Whether you’re into fly fishing, coarse fishing or sea angling, we’re all well aware of how dangerous our favourite element can be.
You might be wearing the very best in waterproof fly fishing clothing, or ensconced in neoprene lined chest waders, but the truth is there are some emergencies no one can plan for. Here we’ve trawled the web for some of the most incredible fishing survival stories. Warning: best read from the comfort of home.
Hiking back from a successful salmon fishing trip on the Russian river, 25 year old Dan Bigley was an experienced outdoorsman. Well aware that there were bears in the area, Dan and his fishing buddy chatted loudly as they walked, making sure any animals in the vicinity would be aware of their presence.
But they didn’t reckon on meeting a rogue grizzly bear. Most bears will avoid humans, but not this one. Instead of trotting away, hackles raised, it stood its ground. Dan and friend backed away and once out of sight headed back the way they’d come. But the bear tracked them and pounced, pinning Bigley to the ground and savaging his face and head.
Dan Bigley was left blinded by the attack, but despite the seriousness of his injuries he now works as a social worker and college lecturer. And of course he still loves his fishing.
Shark attacks kayak
For our next story we head to Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Werner Coetzee, 35 had recently moved to the area, and as a keen kayak fisherman was looking forward to the fine fishing on offer there.
Early one morning, he and some friends put to sea in search of Geelbek – Cape Salmon. Guided by their fishfinders the group came to a good spot, fanned out and prepared to fish.
It was while Werner was getting ready to drop his anchor that a Great White shark attacked from below. It struck his kayak at full pelt, making a noise like a gun going off and throwing the unlucky fisherman two and a half metres in the air. Now in the water, Coetzee watched wide eyed as the monster predator turned its attentions to him.
The fisherman managed to scramble aboard the remains of his craft and was plucked to safety by a nearby boat. Needles to say, he and his friends beat a hasty retreat to land – happy to live to fish another day.
While fishing from any kind of boat, a life jacket really is a must have safety item. But if you forget to wear it, or there’s an equipment malfunction, here’s a story that should give you a clue what to do in the worst case scenario.
John Aldridge was working aboard a lobster boat out of Montauk, New York state. He was trying to move a cooler when the handle suddenly snapped. He lost his balance and fell off the back of the boat. It was two and a half hours before crewmates noticed he was missing and raised the alarm.
By the time Aldridge was found, he’d been in the water for nearly 12 hours. The fisherman hadn’t been wearing a lifejacket but thanks to his quick thinking, he managed to save his own life.
How? He pulled off his seaboots and trapping air in them, jammed one under each armpit.
Sharks and crocs
A fishing trip almost ended in disaster for two elderly Australians when their fishing boat was capsized by heavy waves off the North Queensland Coast.
Ross Pennisi, 82, and Phillip Sorbello, 77 found themselves clinging to their upturned boat in shark infested waters. Terrified they’d be eaten, it took them a nerve jangling two hours to make it to shore.
And their reward? A trek through crocodile infested swamps to make it to safety.
Somehow the intrepid duo lived to tell the tale. Of his ordeal, Ross Pennisi told reporters:
“You have not got much time to pray there but we were thinking of Him and we asked Him for help and I think we got it. I’ve been tough all my life and thank God for that.”
Here’s a little gem from Florida newspaper, the Evening Independent, from August 1958.
Would be rescuers feared the worst when local radio engineer, Ben Smith’s rented angling boat was found adrift at sea. A sea search failed to find the married father, and he was later given up for dead.
But in small town America, secrets can be hard to keep. It wasn’t long before Sheriff’s deputies heard a rumour that Smith wasn’t dead at all. Their enquiries revealed the lost angler was alive and well, and living under an assumed name in a town a few miles away.
They decided not to press charges, but on hearing the news of her husband’s resurrection, Mrs Smith threatened to sue. Ben Smith had moved in with the family baby sitter!
Why not swap your plastic Christmas tree, with its dusting of fake snow for the real stuff this festive season?
