PETE BURRELL: World Match Record
5PETE’S 259lb 3oz 12dr of Northern Irish roach from the River Silees in 1981 is still one of the most iconic total nets of coarse fish of all time.
A match had been organised on one of the rest days of the Ulster Open festival on the nearby Silees, a tributary of the Erne, where the fish moved up in massive numbers to spawn at certain times of year.
And as competitors with rods and short poles lined its banks that morning, few knew exactly what they were in store for, not least Pete, who was about to set a new world match record.
“The fish only stayed in one area for four or five days and it was purely by chance that we happened to be there in the right place at the right time,” he revealed.
“I rigged up a 4.5m pole, and my handmade float took about two SSG in weight and it was shotted so that the bulk took the float down to the top of the body and then the single dropper registered on the bristle. The object was to see the bite as soon as it happened in the 7ft-deep peg, so I could strike early and change the bait as little as possible,” he said.
To catch quickly, Pete employed a special method to speed up the unhooking process. As each roach was swung in, he suddenly moved his pole forwards, creating a slack line, so that two-thirds of his fish fell off the barbless hook and into the gaping keepnet below.
With everybody catching well, the word on the bank was that the world record could go, but then Pete saw his catch rate plummet to just a fish every few minutes.
“The fish were dropping down to the bottom of my swim in the fast flow so I mixed up a very stiff groundbait mix and started feeding balls of that so it went straight to the bottom in front of me.
“It worked, and the fish came back up. In one spell I was catching eight per minute for 20 minutes at 3m to hand and by the end I’d got 842!” he said.
It took 12 people to transport the net up the high bank (including help from Denis White, Dick Clegg and Wayne Swinscoe), where the fish were weighed and transferred into two nets for a photo.
Things were different then and, as Pete pointed out, it was a big keepnet and nobody had gone there expecting to break any records.
The early 1980s heralded a real golden spell for Pete, as he also famously beat Keith Arthur by 2oz to win the Division One National on the River Trent with 27lb of chub.
“I don’t think Keith ever got over that – he’s still talking about it,” chuckled Pete.
The huge netful is hauled up the river bank. 259lb 3oz 12dr and a new world record haul.