Some anglers choose to target specific specimens of fish in the hope of breaking a personal record, while some even go as far as to dedicate themselves to trying to land that elusive national record for a specimen fish.
The main fish targeted specifically by competitive coarse anglers are huge specimens of pike and carp whose current world records stand at more than 55lb (25kg) and 101lb (over 45kg) respectively. Less competitive anglers are content to fish for other smaller species that arguably provide equally good sport.
While carp and pike fishing is popular, some anglers do go for a number of other specimens of varying sizes including: roach, tench, bream, chub, barbel, perch, crucian carp and dace.
Fishing for the larger specimens requires specialist equipment (largely to prevent breakages!) as the equipment used by the general pleasure angler is more often than not insufficient. Some specimen hunters will literally fish for days and even weeks on end in the hope of realising their dream.
Carp fishing has grown in popularity along with the sophistication of the equipment to catch them. Having an almost hypnotic pull on some anglers, British anglers pursue carp more than any other species. Modern tackle and methods allow even the inexperienced angler to have a good chance of catching a few carp, although larger fish present a real challenge for even the experts.
The array of devices including specialist carp rods and bite alarms, give the angler an added aid, while comfort for the patient carp fisherman has been improved with the growth and development of folding seats and bivvies (effectively shelters) which keep them protected from the elements.
Carp rods: Carp rods are made to be strong, yet have a good constant test curve. They are usually around 11 feet long. The rods are usually made with carbon fibre. The most common test curves for carp rods are between 1.5lbs. up to 3.5lbs.
Pike are predatory fish in that they quite literally feed off smaller fish (including their own species!). As such, techniques to catch them are largely based around presenting bait in the form of an imitation fish (or lure or plug) or even attaching a real fish (dead or alive) to a hook in the hope of enticing the predatory fish to snap it up.
Pike hold a place of fascination to anglers and non-anglers alike, partly due to their reputation as a ‘freshwater shark’ that will eat what comes their way. Stories of their digestive capabilities have often been exaggerated, but the fish retains its appeal with the specimen hunters seeking to break their own personal record.
Pike rods: A strong rod is needed between ten and twelve feet in length, with about a 2.5lb to 3lb test curve, which will allow you to cast the heavy baits.