We’re not talking about a winter fishing trip to your local lake, pond or river bank, but a serious ice adventure. It’s time to grab your fishing gear and hop on a plane – or sleigh – for our run down of crazy ice fishing festivals.
When the weather gets chilly, the coolest anglers head North – to North America. Why not join them? Embrace the cold by heading out to where it’s really freezing to try your hand at ice fishing. The great Lakes are a great winter destination, offering a fishing experience with a difference.
From Quebec to Indiana, as soon as the mercury plummets, lakeside fishing resorts switch from boat to snowmobile for the winter ice season. And to kick things off, it’s ice festival time!
Eelpout Festival, Minnesota
Each February, more than 10,000 people descend on Leech Lake, Minnesota for the annual Eelpout festival. Ostensibly a fishing contest, the event has grown to include events like a frozen wet t-shirt competition, kissing the eelpout for good luck and the ‘polar pout plunge’ – donning fancy dress and plunging into the lake. Brrrr.
Not a great looking fish, the eelpout of festival fame is in fact a burbot – a type of freshwater cod that grows up to a maximum of about 25 kg in weight. It’s a bottom feeder with an appearance that’s best described as halfway between a catfish and an eel. But regardless of its looks, its popularity is unquestionable.
Tomcod Ice Fishing Festival, Quebec
Each year from 26th December, some 500 cabins are moved onto the ice of the Rivière Sainte-Anne for the annual Tomcod Ice Fishing Festival. Heated by wood burning stoves and lit by electricity, ice fishing is a comparatively comfortable affair. And with shelters accommodating anywhere between four and 35 anglers, it’s a pretty convivial way to spend a few days.
Travelling with the family? You’ll no doubt be delighted to know that also on offer during the festival, are clowns, live music, ice slides, ice skating, and even a tramway.
Mat Su Pike Derby, Alaska
If Quebec isn’t cold or dark enough for you, why not try the Mat Su Valley in Alaska? Situated 45 miles north of Anchorage, the Matanuska Valley was settled by Americans for the Midwest as part of the New Deal relief program of depression hit America. The area is world famous for the the size of its vegetables – not surprising with specimen cabbages weighing in at over 100 lbs.
But in winter, you’ll be there for the annual Mat Su Pike Derby. The contest runs throughout February and March with prizes for the longest, heaviest, shortest and lightest pike. All you have to do is drill a hole and get fishing. Fish are cooked at the awards banquet, and leftovers are given to charity. And the best part? Pike is an invasive species in Alaska, so you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too.
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, South Korea
For what is probably the most popular ice fishing event in the world, you’ll need to book a long haul flight to South Korea for the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. Held every year in late January, the event attracts tens of thousands of people to try their luck for mountain trout.
Through holes cut in the ice, people of all ages try to catch a fish – something they have a very good chance of doing because the rivers stocked throughout the festival. Once you’ve made a catch, one of the many cooking tents will grill or sashimi your trout for you to enjoy.
And if that weren’t enough, for the truly masochistic, there’s the bare handed fishing contest. All you have to do is strip off to t-shirt and shorts and leap into a purpose built fishing pool. Alternatively you could stay home, put your feet up and watch a fishing documentary.
Winter is almost upon us and with it, the likelihood of a cold snap.
If you like nothing better than bright, crisp mornings or chilly moonlit nights on the riverbank or beach, it’s important to make sure you’re adequately prepared for whatever the weather may throw at you. Here’s our guide to keeping warm so you can keep your line wet this winter.
Stay warm by staying cool
As every arctic explorer knows, the best way to stay warm is never to get hot. On cold days, sweat won’t evaporate. Instead, it’ll make your base layer damp. As soon as you stop moving around so much, that cold wet layer will chill you to the bone.
Wear a thermal material next to your skin, preferably one that wicks water away from your body. And rather than thick, bulky clothes, wear thin layers of fishing clothing you can take off if you get too warm. Fleeces come in a wide variety of thicknesses, making them the ideal layering garment.
Keep your head covered
While it’s not actually true that we lose more heat from our head than any other part of the body, it is true that we will if it’s the only part of us that’s not covered! The simple message is - don’t forget to take your hat. Bobble hat, beanie, thinsulate hat – whatever your choice, make sure it’s on your head.
Even the Romans wore socks – with a separate big toe so their sandals wouldn’t fall off. Luckily you’ll be wearing boots, but you still need to make sure your socks are up to the job. Wool rich socks, thermal socks, fleece welly liners – all will do their bit to keep your toes warm. Waterproof breathable fishing boots with a decent grip are a must for wet or icy winter conditions – and if you’re choice is wellies, go for the neoprene or fleece lined variety.
Half gloves, or fingerless gloves will keep your hands warm while allowing you to work with your fingers. For cold wet conditions, it’s always best to go for a design that combines a warm neoprene or velvet lining with a windproof outer. That way if your gloves get wet, your hands will stay warm.
It goes without saying that you’ll need a waterproof shell for winter fishing excursions. Go for the best breathable fishing waterproofs you can afford. A decent coat with lined pockets and a decent storm hood, matched with over trousers or bibs will offer great protection from inclement weather.
One of the best ways to keep warm is to keep your internal boiler stoked. Hot soup, tea and coffee served from a good quality stainless steel or unbreakable thermos can be a lifesaver on cold wet days. Those who prefer to travel light or who anticipate being away for more than one day might consider a field kettle cook set. Originally designed in the early 20th century and used extensively by kiwi soldiers in world war two, this superb bit of field kit enables you to heat water and cook using small quantities of twigs as fuel.
Hardened winter carpers will know the value of a decent bivvy. A tough, lightweight shelter is essential kit for when the weather turns nasty. Not only does a bivvy offer somewhere to sit while you wait for the fish to bite, it offers vital and potentially life saving protection from the elements.
Fishing is a hungry business, so what better way to keep yourself topped up than by cooking and eating your catch as it comes in?
Here we’ve come up some fish dishes you can prepare and cook in your bivvy on the river bank or at the beach – from hook to plate in under 20 minutes – delicious fish freshly caught and cooked. What could be better?
Oily fish is best eaten fresh, and what fresher way to enjoy a mackerel than served up raw?
You’ll need: a sharp knife and a clean chopping board.
To get the best from your fish, bonk it on the head, then bleed it by slicing its gills. Next take off the fillets and slice into finger wide strips. You can serve these immediately, sashimi style, with soy sauce and wasabi to taste.
For a little more finesse, come prepared with some sushi rice cooked at home. Push the rice into an ice cube mould and bring it with you in a cool box or bag. When you’re ready to eat, simply squeeze out neat blocks of rice and drape a piece of mackerel over each. Simple, neat and classy food.
Hot Smoked trout
Fresh trout tastes fantastic smoked. While we’re pushing the 20 minute envelope here, we’re sure you’ll appreciate one of the greatest taste sensations ever to grace a bivvy on the riverbank.
You’ll need: salt, clean water, a kitchen towel, your smoker and some oak chips.
First gut, and clean your fish. Rinse it in clean water, then butterfly it. Add two tablespoons salt to two cups of water. Put your fish in the water to soak for 20 minutes while you get back to your fishing.
Now, light your smoker, and deploy your oak chips in line with manufacturer’s recommendations. Retrieve your fish from the brine and pat dry with the paper towel. Smoke your fish for 20 mins, or until cooked. Serve with freshly buttered brown bread, salt and pepper.
For a great taste of the sea cooked right there on the shore, you can’t beat a nice barbequed sea bream.
You’ll need: a lemon, pepper, salt, olive oil, a newspaper, string.
First, gut, clean and scale your fish. Open out your newspaper to the centre fold. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Scatter a few slices of lemon. Pepper and salt the fish and put it on the paper. Add more slices of lemon. Drizzle with olive oil.
Fold your newspaper so the fish is at the centre of the parcel. Secure with string. Soak briefly in a bucket of sea water. Put the parcel on the barbeque. Cook for about ten minutes a side depending on the size of the fish and the ferocity of the flames.
