The emergence of Carp fishing as an expanding specialist sport during the seventies has grown ever more popular, one of the pioneers of carp fishing was the great Richard Walker who was a renowned Carp specialist in the forties and fifties. His record Carp Clarissa lived her days out in captivity after being caught at Redmire Pool, she weighed in at 44lbs and is possibly the most famous fish in the angling world.
But why was she so famous and why has Carp fishing continued to be so popular?
Well Clarissa was special, she not only broke the British record she smashed it, almost doubling the previous record of 26lb and this type of record breaking in fishing is unheard of in modern times. In addition to this apart from the Salmon caught in 1922 by Mrs Ballantyne it was the biggest freshwater fish ever caught.
She was possibly the most inspirational fish that a single generation has ever experienced and lived to the age of 34 before her death in Regents Park Zoo in 1971. It is probable that the death was premature and if left in the wild Clarissa may well have reached an age of 50 or 60 years. The tragedy here is that after her capture and transfer to the Zoo she never grew any bigger, contrast this to other fish in Redmire including the fish caught by Chris Yates at 51lb then a conclusion could be made that Clarissa never reached her true potential.
There is a train of thought that Clarissa could have eventually weighed 60lb had she been left in her natural home and imagine what that would have done for Carp fishing!
Add all this to this the fact that Richard Walker was a prolific writer as well as a prolific angler then the two combined factors would be the inspiration for countless young people to get into Carp Fishing. The next ingredient is the “air of superiority” and the atmosphere of secrecy that surrounds the carp world when you add this to the technical innovation and development of techniques and tackle then there is truly a magical draw for many people.
As time went by the growth of publicity for successful specialist carp anglers started to drive the potential to earn real money from the sport. Sponsorship, tackle design, bait evolution and syndicate waters started to provide anglers with the potential to earn serious money and many anglers either partnered or setup business around their success. Magazines and advertising then came on the scene and now there are many television programmes on SKY television and other subscription based media.
Tackle development has continued at an amazing rate and the industry continues to grow, its now more than 35 years since Clarissa died, there have been a string of new pretenders to her crown, bigger fish of course but none with the same aura and esteem.
Now as we move through 2007 we now see a new direction, the imported monsters that are coming into the country are being stocked at weights in excess of Clarissa when she broke the record!
These fast grown bloated fish are about to break and break again the Carp record but not one of these fish will ever match Clarissa no matter how big they are caught at. Of course the original strains of Carp were brought to the UK by the Romans, monks also farmed them and many stately homes were stocked with a new strain of Carp in between 1930 and 1940, it is known that some of these fish reached ages of 60+ which is amazing.
I liken this latest crop of imports to comparing a true diamond with Cubic Zirconia, you can have the biggest rock in the world on display on your finger but if its not a true diamond it is worthless!
Where will this end? Well the first issue will be whether to accept these new fish as true records (a dilemma already faced in the trout fishing world), secondly identifying the fish as a true contender or not, these are two very difficult questions which will now rock and divide the Carp fishing world over the next months and years.