What next for the British carp record?

Latest denied claim shrouds prestigious title in controversy

What next for the British carp record?

by Angling Times |

THE Wasing ‘Parrot’, landed by Dean Fletcher at 68lb 1oz in 2016, will remain the official British record carp, following the latest in a string of rejected claims by the British Record Fish Committee (BRFC).

In a unanimous decision, the claim submitted by 14-year-old Jensen Price back in June, following his capture of the giant 73lb 8oz ‘Marshall’ from Cambridgeshire’s Holme Fen Fishery, has been denied the top spot.

The BRFC’s letter to the disappointed youngster reads:

“The reason for the rejection of your record claim relates to the fish itself and the fishery it was caught from.

“The BRFC has long recognised that the carp, uniquely among British coarse fish, has been subject to fish farming and fishery management practices designed to produce and maintain ever-larger fish, in some cases with the specific intention of exceeding the existing record.

“The committee believes that the apparent growth rate of your fish, since its stocking into Holme Fen Fishery, would not be feasible in a natural environment.

“The weights stated for the overall population of carp in the fishery are unsustainable in a naturally fed venue, where the only additional food source is anglers’ bait.”

Jensen Price banked ‘Marshall’ at 73lb 8oz
Jensen Price banked ‘Marshall’ at 73lb 8oz

Controversial record

The news has surrounded the coveted record in controversy, with some anglers calling for the historic list to be abolished, while Jensen’s parents themselves branded the decision “a disgrace.”

It’s not the first time a fish from Holme Fen has been rejected by the committee, leaving fishery manager Martin Dawson frustrated with the lack of clarity on what qualifies as a record.

“The result was inevitable and expected,” he said.

“It’s a pity the committee hasn’t got the confidence to point out now what other fish around the country won’t count, which is something we would support, because it would stop everybody wasting their time, and money, making claims.”

These sentiments have been largely supported by fellow fishery manager and fish farmer at RH Fisheries Ltd, Rob Hales, who had his own fish, the controversial ‘Big Rig’, denied the record too.

“The recent Holme fish is a very worthy and deserved British record,” Rob said.

“The fact that the BRFC has refused is predictable, disappointing and outright snobbery.

“It has become so elitist that it has distanced itself from the majority of big carpers, to a degree where the record doesn’t carry any credibility any more.”

Time to scrap the carp record?

So, are the record lists now in danger of becoming irrelevant? Carp Team England manager Rob Hughes believes we may have already passed the tipping point.

“The record list used to be held in such high regard by anglers, especially carpers, but now it quite simply isn’t,” he says.

“In fact, most modern-day anglers couldn’t name the record fish, its weight or the record-holder. They simply don’t care, and the list is irrelevant in some circles, because it doesn’t reflect modern times. That’s a shame, because it used to be a massive part of British angling history that has now become lost and is out of touch with reality.

“The British record list should be objective, not subjective. The record is purely a record of fact. The simple fact is that the biggest fish caught in the UK is the Wingham fish at 80lb-plus.”

Carp fishing historian Chris Ball has long been keeping his own lists of the country’s prized fish and, following the record keenly for decades, he too believes the current situation has made things difficult.

“They are judging the individual merit of the fish, which is muddying the waters,” he says.

“If a fish is caught by fair means, the scales check out and there are witnesses, it should count. We’ve been here before with the trout and catfish records – I fear the carp record may well end up the same and potentially be abolished altogether.”

Chris also believes the abundance of big carp around the country now has had a role to play in the record losing its shine.

“For years I used to keep track of the country’s 40lb-plus fish, but in the end I just couldn’t keep up. In the last year of doing it I recorded 800 captures over that weight,” he said.

“I now only keep records for captures of 60lb-plus fish, and can confirm there have been at least 126 captures of carp over this weight in the UK.”

Backing for decision

There are some big names that have supported the BRFC’s decision, however, none more so than former carp record-holder Chris Yates. He told Angling Times:

“I would absolutely agree with the BRFC on this one. There have been many attempts over the years to just simply cultivate a fish over the record, with various fish farms or fisheries competing with each other.

“Where does it end? It won’t be long before someone figures out how to grow a 100lb-plus fish in this country.”

Chris believes that the excitement and mystery of carp fishing is in jeopardy because of the increasing numbers of super-fast-growing fish.

“I still regard my own record as slightly dubious,” he said

“Perhaps if it had been a very wild fish of, say, 30lb-plus, it would have been far more exciting. It hadn’t been put into Redmire to break a record, but was chosen along with others by Donald Leney because of their strong growth rates.”

However it was, of course, this record along with Dick Walker’s that made the carp record so inspiring and fascinating. But Chris claims it was never his No1 priority.

“I just loved fishing at Redmire, and I had a dream of catching one of its mythical monsters, but breaking the record was never important to me,” he said.

“The mystery is what kept us going back, and I still believe there could have been a carp in there even bigger than this currently debated fish. I only saw it once, but it had to be 4ft long – it was magic.”

But will there ever be a chance of another Redmire-type venue? Chris thinks so.

“A lot of places that are producing these record fish nowadays I wouldn’t fish, but there are some relatively unknown venues. There could be another Redmire-type venue that ends up shocking everyone.”

Did you know?

The biggest carp ever caught in Britain was an 83lb 4oz mirror known as ‘The Big Plated’ from the Wingham syndicate in Kent. A claim for the record was never submitted, however, due to the fish being heavily spawn-bound.

The biggest carp ever caught in Britain was an 83lb 4oz mirror known as ‘The Big Plated’ from the Wingham syndicate in Kent
The biggest carp ever caught in Britain was an 83lb 4oz mirror known as ‘The Big Plated’ from the Wingham syndicate in Kent

Three other famous fish that were denied the record…

Big Rig, The Avenue, Shropshire

The highly controversial ‘Big Rig’ was rejected as the British record carp after its capture by Tom Doherty in 2016 at 69lb 3oz. The committee threw out the claim because the fish had been artificially reared to the record weight before being stocked into the venue.

Big Rig
Big Rig

Captain Jack, Holme Fen, Cambridgeshire

The BRFC denied this Holme Fen resident the record back in 2018, after its capture by Vinny Parker at 69lb 10oz. It reasoned that the fish could not be accepted because it had been stocked into the venue at too high a weight, artificially reared on over 150kg of pellets per week, and was originally imported from Israel.

Captain Jack
Captain Jack

The Bishop, Redmire Pool, Herefordshire

Chris Yates own record carp, ‘The Bishop’ at 51lb 8oz, was initially rejected as a record in 1980, on the grounds that it hadn’t been killed. This decision was later overturned, however, following pressure from Dick Walker and others. This began a new era, where record claims did not require the body of the fish to be considered.

The Bishop
The Bishop
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