To celebrate the publication of Chris Ball’s Historical Carp Waters book, the famous fishing historian has compiled a list of waters that shaped the foundations of carp angling.
10. Llandrindod Wells
Chris Ball says: “During the 1970s, access to lakes where you stood a realistic chance of a 20-pounder was limited.
“Yet, in an area of the country now known as Powys, stood a 15-acre municipal lake that drew many hopefuls to its banks.
“A stocking of carp in the 1950s grew on well, with mirrors of over 20lb being caught by the mid-1960s.
“In 1969 Llandrindod Wells provided an angling highlight for one of the country’s most well-known anglers, Chris Yates; then a 21-year-old carp-mad angler.
“It was here that Chris banked his first-ever 20lb carp, and one fellow angler who witnessed it still remembers to this day the shout from Chris – “Bring a net, I’ve got a monster!”
Postcode: LD1 5HU
9. Fletchers Pond
CB says: “During the 1960s this four-acre pond in the Nottingham area started to produce carp of over 20lb.
“The water is run by the Long Eaton Victoria Angling Society and it was not too difficult to join or obtain guest tickets. Many saw this as a chance to try for an elusive 20lb carp.
“At the time it drew the attention of a number of specialist big-fish anglers including Archie Braddock.
"Archie fished at Fletchers Pond frequently and he caught an impressive six 20-pounders, a feat at the time which positioned him as one of the top catchers of big carp in the whole country.
“Impressively, one of these 20s was caught in January.”
Contact: Long Eaton Victoria Angling Society, 0115 8492854
Prices: £27 a year
8. Big Moor, Sandbach, Cheshire
CB says: “In its time catches of large carp from Big Moor nearly equalled those of the mighty Redmire Pool, meaning that in this part of North West England there was not a carp water that could hold a candle to the magnificent Big Moor.
“It produced its first big carp, a 24-pounder, in July 1964 and later a dedicated band of carp anglers appeared and though results were meagre at first, soon carp started to get caught in greater numbers, with fish to well over 20lb falling to such delights as Campbell’s Meatballs fished with swingtips to detect the smallest of bites.
“During the 1970-1 season two of these anglers accounted for six 20-pounders (up to 29lb 8oz) along with a host of good double-figure carp.”
Contact: Elworth Angling Society
Postcode: CW11 3PD
7. The Tarn at Cutt Mill
CB says: “This important historical Surrey Lake contained carp from the 1920s onwards and was another place to receive Galician carp from Donald Leney’s Surrey Trout Farm.
“By the mid to late 1950s the lake boasted many double-figure carp. In 1957 noted angler Dave Steuart accounted for a seven-fish haul which included possibly a new lake record of 18lb.
“The lake being rather remote made the fishing difficult if you used public transport, so a car, motorbike, scooter or a pushbike was needed.
“During the 1960s many would-be carp anglers and some with more experience fished at the Tarn. Original tackle development took place here, including some of the first wraparound and overwrap brolly designs, along with superior antennae bite alarms and early fibreglass carp rods and landing nets.”
Contact: Farnham Angling Society, 01252 320871
Prices: £125 for first year, £100 after
CB says: “In 1953 Jim Eggett parted a screen of tall weeds and shrubbery and stood on the banks of a lake in Huntingdonshire.
“He liked what he saw - in fact, two lakes took his fancy. With an instinct sharpened by years of work as a landscape gardener, Jim Eggett knew he could transform the overgrown scene into a beautiful home and dream fishery that any angler would cherish for a lifetime.
“That decision in the early 1950s signalled a decade of hard work and fulfilment.
“Over the years I’ve talked to numbers of people who fished at Eggett’s in the hope of landing one of its famed carp. Some did and I tell their story in the book.”
Contact: Fishery is now a private syndicate
5. The Nene Electricity Cut, Peterborough
CB says: “This was a unique fishery in its day. River carp had never featured that much in carp-fishing history, but all was set to change when officials at the Nene & Welland Fishery Board decided to place a considerable order of 5,000 yearling carp in March 1952 from the same source as supplied to Redmire, Eggett’s and elsewhere.
