Fishing Lines: There may be a sting in the pike's tale

*** Frank Buckland, Queen Victoria's Inspector of Fisheries, was highly suspicious of pike anglers. He said: "More lies have been told about pike than any other fish." So it's not surprising that there is some doubt over the claim by a Scottish fisherman that he has just caught a pike weighing 50lb 12oz.

Let's put that in context. It is almost 5lb larger than the official British record, caught in 1992. Fred Buller, who knows more about pike than anyone, records 32 over 50lb in The Domesday Book of Mammoth Pike, but many have come from elsewhere in Europe. Others were caught by dubious methods (one was speared by a pitchfork) and most stretch back more than 100 years, when weighing was often carried out by eye rather than scales.

Many were taken in Ireland, in the days when a big pike's diet was enhanced by a feast of migrating sea trout and salmon. Not many salmon left these days once Irish drift netters, seals, cormorants and other predators, from otters to poachers, have grabbed a piece.

The largest Scottish pike was caught back in 1945 from Loch Lomond and weighed 47lb 11oz. In 1967, Buller himself lost one estimated at 50lb from the self-same spot, but there's been nothing since. To most Scots, pike are on a par with rats and Englishmen. Hardly anyone bothers to fish for pike except to remove them from salmon and trout waters.

News of the pike surfaced at a meeting of the British Record Fish Committee, which otherwise concerned itself with heavyweights such as a 1lb 12oz tadpole fish (from Bangor Harbour, if you fancy a crack at the record) or a mighty 1oz 4dr butterfly blenny, the proud trophy of Cliff Williams, who will surely never forget that momentous day off Weymouth.

The committee merely stated that it would consider a pike claim from R Simpson for a 50lb 12oz fish from Scotland at its next meeting. No more details were known. But Angler's Mail, a weekly angling paper, has done a very fine job of tracing not only the venue but the captor as well.

It was taken at the end of December from Mill Loch, a small water near Lochmaben in Dumfries and Galloway, and it was caught by Ralf Simpson, a 40-year-old warehouseman. It measured 54in, which would certainly be about right for a pike of that size. Furthermore, there's even a picture of Simpson with the fish, though it's a bit blurred because it was taken with a phone camera. So what's the problem?

Well, locals say Mill Loch is an unlikely sport for such a huge fish because it does not benefit from "bonus" food like salmon. Though it's known to produce an occasional 30-pounder, one almost double that size is quite a shock.

And what of Simpson's story? Far be it from me to say he's telling porky pies, but it doesn't quite ring true. He claims that he had lost a 40-pounder there, and that the day after he caught the big fish, which he put back, it took his bait again but he lost it at the net. Impossible? No. Unlikely? Yes.

A tall tale to back up Frank Buckland's opinion, or a true loch monster? It's one for the butterfly blenny investigators.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones