Have you ever come across something whilst out fishing that was too close for comfort?
Even though documentaries are very informative, they can sometimes put the heebeegeebees into anglers! TV programs such as David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals and River Monsters can give us anglers a great insight into whats really out there or beneath the surface but here are a few ‘fishermens tails’ which you couldn’t tame with your fishing rod!
We’ve all heard some sort of big cat story, the beast of Bodmin Moore is one that particularly sticks in my mind, but the black panther is an elusive and feared creature and is occasionally spotted whilst anglers wander the river banks.
James Anderson said “A large cat, size of German shepherd, black, long thin tail, it just stood and watched me as I walked past it just 10 yards away towards my favourite pool. It was safe to say I didn’t hang around long!”
Fallen trees are always a hazard – Motorists, public and fisherman can severely effected by fallen trees. Here are two fallen tree/angling related accidents, one with a lucky escape, the other, unfortunately not so lucky.
Stephen Gale said “About 4 weeks ago me and my friend Tim were fishing the river for grayling and he wanted to try some fast shallow water. I didn’t fancy that bit of water for some reason. Good job we went to a deeper stretch as a big tree up rooted in the water 50 yards behind us. The tree went with a right bang and we were so glad we went further up stream. I am still a bit nervous of windy days on the river“
Anthony Evans said “At 2am one morning I made out the shape of another angler on the bank, we said “Hello” and he asked me what the wading was like where I was out in the river. I told him it was level gravel. He shared with me that he no longer waded… not since his brother had been taken by a fallen tree and drowned! I left the river shortly after“
As friendly and adorable as they look, we all know the problems they cause on fish stocks. But when one jumps from the bank in the middle of the night, right behind where you’re peacefully swinging your flies for sea trout, they can certainly scare the living daylights out of you!
Alex Jones said “I was fishing the river wear at dusk in September and heard an almighty splash. After a little confusion and nothing in site I put it down to the eroding bank falling in or possibly a salmon leaping from the water. So I waded back in and heard breathing in front of me but couldn’t see as the light had almost gone then saw a huge otter snarling in front of me I ran out of the water and back to the car, scary buggers“
Probably the scariest of them all, a wooden, bow front landing net.
Peter hendrix said “Walking back to the car last summer when it was nearly dark I absolutely **** myself when I heard something creeping up behind me. It was my landing net which had come off the magnetic clip and was dragging across the floor!“
The worst thing is when you are out in the dark and the creeps suddenly get into your head – no matter what you do they wont go away. What you should try and tell yourself is that most animals are more afraid of you, than you are of them and that you are probably safer in the middle of a river than most city centers at kicking out time.
I mean, there’s not too many axe murderers stalking the rivers at night looking for victims – Right?
Did you get some book tokens for Christmas, or are you looking for a gift for a fishing obsessed loved one? Or perhaps you want a good read for the long dark evenings? You’ve come to the right place.
Here are some of our favourite fishing reads – some you are still in print, others you’ll need to buy second hand, but they’re all great reads.
1. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The classic fable by Ernest Hemingway is the story of an old man, a young boy and a big fish. It was the story for which the author won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Man against nature – the beauty and sadness of the hunt – the inevitability and honour of defeat. Big themes explored in Hemingway’s sparse style, Santiago, the old man of the sea battles the Marlin. Read it.
2. A river runs through it – Norman Maclean
Well known as a movie starring Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer and fly fishing rods, the book is published both as a novella and as a collection of three semi autobiographical tales. Beautifully written, the story is set in the backwoods of Montana and tells of the divergent fortunes of fly fishing brothers, Norman and Paul. Told from the point of view of Norman, the tale mainly recounts the events of the summer of 1937 as the brothers embark on one last fishing trip together.
3. The River Why – David James Duncan
When 20 year old Gus Orviston rebels against his fishing obsessed parents, he strikes out alone into the wilderness to do nothing but eat, fish and sleep. But before long, Gus becomes uncomfortably aware of the environmental degradation of the river brought about by man. So begins a journey of self discovery that’s both funny and sensitive. Unforgettable characters and a beautiful fishergirl; a book that lingers in the imagination.