Foil cooked chilli bass
For something a little more sophisticated, you can’t beat a nice freshly caught bass, cooked in the fire and eaten snug and warm in the bivvy.
You need: sticks, matches, tin foil, a sea bass, spring onion, a fresh chilli (fireyness to suit your taste), ginger, lemon, pepper and salt, olive oil.
First light your fire down wind of your fishing spot and bivvy. Gut, clean and scale your fish. Rip off a length of foil suitable for making a roomy parcel for the fish. Slice lemon, chop onions, ginger and chilli and put them in the cavity and round about. Apply pepper and salt, drizzle with oil. Fold the foil around the fish. Put it in the embers of the fire. Leave for about eight minutes a side.
Herrings in rolled oats
The old ways are the best – herrings rolled in Scotch oats.
You need: herrings, seasoned porridge oats, butter, a frying pan, whisky.
Kill, gut, clean, scale your herring. Light a fire or ignite your camp stove. Cut off a knob of butter, add to the frying pan and set to the heat. Open out your herring and press it into a tub of pre-seasoned oats until both sides are well coated. Fry until cooked.
Repair to your bivvy. Serve with a wee dram.
For most of us, a fishing bivvy is just that: a place to hang out while waiting for the fish to bite. But in times past, canvas has played a huge role in the daily life of millions of people.
And nowhere more so than the United States of America.
Here we stray from the river bank to take a look at some of America’s original bivvies – wild west shelters…
Otherwise known as a wigwam, the wikiup is a dome shaped shelter made from flexible spruce boughs or other available wood. It was the preferred means of shelter for nomadic native Americans. The structure could be erected very quickly, occupied for a few days or weeks, then left behind.
The type of covering varied according to the time of year. In winter, it would be covered with thick brush to keep the inhabitants warm. During the summer months, hides or canvas offered lightweight protection from the elements.
While a wikiup might look thin and flimsy, in fact, its dome shape offers incredible wind resistance, and for backwoodsmen out hunting or fishing, they’re still used from time to time.
Synonymous with the tribes of the plains indians, the tipi is iconic. But to the Native Americans who used them, they were simply home. Lightweight, transportable and quick to erect, tipis are warm, dry and perfectly adapted to their environment.
Native Americans followed the food. Their tent villages were part housing estate, part hunting lodge, part fishing bivvy. In summer, the canvas or hide walls could be rolled up for ventilation. In winter, they were lined and insulated.
The central hole is covered by adjustable flaps for optimum draft, allowing smoke to escape. During the harshest winters, the tent could be staked to the ground – with no flat surfaces, it’s almost impossible to knock over.
The arrival of white settlers spelled disaster for the indigenous inhabitants of the land. The settlers believed in ‘manifest destiny’; their God given right to occupy the land, and exploit all its natural resources. From mineral deposits to game and fish, as far as they were concerned – it was all theirs for the taking.
For modern Americans, the archetypal settler’s wagon, the ‘Prairie schooner’, represents the great trundle West in search of opportunity. To native Americans, that same canvas covered wagon serves as reminder of the ruthless extermination of a people.
The wild west was a lawless place populated by people on the make. But while few were the gun toting desperados of movie shoot ‘em ups, all were in search of land, and wealth.
For some that meant settling on the banks of a good salmon river, for others it meant trapping for furs in the far North. For yet others it was the gold fields of Colorado that fired the imagination, for still more, staking out a land claim and tilling the earth was the dream to follow.
With money in short supply, uncertain relations with native neighbours, and the constant temptation to up sticks and try their luck elsewhere, accommodation had to be cheap, easy to erect and portable.
That’s where wall tents came in. A simple pitched roof, with side walls to add height. And they weren’t only used as homes. Many main streets were constructed entirely of wooden facades – behind which lay nothing but a tent.
Tented accommodation is making a comeback in the United States. The land of the free is also the land of the desperate, and never more so than since the property crash of 2008.
Failing banks and staggering levels of foreclosures have turned some areas into ghost towns. But on waste ground and in woodland areas, it’s another story.
