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Fish you have seen that have blown you away but never caught

Steve Reed

Senior Member
A lifetime ago, my stamping ground as a teenage angler was the Grand Union Canal in Slough. Tench and crucians were the summer target but big fish of most species swam in the clear water. In the autumn and winter the focus moved to perch and pike and after a session after big perch I stopped by a bridge to peer into the crystal clear depths. Big perch were easy to spot but on this occasion my breath was taken away by the sight of a shoal of huge roach. The best rig I could muster was a freelined lob, which I flicked towards the shoal. The lob was immediately intercepted by what was by far the smallest fish which turned out to be just shy of 2lb. The others melted away and, despite a concerted campaign, I never reconnected with the biggest roach I have ever seen. 50 years later, I still haven't seen a bigger roach!

Steve
 

Graham Tremble

Senior Member
Whilst enjoying a post work afternoon on the river Teme one summers day around 2003 I reeled my Barbel rod in and decided to take a relaxing walk along the river to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine. The sun was still quite high so it was possible to see virtually every pebble on the bottom of that beautiful river. Out the corner of my eye I noticed a movement just below the surface. Shielding my eyes I squinted at what I assumed was my first sighting of a Teme carp. My jaw dropped as I identified it as a huge chub. I followed it for 10 minutes before it disappeared from sight as it swam into a deeper stretch of the river. The average chub caught along this stretch was 3-4 lb. This was WAY bigger than that. What weight was it? Well, frankly, I would simply be guessing but it remains by far the biggest chub I have ever seen.
ATB.
G.T.
 

Mark Nicholls

Senior Member
10-15 years ago on one of my first trips to the Royalty I booked the Parlour Pool. There wasn't a barbel to be seen but by the sill of the weir I could see 3 perch that were all huge, but the biggest basically looked like a green carp with stripes.
There used to be a chain across the river just below that sill, which you weren't allowed to fish above. It was like an aquarium with some huge fish of various species There was one massive, very distinctive barbel (had a clipped dorsal fin) that sometimes emerged from the depths to take free offerings. The sheer size of it would take our breath away. Never forgot it.
 

Paul Whiteing

Administrator
Staff member
There used to be a chain across the river just below that sill, which you weren't allowed to fish above. It was like an aquarium with some huge fish of various species There was one massive, very distinctive barbel (had a clipped dorsal fin) that sometimes emerged from the depths to take free offerings. The sheer size of it would take our breath away. Never forgot it.
I might remember that fish Mark?. We too used to drop a trickle of maggots in and watch the barbel take them, and then that big fish would appear. Must have been 35 years (or so) ago? we used to stay in the pub opposite Davis's as guests of the owner and his family.
 

Mark Nicholls

Senior Member
I might remember that fish Mark?. We too used to drop a trickle of maggots in and watch the barbel take them, and then that big fish would appear. Must have been 35 years (or so) ago? we used to stay in the pub opposite Davis's as guests of the owner and his family.
Must have been early 80's I think Paul. We thought that fish would have pushed the then record. You and I have probably caught bigger barbel since but at the time it was magical. We used to stay at the Royalty View (Joe Harrops) and spend a week alternating between the Royalty and Throop. Happy days 😊
 

Darren Hawen

Senior Member
Very early days of barbelling on the BA I watched a huge Chub flanked by 2 lesser fish swimming towards me, it then did a disappearing act and that was that. Same swim later in the season I caught my first double fig Barbel. Can picture scenario vividly, caught Chub to just shy of 7lb but this was huge.
 

Mark Swaby

Senior Member
Very early days of barbelling on the BA I watched a huge Chub flanked by 2 lesser fish swimming towards me, it then did a disappearing act and that was that. Same swim later in the season I caught my first double fig Barbel. Can picture scenario vividly, caught Chub to just shy of 7lb but this was huge.
Was that below the bypass bridge at Chippenham Darren, I wonder if it was the same fish that I saw many years ago
 

Cliff Turner

Senior Member
Did anyone else on here ever fish Burghfield Mill on the Kennet in the 70's long before they turned it into a housing estate ? Magical place with the Old Mill, the main weir and river, the mill stream, a guy called Andy used to live in the house on the island and collect the day ticket money. Anyway, saw a shoal of monstrous chub there once, just on the weir ruin off under a willow, memory has probably exaggerated their size but I believe they could easily have been 7 pounders.
 

