Personal best fish

My name is Ben and I love going fishing. I’m still trying to work out exactly why I enjoy spending hours and hours wandering around rivers and pools, hoping to tempt a fish to take my bait. It’s probably something I’ll never fully understand, but it’s partly an excuse to simply be outdoors and alone with my thoughts – pure escapism. I’ve been fishing for 25 years.

I’m increasingly unmoved by pounds and ounces, but I still enjoy catching the odd big ‘un!

My modest personal best list:

Barbel – 10lbs 12ozs, river Wye, 2014

A new personal best barbel - 10lbs 12ozs
A new personal best barbel – 10lbs 12ozs

My first ever barbel over ten pounds in weight. Caught in the summer of 2014 from a favourite stretch of the Wye. Read more

Bream – 7lbs 2ozs, Suffolk Stour, 2000

Suffolk Stour bream
7lbs 2ozs bream

I used to fish a favourite Suffolk Stour weirpool for its shoal of resident bream in the summer. After balling in groundbait laced with particles, it was usually possible to tempt two or three big bream and the odd big roach and perch on feeder tactics, fishing into the evening. This was the best bream I managed at 7lbs 2ozs. I’ve not had a bream from the pool in many years now, despite trying for them every now and again.

Carp – 19lbs 2ozs, Suffolk lake, 2001
Chub – 6lbs 1oz , Dorset Stour, 2008

6lbs 1oz Dorset Stour chub

Chub are one of my favourite species. I love the variety of ways you can fish for them and their unpredictable and sometimes contrary nature. This beast fell to a 10mm Source boilie on the Dorset Stour at Longham. I’m equally proud of my 5lbs 3oz fish from the Suffolk Stour.

Crucian – 2lbs 6ozs, south Wales club water, May 2012

Big crucian carp
A lovely, big crucian carp of 2lbs 6ozs

I had this superb 2lbs 6oz crucian on my first visit to a local club water in the spring of 2012. You can read more about the capture here.

Dace – 12ozs, Hampshire Avon, 2013

A new personal best dace of 12ozs
A new personal best dace of 12ozs

I tempted this personal best dace of 12ozs from the river Avon near Salisbury. You can read more about the capture here.

Grayling – 2lbs 3ozs, Hampshire Avon, 2008

2lbs 3oz Hampshire Avon grayling
2lbs 3oz Hampshire Avon grayling

The Hampshire Avon that flows around Salisbury is undoubtedly one of my favourite places to fish. Trotting a float through the glides, backwaters and carriers on an autumn or winters day is about as an enjoyable method as there is, and it’s also a highly effective one on the Avon. This stunning personal best grayling of 2lbs 3ozs was swiftly followed on the day by a fish of 2lbs exactly and they made for a memorable brace. Maggots trotted under a Drennan Avon float was the method.

Perch – 3lbs 1oz, river Wye, 2015

3lbs 1oz perch web tweaked
The perch I’ve been waiting for – a 3lbs 1oz river beauty. What a fish!

Perch are probably my favourite fish, though they used to be a bit of a bogey species for me. I had a fish of around 2lbs nearly 20 years ago and despite fishing for them regularly over the years, I had to wait until early 2010 before I had a second ‘2’ at 2lbs 3ozs from Lake John in Essex. However since then I’ve had plenty of decent perch and I fish for them a lot. I had this personal best of 3lbs 1oz from the river Wye in February 2015. You can read more about the capture here

Pike – 22lbs 14ozs, Suffolk lake, 2003

An amazing 22lbs 14ozs pike from a Suffolk lake
An amazing 22lbs 14ozs pike from a Suffolk lake

Roach – 2lbs 4ozs, Suffolk Stour, 1994

Suffolk Stour roach
2lbs 4ozs Suffolk Stour roach

I can’t deny it was a bit of a fluke, but what a fluke! The Stour used to produce big bags of big roach and was famous for them in the 70’s and 80’s. I remember a photo in George’s tackle shop of a match angler with a brace of huge roach from the croft caught in the early 90’s, both in the mid two pound range. I really think someone with the time and dedication to search out the roach could do very well on the river around Sudbury. I saw plenty of big roach over the summer and I’m convinced it could again produce some real monsters and good bags of fish. This one fell on June 17th 1994, to a single caster fished under a waggler. I was hoping for a roach or bream from the croft pool and had already landed a pb roach of 9ozs when on the next cast this old warrior turned up!

