Monday, 24 June 2013

Triple Crown — Three British Records in One Year!

Yes, I've held two British records for some time, possibly three, but without knowing it...

The penny dropped yesterday. Whilst going through my photos I realised that I've caught probably the largest of their types ever documented in this country!

Of course they aren't pure breeds, you'd have heard all about that some time ago if they'd been, so there's no chance they might be ratified because the English don't do with bastards and mules and certainly don't keep records of them. However, the Irish take them very seriously indeed and their official body, the Irish Specimen Fish Committee, accept claims for both roach x bream and rudd x bream hybrids and ratify the largest as official national records. 

Absurdly, those hybrids caught in Northern Ireland are not eligible for British Rod Caught Fish Committee records because there aren't any such kept by them, but pure species from the same country are because it's part of the UK. So Northern Irish anglers can submit claims for any pure bred fish they catch to two national committees and half breeds to one. However, the UK record for roach was caught in Northern Ireland, but the official Irish record is half its weight and hails from Drumacritten Lake which is believe is in County Fermanagh, also in Northern Ireland...

There must be good reason for such an anomaly, but if there is I can't imagine what it might be.

I've always argued that the BRFC records shouldn't include Northern Irish fish because it makes no sense at all to set fish hailing from two entirely separate land masses against each other just because they're joined politically when they're divided by an entire sea!

It's an absurdity very nearly as ludicrous as my submission of a Coventry caught claim to the Irish list because Northern Irish captures are eligible under their rules, Northern Ireland is part of The Union, I'm British and Coventry is in England. Yet that is almost how it works the other way around, with an Irishman in border country able to take his boat onto Quivvy Lough, anchor up in the middle, cast into the UK, and claim a record standing here in Coventry!

Seriously though — I do think we should take hybrids just as seriously as the Irish do. We should at least have a record for our common roach x bream hybrids and rudd x bream too, even though they are far, far rarer captures here.

Rudd x bream hybrids are very tough, hard-fighting fish who'll test the skill of any angler. I know. I caught one last year and it had me at the very limits of my skill and my tackle groaning under the strain. Easily as powerful as the tench caught at the same place, same time, it was thought to be one for most of the fight. Only right at the last and nearing the net did I twig it wasn't. If only there were more of them here, I'm sure they'd attract a loyal following as a sport fish and perhaps get on the list...

That fish, my only specimen ever, almost certainly wasn't the largest ever caught in England at 2lb 13oz  8 drams but I cannot find a record for a bigger one, so I'm claiming the gong!

Err, hang on though — my claim is redundant before I even make it! The Irish have loads of them and their record is much larger than my capture, and given that it was caught in the River Lagan, County Antrim, which is in the UK...

Ah well. Only two records then!

But hold up, NO! They don't appear on the British list and it's an Irish record only.

I retain my crown!

Thing is none of them count. But, the fact remains that they are caught by anglers (whether they like it or not !) and if one is caught and recognised and there are no other contenders then official list or not, it is an indigenous species (well two combined...) and therefore a British record notwithstanding.

I do expect to keep my new records for silver bream x bream and silver bream x rudd, and especially the latter, for a lifetime. The Irish don't have them (so far as I know!) and they are rare fish here. Mostly because they aren't recognised for what they are, and how would anyone recognise a silver bream x rudd when the lake it came from is to most who fish there 'full of hybrids' who are actually pure-bred silvers?  

If anglers can't recognise a true silver bream for what it is then how the hell would they ever recognise their cross breeds?

The only reason I think this fish a rudd x silver bream is because I do know what a real silver is made of nowadays and therefore kind of recognise when it's in a mix with another species and cannot imagine it being anything else. It's got the right scale counts for a silver bream but silver bream are so called for very good reason — they're 'silver' and more so than any other coarse fish but their rival in silveriness, bleak — but this one one wasn't. 

It was golden-hued with purplish fins.

They can't mix with crucians or carp (who knows, they might!) therefore it's either a freak, or what I say it is — a British record silver bream x rudd at 13oz ...