4. The Compleat Angler – Izaac Walton
Originally published in 1653, this work by Izaac Walton is an hommage to angling that will appeal to fishing fanatics and lay people alike. A mixture of verse and prose, the book is a timeless evocation of the beauty of nature and man’s enjoyment of it through the noble art of fishing. For those in contemplative mood, the Compleat Angler is a must.
5. Fish, fishing and the meaning of life – Jeremy Paxman
Described by Keith Elliot of the Independent on Sunday as, “probably the definitive anthology of angling writing”, this book is a great choice. When Paxman isn’t grilling slippery politicians, he’s never happier than when he’s out fishing. And his love of the riverbank comes through in the razor sharp wit and humour with which he introduces his favourite writings. Some you’ll recognise, others you won’t. A journalist well worth his salt, Paxman presents some gems here.
6. A summer on the Test – John Waller Hills
Quite possibly the greatest book about chalk stream fishing ever written, John Walter Hill’s 1921 work evokes the timeless beauty of the English countryside. A perfect fireside read for long winter nights, let the author transport you to a bygone era – days of cane and willow – that will have you dreaming of summers past and of course the coming spring.
7. Trout Bum – John Gierach
For some, fishing is a weekend escape, to others it’s a way of life. Here, renowned American angling writer, John Gierach shares tales of his trout fishing wanderings. His laid-back style and the simplicity of his narrative produces prose that seeps into you like water on parched ground. Definitely worth a read.
8. Fishing’s Strangest Days – Tom Quinn
From the macabre to the ridiculous, Tom Quinn’s selection of bizarre fishing tales contains some of the strangest true angling stories ever told. There’s bait made from the flesh of hanged criminals, and two Americans who persuaded the police to help them resolve a dispute over whether or not it was possible to cast a fly from the roof of the Savoy hotel into the Thames. An entertaining book into which to dip.
9. 101 Golden Rules of Fishing - Rob Beattie
These Golden Rules are rather more like suggestions but in case there’s any doubt, the author in his introduction says, “I understand that people want to catch fish, but for me that’s only one reason for going fishing – and not necessarily the most important.” An angler with decades of experience, Rob Beattie offers a delightful mix of practical tips and riverbank philosophy.
10. Fly fishing by JR Hartley – Michael Russell
Anyone old enough to remember the TV advert for the Yellow Pages will know JR Hartley was a fictional character looking for a copy of his own book, Fly Fishing by JR Hartley. But Michael Russell’s work is more than a gimmick designed to cash in on a name made famous by television. A collection of warm hearted recollections from the author’s boyhood spent in Yorkshire during the 1930s, the anecdotes are about the boy growing up and a growing love of fly fishing.
Recent news has revealed the discovery of a new fish species — arapaima leptosoma — which is native to the Amazon in Brazil.
The fish is the first entirely new species of the huge arapaima family discovered since 1847, for which only a single species was believed to have existed for the last 166 years.
Arapaimas can grow up to 3 metres long and weigh as much as 200 kilos, so the new species didn’t exactly slip through the net. It only highlights the focus and dedication required to raise fish conservation efforts. The new discovery prompted us to wonder what else is out there in the big blue. Here’s some unlikely efforts we dreamed up (feel free to contribute your own ideas).
Hoover fish (humus nimia satietas)
Two of the biggest threats to sea life are overfishing and pollution, so imagine a huge bottom feeder that digested massive amounts of rubbish and pollution clogging up our seas and rivers.
Nearly as big as a blue whale, the hoover fish would provide much needed assistance to a dirty problem.
Golden-gilled ghost carp (M. Spiritu carpere)
Very much the fish of choice for many anglers, carps can be challenging to hook and are highly prized. But we all need a holy grail in our lives and there needs to be something out there that provides a fearsome challenge for our carp fishing rod.
Say hello to the golden-gilled carp — a 60kilo carp species incredibly hard to find and a fish that provides huge fame for the fisherman that hooks it.
Mouse marlin (mus marlin)
Fast, strong and elusive, select species of marlin are considered to provide the pinnacle of offshore sport fishing. Big blue marlins put up one hell of a fight and have inspired many sport fishermen, but like lots of other species, black and blue marlins are in decline.
Threatened primarily by commercial fishing, it’d be brilliant if there were a breed of marlin renowned for its exceptionally fast breeding (and growing) rates. So fast that is has been nicknamed the mouse marlin.
