NEILL STEPHEN showed why he is considered one of the best specimen anglers in the country when he came within a whisker of the grayling record.

The British grayling record has since been beaten by another giant. Full story and pictures of that one are exclusively in this week’s Angler’s Mail print magazine.

Neill’s own fantastic catch, scaling 4 lb 3 oz – and pictured above – came agonisingly close to the official grayling record of 4 lb 4 oz 8 dr caught in 2009 by Paul Mildren from a Wessex river. Neill also beat his old grayling best of 3 lb 12 oz.

The 42-year-old Bupa worker had only just put away his carp rods where he’d smashed the Wellington Country Park record with a 60 lb 8 oz mirror.

Neill currently co-holds the official perch record with a 6 lb 3 oz monster. He’s also caught chub to an equal record 9 lb 5 oz, which missed being ratified due to it being weighed in a plastic bag.

And his log of PBs includes 40 lb-plus pike, 17 lb-plus barbel, 4 lb rudd and a 3 lb 8 oz roach.

Berkshire-based Neill told Angler’s Mail: “I am sending this in now as I have had my last session now on the river for the foreseeable future.

“It was caught sight fishing on a Killer Bug nymph tied by Dave Lambert from a chalkstream carrier.

“It measured just over 21 inches long with a girth of just under 14 inches, and weighed a surreal 4 lb 3 oz.

“I’ve been obsessed with big grayling for the last seven years and spent much of my summers, autumns and winters fishing for them.

“I’ve loved the challenge offered by the low-stock fly-only waters, where you can cover miles in a day looking for fish and it’s all about sight fishing if you find them.

“It’s never been easy, but in recent years it’s got to a point where I was searching in well over 15 miles of river for what seemed like a tiny handful of fish.

“I lost one at the back of the previous season from a different carrier which could have been over 4 lb.

“And I was just thinking my chances of a fish like that had gone when I literally stumbled across a huge dark male fish sitting at the back of a pool.

“For once everything went right from start to finish, even after it took me 50 yards downstream and I fell in off a high bank.

“Seeing the scales go well over 4 lb was an extraordinary moment in what has been one of the best fishing adventures of my life – I’ve learnt a lot, made some great friends and loved every second of it,” concluded Neill.

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