FRANK GUTTFIELD, an early pioneer of modern specimen angling and former Angler’s Mail columnist, has died at his home near Marlow, Buckinghamshire, aged 75.


Frank, alongside contemporaries like Richard Walker, Peter Stone and the Taylor brothers, changed angling from a hobby into a pursuit, showing big fish could be caught by design, rather than by accident.

Son Fred told Angler’s Mail: “His early achievements targeting specimen tench showed that by using sensitive tackle in the right location and at the right time, large fish could be successfully targeted, even at night.

“In the 1980s he would go on to catch a tench of over 9 lb, which was, at the time, the second largest ever recorded.

“Later Frank turned his attention to rivers, notably the Thames and its tributaries, catching more than 200 roach over 2 lb, with a PB of 2 lb 14 oz 8 dr, perch to 4 lb 4 oz, dace 1 lb and barbel 13 lb 10 oz.

“In recent years he targeted Thames chub with incredible results, landing nine fish over 7 lb mark and his best of 8 lb 2 oz (pictured above)  caught in March this year is one of the largest-ever recorded on the river.

“Most of these fish were caught light-legering, a tactic Frank perfected. He could hold bottom in raging flows with a minimum of lead, by finely tuning the bow in his line and position of his rod.

“He never used a bolt rig. He described this as ‘trapping rather than fishing’, as for him, fishing involved a strike. I am certain Frank regularly caught fish that an angler using heavy leads wouldn’t have.

“His first book In Search of Big Fish – a year of his diary targeting big fish – was published in 1964 and was a sell-out cult-classic. Frank went on to write for all the major UK angling publications, as well as the Daily Mail and Fisch und Fang.

“He appeared on prime-time TV, featuring as a fish expert on Johnny Morris’ Animal Magic on BBC One, also co-starring in several episodes of Jack Hargreaves’ iconic Out of Town on ITV.

“His second book, The Big Fish Scene, was published in 1978 and showed how the angling world had evolved since his first book – featuring chapters from John Wilson, John Bailey and Kevin Clifford.

“Frank was one of the last of a generation of anglers whose influence on today’s big fish scene cannot be underestimated.

“He will be sorely missed by wife Jackie, six children and four grandchildren,” concluded Fred.

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