Rudd – About a pound, Clare park lakes, mid 90’s

Tench – 8lbs 1oz, south Wales lake 2014

A proper lump of a tench - no wonder I look a bit shellshocked!
A proper lump of a tench – no wonder I look a bit shellshocked!

This fish really took me by surprise – I didn’t have a clue such big tench were in the lake. A stunning fish and one of my best ever catches, I think. Even better I had it on float fished corn next to some lily pads, early one spring morning. Classic tench fishing.

Zander – 8lbs 3ozs, Suffolk Stour 2005

Suffolk Stour zander
8lbs 3ozs Suffolk Stour zander

I think this fish took me about four years to catch! I first had a Stour zander many years ago; a tiny chap of perhaps 12ozs that took a worm from the same pool as the fish above. Rumours of bigger zander from the pool and other deeper sections of the river started to become more common as the years passed, but it wasn’t until a good friend had one of six pounds one summer evening to a roach while we were after pike that we finally witnessed a genuinely ‘big’ zander. What a fish – we became a bit obsessed by Stour zander after that. That summer the same mate took a giant of eight pounds and the next season he had another ‘eight’ and a couple of smaller fish around the four pounds mark in amongst the pike. But I never got one zander, until the autumn of the following season when, finally, this fish took my roach deadbait. I’d love to get back and have a serious go for them again sometime – there could be ‘doubles’ in those deeper stretches of the Stour now…

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17 thoughts on “Personal best fish”

  1. Hello mate,
    Really interesting blog and some truly fantastic fish.
    great to see someone writing on the suffolk stour.
    Do you still get down there?
    Where was the zander from? First ive heard from the stour.
    Drop me an email or a message if you can.
    cheers,
    Reuben

    1. Hello Reuben,

      Thanks for the kind words about the blog mate – always nice to hear from people that have read it!

      I don’t get the chance to get back and fish the Stour as often as I’d like these days, but it’s still my favourite place to fish as I grew up there. Do you fish there Reuben? And where abouts?

      The zander seem to be getting more common along the river. I would love to get a double from there and I have seen a photo of a ’13’ from a few years ago…

      1. Hi Ben,
        thanks for the reply.
        indeed i do fish the stour, when i was younger i would fish the
        Flatford stretch for the roach and perch as i only live down the road.

        I fish a few days each winter still on that stretch (from the boat hire in flatford to the boats in dedham) for pike. more often now though i fish the boxted to dedham stretch of the river, mainly at langham for chub and stratford for pike. I often spend time looking for the carp and occasionally attempt a night after them.

        this year im hoping to get my first two pound roach from the stour but the shoals of big roach i used to see ten or twelve years ago in the flatford stretch seem to of disappeared.

        Id be interested in having a go for zander, which stretch was that from? which stretches have you fished? have you any experience of barbel in the river?

        Cheers
        Reuben

  2. Hi Ben

    Congratulations on a great blog which i’ve just discovered. Up until a year ago I lived in Dedham for a while and was on the river every evening. The rudd don’t turn up in numbers very often, however, one evening above the mill at Dedham I took a bag of 9 all over the pound with the best of 2lb 10oz. All were taken on caster with just a single no 6 shot fished under an inch long stick float and all taken on the drop.

    I’m now living in Ipswich and just getting to grips with the Gipping, but still love the Stour and have a week on the upper reaches above Clare at the end of this month and will be trying for some decent chub and maybe even a barbel, so any tips appreciated.

    Keep up the great blog its a really good read.

    1. Paul, thanks so much for the kind comments about the blog.
      Sorry for the delayed response, I’m just back from a week in Greece.
      It’s always nice to get feedback and I’m really glad you’re enjoying it!

      What an amazing catch of river rudd. If I could get one of even a pound I’d be very happy indeed.
      I’d love to see some pics, they are just the most spectacular fish.

