I thought, I’d better do something about this.”
Neville picked up the rod and hit into the fish, which came straight towards him.
“Six feet down in the clear water, I saw something rather big,” he revealed. “It surged away, flared its gills and came to the surface. I noticed the bait was hanging out of its mouth with a flying treble, so I took my chance and bundled it into the net.”
It wasn’t until trying to lift the fish that Neville realised it had to be ‘the big one’.
“I tried to weigh it, but I couldn’t hold the scales steady enough. My hands were shaking badly. I called the friend who had originally told me about the fish, and a weight of 40lb 12oz was recorded.
“I know the pictures aren’t the greatest, but I didn’t want to mess about unnecessarily with a pike this big.”