Earlham angler Lee Searle captured a jolly green giant with his first bite of the season and reeled in the £100 top prize in the Evening News Angling Direct Specimen Catch competition.

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Lee, 33, caught the terrific 13lb 14oz tinca, believed to be the biggest tench reported anywhere this season, on his first night of fishing a Norfolk syndicate lake.

Although Lee is not able to name the venue as one of the conditions of his membership, our competition judges felt that the capture of this fish of a lifetime, only 1lb 5oz smaller than the British record, was worthy of the prize.

“It’s an outstanding fish at a national level as well as a Norfolk level. It could well be the biggest tench in the country so far this year,”said Angling Direct Aylsham Road branch manager Andy Flint.

“Congratulations go to Lee. It’s a magnificent fish and I can understand to some extent the reasons for secrecy at the venue.”

He added: “We would prefer the venues to be ones that are open to all but all entries will be considered.”

Lee caught the fish one rod length from the bank in eight feet of water. His set-up included a 1oz in-line lead and 10mm pop-up home-made boilie.

Lee got the nod ahead of a very worthy entry from Hellesdon angler Mark Mattioli to land the £100 award in the first month of our new competition.

Mark got by with a little help from his friend when he landed the best fish of his career during an all-night session at Bawburgh Lakes.

Mark, 22, did not have a camera when he caught the magnificent 38lb 10 oz mirror carp – but despite it being “stupid o’clock” knew just who to turn to.

“Luckily my best friend Rob Lowe only lives five minutes down the road and he is also a member of the lake. I rang him in the early hours of the morning and thankfully he answered and I somehow persuaded him to come down with him camera. What a result! This was my biggest fish and it was the biggest highlight of my fishing.”

Preparation paid off as recent syndicate recruit Mark found a clear spot in amongst the weed at Colney Number Two lake.

“I decided to go down the night before my session and see what I could find with a marker rod. After a bit of a mark-up I finally found a small, silty patch in five feet of water.

“The clear spot was the only one I could find, so I decided this would be an ideal area for a bait, I clipped up my rods ready for the next day and spread a handful of cell boilies on the spot.

“The next day I got down the lake and got the rods out on the spot and set up. My rig on the clear spot was a Korda safe zone leader with the tail rubber only just holding the lead. The hook length was around six inches long and was coupled with a Korda Kaptor wide-gape size eight. The bait was an 18mm cell topped with a small piece of fake yellow corn.”

After retiring to his bivvy Mark was woken by a screaming reel at 2am. “I struck and as I did I could feel that this was a very big fish. I played tug-of-war with the carp for 35 minutes until the carp gulped its first mouthful of air. As the carp lifted its head I could see that it had beaten my pb of 27lb by a big margin. I finally managed to slip the net under the carp, it was even bigger than I had imagined. It beat my pb by 11lb.”

Remember our competition is open to all anglers – coarse, sea and game. As well as a £100 worth of vouchers prize for the top specimen catch each month, there is a section for the best specimen catch for under 16 anglers who will scoop £50 worth of vouchers.

Each catch will be judged on its merits, taking into account a range of factors.

The species, size, venue, and circumstances surrounding the catch will all be considered by our panel of shrewd and highly- experienced judges at Angling Direct.

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