      I don’t know Dedham well, but from what I’ve heard there are some good fish – what else do you get around that way?

      Good luck with the Suffolk Stour barbs, not an easy task. Have you had any before? I’m sure you’ll find some chub though, what’s your best from the Stour?

      I don’t know the Gipping well, but I still make it back to Ipswich to watch the Blues struggling at Portman Road as often as I can!

  3. Hi Ben
    That was the only time i’ve ever taken a rudd over a pound from the Stour which I guess sums the river up. Around Dedham some good bream shoals both in the mill pool and above the mill up to around 8lb also some very big carp saw a 31lb come out of mill pool and seen some big lumps further up stream as well.

    I had a couple of barbel downstream from Bures back in 2008 but haven’t fished for them since, and as yet haven’t managed a chub over 5 1/2lb but maybe next week. Have rented a cottage at Clare thats on the river so optimistic. I’ve been told there are a few barbel around the 4lb size downstream from the mill at Clare.

    Shame about the Blues but have always been a lifelong Watford fan as I grew up fishing Nth London and Lea valley and only moved out this way later in life.

    Will let you know how the week goes in the meantime be lucky.

  4. The week on the Stour wasn’t great with much of the river very low and clear. A few chub but nothing over 3lbs and the barbel were very elusive. Some good perch on one afternoon fishing lobworms around the edges of a small mill pool with 7 over the pound and a daddy of 3lb 6oz. Last evening was freelining luncheon meat hoping for a barbel having seen a couple earlier in the day when the rod nearly took off. No barbel but turned out to be an 11lb 7oz mirror carp and my second best from the Stour.

    1. It sounds like you had a few fish at least, and a 3lb 6oz river perch is a superb fish! They seem to be making a bit of a comeback on the Stour, I must get back and have a go for them soon.
      Did you fish in the same area over the week? Is that stretch day ticket?
      Nice carp as well. And you’ve obviously found a place where the barbel are – that’s half the battle as they say…

      I’d love to see a picture of the perch Paul, if you have one. Feel free to drop me a line anytime mate. ben.hennessy79@yahoo.com

  5. Hi Ben,

    just wanted to PM and say enjoyed the blog! Give us a look-in next time your down Suffolk way. A 5lb Suffolk stour Chub is a good fish…..

    kind regards

    Christian (FM Chav Professor)

  6. Hi, just popped in to say thank you for following my Blog. Will return later to have a good read. What I have seen already is superb and I have returned the favour and become a ‘follower’
    Tight lines

  7. Have been fishing stour around nayland for 20years and sadly seen this stretch of river decline drastically of late. Im sure predation is the problem. A few winters ago it was common to see a roost of up to 14 cormorants on wet lane. They have disappeared recently, presumably because the river is fished out. But all is not lost. The last few years have seen good numbers of small roach and chub in local mill stream and good head of chub to 2lbs on shallows below the Anchor Ph.
    Only happened to chance on this blogg today and really pleased to see a forum for suffolk stour anglers.
    am starting a determined stour campaign come the 16th to try and track down the quality fish that I’m sure must still be present. Will keep you informed!

    1. Hi Clive.

      Sorry for the delayed response. I’ve heard predation has affected things on the Stour quite dramatically in a number of areas. I always fished the Sudbury stretches and while I’ve not actually fished the river in a few years now, I’ve heard it’s been a lot quieter in terms of people fishing and general catches than in the recent past.

      Do let me know how you get on over the coming weeks.

      Ben

  8. Hi
    I fish the sudbury stour all the time 5 years in total and have never caught a tench or bream!!! I try my hardest though !! Have u any tips on pools or good swims

    1. Hi Mike. Sorry for the delayed response. I’d try Friars or Pecks meadows, floatfished worms over red maggots, early morning or late evening! Good luck mate – I’m sure you’ll get one! Ben

      1. Cheers for response pretty much what I’v been doin apart from im not floating I’m quivertiping with cage or open ended feeder since my last post I’v landed 3 medium sized skimmer bream so a small milestone just need those tench lol

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