Newly destitute people are moving in droves to, ‘tent cities’. Former teachers, factory workers, tradesmen and women – all sections of society are well represented.
When is a fishing bivvy not a fishing bivvy? When it’s your home.
We all know that a spot of fishing is good for what ails you – a day on the river bank is the perfect antidote to the pressures and strains of modern living.
There’s little doubt that dangling your fishing tackle in the great outdoors is a great remedy for many ailments. But if you’re in need of alternative medication, read on for more fishy prescriptions.
Asthmatic? You may wish to travel to Andhra Pradesh in India, to receive a dose that should put you right. The cure, given just once a year has become somewhat of a craze, attracting many thousands of sufferers hoping for a result.
The recipe comes courtesy of the grandfather of the Bathini Goud brothers – famous in India for working their fishy magic. The old man claimed he received the remedy from a travelling saint. So what is it? A small live fish, dipped in a special potion, and shoved down your throat. Open wide.
Tony Blair, Terry Wogan and Joan Collins all take a daily dose of this fishy medicine. As well as giving the taker a very slippery tongue indeed – it’s also thought to bring a number of important health benefits. In fact, studies have shown that swallowing a spoonful a day can prevent, slow and even reverse the effects of arthritis.
Research also shows benefits for sufferers of Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and depression. The magic ingredient is omega-3, the essential fatty acid that’s received so much good press for being heart healthy. So what is this wonder cure? Good old cod liver oil – Mmm fishy breath.
South American remedy
Feeling peaky – try a Brazilian! The trahira (Hoplias malabaricus) is a species of freshwater fish native to South America and found in many rivers in Brazil. If you believe the local indigenous population, this fish is a great cure all. For conditions ranging from asthma to burns, bone diseases and snakebite, trahira is a highly sought after remedy.
Other fish used in traditional medicine include electric eels, rays and the redtail catfish. Interestingly it’s the fat that’s most sought after by native Americans for the treatment of alcoholism – recent studies have suggested that omega-3 helps to relieve patients’ anxiety during withdrawal from drugs.
Swimming to a conclusion
Got a health problem – get a fish to take a look. If you thought all a fish could give you was a fun day out on the riverbank, or a tasty treat at teatime, think again. Researchers in New Zealand have come up with what they hope will be a breakthrough in diagnostic technology – by using fish eye lenses.
They’ve found a way to extract protein from the eyes of the Hoki fish for use in the manufacture a nanofiber 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. Protein nanofibers can be used to diagnose a range of diseases including cancer.
For ‘tropical’ application
If you’re feeling crook, a trip to the tropics could do you the world of good. Critters found in coral ecosystems have led to this fast disappearing natural wonder being described as the medicine cabinet of the 21st century. Stonefish, sea snakes, box jellyfish, cone shells, and pufferfish rank among the most venomous species on earth.
And it’s that toxicity which has attracted the interest of scientists looking for treatments for a whole raft of ailments. Think cancer, arthritis, asthma, ulcers, bacterial infections, and heart disease – in the battle against disease – fish are turning the tide.
Diana Nyad has succeeded at her lifelong dream to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, without the aid of a shark cage – a mighty triumph of woman over nature.
As she pounded through 110 miles of ocean waves and currents, for 52 hours Diana swam the gauntlet of sharks and jellyfish. Though protected by kayakers armed with electric probes for zapping sharks, the danger was real, sharp toothed, and present.
To celebrate the indomitable Diana’s wonderful first, here we take a look at some remarkable feats of survival in shark infested waters – times when you could really do with a bite alarm.
Cuba to Florida
When 64 year old, Diana Nyad plunged into the brine in Cuba, her battle cry was, “courage’.
Some 52 hours later, staggering up the beach in Florida, she distilled her experience down to three messages:
“One is we should never ever give up.
Two is, you are never too old to chase your dreams.
Three is, it looks like a solitary sport but it’s a team”.
With a swollen face, tongue and lips, her words were slurred, but the message clear: go for it.
