Well, it’s been an exciting start to the Autumn with September bringing some bigger than expected fish. So here are my thoughts on what you can expect over the next few months and into the new season.
The fish to watch
Three fish have been out at 68lb in the last few weeks and I expect all of them to be over 70lb before the year is out. So which fish should you keep an eye on?
Mr Magoo – Despite the name, she is a lump of a fish. Not a long fish, but you can't mistake her for any of the other big fish. A big head, shorter and fatter than a lot of the big fish here. She has been in the low 60’s for a few years being caught at 62-63lb a few times, before this year going on to 66lb then to 68lb. She will be a good 70lb in the spring. But for me she will top out at this sort of weight. She is simply not long enough to carry much more. A great fish to catch and one you will not forget.
Brian – I expect this fish to be close to 70lb this coming spring. A little bit behind the others but not too far. If she comes out this year she may surprise me. But this is an older fish and has a fat belly so not the best looking fish and one that I think could drop weight as well as put it on. But she will be a good backup 70lb fish next year.
Alex – for me Alex is at or close to its peak weight. The tail damage from a few years ago has held this fish back. I think at 20 plus years old it’s simply not realistic to think this fish could go much bigger. It’s strange as she has had the potential to go 80lb as she is bigger than Julie in length - over 1 meter - but just does not seem to be able to push on much over 72-75lb. Still a massive fish and one everyone wants to catch. You can see that the fish is taking longer to get back to peak weight after spawning than in other years, which tells me the fish in getting on a bit and needs time. So, for me she needs to be looked after and nurtured back to big weights.
Moonscale – for me this is the fish to watch. This is a much younger fish. It was a mid 50lb fish in 2015 and now will be close to 70lb. This fish, I think, is a big male fish and has still some way to go. The fish is long and lean with no belly or gut. It is thick set and has massive shoulders. This fish looks bigger than Alex and I think will go to 75lb next year. This fish has the potential to be a lot bigger. So, perhaps we're looking at another 80lb fish?
Other fish to watch
We are also seeing this year some fish that have been low 50lb suddenly push onto 58-59lb and I expect to see some new fish over 60lb again this October and November. Last year we had two new 60lb fish. This year I would not be surprised to see a few more. This group of fish are less than 12 years old and are doing very well. I suspect some of them will come through to push some of the other big fish. I have also not seen the big leather, so again I would expect this this to be mid 60lb.
From a big fish perspective, it's looking good. I would anticipate you will be fishing for 10 plus fish over 60lb and three or four fish over 70lb next spring.
Fish Care – upping the game
As some of you will know we have made some changes to fish care rules over the last year but I think we need to raise the game again. This is because of the size of some of the fish and the fact I want to ensure that we keep these fish for a lot more years to come. In my view reducing the stress on the fish will be key. So, over the next few years I will close for two weeks during the last week of May and the first week of June to allow the fish to recover from spawning or to spawn in peace. This will take a couple of years to introduce as we already have bookings in 2019.
I am also introducing the following rule changes to ensure that we keep the fish in the best possible condition.
1) All fish over 55lb/25kg to be kept in the water at all times. They must be weighed and photographed in the water.
2) No retaining of fish for longer than 10 minutes.
3) No use of bent hooks, Ronnie rigs or 360 rigs.
4) You must have an approved carp care kit with you and use it on every hook hold. You will not be allowed to fish without a carp care kit. Any fish showing signs of mouth damage must to reported to me.
It’s critical to the long-term success of Ribiere that we look after every single fish regardless of size. We must respect each carp and look after them for others to enjoy. It is YOUR responsibility to care for the fish once you hook it. So please think about it and up your game. We must all put the wellbeing of the fish above are own desire to take a picture of it.