“Of these, around 400 were placed in the lower reaches of the River Nene not far from Peterborough.
The quarter-mile-long ‘Cut’ was an artificial canal dug for the specific purpose of discharging the warmed water from Peterborough’s electricity-generating station back into the River Nene.
“In winter the Cut attracted carp like a magnet. It produced a string of big carp in the harshest of conditions thereby writing itself into the history books.”
Contact: Peterborough & District Angling Association – stretch currently unfishable although carp do reside all along this stretch of the Nene.
4. Dagenham Lake
CB says: “This is another lake from the past I would have loved to visit (via a time machine) in its heyday.
“The expectation of Becontree & District club members in the late 1940s that their water could break the long-standing Mapperley record of 26lb [see no2] made this lake stand out from the ordinary. At least seven carp of over 20lb had been caught before 1950.
“Then, in June 1950, one of its most celebrated club members, Harry Grief, came within ounces of breaking that Mapperley record.
“Richard Walker’s first 20-pounder also came from the lake in early August 1952. He could never have envisaged that in just six short weeks he’d be holding a fish of nearly twice the size!”
Contact: Becontree Council, 020 8227 3338
3. Beechmere - The Old Copper Mine, Devon
CB says: “Perhaps the collective writings of ‘BB’ (Denys Watkins-Pitchford) more than any other author stirred the imagination and aura of fishing for carp.
“His book, Confessions of a Carp Fisher, inspired many to try for carp when most anglers in the 1930s and 40s believed life was too short to even contemplate successful carp fishing.
“But ‘BB’s words and illustrated images started to have an effect and I believe formed the catalyst of modern-day carping.
“When he first glimpsed Beechmere he remembers not a fish was visible and ‘an utter stillness brooded over the place’.
“He felt a strange and sinister atmosphere which, so the story goes, had been cultivated by several suicides. Over 50 years after ‘BB’ first visited Beechmere I too trod the same path.”
Contact: Present owner unknown
2. Mapperley Reservoir, Nottinghamshire
CB says: “Mapperley has contained carp since around 1911 when the landowner, Alfred Miller Mundy, was said to have stocked it with carp from Germany.
“Though another story suggests the fish came from a private estate lake somewhere in the Midlands and that the fish were shipped in tanks by rail to a local railway station and then by horse and cart for the final part of the journey.
“In the late 1920s, rumours were rife locally that Mapperley Reservoir held some giant fish said to be mysterious uncaught monster carp. Oh, how I would have loved to be standing next to Albert Buckley in July 1930 when his float disappeared and the hooked fish careered headlong out into the lake.
“Albert made carp fishing history that day with his 26lb carp.”
Contact: Shipley Country Park, 01629 533991
Prices: £3 per rod, £12 for 24 hours with two rods
1. Redmire Pool, Herefordshire
CB says: “The original big-carp water where records were broken time after time with a string of huge carp.
“This comparatively small pool held the carp record on three separate occasions, the largest brace twice over, the first 40lb common and first 40lb mirror ever landed in the country – and that’s besides the first 50-pounder too.
“In a fitting gesture Redmire also saw fit to honour Jack Hilton with three 30-pounders, thereby becoming the first man to achieve this in carping history.
“However, much of the talk wasn’t just about the carp that were caught, but uncaught whoppers that were seen - 70lb being talked of by some who saw these leviathans.”
Contact: Les Bamford on 01989 770703
Prices: October 29 to March 7, £70pp weekend ticket
Historical Carp Waters by Chris Ball features 22 chapters charting the venues that shaped British carp angling.
The book runs to 400 pages and includes hundreds of photographs of the waters and the anglers that fished them - many of them on show for the first time.
To buy a copy, visit www.littleegretpress.com or call Wayne Cryer on 07909 090 983.