WINNING THE WORLD CHAMPS
For Rob Hughes there was one challenge that stands above all others, and that’s claiming a gold medal at the World Champs.
“You’re not just competing against the fish, but against a raft of very talented people who are at the top of their game,” he said.
“There’s no room for error, as you can guarantee that some of the other competitors won’t make a mistake. You only get one chance.”
The process starts with just getting a place in the England team which, as current England International Rory Jones confirms, is no easy feat in itself.
“The number of different skills that an international level angler must master is unrivalled. There is no hiding place on the international stage – the angler must be truly multi-skilled,” he said.
“There is no hiding place on the international stage”
TRACKING DOWN A DOUBLE-FIGURE EEL
The reaction to Steve Pitts’ capture of a 10lb 2oz eel last summer showed just how much of an accomplishment this is for any angler. The magnitude of the catch was certainly not lost on renowned specialist Neill Stephen, who said:
“Big eels can’t be seen, they are rarely if ever recaught, and they are usually solitary one-off fish, so by definition you have to fish for them where there is no record of them ever existing!
“They can turn up anywhere, from a tiny garden pond to a huge gravel pit, and they are notoriously elusive, with some anglers putting in hundreds of nights before they even get a run. There are also many instances of huge fish being netted or electrofished out of lakes, put back and then, despite every effort by anglers, never being caught again. Put simply, you have to be a total nutter to fish for them, and most eel anglers are!”
Steve Pitts with his giant 10lb 2oz eel
LANDING THE BURGHFIELD COMMON
Only 14 men in history have banked this impressive carp. Topping out at over 60lb, it is one of the country’s biggest commons, and the challenge starts with just getting a ticket for the 96-acre Burghfield Lake near Reading. Once you’re there, you then have to deal with the labyrinthine nature of the lake itself, a vast amount of which is inaccessible. You’ll soon be questioning your sanity!
Scott Lloyd, who banked the highly-sought after fish in April 2017 said:
“It takes about two hours to walk around Burghfield, and it’s blood, sweat and tears because it’s so overgrown in places. You have to go through brambles to get to the water’s edge. I soon developed a passionate hatred of brambles! Unless you’ve been there you will never have enough respect for that lake or that fish.”
Scott Lloyd with the incredible Burghfield Common
BOATING A GIANT SHARK
AT columnist Martin Bowler knows more than most about tough fishing challenges – after all, he wrote an acclaimed book all about tracking down some of the rarest fish in our waters called ‘Catching the Impossible’!
For him the ultimate angling challenge is to target truly wild fish. He said:
“In the UK that is far from easy, but there are a few fish I’d still like to tempt onto my hooks! The sea offers the epitome of wild fishing, and with only two mako sharks ever having been caught since I was born in 1971, I think this isn’t just the ultimate challenge, but an almost impossible one!
“Failing that, catching a sixgill shark would also be fabulous!”
“This isn’t just the ultimate challenge, but an almost impossible one!”
WIN ONE OF THE ‘BIG THREE’
For match anglers there are three main big money events – Fish O’Mania, Match This and the Golden Reel. Match ace Jamie Hughes believes scooping just one of these Blue Riband events deserves a place amongst angling’s toughest challenges.
“Your reputation means nothing,” he said.
“First of all, you need to qualify and that means fishing unfamiliar venues miles from home against talented anglers, many of whom are often local experts. Once you get through, then there’s the final itself and those you’re up against will practice intensely for it. Then, on the day you need to draw a peg that gives you half a chance, and then you need to pray it fishes to form. I’ve drawn some belting pegs in finals that have turned out to be rancid! You also need to remember that the match can be won and lost in the last 10 minutes!”
“On the day you need to draw a peg that gives you half a chance, and then you need to pray it fishes to form”
CATCHING A 30LB-PLUS PIKE FROM A NON-TROUT WATER
Any pike over 30lb is impressive, but fish of such size are far more common in trout reservoirs than they are in rivers, canals or any other natural venue. Reigning Drennan Cup champ Rich Wilby believes catching a ‘thirty’ from such a venue is right up there.
“I spend a lot of my piking time on the Norfolk Broads and can count on one hand the number of known 30lb pike that have been caught there in recent times,” said Rich.
“Predation has a lot to do with their demise, as the larger ones are an easy meal for otters in the spawning season, and cormorants have all but wiped out the prey fish in many places, which big pike obviously need to sustain their weight.”
Huge pike like this are more common in trout reservoirs