Carp rod salute: famous fish of the past

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.