The British Record (rod-caught) Fish Committee met at The Natural History Museum, London, on 28th November, 2017. Present were: Mike Heylin OBE (Chairman), Nick Simmonds (Secretary), Oliver Crimmen (Scientific Advisor, Natural History Museum), Andrew Nellist (Freshwater Specialist), Paul Coulson (Freshwater Specialist), Nigel Hewlett (Scientific Advisor, Environment Agency) and Chris Clark (Marine Specialist).
The Committee inspected Nigel Ludbrook’s claim for the carp record with his capture of the fish known as “Captain Jack” from Holme Fen Fishery at a claimed weight of 68lb 8oz. The claim could not be considered because the original scales tests performed by Norfolk Calibration Services, using weights traceable to National Standards, consistently indicated that the scale used to weigh the fish was overstating the weight by at least eight ounces. This means that the maximum weight which the committee could accept for this fish was below the current record of 68lb 1oz.
The following claims were ratified by the committee as new records:
Chris Davey – Garfish (Belone belone), Shore-caught, Slapton Sands, Devon, on 22nd April, 2017. Chris’s fish was ratified at a weight of 3lb 9oz 8dr, overtaking Mr Williams’ 22 year-old record of 3lb 4oz 12dr and equalling the current boat-caught record.
Robert Wheaton – Gilthead Bream (Sparus auratus), Shore-caught, Kingsbridge Estuary, Devon, on 5th October, 2017. Rob’s fabulous fish was ratified at a weight of 12lb 2oz, beating Ryan Carter’s 2015 fish of 10lb 7oz.
Tim Cotterill – Thin-lipped Grey Mullet (Liza ramada), Shore-caught, east coast of Guernsey, on 1st September, 2017. The weight of Tim’s fish was ratified at 8lb 1oz 7dr, surpassing Mr Mabelson’s 7lb fish from Oulton Broad in 1991.
Geoff LePage – Thin-lipped Grey Mullet (Liza ramada), Shore-caught, Havelet Bay, St Peter Port, Guernsey, on 4th September, 2017. Tim’s record was short-lived as the next claim to be ratified was Geoff's Thin-lipped Grey Mullet of 8lb 3oz 8dr, caught just three days later.
The committee also considered a submission by Ben Taylor for his shore-caught Gilthead bream, caught from the shore in south Cornwall on 28th August, 2017 and claimed at 10lb 11oz. Further clarification is needed from the captor as to the exact weight claimed before the committee can ratify this capture as an interim record.
Four further claims remain to be completed by the captors as completed paperwork was not presented to the committee in time for the meeting. These are:
- A Connemara Clingfish (Lepadogaster candollei) claimed by Tim Poat at 15.3 grams.
- A Cornish Sucker (Lepadogaster lepadogaster) claimed by George Stavrakopoulos at 3.9 grams.
- Paul Aldridge’s Dover Sole (Solea solea) claimed at 4lb 8oz.
- Chris Buxton’s shore-caught Tope (Galeorhinus galeus), claimed at 72lb 4oz.
These claims will be considered for ratification in due course if completed claims are presented.
The committee had a discussion about a proposal to introduce specific criteria for future claims for the British carp record. After much consideration it was agreed that it would be impossible to
formulate rigid criteria as each claim has differing elements which must be considered. The committee concluded that it should continue to consider every record claim on its own merits.
The committee concluded that it would be helpful to advise potential record claimants, for any
freshwater species, as to some of the aspects of any capture which would come under scrutiny in the process of considering a record claim, as follows:
- The weight of the fish when stocked into the water from which it was caught.
- The length of time the fish has been in the water of capture since stocking.
- The origin of the fish and its history prior to stocking.
- Whether the fish reached the weight claimed feeding on natural food and anglers’ baits only, without supplementary feeding or other treatments.
- Evidence of the growth rate of the fish.
- Consideration of whether the fish would be able to naturally sustain its weight in the fishery concerned.
The BRFC does not wish to encourage any attempts to introduce record-size fish via imports, or attempts to manipulate records by producing record-size fish through the use of deliberate fishery management practices. The committee has faced import and aquaculture issues in the past and ceased records for Wels catfish and for cultivated game fish as a result.
The committee discussed the possibility of reinstating the record listing for Wels catfish, which was suspended in 2007. The catfish record listing was closed to future claims because, at the time, large catfish were being imported illegally from Europe with the deliberate intention of increasing the record weight. This undermined the legitimacy of the record and was providing a key pressure for the illegal importation of Wels catfish. Communications with Cefas and the Environment Agency suggest that the suspension of the record may be contributing to a reduction in import activity. The Wels catfish record listing will therefore remain closed.
The Committee would like to remind anglers that in the event of the capture of a potential record fish, the captor should first contact the British Record (rod-caught) Fish Committee without delay.
Captors of potential record fish should contact the Secretary, Nick Simmonds, at the Angling Trust, on 01568 620447 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick will record the details of the capture and advise the claimant on progressing the claim. More information about what to do if you catch a record fish can be found on the BRFC web pages.