Trophy Room for Alan Tomkins
Weight: 6lbs 6oz
A couple of winters ago I had some great bags of barbel & chub from the Kennet. It was nearing the end of the season, and though I fancied fishing midweek, I wasn't really bothered about catching more barbel. I did however fancy my chances of a really big chub. So it was that I set off through the M4 rush-hour traffic one frosty evening after work, and as expected found the Kennet deserted. I had one fish that evening - this chub of 6lbs 6oz.
Weight: 12lbs 2oz
Location: River Kennet
I last seriously fished for barbel a couple of autumn/winters ago. That season was a very successful one and amongst the many barbel I had was this one of 12lbs 2oz, from the River Kennet. This was a "last cast" fish - there was one swim I nearly always used to fish for 5 or 10 minutes before going home. I moved into the swim at about 11 pm, sat touch legering for about 5 minutes before I felt that electric pull on the braided line. The fish put up a terrific fight, and I remember I almost got stuck in the river returning it. I'd climbed down a steepish bank, and stood in the water for a while nursing the fish in the beam of the head-torch. After the fish had swum off, I had great difficulty in getting back up the bank!
|Specie: Horton pike|
Another big Horton pike - looking much bigger than the 27.4 my scales gave it. I remember it clearly - I was sitting under the brolly with the late Vic Gillings, listening to England beating South Africa in the World Cup Cricket semi-final (c.1992?). As things in the cricket were reaching their very exciting climax, one of my back-biters started screeching. "Oh no!" I said "not now!!" I hit into a fish at around 90 yards, obviously a big one. I played it a little hard - I wanted to hear the end of the cricket! "Are you going to weigh it?" asked Vic. "No" I replied - "I'll put it straight back unless it's a thirty" Vic then caught sight of it. "I'll get your camera" he said It looked massive - still does - I'm sure their was something wrong with those scales
I have often found the hour before, and the hour after dawn to be good feeding times for pike. During my time as bailiff on the Horton Church lake (some 8 or 9 years ago now) I used to get up at around 4 a.m. in winter and fish for a few hours with the one-piece over the top of my work clothes. I usually had to leave for work at around 8.30 a.m. This pike was one of the fish I caught during a very productive period spanning about 11 days, during which I fished there 4 times and had 6 20-plus pike. This one was the biggest at 27-10, and was taken on a paternostered smelt.
|Specie: Colne Mere Linear|
Weight: 36lbs exactly
This is the Colne Mere Linear. Second capture in 10 days - this time 36lbs exactly. It took me 5 years to catch (or perhaps I should say land, as I may well have hooked it before) this fish - then I caught it again 10 days later. Events surrounding both captures were quite dramatic, and were detailed in the Blackwater series in Carp World.
|Specie: Colne Mere commons|
Weight: a shade over 30lbs
One of the beautiful Colne Mere commons - this one a shade over 30lbs, and my first 30lb common from the lake. This would have been around 1993.