The subject of what fish species is best often comes up in our office and while on the bank. The more I think about it, the more I realise how difficult it is to single out one species. If I was in a sweet shop surrounded by chocolates or a garage surrounded by sports cars I would probably be the same. As the saying goes, I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure!
To me, it all depends on the venue and the time of year. I love river roach for instance, especially great big ones caught on hemp, but I could just as easily class them as a nuisance on a murky summer carp lake!
Barbel are another great species to catch, fight all the way to the net and are lovely to pose with – but I certainly don’t put the species on a pedestal like some anglers do.
Bream are another cracking fish as what they lack in power they more than make up for in weight – especially when you hit on a shoal of slabs! Clearwater bream also look so much prettier than those found in coloured venues. On some of the black-bottomed canals I've fished, even small skimmers can take on that rich, bronze hue that makes them look so stunning.
Carp can be the same. Clear-water carp usually look so much more remarkable compared to those caught from tea-coloured ponds. Then again, even the humble gudgeon can go from washed-out to handsome in the right light!
I suppose if I really had to choose one species it would be the tench. There’s nothing quite like them swimming in our waters. I love seeing those olive-green flanks whenever one first breaks the surface. Their soap-bar slipperiness also makes me smile – but not when they slip back accidentally! I also like the fact that they are rarely caught in big numbers. That makes it such a nice surprise whenever one does turn up out of the blue.
Yes, the more I think about it, the tench is my all-time favourite species. They can be caught anywhere, put everything into the fight, eat every bait imaginable, yet can be extremely elusive at times. I wouldn’t want to catch them every time I went fishing, though. That would spoil the fun!