Professor Barrie Rickards
Professor Barrie Rickards is President of the Specialist Anglers Association (SAA) and the Lure Angling Society (LAS), as well as a very experienced and successful specialist angler with a considerable tally of big fish to his credit.

He is author of several fishing books, including the long awaited ‘Richard Walker – Biography of and Angling Legend’. He has been an angling writer in newspapers and magazines for nigh on four decades. Barrie takes a keen interest in angling politics.

Away from angling Barrie is a Professor in Palaeontology at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Emmanuel College and a curator of the Sedgwick Museum of Geology.

First 20 – after the 30

I read something recently about a guy who’d caught his first twenty pound pike. It wasn’t his biggest. If that seems like a contradiction, it isn’t, because his biggest was over 30 lbs. It’s just that he’d never had a twenty pounder. He seemed to be a psychologically sound person, but I remember one friend whingeing away week after week because we were catching twenties and he couldn’t. He’d had a thirty mind you. He was really worried that he’d never see another one as big. Why worry? Doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Angling is far more about other things than catching the biggest, the best, the most, etc. People who worry about silly things like this need to sit back, close their eyes, and have a think. Hopefully, having a think will get them a life.

(It’s rather like my long distance running. I have never managed 5 miles in under 30 minutes, yet I have done 10 miles in under the hour on many occasions. Thirty minutes is my running equivalent of 20 lbs. As you can imagine, I lose a lot of sleep about it!).

Four 20’s in a day

I was scanning my old diaries recently, whilst preparing a chapter for the PAC’s splendid pike book ‘PAC30’ celebrating thirty years of the organisation, and I noted three occasions when I’d had four twenty pounders in a day. I think there was another occasion but part of my records were lost (actually stolen) at one stage, so I’ll never be sure. My ‘official’ list of twenty pounders has all the fish, but unfortunately not always the dates. Such catches are heady and make up for all the hard days. I’ve just had another, which is why I’m writing this. After four blanks in a row I’d arrived before dawn on a slightly cold, squally, November day, and I decided on a swim which was sheltered – old age it’s called! However, I knew that with two long casts I could put my deadbaits in the hotspot. I use two rods almost exclusively nowadays. Both are telescopic carp rods and the reels and end rigs are permanently set up. I can pack up and move swim very easily and quickly and often do so.

But not today. At 7.05 am the drop-back indicator rose and fell one inch. And there it stopped. Exactly ten minutes later it did the same again, but this time the jiggle was followed by line streaming out and a fish of 10