I had Ron Clay on the phone this week. Aparently there’s an article in the current issue of Coarse Angler Today arguing there is no north/south divide in angling. Now I don’t normally comment on things I’ve not read and I haven’t a clue who has written the piece either, but here’s my take on the matter.
This is the official list of record fish caught in the British Isles and published by the BRFC:
Coarse Fish Records © British Record (Rod Caught) Fish Committee 2013
BARBEL (Barbus barbus) 21-1-0: 2006: Grahame King: Adams Mill Fishery, Bedford.
BITTERLING (Rhodeus sericeus) 0-0-12: 1998: Dennis Flack: Barway Lake, Cambs.
BLEAK (Alburnus alburnus) 0-4-9: 1998: Dennis Flack: River Lark, Cambs
BREAM (Common Bronze) 22-11-0: 2012: Scot Crook: Ferry Lagoon, Cambs.
BREAM (Silver) 3-4-0: 2012: Gareth Evans: Mill Farm Fishery, Pullborough, Sussex
BULLHEAD (Cottus gobio) 0-1-0: 1983: R Johnson, Green River, Nr Guildford, Surrey
CARP (Mirror) 67-8-0: 2008: Austin Holness, Conningbrook Lake, Ashford, Kent.
CARP (Crucian) 4-9-0: 2003: Martin Bowler, RMC Fishery, Yateley Lake, Hampshire.
……………………………….2004: Phil Smith, RMC Fishery, Yateley Lake, Hampshire.
……………………………….2011: Joshua Blavins, Stillwater, Hertfordshire.
CARP (Grass) 44-8-0: 2006: Phillip Kingsbury, Horton Church Lake.
CATFISH (Bullhead, black) 1-3-0: 2001: K Clements, Lake Meadows, Billericay, Essex
CATFISH (Wels) 62-0-0: R Garner, Withy Pool, Henlow, Bedfordshire
CHUB (Leuciscus cephalus) 9-5-0: Andy Maker, Southern Stillwater.
DACE (Leuciscus leuciscus) 1-5-2: Simon Ashton, River Wear, Tyne & Wear.
EEL (Anguilla anguilla) 11-2-0: 1978: Master S Terry,Kingfisher Lake, Hampshire.
GOLDFISH (Brown) 5-11-8: 1994: Six Acre Still Water Pond, Surrey.
GUDGEON (Gobio gobio) 0-5-0: 1990: D H Hull, River Nadder, Wiltshire.
MINNOW (Phoxinus phoxinus) 0-0-13.5: 1998: J Sawyer, Whitworth Lake, Spennymoor
ORFE (Golden) 8-5-0: 2000: Michael Wilkinson, Lymm Vale, Cheshire
PERCH (Perca fluviatilis) 6-3-0: Neil Stephen, Stream Valley Lakes, Sussex.
…………………………………..6-3-0: Ken Brown, Willstone Fishery, Tring, Hertfordshire.
PIKE (Esox lucius) 46-13-0: 1992: R Lewis, Llandegfedd, Wales.
PUMPKINSEED 0-14-2: 2003: Bryan Rushmer, Tanyards Fishery, Sussex.
ROACH (Rutilus rutilus) 4-4-0: 2006: Keith Berry, Stillwater, Northern Ireland.
RUDD 4-10-0: 2001: Simon Parry, Freshwater Lake, Co Armagh, N.Ireland.
………..4-10-0: 2001: Simon Parry, Clay Lake, Co Armagh, N.Ireland
RUFFE (Gymnocephalus cernuus) 0-5-4: 1980: R J Jenkins, West View Farm, Cumbria
SCHELLY 2-1-9: 1986 S M Barrie, Haweswater Reservoir, Cumbria
STICKLEBACK (3-spined) 0-0-4: 1998: Dennis Flack, High Flyer Lake, Ely, Cambs.
STONE LOACH 0.013gr: 2005: Geoffrey Green, Windmill Fishery, Bristol, Avon.
TENCH (Tinca tinca) 15-3-6: 2001: D Ward, Private Fishery, Staines, Surrey.
WALLEYE (Pikeperch) 11-12-0: 1934: F Adams, The Delph, Welney, Norfolk.
ZANDER 21-5-0: 2007:James Benfield, R Severn, Tewksbury, Glos.
Now I do appreciate that folk who live in Kent think that Essex is north but I regard Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Nottinghamshire and parts of Lincolnshire as north. South of those counties we might be splitting hairs over what constitutes the midlands but this is a straight north/south debate.
In South America it’s a lot easier:
But let’s not get distracted. In total the north can only lay claim to the schelly, ruffe, minnow, dace and golden orfe records. Yes, a pedant might say that record rudd and roach were caught in Northern Ireland but that might as well be in Holland because it’s not like you can get there without crossing a sea. Neither the biggest roach or rudd caught in mainland Britain came from the north, did they?
Of the five records currently held by the north we can discount the orfe. It’s a non-native species, the fish in question was a one-off and it died nearly 15 years ago.
Now seriously, who is going to target schelly? It is a member of the salmon family, supposedly exists in a very limited number of deep waters in the Lake District and to top that off it is now a protected species so you are no longer allowed to fish for them anyway. Oh, and that record was established 27 years ago.
So now we’re down to 3 starget species and what great targets they make.
Well, we cannot deny that Cumbria is our jewel in the crown having produced a record ruffe 33 years ago and also produced a record minnow (25 years ago). A fish weighing less than an ounce. I can see those poncey Southerners loading up their off-roaders right now! Let’s head north and show them wankers how it’s done.
This leaves us with Simon Ashton’s dace, a fish caught 11 years ago from the Wear. Unfortunately the Wear has been decimated by cormorants and no longer produces the dace runs it was once famous for. Those specimens simple don’t exist today.
So there we have it. Facts don’t lie. Any southern angler who thinks that fishing in the North is fabulous should come and prove it. Show us how it’s done. They will quickly learn that we have more big cat sightings than big crucians. Rudd waters? Don’t make me laugh. Yorkshire anglers who have caught a genuine 7lb tench from their home county are still in a tiny, tiny minority.
Lets be honest. Brutal even. Anyone who thinks specialist angling is a level playing field is either a looney, being deliberately provocative or is taking the piss. What I do appreciate is whenever these brilliant specialist anglers from the south have made a rare venture up to the Trent most have been found woefully lacking. As for the Yorkshire rivers I doubt they are even aware they exist.
No offense lads and lasses. Enjoy your dream fishing while it lasts but don’t try and tell us northern monkeys that we’ve never had it so good. That’s bollocks!
Footnote: It’s not all bad up north according to this link - the beer’s cheaper!