‘Old strain’ carp set to make a comeback


Fed up with stories of dying fish and a market dominated by fast-growing carp and hybrids? A fishery owner is now championing traditional English carp as the best route to healthy, balanced angling venues.

Steve Barnes, owner of fast-growing Suffolk-based company Quiet Sports, is insisting that the surest way to safeguard English carp stocks is to return to the slow-growing, naturally tough strains that originally dominated UK fisheries decades ago.

Faced with new European rules outlawing KHV-inoculated carp, laws that also make it increasingly difficult to import fish from abroad, Steve has begun stocking his numerous fisheries with longer-living, slower-growing carp that are naturally immune to disease.

“The emphasis is on developing fish that are as near as possible to what nature intended,” explained Steve.

“Customers have been asking for slower-growing fish that will be competitive in all conditions, have a longer life span than hybrid fish, will not ‘out grow’ a lake, are not ‘genetically modified’, and are not ‘crossed’ with other species to ensure the integrity of the carp,” added 46-year-old Steve.

The new-old strain of carp, called ‘208’, features mainly slower-growing male common carp that he claims will provide a good long-term choice for commercial carp fisheries, where stocks need to be tough and long-lasting.

And, if they prove popular, these specimen will mean that carp fishing has at last travelled full-circle back to strains similar to those that Donald Leney, the godfather of carp stocking, introduced into famous waters, such as Redmire Pool, in the first half of last century.

It remains to be seen whether these carp will prove more popular than the F1 and F2 hybrids pioneered by Simon Hughes at his Riverfield Fish Farm and whether the importation of KHVinoculated fish will remain illegal in the long term.

“I don’t think this is a bad thing. People producing hardier fish has got to be good for anglers and the sport,” claimed Bernice Brewster, owner of fisheries specialist company Aquatic Consultancy.

“From my perspective as a fisheries biologist, longer-lived strains of carp are a better option than carp hybrids.”