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My story of catching a river record - by Paul Whiteing

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Paul Whiteing

Staff member
Well, the St.Pats, home of some big fish, you just have to turn up and catch one ..... MYTH !!

Ok, someone could get a big fish on their very first session, but if you feel tempted to join TDFC you'd have to
be prepared for blanks, lots and lots and lots of blanks. But it's a lovely setting to blank in.

So, yes, I did get a particularly big fish last year. But I've been fishing there for over 10 years, and preferring the less-popular stretch where many won't walk. I like solitude and where there are less people the more I like it - miserable bugger? perhaps.

Now in all honesty I don't fish the St. Pats that much, I like the Loddon (not only TDFC waters) but that's hard too - twenty-five blanks before I'd got a single fish on the river. I like to fish evenings so I have to choose venues where the rules allow.

But I digress from the story.

This particular afternoon I had planned, as usual, to go to the Loddon but an old friend from the Kennet days, before the Kennet was ruined by so many factors (but that's another story), needed a shot in the arm to hopefully rekindle his barbel mojo. He didn't need to catch, he just needed a new venue, new scenery, coupled with a chance of a fish which had proven almost a forlorn hope on the Kennet.

So I invited him to be my guest. Loddon or St. Pats? well we chatted and decided on the latter. We met at the car-park and I had a choice - Upper or Lower, popular or less so. The weather was looking a bit rough so we made our decision and walked with our gear quite a way, looking at swims. Two old geezers don't like walking too far but we are sprightly LOL.

I gave him choice of swim and he was happy, I had previously called upon my watercraft skills to select my swim and proceeded to ..........

errr, No, not quite .....

What happened was that I picked up my gear and for some reason put my rod quiver, with made-up rods as normal, over my right shoulder instead of my left. Why? I've no idea. What then happened was that I got a number 6 continental boile hook firmly embedded in the ar#e of my overtrousers. I couldn't do anything so my pal had to cut me free with a knife.

So once freed, I then recalled my previous decision based on watercraft skills and proceeded to ..........

errr, No, not quite .....

What happened was that I then decided on a whim to fish the next swim instead.

The heaven's opened and it was a rough evening. Huddled under brollies we fished, keeping in touch by mobile. As usual when guesting somebody one wishes they have a fish, if one caught it would be a bonus. But this evening it didn't pan out that way. I hooked a fish on my upstream rod, I carefully played it until it was straight out and opposite me, then it woke up and I realised it could be big. I made a mess trying to land it several times, high(ish) bank and strong flow, I felt like a beginner not a "veteran of almost 50 years of barbel fishing" until I then realised one arm of my landing net had broken. It was an iffy situation, on my own, raining quite heavily, dark (I prefer not to have a blazing head-torch), broken net. But used to this, not for the first time I faced the same situation, albeit never with a fish of this size.

But I managed, rested the fish in the knackered net, and when I laid down to lift it out I thought, oooh, that's big. I rang my pal and he said he'd come along, and I had the fish in sling with zeroed digitals and we both saw it read 18.07 We checked it on his scales and agreed on the weight.

Fortunately my pal has a big camera with lots of knobs, so I'd get a decent picture rather than one of my infamous self-takes.

paul_18_07_17_bfw_01.jpg paul_18_07_17_bfw_02.jpg

Now in conclusion I could say what I often hear, that I always set out my stall to catch big fish. Well I never understood that, sounds a tad pompous to me. I fish in the same way, with the same tackle, and the same bait, and I know that I can catch anything from a 1lb fish to a big fish. This night I was lucky, well not lucky per se, as I've been practising for a lot of years - perhaps the more one practices the luckier one gets? errrr. I don't think so, but it's not for me to say.

Ordinarily I wouldn't be interested in claiming a "meaningless" record, and I don't like the limelight. I prefer to keep a low profile, and additionally I wouldn't want the circus and bl##dy fish-chasers to descend and spoil the venue for others, after all the St. Pats is not huge and one cannot "lose" the specifics of the capture by generalising and simply saying "from the xyz river". But I decided to keep quiet about it, having discussed this with my close friends to leave it that way. Only when the season neared the end and the weather was so so bad, did I change my view and publicise the catch.

To end, I'd just like to refer you to the first sentence of my story - "Well, the St.Pats, home of some big fish, you just have to turn up and catch one ..... MYTH !!"
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