St Lucia fishing disaster
Going for it was something of a necessity for Dan Suski and his sister Kate. They were sea fishing, eight miles off the coast of St Lucia, when Dan hooked a huge marlin. During the subsequent battle between man and fish, the boat’s stern dipped under the water. The engine and electrics were flooded and five minutes later, the boat sank.
Following advice from the captain and first mate, for the first hour, the group of four stuck together, bobbing in their life jackets, waiting for help to arrive.
When no one came, Dan and Kate decided to swim for it. They battled big waves and evaded sharks through the night, before finally shivering their way ashore 14 hours later. The skipper and mate, were eventually rescued after 23 hours in the sea.
Kate never used to be a morning person, but now she gets up at dawn every day: “Since this ordeal…I’ve never looked forward to the sunrise so much in my life.”
Imagine how you’d feel if you surfaced from a dive, off Borneo to find your support boat gone. That’s what happened to Japanese diving instructor, Hishashi Koze and his two friends. The boatman lost sight of the diver’s bubble trail, and assuming that all was lost, simply returned to shore.
Hishashi soon lost sight of his buddies, and having no idea that they’d been rescued by a fishing boat, was forced to swim for it. Navigating by the compass on his watch and the stars of the night sky, the diver kept his spirits up by telling himself he had to survive.
Despite his desperate fear that he’d be eaten by sharks, the Japanese man managed to maintain his composure during the long night, and eventually covered the 20 miles to shore in 24 hours.
When surfer, Brett Archibald boarded a boat bound for the remote Mentawai Islands of Indonesia, little did he know what lay in store.
Rough weather made the South African and his fellow voyagers sea sick. In the middle of the night, while vomiting over the rail, Archibald blacked out and tumbled into the sea.
Nobody noticed his absence and with no lifejacket, and treading water in shark territory, 50 year old Brett must surely have feared the worst.
The experience was unpleasant to say the least: “I had sharks swimming past me. I got stung by a jellyfish. Seagulls even tried to pick my eyes out and I have got big holes in my nose.” Incredibly, despite coming close to drowning, Brett survived 28 hours in the water before he was found by a yacht and taken to safety.
So what can we sea anglers take from this? Simple. Always wear a lifejacket. Always tell someone your plans and when you’ll be back. If the worst happens, never give up hope. Enough said.
A fishing bivvy or day shelter is designed to fit in with its environment. As well as being practical and functional, it’s often well camouflaged and comfortable too.
Next time you’re sitting in your shelter, wrapped up snug with a flask of tea to hand, just waiting for the fish to bite, spare a thought for the occupants of these daft day shelters.
As far as panoramic views go, this tent is nothing if not a room with a view.
For anglers, it offers the advantage of being able to keep your tackle in view while putting the kettle on. But consider the neighbours – clear walls leave nothing to the imagination.
Just as your day shelter is designed to merge with the greens and browns of the riverbank, this tent is designed for incognito urban adventuring.
It’s intended to look so car-like that nobody would give it a second glance, let alone suspect that someone might be asleep inside. Frankly, we don’t think they’re quite there yet.
The ultimate in waterfront canvas accommodation, this trailer tent combines the design features of the Sydney opera house, with an armadillo.
How well it performs as a tent we don’t know, but for anyone who wants to fade into the background, it’s a dead loss – unless of course you happen to be fishing in Sydney harbour.
Good for wine bottle stoppers, floor tiles and pin boards, we’re not entirely convinced of cork’s suitability for camping.
But the fact that this tent is constructed almost entirely from cork does offer some advantages for anglers – its natural buoyancy would be useful in a flash flood.
Unsurprisingly, this day shelter is still at the design concept stage.
Full body umbrella
There’s nothing worse than arriving at work soaked to the skin. But for us, this invention goes just a little too far.
How long would it take for the clear PVC to fog – resulting in a mad blunder from pillar to post? Not the best invention ever, and as far as angling goes – utterly useless. How are you supposed to cast?
A bite alarm app. Practical joker’s delight or scourge of the river bank? Harmless bit of fun or yet another noisy distraction to shatter the tranquility of a day’s fishing?