Mark Swaby

Senior Member
One thing I have noticed is that the Bristol Avon features quite a few times. Being shallow in a lot of areas it made fish spotting very easy, such a special little river with some serious fish.
 

Paul Collins

Senior Member
Did anyone else on here ever fish Burghfield Mill on the Kennet in the 70's long before they turned it into a housing estate ? Magical place with the Old Mill, the main weir and river, the mill stream, a guy called Andy used to live in the house on the island and collect the day ticket money. Anyway, saw a shoal of monstrous chub there once, just on the weir ruin off under a willow, memory has probably exaggerated their size but I believe they could easily have been 7 pounders.
Oh yes, many happy days spent there and yes I do remember Andy.
Spent a memorable weekend there in the '76 heatwave and found a great barbel hole close to the bank under a willow at the start of the main flow out of the weir. I found it by barefoot wading.
Caught a few from there over the years.
 

Richard Barrett

Senior Member
Around 2016 I was fishing a place I go to in summer for tench and bream. The algae bloom had not come on yet and the water was gin clear. I was sat on a point that a gave me a height advantage over some deep water 9'/10'. A carp swam in about 3/4' down and I could see all of it for maybe 30 seconds. The place is known for a few (very few) very big carp, this fish I put at 50lb and could not have said smaller. I'm told my mouth was open for 5 minutes.

The other fish was a huge chub on a fly only river. I had taken a 6lb fish on the fly, but this fish dwarfed it to be honest. It was in a impossible swim to fly fish, in 4' of water. I'd estimate it was no less that 8lb, I never caught it and nor did anyone else.

I think moments like this are why we fish wild waters, and not the newer puddles. It's the unknown.
 

Ady Brayshaw

Senior Member
In about 2012, I had a brief period of opportunity, of fishing an extremely private stretch of local river. I mainly wanted to fish it for pike, but had chub to just under 5 lb and Ide to over 5lb. No barbel were present. The guy that had 'sponsored' my joining had told me that they had seen pike to mid-30's. I took that with a pinch of salt to be honest and completely forgot about what he had said.

During the winter I had caught two lower twenty pounders from the stretch (recaptures). One cold late December dusk I was packing the tackle away in readiness for heading home. I dropped my used dead bait into the water's edge watching it slowly dropping to the bottom. My eye caught a 'shadow' on the bottom further out. It looked pike shaped but was too big for a pike and thought it some late surviving weed bed. I still wasn't totally sure, so underhanded my now unbaited rig out towards the 'shadow'. The 'shadow' bolted off up river! I fished the same spot on a few occasions before the season end but did not make contact with the fish that I had spotted. How big? Who knows?
 

Steven Ballard

Senior Member
There used to be a chain across the river just below that sill, which you weren't allowed to fish above. It was like an aquarium with some huge fish of various species There was one massive, very distinctive barbel (had a clipped dorsal fin) that sometimes emerged from the depths to take free offerings. The sheer size of it would take our breath away. Never forgot it.
How long ago are you talking about the fish with the clipped dorsal? I had a 14.4 out of there in 2008 and that had a clipped dorsal!
 

Mark Swaby

Senior Member
There was also a barbel that had Triangular pecs that used to live up by the chain back in the early 80's. I remember looking down and spotting it amongst a number of others, so distinct. Never saw a monster up there, but was fishing up trammels one day with a mate and probably saw the monster spoken about. We were trying to outwit a Barbel about 9lb when an absolute unit wandered through the swim,we followed it downstream for about 80yds it never settled, It was heading back to waters meet and then the chain. In 1981 my PB from the Royalty was 10lb 6oz this fish made it look very small.
 
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