Who was the first British woman to catch a record breaking fish?

GEORGINA BALLANTINE 1889 – 1970

In September 2007 a female angler, Bev Street, made history when she caught a 66lb catfish. It was the largest freshwater fish caught by a woman for over eighty five years. Until then the record holder was Georgina Ballantine who, in 1922, became the first British woman to land a record breaking fish. Currently around 10% of Britain’s anglers are women; in 1922 the numbers were much fewer so Georgina’s record was outstanding.

Her record breaking fish was a 64lbs salmon, the heaviest fish ever caught in Britain up to that date and she fought it for two hours before managing to reel it in.

Georgina started fishing at an early age and was only nine years old when she landed a 3lb pike to the amazement of all the adult anglers out that day. She was born in 1890 in the small village of Caputh on the banks of the River Tey in Scotland. Her father initially an insurance agent and Inspector of the Poor for the parish became the boatman for Mr P. Lyle who owned that stretch of the water and it was while out fishing with her father on the River Tey that Georgina got stuck into her record breaking fish.

Her fishing achievement was widely reported and The Illustrated London News included a photograph of Georgina in country-style tweed skirt and jacket alongside the massive 54 inches fish on display in front of her. She was also reported to be a crack shot with miniature rifles and was a successful Bowls player winning the local ladies championship in 1912.

During WW1 Georgina joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and served in France for over two years. She was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. She returned to Caputh and the house where she lived is now let out as a holiday cottage referencing her marvellous fishing record in its promotion.

Image credit: via British Newspaper Archive

Illustrated London News – Saturday 21 October 1922
Image © Illustrated London News Group