Memories of catching Benson - Britain's most famous common carp

Following the death of Britain's most talked-about common carp - Benson - UK Carp magazine editor Steve Broad recollects the 2nd November 2003 when he caught this most impressive fish, weighing a phenomenal 57lb 13oz...


THE forecast was absolutely perfect for November. A huge weather front was coming in from the south, and the pressure was dropping like a stone. By the time I arrived at Kingfisher, on the Bluebell lake complex, it was pouring down and I got soaked getting the rods in position.

Each trap received several pints of maggots and thesame amount of hemp by the time the bivvy was eventually thrown up. As I sat listening to the radio, the rain was really hammering down and it was time to hit the sack.

By dawn, I’d had a 23lb 8oz and a 30lb 12oz, both commons, and it was time to put in some effort. I packed up and went to work, knowing I’d be back later that afternoon. All plans for the coming weekend were dropped and that night I was back on the banks. Being a weekend, it was fairly busy, but I still managed to get a decent swim. In fact, I got my favourite on the lake, The Point.

On the first night in my new swim I took a big double and the conditions were still perfect. The only down side was that my swim resembled the Somme and everything was caked in clinging mud. The next day arrived bright and clear and I feared for the coming night. So rather than put out the normal amount of bait, I cut things back in case the conditions would limit the amount of feeding.

I loaded the baitboat and sent one rod out 70yds to an area of weed and dropped the rig, followed by a pint of maggots and the same of hemp. The next rod went to a spot 62yds out, which is made up of very coarse gravel. Finally, the last rod went out to another gravel area 40yds out.

Each rod was baited with a bunch of red maggots tied to a small steel ring on the end of a hair. This was held in place with a small piece of shrink tube and a second piece of tube created the bent hook effect on the size 4 longshank hook. The hooklink was 10lb nylon, coupled with a lead clip, 2oz bomb and 4ft of leadcore.

By nine o’clock, the night was still clear, but a dark line in the southern sky promised rain. At 2.30am, I was awoken by what felt like a bucket of water being chucked in my face. A stiff southerly wind had arrived, carrying with it loads of rain. I dropped the front edge of my shelter right down and strapped the sleeping bag cover firmly in place.

Everything was soaking and mud had splashed everywhere covering my kit. Sleep was impossible. Suddenly, an LED lit up the night and the isotope rose gracefully towards the rod. After a brief pause the line pulled from the clip, and I was away.

Squelching to the rods I struck and played a decent fish carefully to the net. As it came close, I had to slide down a short clay slope to get to the water. The rod was at maximum as the fish refused to budge. In hindsight, it was because it was beached on the shallow point in front, but this option hadn’t dawned on me.

Turning the air blue, I marched into the lake, over my wellies, to net the fish. In the driving rain, soaked and muddy, I pulled the carp towards me and looked down. There lay my obsession, Benson.

The phone went into overdrive and helping hands appeared. With the scales tied firmly to a tree, the needle spun to 57lb 13oz.

It was my 137th fish from the lake in 28 months, and the end of a huge rollercoaster ride that had seen me experience just about every emotion. But right now it was just joy.