Big Rig’s origins
The record carp was bought at a weight between 30lb and 39lb in 2011 from Fenland Fisheries, Cambridgeshire, whose boss Mike Hawes says that it was legally imported from Israel in 2009.
The carp, and three others of the Dor-70 strain, was purchased by Rob Hales and transported to his Shropshire HQ. To find out more visit: www.rhfisheries.com
For more on Fenland Fisheries, call 01487 841858.
Big Rig was weighed on two sets of scales. One gives it a weight of 69lb 13oz, but Rob will make the 69lb 3oz record claim on readings from a set of 120lb Reuben Heaton Specimen Hunter scales.
Rob Hales is without doubt the most talked about UK fishery boss in the UK after his Shropshire venue The Avenue produced the 69lb 3oz British record carp.
The fish, Big Rig, was hand reared by the RH Fisheries owner and specifically grown to become Britain’s biggest-ever carp...dividing opinion within the sport.
As the dust settles on one of the most controversial captures of recent times, Angling Times caught up with Rob to gain an insight into the world of big carp.
You bought Big Rig at 39lb as one of a hand-selected group of fish. Do you have any other carp from this batch in your lakes?
When I bought Big Rig she was one of a group of fish that were all bigger than she was, with amazing potential to grow huge.
I bought those too.
All my lakes contain fish-of-a-lifetime and I just keep adding to them, giving more anglers a shot at the fish of their dreams.
How big do you think carp can get in a UK water?
I think Big Rig has the potential to reach 75lb… possibly more.
But there’s no doubt that a quality strain of carp in the right environment could break the 80lb barrier.
In my opinion that’s great for carp fishing in the country and the fishing industry as a whole.
You use state-of-the-art feeders set on timers to optimise the growth of carp at some of your waters. What does this cost?
I can spend up to £15,000 on feed for just one lake during the course of a year.
This includes pellets and medicated boilies just before the winter which keep the fish in top condition throughout the colder months.
I’ve put 100 kilos of these boilies into one of our lakes in the last week alone. This is what it takes.
What is your message to those people who say that purposely growing carp to break records is wrong?
People must think that all I do is buy big fish and force-feed them bait until they reach massive weights. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The fish I buy and raise are from the highest quality strains. People don’t understand how much time, dedication and hard work it takes to grow so many huge carp. Anglers want to catch big fish and I meet this demand.
Those who criticise this need to wake up, because it’s fisheries like mine that hold the future for the British carp record.
Were you surprised by some of the negative reactions after the capture of Big Rig?
Not really. Sadly, it’s often the uneducated minority that tend to spout off and don’t realise the harm they can do.
The national papers picked up on this and all the coverage did was to paint angling and anglers in a very bad light.
Some of the comments that were aimed at the captor, Tom, were shocking and those responsible should be very ashamed of themselves. They should take up another sport.
Did you regret the way in which the record story played out?
The only thing I would have done differently was not to speak to the daily papers, because it ’s now clear that they didn’t want a good fishing story.
Instead they focused on all the negativity that came from small-minded and, in some cases, vicious individuals.
At the end of the day a great guy caught the biggest carp in the country and it’s an achievement that should be celebrated, not denigrated.
Is the demand for catching big, commercially-stocked carp still on the rise?
The appetite among anglers for catching huge carp is just getting bigger and bigger. There’s no sign of this trend slowing down at all.
Have you and your team been inundated since the capture of Big Rig?
Put it this way, our website usually gets around 350 hits a day. Since Big Rig was caught we’ve had over 5,000 a day.
It’s crazy – the phone hasn’t stopped ringing and our email boxes have been filling up fast.
Now you’ve grown the biggest carp in the UK, what comes next for RH Fisheries?
To continue to provide huge carp for UK anglers. It’s my passion. We now have thousands of Big Rig’s offspring that all have the potential to grow to massive proportions.
Not only will I grow and nurture these fast-growing carp for my own waters, but I will sell them to other venues so they will have carp bearing the genes of this record-breaking carp.