Britain’s biggest pike – full story of 53 lb-plus sensation

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What could be Britain’s biggest pike ever was found dead. Not long ago, it may have been even heavier than the carefully recorded 53 lb 2 oz weight.

The venue’s boss believes that the huge female could have weighed over 55 lb when alive, at his Bellflask Fishery, near Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Brian Morland, who recently shared a catch of three 30 lb pike with two pals at his trout venue, also found a dead 39 lb 4 oz giant two weeks before.

Conservationist Brian said: “I was walking round with my idiot dog Molly when I found a spawning casualty pike in the margins near some willows.

“Every year I lose one or two of the larger pike to spawning stress at this time of year.

“Two weeks previously I found one that weighed 39 lb 4 oz. I took some scale samples that indicate the fish was in the nine-plus yearclass.

“This fish was obviously in a different size range. On the scales it weighed 53 lb 2 oz, and had been shedding eggs before it died.

“Apart from being dead, its body and fins were in perfect condition. Alive it would have been an impressive beast.

“As far as I know, I think it may be the first valid pike over 50 lb in the UK.”

How the biggest pike was weighed

Although the specimen would count for no official biggest pike record, it was weighed with precision.

Brian said: “The fish was weighed very carefully. I am well used to weighing big pike at Bellflask. The scales were Reuben Heaton dial scales to 60 lb in 2 oz increments.

“They were zeroed with the weighing sling in place and suspended under a very sturdy tripod. There was no wind to move the weighing sling.

“I nearly got a hernia lifting the fish onto the scales.

“It is really impossible to estimate how many eggs had already been shed, but I think it would be fair to say this fish alive a fortnight ago would have been over 55 lb, which is extraordinary.

“It would have been lovely to have caught a pike of this size, but I do not have an ego with fishing. I enjoy it for what it is, and I feel privileged to have clapped eyes on a 53 lb pike.

“To give you some idea of size in the photographs, I am 6 ft 2 in. tall, the camera was a Canon with a standard lens, not a wide angle. Take it from me, that fish is as big as it looks.”

Venue has many more treasures

Another view of the massive pike, as seen on the extra large weigh sling

Another view of the massive pike, as seen on the extra large weigh sling (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Brian revealed more about his fishery, which is sure to be firmly on the radar of anglers seeking to catch their personal biggest pike.

“Although this is a strict trout fly fishery, the main food of the pike is roach, of which there are myriads,” he said.

“We have watched big pike on summer evenings tracking the roach shoals, like whales tracking sardine shoals.

“For the past 20 years my wife Susan and I have been monitoring and recording all
the wildlife at Bellflask and the River Ure that runs alongside. This includes all the fish, including pike.

“The lake is very special regarding pike growth and numbers. It contains exceptional numbers of big pike.

“Every year between April and August a few of the large females die, either being
egg-bound, or just with spawning stress. It is the natural end of their lifespan.

“The lake always has an occasional fish or two of over 40 lb, quite a lot over 30 lb and plenty of between 25-30 lb.

“This pike has now been recycled naturally. I laid it out in the vegetation between the lake and the River Ure. It will be eaten by badgers, as was the 39 lb 4 oz fish before it,” added Brian.

The biggest pike caught fairly in Britain on fishing tackle is officially a 46 lb 13 oz beast. That was caught back in 1992 by Roy Lewis at Llandegfedd Reservoir, in South Wales.

But there have been three bigger pike caught on rod and line.

England’s biggest pike ever on rod and line scaled 46 lb 11 oz, and was reported fully by AM.

Other giants have turned up unexpectedly, much like the 53 lb 2 oz Bellflask beast…

There was a 50 lb 12 oz pike found dead by Bill Palmer at The Warren Fishery in Essex. That came in the early 2000s and Mick Toomer had the fish set-up.

The Daily Mail published an article in 2013 about a huge pike skull found by farmer Peter Mone near the River Cherwell. That Oxfordshire giant was at 50 lb.

Angler's Mail

Running from 1964 until 2020, Angler's Mail was the UK's leading weekly magazine devoted to coarse fishing, telling readers everything they needed to know about which fish to catch, where to catch them, and what kit they needed to do it. Now, loads of the magazine's expert advice can be found on, as a helpful resource for angling newcomers and experts alike.