Took me 3 years to catch a fish over 3lb and I think 6 or 7 years to get something in double figures. Whether it made me appreciate them more than if I’d got them straight away I’m not sure having but not experienced that alternative but it did probably make them feel like something more special than instant gratification might have. When I caught my one and only 2lb roach at about 13 I certainly didn’t appreciate that as much as I would do now as haven’t got within 6oz of it since!
A specimen fish in my view is a fish that is large for the water it was caught from.
Eg: On a river section that only tends to produce Barbel of up to around 10lb max then I would class an 8lb barbell as a specimen; but on a river that regularly produces Barbel of up to 15lb or more then I would class a specimen as nearer to the 10 or 11lb mark.
The same goes for other species to a certain degree, like a lake that regularly produces Tench up to around 5lb max then a 4lb Tench could be a specimen fish for that water in my view; but on another lake that has produced Tench of up to around 11lb then a Tench of around 8 or 9lb could be classed as a specimen sized Tench.
As long as the fish is very large for the water it was caught from then I would class it as a specimen.
Of coarse some fish are quite rare anyway, like Roach which are universally classed as a specimen when it reaches the 2lb mark and some anglers can spend years without ever catching one which has been weighed accurately.
In 62 years of fishing I can only count the 2lb plus Roach that I’ve caught on my fingers as I’ve only caught 9 of them but some anglers never even see one over the 2lb mark ever, and I didn’t for the first 25 to 30 odd years that I had fished, and that’s only because the few rivers and Streams that I now regularly fish have them swimming in them. and not that many waters in this country do produce 2lb Roach.
Not buying into the "it depends on the water" argument, personally.
I would like to - being from the North West, because everybody knows that most of the best fish in the country are south of the midlands, but If there are no barbel over 10lb (for example) in the river... then there's no specimen barbel in the river.
I do agree with the definition of a specimen being anything around or over 50% of the weight of the record for that species.
It really does depended on your frame of reference and goal doesn’t it?
I can see arguments for all three versions quoted so far
>PB ... Personal satisfaction
big for venue ... setting oneself a challenge
% of national record ... wider recognition among the angling public
the middle one probably ties in best with the more traditional distinction thst was used between specimen hunters and pleasure anglers ... whereas the last is where the concept of “the circus” came from ... where hordes descend on venues to target previously caught fish.
compared to 40 years ago when I started out, some of the records are so much larger that a specimen from then is a relatively modest fish now ... equally - the number of truly huge fish caught is still pretty small.
for example, The chub record was 7 pounds 6 oz and a five was a huge fish. in comparison I saw a 7:3 weighed in a match a couple of years ago and have had a few 6 pounders in matches myself.
so as a match angler, as I don’t target big fish, the first version (personal best) is the one I use.
The personal angle is an interesting one. There’s a big gap between what is generally considered a specimen and what is a big fish to me but I’m pretty happy with the latter which is just as well as I rarely get the former !
If you go by set weights, which I'm happy to do and just concede I haven't caught that many specimens, the only one I've had that would count was a 9lb Tench back in the day on a 8 elastic on the most unlikely of commercial fisheries I did not even knew had any Tench when I was fishing for newly stocked 4oz Carp (catching 300 of them in a day) at Willow Pool, Blythe Waters.
I’d never get into specimen hunting as I wouldn’t want to use the time it takes when I could use that time for more varied and productive fishing but there are a few fish that I’d consider the holy grail if I caught them.
1lb dace, never likely current best probably 10-11oz
2lb roach, done once as barely a teenager but never at an age I’d appreciate it
4lb perch, current best certainly over 3 and doable as local waters regularly do 4s
6lb chub, current best near 5.5 so maybe doable
10lb bronze bream, a good 3-4lb over my best so unlikely
20lb smoothound, current best maybe 15 definitely doable just need the time
4lb Black Bream, current best over 3 maybe doable with the time
I'm told there's a 40lb Grass Carp in Himley Hall, now that would be a catch, but I don't fish with that kind of tackle. Apparently when it was stocked with Carp it wasn't long before all the Crucians it was known for all but disappeared.