Sea chicken (quis maris)
Humanity’s appetite for tuna is incredible and it’s mainstream appeal along with its meaty texture has resulted in it being nicknamed the chicken of the sea. Yet it’s a matter of time before demand outgrows supply, which is likely to result in tuna being an unaffordable luxury for poorer families.
If only there was an alternative like the tasty and abundant sea chicken (a fish incredibly similar to a chicken, but still a fish).
Pearl Catcher (margaritam aucupe)
Not to be mistaken for the commensal pearl fish, which is known to live inside clams and starfish, the pearl catcher is a speedy little fish renowned for its snatch and run routine on the mollusc community.
Unable to properly digest the pearls it steals, the pearl catcher keeps its booty in its stomach until it is caught by a lucky fisherman. Now there’s a nice thought.
Does your partner, parent or friend think all fishing rods are just the same? One of the best replies we’ve heard is, “If they were all the same, why would there be so many on the market?”
As with most hobbies, fishing has become increasingly specialised, with specific types of tackle to suit every possible fishing scenario.
Some anglers are firmly set in their choice of rod, it determines what fish they will catch, what method they will use and presumably how big their catch will be! Using a fishing rod which is specifically designed to target your intended quarry can result in a better overall user experience.
Choosing a carp fishing rod must be one of the most confusing situations for any angler whatever their level of experience. With so many brands to choose from, selecting the ideal length and test curve for your fishing can become confusing.
Watch how to choose the right rod
Dave Lane and Marc Coulson explains everything you need to know about choosing a carp fishing rod in the video below.
Understanding test curves
The test curve of a carp fishing rod usually indicates how powerful it is. The higher the test curve the more powerful the rod is. For example, a rod in the 2lb test curve bracket can cast around 100 yards, a test curve of 3lb or higher are highly specialised rods, designed for anglers casting large leads and baits well over 140 yards.
A 2.5 – 2.75lb test has a very forgiving blank, allowing fish to run and lunge under the rod tip without hook pulls, these rods also make the whole experience of playing a fish more pleasurable. The higher the test curve the more brutal they are in their fish playing abilities, expect hook pulls at close range if the fish are lightly hooked.
What length rod for carp?
Most standard length carp rods are 12′ to 13′. Generally a 12′ rod will suit most carp anglers, giving sufficient length for good casting and perfect control when playing a fish. 13ft rods are more of a specialist tool, again the longer rods help achieve greater distances but the added length can become a hindrance when fishing in tight swims and battling over hanging trees.
Cosmetic VS Performance
We all know anglers are partial to a great looking fishing rod, the term ‘tackle tart’ instantly springs to mind but experience has shown us that as nice as it is to own something pretty, it’s not always the best or most practical option when it comes to looking for a carp rod. We know not everyone can make it in store to try a rod before they buy, so make sure to check online fishing tackle reviews and magazine articles to get a feel for what’s available.
In Britain this Christmas, between us we will eat around ten million turkeys. In the USA, over Thanksgiving, the yanks consume 60 million birds.
If the thought of slaughter on such an epic scale turn turns your stomach, here we have an alternative.
Fish. It’s an underrated festive flavour. But don’t get your carp rod in a quiver because we’re not about to suggest you plunder your local lake. For our fishy feast, we’re heading North for a delicious Nordic Christmas.
Whether or not meat is on the menu this Christmas, a dish of gravadlax makes for a great side and is a good alternative to smoked salmon too. In the middle ages, Swedish fishermen would bury some of their catch on the beach. It’s thought the salt in the sand and the fermentation of the fish stopped it going off. These days, you won’t need sand to make gravadlax, just salt, sugar, dill and a fridge freezer.
You need: a fillet of fresh salmon, salt, castor sugar, black peppercorns, dill. Cling film.
How to make it. Mix even quantities of crushed sea salt and castor sugar. You need enough to liberally coat the whole flesh side of the fillet. Crush your black peppercorns – use as many as you like. Chop the dill.
Coat the flesh side of the fillet with the salt, sugar, pepper mixture. Cut it in half across the middle put the dill on top. Slap the two sides together like a salt sandwich. Wrap tightly in cling film. Put it in a bowl the fridge. Turn the package every 12 hours or so. Your gravadlax is ready to eat in 48 hours.
Give the fish a rinse, slice thinly. Eat.
