CHUB AND GRAYLING ROUNDUP

Date: Saturday 10th January 2004

EARLIER this week I learned that the biggest Eden chub recorded in recent years was a 7lb 1oz specimen taken on the lower river about three or four years ago.

My contact in Carlisle, who is involved in the coarse fishing scene, was also able to tell me that two more chub of a similar weight have been caught since that memorable capture, but neither topped the weight of the first monster, which closely challenged that of the Kirtle chub described in last week’s notes.

In my Angler’s Diary for 1961, a veritable gem of information, the list of British record freshwater fish includes the controversial record chub, which was taken on the River Annan in 1955 by Dr. J. A. Cameron. It weighed a massive 10lb 8oz, but its capture was not properly authenticated by either a photograph or body scales for examination, according to odd references read in the angling press over the years.

One report also mentioned that the chub in question was fed to cats, suggesting that only a skeleton remained to prove the existence of the Annan monster. That record entry, along with the old dace, roach and grayling records, was thrown out by the British record (rod caught) fish committee many years ago.

According to The Concise Encyclopaedia of Fishing 1998 edition, the modern chub record stands at 8lb 10oz for a River Tees fish, taken in 1994.

Although I have no wish to detract from the importance or pleasure of its captor’s great achievement, I have to say that I am quite sure that there are bigger chub still to be caught in both the Annan and the Eden and, very likely, in the River Tees, because the latter almost certainly receives a boost in the form of the greater amount of groundbaiting by which its coarse species are favoured. Believing that they exist is one thing, catching them is another!

When I first fished for grayling, in the “backend” of 1959, the record for the species at that time was a 7llb 2oz monster taken from the River Melgum, by a Mr. J. Stewart, in 1949. My diary does not mention how the fish was caught, but I suspect it was taken on bait tackle. So large a fish must surely have had cannibalistic tendencies.

Even more “normal” grayling will take small fish, given the opportunity, and I have seen at least one taken by a club member of Penrith AA on light spinning tackle, back in the 1960s, when some of the trout anglers used quill minnows to lure trout on the lower Lowther; and a couple have taken my salmon fly, one of which was a size 6 double, while fishing on the lower Eden.

FAMOUS RIVERS

The present grayling record, according to my four-year-old book, is held by the 4lb 3oz specimen taken from the River Frome, Dorset, in 1989. This same book lists five famous grayling rivers Dee, Wales; Ure, Yorkshire; Test, Hampshire; Wye, Derbyshire; and Wylye, Wiltshire.

Since the book was published, I would guess that The Grayling Society might be inclined to add a couple more to that list. Both the Eden and the Eamont are now famed for their brown trout fishing, especially as they are classed as wild brown trout rivers, but for as long as I have fished our local rivers, I have been impressed by the average weight of our River Eden and lower River Eamont grayling.

In fact, during the 1960s, my diary records show that the average weight of the grayling which I retained, while fishing the Eden, exceeded that of the brown trout by a few ounces. That was the case until UDN almost eradicated the grayling of the Eden system during the last three years of that decade.

I am sure that the quite recent resurgence of the grayling has produced some specimens that would vie with the present record. Again, one has to say that knowing that they are probably there for the taking does not put them on the hook.

Regular readers may recall past references in this column to the exploits of the late John Stockdale in the company of one of his highly respected mentors, the late T. K. “Tim” Wilson. Together, they would fish the big pool upstream of Eden Bridge, Temple Sowerby whenever possible it was there that they caught a number of excellent grayling, one of which was estimated at about 5lb, before being lost at the net.

More surprisingly, “Tim” Wilson hooked and lost a massive perch while worm fishing in the same pool, and in those days perch could be caught, occasionally, at the top of the impressive Oglebird Scar. What happened to the perch?