FISHING fanatic Fred Healey won the 2016 Angler’s Mail Specimen Cup for an unprecedented third time – but has revealed how he’s lucky to still be alive.

Even last year,  70-year-old Fred Healey was fishing a three-night stint every fortnight even in the bitter winter. But he only recently got out of hospital following a long, major health scare.

Fred was in intensive care for ten weeks and 13 weeks in hospital in total. He had severe pneumonia and septicaemia.

Now Fred doubts he will fish this year at all – but hopes to be back on the bank for 2018.

Fred Healey in ‘coma-like state’

Uckfield, East Sussex-based Fred said: “I’ve lost two stone and get out of breath very easily. This follows on from prostate trouble a few years back.

“I’ve never been much of a drinker but I have always smoked. And when you fishing all night and getting bites you put the kettle on and have a cigarette. Maybe that’s contributed to my ill health.

“I was in a coma-like state for about six weeks. I had my eyes open but it was a total blank. Eventually I heard ‘Fred, squeeze my hand if you can hear me’ but there had been weeks off that with no response.

“I was beginning to feel weak last year. On some of my longer walks with the barrow I was getting out of breath and I’d never felt that before.

“I’d like to fish again but I can’t say I can at the moment. My plan is to go and watch a few of my friends fish this year but there’s no way I could cast out, let alone carry my kit around. I’d like to fish again next year.”

Fred Healey’s fabulous fishing

Fred  won a £3,000 cheque from Korum plus the famous silver trophy, the Specimen Cup, for yet another superb season. His catches in 2016 included a 7 lb 8 oz chub, numerous perch to 4 lb 8 oz, rudd to 3 lb 2 oz, eels to 6 lb 9 oz, tench to 10 lb 13 oz and double-figure bream.

After getting well enough to accept his prizes at his home, Fred told Angler’s Mail: “Thanks so much to Korum for voting for me and it as so nice to hear I’d won when I came out of hospital. The money will be handy.

“Me and my brother made a lot of money under Thatcher doing up and selling houses and flats and then lost it all under her too. But I’m still a conservative.

“Tench and perch are my favourite species although one of my most memorable sessions was catching the big rudd at Buckland in Kent as it basically put the venue on the big fish map.

“In fact I was still fishing it and the owner must have put something on the internet about my 3 lb rudd and Paul Garner came down,” he concluded.

Four runner-up all won £250 cheques from Korum: Mike Davidson for chub to 7 lb 10 oz and a stunning 3 lb 3 oz river roach; Carl Garratt with the biggest pike of the year at 41 lb from Chew; Nene barbel ace Gary Johnson; and Dan Woolcott who had the biggest roach at 3 lb 11 oz from Highbridge Fisheries in Norfolk.

CAUGHT A BIG FISH? Email photos and details exclusively to: anglersmail@timeinc.com – you could star in the magazine.