I’VE HAD a catch report in recently from local angler Mark Gooding which included catfish of 175lb and 200lb, as well as a 42lb river carp. You won’t be surprised to hear that these came not from the tranquil depths of the Water Park, but during a recent holiday trip to Spain with five friends – all local anglers.
Grayo caught the larger of the two cats, Mark the slightly smaller (but still ridiculously impressive) one, and Trev the carp.
It’s the last of these that really gets me excited.
It’s not that I don’t like catfish. The huge moggies of Spain’s Ebro system are enormous and remarkable. They grow to lengths of 10 feet and more, resemble tadpoles of nightmarish proportions, and fight with a power that sees anglers returning year after year for more. They’re ugly, sure, but ugly beautiful.
It would be hard to think of anything more impressive that could be caught in freshwater anywhere in the world, and I’d love to fish for them one day.
But river carp are, for many of us, the future of our sport. At home and abroad, they have populated moving water with great success, and on our local, otter-depleted rivers like the Bristol Avon and Upper Thames offer a tempting alternative to the almost-absent barbel.
I caught my first river carp while barbel fishing during the summer floods of 2007. I was having one of those evening sessions we all dream of – three hours in, I had landed 10 modest barbel in the 4-6lb class from Great Somerford Weir, and was sure as I could be that a larger fish would appear as the light dropped.
The 11th bite was the one, the Speedia sung as a bigger fish took me upstream towards the lasher, and my heart began to race. But, when it surfaced, its pot belly and mirror scaling made its identity unmistakable. At about 15lb it would have made a special barbel, rather than a fair-sized carp.
There’s some prejudice against having carp in our rivers, and that evening another angler told me that ‘vermin’ like carp did not belong in ‘the Brizzle’. Not indigenous, he told me.
I didn’t like to mention that the barbel has only been in it for 40 years. I just vowed silently to find more uncaught, neglected carp in my local rivers – and I have. Tight lines.
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