Here we take a look at the latest technological craze to hook the angling fraternity. You will never look at your bite alarm in quite the same way again…
What is it?
Simply put, this app replicates the sounds generated by many popular bite alarms. Pranksters everywhere have the opportunity to trick their fishing buddies into thinking there’s a big one on the end of their line.
One thing’s for certain – you’ll never be able to risk dozing off again – not while this app is doing the rounds. And if you thought your bite alarm was of a make too obscure to worry about, think again.
Who can I prank?
In short, most carp fishermen with a bite alarm can be caught out by this riparian rib-tickler.
The app has samples of the output of all major bite alarms, and even replicates the flashing LEDs to ensure you well and truly take the bait.
Think ATT, Steve Neville, Delkim, Fox, Nash, Chub, ACE & TF Gear – the selection of alarm signals replicated is growing all the time.
A count down facility even enables your so called friends to plant the phone, stand back and wait for the fun to start. You’ll suspect nothing. Eek.
What do the alarms sound like?
As you’ll see from this clip, the app is pretty convincing.
Rigging a fellow angler’s bite alarm must surely be one of the oldest tricks in the book. But these days, should you find yourself the butt of the joke – your antics are likely to be captured on film for posterity.
Where can you get it?
You have been warned.
There are carp and then there are famous carp. Some fish have risen to take a place in the hearts of carp anglers everywhere.
And it’s about more than just size. To be a real star, a fish has to be a little bit different…a character. Here we celebrate the lives of just a few of the most famous fish ever to be captured by carp rod.
Benson (1984 – 2009)
Known as, ‘the people’s fish’, Benson was a common carp without equal. At 64 lbs she was simply enormous – but her gargantuan proportions never made her easy to catch.
In fact, during her 13 years in residence at Bluebell Lakes near Peterborough, she is reported as having been brought to the bank 63 times – less than five times a year.
Her death at the age of 25 was suspicious since carp can live considerably longer than that. A quantity of uncooked tiger nuts was found at the scene, prompting speculation that Benson was inadvertently poisoned by thoughtless anglers.
The Black Mirror (deceased 2010)
To capture the Black Mirror was regarded as one of carp fishing’s greatest prizes.
A denizen of Colnemere, a former gravel pit near Heathrow airport, Black Mirror was first caught in 1992 by Jason Hayward. At that time, the fish weighed 46 lb – not far shy of the British record.
A classic looking fish, Black Mirror enjoyed wide regard as one of the hardest carp to catch – particularly after the water became a SSSI and a SPA (Special Protection Area), making fishing illegal. It was last landed just a few weeks before it died – at a whopping 51 lb 12 oz.
Black Mirror was found floating amid a large number of dead fish. Cause of death was thought to be as the result of an algal bloom or possibly a disturbance to the thermocline.
Two Tone (deceased 2010)
Over 50 mourners attended the memorial service and unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the life of the irreplaceable mirror carp, Two Tone.
The name was a reference to the fish’s distinctive colouring, rather than ska – but the mere mention of the moniker was music to the ears of many a carper. Indeed so special was this fish that some spent years in pursuit of the elusive giant.
Two Tone was one heck of a fish. It was last caught at 67 lb 14 oz – a specimen and a half – this fish was fiendishly difficult to catch. Many tried and most failed. Two Tone was generally brought to the bank just once or twice a year.
At 45, the carp is thought to have died of old age. RIP Two Tone.
Heather the Leather (1960 – 2010)
She has her own headstone and memorial bush – a fitting tribute to a fish often regarded as the most famous carp in all the land.
At 52 lbs, she was a big old girl, but it was her wily way of avoiding being caught, and her great age that rendered her one of the most desirable catches of all time.
Thought to have succumbed to old age, Heather was found at the edge of a lake in the Yateley fishery in which she lived. The press claimed at the time that Heather had been landed over 1000 times, but the claim is a heresy. Heather was far cleverer than that – the real figure is closer to 75.
Are there any other legendary carp that we’ve missed? And which is the most famous living carp? We’d love to know.