Colin Mitchell, Angler's Mail pleasure fishing blogger, looks at specimen fishing.


WHEN you slip your landing net under a decent fish do you often wonder just how good a specimen it is?

Blog MitchIn these days of monster carp, tench, roach, bream – in fact virtually every species you can name – it’s very easy for superb specimens to be written off.

How sad is that? In my book it’s about time we started to give good fish more respect and to also credit where due to the anglers who have caught them.

Let’s set a few sensible targets that are achievable for many, many anglers. In fact most anglers who are probably reading this…


Carp are still what's bringing anglers into the sport.

CARP: My personal best carp is 23 lb 12 oz. I was over the moon with that fish even though many anglers will now not even consider a carp decent unless it is over 30lb… or maybe even 40lb-plus.

I think any carp over 10lb, especially ones in good condition and with nice colours, is a good fish. A 20-pounder is still something to be well proud of in my book.

Your target: 20lb


Straight back - or into the keepnet?

BREAM: I have caught bream to 9lb and still believe a fish of that size is an exceptional specimen. I photographed a 15-pounder years ago and that was a jaw-dropping sight. A lot of bream around 3-4lb are caught on many venues so we need to set the target a bit higher.

Your target: 5-6lb


 River Farm roachROACH: A 2lb roach used to hit the headlines. A three-pounder was front page news. Now a fish over 2lb seldom gets the publicity it deserves even though it is a mega fish. My best is stuck at 1 lb 14oz 8 drms and I would love a two-pounder. But an 8 oz roach from the local canal still gets my admiration.

Your target: 1 lb 8 oz


There are lots of ways of weighting the odds in your favour in summer if you take a little trouble over choosing your swim and your approach. I’ve put together a guide to improving your catches when the weather is warm and the days long, which should help you to put more fish on the bank.

CHUB: Chub have become a difficult fish to find in many rivers – but some specimens now fall in canals and lakes. I’ve had a fish smack on 5 lb although 3 lb is a more ‘normal’ fish.

Your target: 4 lb


tenchpicTENCH: Double-figure tench appear quite regularly nowadays and sadly a 7lb fish doesn’t appear to warrant much praise. How sad is that? Any tench over 3lb is a nice fish.

Your target: 4-5lb


The crucians at the Marsh Farm complex are confirmed to be 100% true crucians.

CRUCIANS: Crucian carp can be difficult to tempt although sometimes they do go mad and fling themselves at the hook bait. There are a handful of noted waters that do produce true specimens to over 3 lb but good fish venues are in short supply.

Your target: 1lb 4oz


perchPERCH: A big perch was always a fish I wanted to land. One golden day a couple of years ago I had four specimens ranging from 1lb to 3lb, all from a local canal. I was on cloud nine for weeks. Then I got a 3lb 10oz specimen from a local day ticket lake whilst I was targeting perch with prawns. That made last season for me! Big perch are not always easy to find or catch, so this could be a tough task…

Your target: 2lb.


Pike care is such an important topic.

PIKE: I don’t think that anyone disputes the fact that a 20lb pike is a fish we would all like to catch. I’ve not done loads of pike fishing but would love a 20… or even a 30! My best is a shade under 15lb.

Your target: 15lb.


Talking of nice fish that don’t get credit…I was having a few hours last Sunday evening when the guy just along from me managed to interrupt one of several mobile phone calls to his mate to hit a bite.

He landed a decent carp and decided to weigh it. Fish back he went straight back on his mobile and I heard him say it weighed 10lb ‘but don’t believe the scales, I thought it was bigger.’

From where I was sitting it looked like 10lb – if he doesn’t like what his scales tell him he should forget weighing or get them tested.


NEXT SUNDAY: Colin Mitchell on an England angling legend who makes the news in the next issue of Angler’s Mail magazine!


Related links

Colin Mitchell targets catfish

Colin Mitchell – ‘on fish fish or using the right tactics?’

Colin Mitchell – fishery rules he hates

Colin Mitchell – choosing the right fishing lines

Colin Mitchell – changing your fishing tactics in spring

Why ticketless bank walkers wind Colin Mitchell up!


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