Terry Hearn: "The rig that caught the Parrot!"

In conditions eerily reminiscent of his 1996 capture of Mary from Wraysbury, Terry Hearn has eclipsed his long-held pb with the Parrot at 63lb. The long mirror, which set the current official British record at 68lb 1oz last January, came from Cranwells, on the Wasing Estate in Berkshire, during Storm Doris.

Terry racked up 176 captures in around 150 nights there before finally meeting the one he wanted. Terry said: “The windier the better, when the air’s full of energy, the trees are creaking and cracking, and you can barely hear yourself think... always a favourite for the big ’uns.”

The swim where Terry caught the Parrot.

The swim where Terry caught the Parrot.

With conditions looking spot-on, Terry plotted up in the Lifebuoy swim and got to work. “I had a fair idea where I’d be putting my baits. Stretching out for over 100 yards straight in front were 3ft-4ft shallows, then tighter to the island the depth drops away to 9ft. 

“The deeper gulley always looked good for action, but I’d fallen into that trap plenty of times before and rarely caught from it. This time all three rods were going shallow, nothing in more than 5ft. 

“I waited until gone 4pm before boating the rods out, all at range – one to the left, one to the right, and the banker rod out in front in a slight depression where the depth increased to 4ft 6ins. 

“Two shaved tigers on the hairs, a couple of handfuls of hemp, a few chewed nuts and a sprinkling of ‘super maize’ and corn around each. Try putting that out with a spod at 120 yards when it’s blowing a hooligan!”

During darkness Terry heard fish crashing in shallower water to his right, but resisted the urge to cast to them, knowing they would push out at dawn. “I awoke at first light with no action, and with Storm Doris at its peak and my sleeping bag feeling even more snug than usual, I shut my eyes again and dozed back off. 

“Just before 8am I woke to a single bleep, and saw the middle tip starting to bend round. A few more bleeps as I was putting my boots on, and by the time I got to the rod, line was slowly ticking from the tight clutch. 

“The first few minutes were nothing out of the ordinary – a big heavy weight at range. A little closer and suddenly its tail started slapping the surface over shallower ground. Shallower, but still around 3ft deep, yet its head was on the bottom and its tail was on the surface – it had to be the Parrot. I knew it, but I was still trying hard not to think it. 

“Probably only 15 yards away its wide, crusty back broke the surface. Sod the waders – I just walked straight in up to my waist. Weed picked up when it hit the slightly deeper gulley in my margin made it a tad easier to guide over the net, but as I went to lift it woke up again and rolled back over the cord.

“Now it was thrashing about on the surface, shaking its head from side to side, but the next time it settled down I took another step or two out into the lake, pushed the net deep down beneath it and lifted. YES, YES, he was mine! 63lb of long, dark, scaly mirror. 

“One thing’s for sure, the longer the campaign, the longer you have to wait, the bigger the buzz at the end of it. Still on cloud nine now.” Terry told Angling Times he plans to fish the Thames for predators until the end of the season before resuming his carp campaign.

Terry Hearn's tiger nut rig

Terry’s bottom-bait rig is a tried-and-tested classic that has caught him hundreds of big carp. It might look quite ‘aggressive’, with a big shrink-tube kicker and the hair trapped on the bend of the hook with a piece of silicone tubing, but it really works.

The weight of the hookbait pulls the hook down into the fish’s mouth and the hair position and shrink tubing combine to flip it over and take hold.

Terry suggests tying this rig relatively short, as it relies on the fish tightening the hooklink against the weight of the lead. On this occasion he used E-S-P Tungsten Loaded coated braid and a size 5 Drennan Super Specialist Barbel hook.

Also in evidence is Terry’s love of particle baits. Two tigers on the hair, surrounded by maize, corn and a few chewed nuts, were enough for the Parrot,. They’ll work anywhere.