As for silver bream x Bream, well I think I've caught a few of those now, one just the other morning, but I think this fish from Stratford-upon-Avon is the best and sets a new British standard at 2lb 14oz. There's no chance it isn't a record if it is one because there aren't any other contenders positively identified — but proving it is is difficult and quite tricky because I failed to take a proper mat shot and crucial detail such as that found in the anal fin is obscured by fingers. The eye is right and scale counts though difficult to make are still possible and good to go — certainly not a true bream and no sign of roach there I'd say.

And anyhow, even if the claim is thrown out (by whom?) then I have a back-up in the form of what certainly is a bona fide silver bream x bream hybrid of 14 oz caught very next cast and pictured above a true silver bream caught from the same shoal just five minutes later still.

The picture is the best possible illustration of the difference between a silver bream and one of it's mixtures in that there appears to be no difference whatsoever except that of size. But the hybrid just has too many scales.

Hang on, though...

Thinking it one thing I hadn't considered the alternative — that it might be a silver bream x roach instead in which case..........

It's a fourth British record in one year! Hoorah!!!

Shame they won't be taken seriously by the BRFC. But I will be submitting claims because hybrids are important fish requiring recognition and study.

Maybe I'll also submit to the Irish claiming them all as fish caught in Northern Ireland, because technically, they actually were. I don't think it'll wash — the Irish committee at least have the good sense when it comes to fish in recognising the geographical unity of a land mass over its political division and will allow the Irish Sea into the equation — but they'll find the irony amusing, I reckon.


  1. Only you could come out with that load of twaddle Mr Hatt. Good luck to you in your claims mate, but don't hold your breath will you.

    1. How dare you Mr Roberts. It took me ages to dream up this twaddle! Thursday night you might catch a bigger rudd x silver bream than mine, then you'll be the unofficial record holder!

  2. And no claiming " dead stinky fish" records either. They certainly don't count!

    1. Oh surely they do! Biggest pike ever seen in the UK was found dead at a fishery I used to fish as a kid. The Warren, Stanford le Hope. I suppose the 'rod caught' bit is the hurdle there — though no one says the fish has to be alive and kicking...

    2. The Warren,Shell Haven Fisheries,Aquatels and Shot Game Farm in Wickford.These Essex fisheries take me back.Oh and the BADAC waters.We used to travel down in our late teens,early twenties from 'Ackney to fish.Fond,very fond memories Jeff.

    3. The Warren was pretty much where I learned the ropes, Monty. We'd cycle there proper old school like with rods strapped to crossbars, in the dark, the works. Fish the LIttle Warren dawn for tench and crucians at dawn, then hop over to the big pit later for roach and skimmers up in the water off the Stanford bank, then piss about the rest of the day!

      Aquatels was my second water. I could walk there in half an hour. Carp. Had quite few actually, in days when carp were actually hard to find.

      When I first saw the place I must have been ten years old and it was a trout fishery! I saw a guy catch a rainbow off the original 'beach' along the road.

      Shell Haven we used to poach from time to time. One evening we had a great big perch, so we took it home on the bus and put it into the local college pond!

  3. Come on chaps, give me a break. You know as well as I do these claims are genuine and Kosha!

  4. Well that all makes perfect sense to me, now where do we claim?

    1. Well it makes sense to a drunken madman!

      That'll be me...

      Not sure George, I don't think it's as simple as just logging on and sending them off! Wish it was, but I think it's the old fashioned way of actually talking to people 'n' all that palaver!

      I don't think I'll get past the doorman...

  5. "I've always argued that the BRFC records shouldn't include Northern Irish fish because it makes no sense at all to set fish hailing from two entirely separate land masses against each other just because they're joined politically when they're divided by an entire sea!"

    I agree, but for different reasons. From my perspective, the BRITISH Record Fish Committee probably don't have jurisdiction to ratify anything caught in Northern Ireland, solely on the basis that, even politically speaking, Northern Ireland, while part of the United Kingdom, is not part of Britain.

    Great blog, by the way - excellent writing, and I find myself looking forward to each new post.

  6. You may have put your finger right on the nub of the matter there Greg...

    Now, if they'd called it 'The Great British Rod Caught Fish Committee' then that may have (almost!) meant what they intended but may also then mean something along the lines of 'The Great British Comedy, ' or even the 'Great British Bake off!'