Lutefisk is a traditional Norse food. It’s prepared from dried white fish, or dried salt cod. First the fish is steeped in cold water for a couple of days, then it’s steeped in water mixed with lye – a powerful alkali derived from potash. This eats away at the protein in the fish, changing its consistency to something akin to jelly. After two days of this, the fish is now too caustic for consumption so it’s soaked for a further five or six days in fresh water, before being cooked briefly and served.
In particular, lutefisk made from cod is renowned for smelling utterly revolting. This combined with its gelatinous texture and the potential for it to taste of soap makes lutefisk something of an acquired taste. But for something different to serve your Christmas guests this season, you might like to give it a try. Then again, you might not.
The translation of the name of this popular Swedish Christmas dish is Jansson’s temptation. Jansson was a famous Scandinavian opera singer during the early part of the 20th century – and what was he was tempted by? Sprats.
To make yourself a tasty sprat casserole, you need: potatoes, an onion, several sprat fillets (tinned are fine), cream, salt and pepper, butter, and breadcrumbs.
Chop your onion, then fry gently in butter. Chop the spuds into thin strips, put them with the onion and fry until semi-cooked. Take an oven dish. Use half the onion, potato mixture to make a layer. Season. Place a layer of sprats on top. Repeat. Cover in cream. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 200C until the potatoes are cooked – about 45 mins. Eat.
A favourite with the Finns, salt herrings are in fact a 14th century Dutch invention. Fresh herrings are gutted leaving the liver and pancreas in. Next the fish are oak barrelled in brine for a few months. Enzymes in the remaining fish innards help to give the steeping fish a distinctive flavour.
Before consuming salt herrings, you first need to soak them in fresh water. Thats because after six months in the barrel, the salt content of the fish can be as high as 12 – 14%. Lightly salted versions are available though, with a typical salt content of 6 – 7%.
Roe and milt
Never ones to waste a tasty part of the fish, roe and milt are popular additions to the Nordic Yuletide repast. Caviar is king of fish roes but there are many more affordable fish eggs you can spread on your toast. Try Finland’s ‘golden caviar’, made from the roe of the Vendace – a member of the salmon family. To make it go further mix with creme fraiche and finely chopped onion.
Fish roe we like – milt we’re not convinced about. While we’re sure its creamy texture and mild flavour make it a joy to spread over a cracker, the thought of eating cooked, chilled fish semen is a little more than we can bear. Anyone for roast turkey?
Male midshipman fish have been keeping scores of families awake in Southampton with their loud mating calls.
The loud droning from their swim bladder, which is used to attract females, can go on for hours and increases in volume when competing males join in.
After a bit of fishing about, we’ve discovered that there are actually some really loud sea creatures out. Some are able to generate noise in excess of 200 decibels. When you consider the average human conversation is around 60-70 decibels and a jet engine produces 140 decibels, you’ll agree 200+ decibels is loud. Fear not though, as most of the noisy stuff is too big (or small) for one of your fishing rods.
Water boatman — 105 decibels
This one isn’t the loudest, but at just 2mm long, the Micronecta Scholtzi still manages to produce around 105 decibels with its mating song, which means that it is the loudest animal on this planet in relation to its body size. Even though 99% of the sound is lost when transferring to water to air, it is still loud enough to be heard from the riverbank when the creature is at the bottom of the river.
Perhaps even more impressive is that the boatman creates his songs by rubbing his penis against his abdomen in a process called stridulation. Don’t try this at home.
Northern elephant seal – 125 decibels
Found in the cold aquatic environments of the north, the large proboscis of the adult males resembles an elephant trunk hence the name. A complex breathing apparatus consisting of multiple chambers for storing oxygen, and it’s also what the seal uses to blow its own trumpet (metaphorically of course).
During mating season the seals make very loud roaring noises with this wannabe trunk to woo females, and can peak at around 125 decibels. That’s loud when you consider how many trumpets will be blowing at the same time. Good job they prefer the Polar Regions.
Blue whale – 188 decibels
It may be the biggest mammal in the world, but this graceful 200-tonne beauty with a tongue as heavy as an elephant, isn’t quite the loudest. It’s not far off though, as the blue whale’s siren call can reach levels of around 188 decibels, which is still much louder than a jet engine or even a rock concert.
