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FISHERMAN'S STORY OF THE YEAR
Fisherman's Story of The Year
A British Empire Record: The 44 lb. Carp of Redmire Pool
 
 
"B.B.", President of the Carp Catchers' Club, tells exclusively to " Country Fair" The Story That Every Angler Has Been Waiting For

IN the early hours of the 13th September last (4.45 a.m., to be exact), Richard Walker, of Hitchin, was in his tent beside Redmire Pool in the West Country.

The morning was very dark, for as yet no glimmer of dawn showed over the oaks on the east side of the great pool and heavy cloud covered the sky.  Suddenly Walker's alarm buzzer on the line made him leap from the tent to the butt of his rod five feet away. The darkness was so intense he could not see the rod butt.   He placed his fingers under the line—he did this by "feel"—and was aware that the coiled line was stealthily crawling through the short hairs on the back of his hand.

Out in the depths of Redmire Pool, quite thirty yards distant and ten feet down, some fish had picked up his knob of bread paste and was moving slowly off. Walker picked up his rod. He struck with some force, as the fish was a long way out. The Number 2 model Perfect hook, which he had specially sharpened for just such an occasion as this, drew home, and a mighty weight, so heavy that it seemed almost dead, moved outwards into the centre of the silent pool, irresistibly, and without undue haste. For Walker, though he did not know it then, this moment was an important landmark in his career as a carp fisherman. Attached to the other end of his plaited to 12 lb. breaking-strain line was the British Empire record, a carp of 44 lb.

The battle in the darkness was not protracted—it took ten minutes to land the fish—but it had its moments.  Forty yards to the westwards was a mass of tangled alder roots growing along the face of the dam.  Once in there, any fish was safe and this monster knew it. With all the force of his sweeping tail and his forty-four pounds of mailed body, he strove to reach those roots. As a fox knows its own cover, and a rabbit its home thicket, so did that old carp know where he could find sanctuary and release. Any lesser angler would have been smashed in those moments, but Walker is a scientific fisherman of deadly precision and guile. He had vetted his line, rod and hook before beginning to fish. His rod was a Mark IV Carp Rod of his own making, and there is no doughtier weapon for big carp made today.   The Story Of The Great Carp

At all costs he must hold the fish from the roots. The nodding arch of the split cane rod was just visible against the dim sky. For a time the carp won ground —the strain must have been tremendous—but within a yard of the roots Walker turned its head and the fish drove straight up the centre of the lake. Two more similar runs and suddenly Walker felt it tire. These giant carp, because of their bulk and age, cannot stand severe punishment.

Soon Walker felt the fish coming in and then it was under his rod-point, rolling and apparently beaten.

Walker's companion, Pete Thomas, also of Hitchin, and also an expert carp fisher, was at hand with the vast net. This net Walker built himself. It is light and strong and will hold anything up to 90 lb. weight. Once within its folds a fish is beaten. But when Thomas shone the light on the wallowing bronze monster (it was still almost dark), the carp righted itself and drove in towards the bank.

There was the root of a defunct willow at the edge of the water, just by Walker's tent. Over it grew brambles. In this thicket of brambles the carp made one last valiant bid for freedom. Denied the sanctuary of the alder roots, he was going to have a go at these. His forty-odd pounds went through the curtain of spined tendrils like a bullet through butter. Beyond was a deep cavity hollowed out under the bank and into this he went, head first, and there lay doggo.

Thomas, on his stomach on the bank above, leant over and shone the torch. He saw the curtain of brambles in which was a hole not unlike a rabbit’s burrow.

Inside the hole he glimpsed the waving tail of the carp and leading into the mouth of it the taut plaited line, for the hook had held and was still firmly in the roof of the carp’s capacious mouth. Thomas lowered the net over the hole, barring all escape.

But the battle was by no means won, for should the carp wrench free it would be impossible to stay that vast bulk. Thomas showed great presence of mind. He slid his fingers gently down the line, barely touching it, until he felt the smooth snout of the carp.

Gently he eased the fish's head round until it was facing the entrance bolt hole. The carp seemed unresisting. Then there was a flurry and the huge mailed form shot into the folds of the net. A moment later it was on the bank, the largest carp ever caught in Britain and in the Empire too.

It was placed alive in a sack and when daylight came (and with it sunlight) the record fish was photographed.

This being done, what was one to do? What would you have done? Knocked the poor beast on the head and set him up in a glass case? Return him to the pool? But we know what would have happened if the latter course had been adopt. Nobody would have believed the story of a 44 lb. carp. Another fisherman's tale!

Walker did the most sensible thing. He hurried up to the house on the hill where dwelt the owner of Redmire Pool and asked to use his phone. He contacted the Zoo authorities and with commendable speed they sent down a van from London. The carp was lifted from the pool, sack and all, and placed in a wooden tub in the back of the van and so it went to the London Zoo, to the Aquarium, where two stalwart officials were waiting for it. It arrived at two in the morning.

So any time you want to see the "one that did not get away," go to the Aquarium in the London Zoo and ask to see Richard Walker’s 44 lb. carp. It's name, by the way, is "Ravioli," but why it is so called I cannot tell you here.

For Walker the capture of such a record was indeed well deserved. For a number of years he and I have been fishing for carp and studying their ways.

We have formed the most exclusive club in the world, the Carp Catchers' Club, which is limited to ten members.

Each member has caught a giant carp (one of the conditions of membership)—it is a more select club than the Houghton Club ever was on the Test.

And our record for 1952 is no mean one. Four carp over 20 lb. have been caught by its members this past season, and the weights are as follows: 44 lb., 28 lb. 10 oz., 24 lb. 12 oz, 22 lb. 12 oz.—the 28 lb. fish coming from the same pool as the record.

One interesting point emerges from the capture of this historic fish. An expert to whom one of its scales was sent said that it was 15 years old and was still growing steadily. It is known when these carp were put in the lake, approximately twenty years ago, so that the original fish, if still alive, must be at least 5o lb. and possibly nearer 60 lb. I have seen a carp which jumped one night at Redmire Pool which must have been one of these original fish, and nobody yet knows to what weight these amazing creatures will attain.

Perhaps the Carp Catchers' Club (of which I have the honour to be President) will have further surprises in store for the angling fraternity next season. We shall see.

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The latest report on the great fish comes from Dr. Harrison Matthews, of the London Zoo. At the time of going to press, the carp, is still convalescing in a darkened tank and receiving treatment for minor injuries he received in the excitement of his capture. But he is now making good progress, and the Zoo hopes that he will be on show to his public very shortly. Any reader wishing to pay his or her respects to the fish is therefore reminded to make inquiries at the Zoo before making a special pilgrimage to the Aquarium. He is worth seeing. Dr. Matthews describes him aptly as looking like a small pig.
EDITOR
 
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