SOME of the most spectacular UK catches have joined the biggest fish hall of fame - the Top 50 fish lists. Angler's Mail editor Tim Knight takes a look.
But are they really 100% credible? I suggest not…
Below I’ve picked out just the top 5 for six popular species – barbel, bream, carp, perch and pike.
And, true to form with these biggest fish lists, there is plenty of controversy!
Most notably we see fish included high on the Top 50s that are NOT the official British coarse fish records maintained by the BRFC.
We have the Angling Trust publishing the lists, and yet by doing so they have created a historical document at odds with their British Record Fish Commitee’s recognised list.
Questions of evidence
The lack of record recognition for fish on the Top 50 is due to all sort of reasons, stories told in detail over the years in Angler’s Mail magazine.
Most notable of course is the lack of all the sufficient supporting evidence required for record claims.
Those fish on the just-published Top 50 lists were considered sufficiently credible at the time of capture to merit inclusion, and have been left there – probably forever.
The fact some of them were caught well before decent cameras and decent scales were in use, does make you wonder if a rethink is required to include only catches with sufficient evidence.
Other fish were simply not claimed because anglers could not be bothered to go through the claims process, or because there was peer pressure to not draw further attention to the venue.
Pick of the Top 50 fish lists
Cast your eyes over the pick of the top fish below, and report any big fish exclusively to Angler’s Mail magazine, by email to: email@example.com
- 21.02.00 Chris Mack, River Wensum, November 2008
- 21.01.00 Grahame King, Great Ouse, November 2006
- 21.00.00 Grahame King, Great Ouse, October 2005
- 20.14.08 Grahame King, Great Ouse, October 2005
- 20.12.00 Mark Rylands, River Wensum, February 2008
In one of many bizarre twists in the Top 50s, the fish at the top of the list is not the British record due to a lack of witnesses, despite good photographs like the one you see above. That’s not noted under the list, but a footnote mentions a different, 21 lb 5 oz, barbel!
The barbel British record honour – with very few people disputing it – rests with the second placed fish you see, 21 lb 1 oz by former Angler’s Mail Specimen Cup winner, Grahame King.
The biggest barbel from the past year to join the Top 50 list was a Trent 20 lb 7 oz catch, in seventh spot.
It’s good to see this Top 50 list was genuinely fully refreshed in April 2015 – record keeping in the barbel world being better than for many species.
1 23.12.00 Scot Crook, Ferry Lagoon, Cambs, April 2012
2 22.09.00 Mark McMenna, Ferry Lagoon, Cambs, September 2009
3 20.01.00 Simon Lavin, southern pit, May 2011
4 20.12.00 Michael Kennedy, Cambridgeshire stillwater, October 2013
5 19.10.00 James Rust, Midlands pit, March 2005
In another strange anomally on the currently available Top 50 lists, the fish at the top was ratified – after scales checks – at a lower weight than what is published on the Top 50! That giant, by Scot Crook, eventually got sworn in as the official Britsh record at a weight of 22 lb 11 oz.
1 67.14 Oz Holness, Conningbrook, Kent, August 2008
2 67.00 John Bird, Conningbrook, Kent, April 2008
3 65.14 Simon Bater, Conningbrook, Kent, October 2005
4 65.08 Dan Markwick, Conningbrook, Kent, September 2005
5 65.04 Darrell Peck, Conningbrook, Kent, October 2007
Note that the entire top 5, and indeed others in the Top 50 for carp, are the same fish – Two Tone, the Conningbrook, Kent giant that passed away in 2010.
- 8.00 Mr Zerfall, Hampshire Avon, 1928
- 6.08 D Cooke, no venue listed, September 2005
- 6.03 Bill, River Thames, March 2014
- 6.03 Ken Brown, Wilstone Reservoir, Herts, September 2011
- 6.03 G Cooke, Wentworth Fishery 1974
- 6.03 Neill Stephen, Stream Valley Lake, East Sussex March 2011
The two fish at the top of this top 50 are overlooked by almost all perch fans.
The weight of 6 lb 3 oz is the one to remember – although only two of those (Ken Brown’s giant and Neill’s Stephen’s earlier catch) are official British records. Ken revealed his big perch tactics to Angler’s Mail, and all-rounder Neill recently won the Angler’s Mail Specimen Cup, sponsored by Korum. For some reason these four catches are listed not as ‘joint third’ on the Top 50.
- 47.11 Tommy Morgan, Loch Lomond, Scotland, July1945
- 46.13 Roy Lewis, Llandegfedd, Wales, October 1992
- 46.11 Wyndon Cole, Wykeham Lakes, North Yorkshire, February 2014
- 46.08 Allen Stewart, The Oaks Fishery, N. Ireland, March 2005
- 46.08 Jeff Dandy, Esthwaite Water, Cumbria, November 2012
The current, and long-standing British record fish – Roy Lewis’s 46 lb 13 oz giant – is again not the biggest on a species Top 50! But while Tommy Morgan’s catch curiously sits as No.1, the debate has long raged about it, and there is no photograph in the public domain.
As Neville Fickling wrote in his widely admired Mammoth Pike book: “Few captures have ever split the angling commiunity as this one (Morgan’s 47 lb 11 oz pike). Many do not believe it while many Scotsmen would shun anyone who had the termerity to suggest it was the product of a vidid imagination.”
- 16.10.00 John Earle, undisclosed venue, March 2011
- 15.03.06 Darren Ward, Sheepwalk Big Lake, Middx. June 2001
- 15.02.00 Mike Cox, Oxfordshire club lake, September 2007
- 14.11.00 Will Hart, Southern Stillwater, June 2007
- 14.08.00 Alan Brennan, Swangey Fen, Norfolk, July 2010
- 14.08.00 Karl Connolly, Fishers Green, Essex, October 2004
- 14.08.00 Gordan Bevan, Herts Lake, September 1993
Compiled by The Tenchfishers, this list’s most recent additions include a 13 lb 6 oz tench by Angler’s Mail contributor Gary Newman. Caught in summer 2014, it’s No.22, and below other catches Gary’s caught in the past.
But at the pinnacle of the Top 50, we see another fish which is not recognised as the official British record, an honour that belongs to the 15 lb 3 oz 6 dr tench by Darren ‘Tetley’ Ward caught back in 2001.
Again the Top 50 has fish of equal weight given different list numbers, though we are sure any ardent ‘statto’ would put the trio of 14 lb 8 oz tench in at ‘joint fifth place’!
Also detailed on individual Top 50 lists on the Angling Trust website are catfish, chub, dace, eels, grayling, roach, rudd and zander.
CAUGHT A BIG FISH? Report any big fish exclusively to Angler’s Mail magazine, by emailing the photo/s and details to: firstname.lastname@example.org