The blue whale also emits a low frequency series of pulses, groans and moans, which can travel great distances under the water. Scientists believe that other blue whales travelling at distances of up to 1000 miles can pick up these noises.
Pistol shrimp — 218 decibels
Despite being only 2 cm long the aptly named pistol (or snapping) shrimp is able to generate a split-second sound, which at 218 decibels is louder than a gunshot. Recognized by owning one humungous, oversized claw, which resembles a boxing glove, the pistol shrimp uses this deadly weapon to stun its prey.
The claw snaps shut with enough force to fire a jet of water at up to 62 mph. This generates a low pressure cavitation bubble that bursts with a loud snap and stuns unsuspecting prey. Death by deafness — ouch.
Sperm whale — 230 decibels
So if you like to play Top Trumps, you’d want the sperm whale card to win the noisiest sea creature category. The sperm whales head has a structure called monkey lips, which it uses to blow air through and also produce loud, booming clicks.
These clicks or codas, which are unique to each whale, are used like sonar to find food and also to communicate with other sperm whales. It is estimated by biologist and whale researcher, Magnus Wahlberg of Aarhus University in Denmark, that these clicks can reach levels of 230 decibels underwater. Meaning the sperm whale is the loudest sea creature we could find with the net.
As we move in to November we could well be wondering if the winter is actually coming at all this year. I am certainly not complaining though, the weather conditions throughout October have been perfect for carp fishing and my catch rates have been a reflection of this.
At the beginning of the month I moved back onto Monks Pit, in Cambridgeshire as I thought it was about time I targeted some large carp again. I have enjoyed my summer excursion on the large gravel pit in search of unknown monsters but, with the year getting into its last quarter, I wanted somewhere to settle down on, in readiness for the colder weather.
Monks has been good to me in the past and I have had a total of five different fish over forty pounds from the venue. I thought, at one stage, that I had finished with the place but, recently, I got chatting to a couple of mates who still fish there and realised that there are probably still three or four over that weight I haven’t caught so a return for the winter seemed more and more like a good idea.
My first trip was an impromptu affair, pulling off the big pit halfway through a session when I thought I should be making the most of big low pressure system, and turning up at Monks with just an hour and a half of daylight remaining, just enough time to get the carp fishing tackle sorted and setup for the night.
Having not been on the lake for two years I would have preferred a bit more time to walk about and suss the place out a bit but, instead, I opted for a swim that I had always liked in the past. The swim I chose was in the middle section of the lake, always a good bet to start with and it gave me a good view if anything topped elsewhere.
The carp at Monks do like a bit of bait so I spent the next hour spodding out a bed of boilies, hemp, tigers and corn, setting all three carp fishing rods at the same distance in a line across the swim.
That first night went by without any action and I was just thinking about a move when a good sized fish topped right over my right hand carp rod. It couldn’t have even been a full minute later when the line tightened up and the tip pulled down towards the surface, signalling my first bite.
Right from the off the fish felt heavy and incredibly powerful, but then I had been used to catching twenties from the big pit over the previous months so I was unsure exactly how much bigger this beastie might turn out to be. He fought well in the deep and clear water eventually weeding me up in a big bed of Milfoil down to my right. After trying all the usual tricks with no success I had to resort to going out in the boat to free him, this is always a lot easier and safer with heavy weed once you actually get right above the fish and change the line angle as it enters the weed-bed. After a few hairy moments I managed to get him free and then it was just a matter of playing him out in open water. With the clarity being so good I could clearly see him ten feet below the boat, twisting and turning on the line and he did look very, very big indeed. Although I’d never seen the fish before I recognised him from a description I been given only the previous night and, as he went into the net, I knew I’d cracked one of the few remaining big fish in the lake that I hadn’t already caught. He was a fish known as the ‘Hartford mirror’ and he weighed just a little over forty pounds, what a way to start a return to Monks!
Once I had sussed where and how they were feeding I juggled the rods around a bit and kept a constant supply of bait going in over the area and, during the next twenty four hours , I managed to bank a further five carp up to mid-thirties but the Hartford mirror really was the star of the show.
If I had had any doubts about where to pass the colder months of winter then they have been dispelled now, with fish of this stamp only an hour from my doorstep I reckon that Monks will be seeing quite a bit more of me and Paddy over the coming few months, I can’t wait to get back out there.
For many of us, fishing is a lifelong passion. Years of casting, reeling and patience have made us into the anglers we are today. Whether its a catch for sport or for supper, we know our methods work and we trust our equipment.
However, some folk like to test the water with a plethora of unusual techniques. The fishermen seen below cast aside their reels and fishing rods in favour of methods unconventional, curious and downright bizarre.
From the creative to the traditional, here are our favourite crazy ways to catch fish.
With your hair
With a remote controlled helicopter
With a large tea towel
With a bow and arrow
With trained cormorants
Stealing from a grizzly bear?
Sorry it’s been so long since my last blog but, what with school holidays and an acute lack of carp there has been precious little to blog about!
I have still been off chasing the unknown, trying my hand on waters that most sane anglers would not look twice at. Unfortunately that is the only way I am ever going to realise my dream of a big unknown carp though, and it is par for the course to have more than a few blanks along the way.
There comes a time however, when I just want to get out there and get a bend in one of my many fishing rods and this time happens to be now.
Last week I decided to re-visit a small and tree lined lake not far from my home. It’s situated on the edge of the Thetford forest and is a picturesque, tree fringed lake with a large and well established island running along the centre.
Because of the surrounding forest it has a fair depth of silt, a build-up of years of fallen leaves that have rotted away on the bottom, forming a thick layer of detritus.
As a result of this the carp can be seen bubbling and fizzing up as they feed in the deeper water and this can lead to some exiting stalking situations.
I turned up on a Thursday morning, just for a quick day session as the conditions looked ideal.
I always think if you have a lake nearby and a bit of time on your hands, it got to be worth a trip out, even if it’s a quick one, as it only takes a few minutes in the right spot to catch a carp.
At this time of year, as the air temperatures drop and we get a few low pressure systems moving in, the carp can suddenly go on the feed and the lethargy of summer days can seem a thing of the past. September is actually one of my favourite months of the year and it has provided me with countless personal bests and memorable captures over the years gone by. In fact, I would go as far as to say that September, April and possibly February can be the best months of the carp fishing year.
On this particular trip I found the carp, as expected, bubbling up in the deeper siltier part of the lake and I spent a fruitless couple of hours chasing them about, using light leads and long nylon hook-links, a method I have a lot of faith in when the bottom is soft and silty.
On this occasion though, they seemed to be totally pre-occupied with whatever was crawling around in the detritus and I had to employ a backup method as time was ticking away and I had to pick the littlest one up from school at four o’clock.
About two in the afternoon the sun made an appearance and, within minutes, I spotted the first carp cruising along the sunny side of the island. This area is a lot firmer and I knew, if I could get a bait tight enough to the island, that I had a shout of a bite.
It’s exciting stuff when you have a bait cast into just eighteen inches of water and you can clearly see the backs of carp as they pass over the spot.
I think there must have been at least three near misses before the bow wave of a carp lined up perfectly with the exact spot of my single bait and then, suddenly, there was big swirl as he sucked it in and realised his mistake.
A lot of people will advocate the method of ‘locking up’ when fishing up against islands, fishing your line as tight as possible with no clutch or free-spool set and the bobbin right up against the rod but I totally disagree. The way I see it is this; a fish cannot actually take any line anyway, not unless he is going to climb out over the island and the usual result is that they shoot sideways along the island margin until they find a snag. As long as you have a small drop on the bobbin then you will know instantly when the bait has been picked up and, with a tight clutch, it takes just two paces backwards to pull the carp away from danger before he even realises what’s going on.
With the fish safely in the clear channel I had time to enjoy the fight as he plodded up and down over deeper water, putting a healthy bend in the rod as he did so.
Under the tip was a different matter and there were a few tense moments as he realised he was losing the battle but everything held firm and the forgiving action in the top section of my TF Gear Nan-tec rods easily absorbed all the last minute lunges.
Once he was beaten and lying on the mat I had a chance to relax and appreciate how well a few hours in the right conditions can go, instead of being stuck at home working I was holding up a heavily scaled twenty six pound mirror for the camera. With the fish safely returned and the gear hastily thrown in the back of the truck I just made it back to the playground in time, although I did get a bit more room around me than usual and a few wrinkled noses at the distinct odour of fish slime!
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.