In June 1995 Roddy Porter’s new 54lb British record carp sent shockwaves through the sport. More than two decades on, we take a look back at the famous capture...
In June 1995 the British carp record was shattered by a relative angling unknown called Roddy Porter. The 25-year-old, from Leicester, had a personal best of just 19lb when he arrived at Mid Northants Fishery for his first-ever session at the venue, which lies roughly 20 miles south-west of Peterborough.
Roddy’s main target was to catch his first-ever ‘twenty’ and, as he would later reveal, after casting out and retiring to his bivvy for the night he felt confident of catching.
He could never have envisaged, however, that by the time dawn arrived he would be hoisting aloft a 54lb mirror for the cameras.
The fish eclipsed Chris Yates’ 51lb 8oz record, caught from Redmire Pool 15 years earlier.
Although it would be caught again just a few short weeks later to cut short Roddy’s spell in the limelight, the capture remains one of the biggest shocks in carp angling history.
It’s safe to say that Roddy’s achievement rocked the carp fishing world, not least because it beat Chris Yates’ British record from Redmire, which had stood for 15 years and was very much seen as an iconic capture. It was a tough act to follow, that’s for sure, and many people in the industry didn’t give the catch the credit it deserved – although this aspect was ‘water off a duck’s back’ to Roddy, now aged 47 and still living in Leicester.
He said: “I know it upset a few people, but that was mainly because that year was the first that the old closed season was abolished. Inevitably, a few people said ‘you shouldn’t have been fishing’, and I took part in the odd slide show at events where there was the odd silly shout and negative comment made, but it didn’t really bother me one bit.”
Of course, Chris Yates himself refused to recognise Roddy’s fish as a record (as it was caught in the old ‘closed season’), but Roddy revealed that the great man himself was nothing but complimentary when he met him not long after the catch was made. “I met Chris at a carp show that same year and we got on just fine. He was a gentleman. Bob James was there too and was highly congratulatory. He’s a lovely bloke, and even suggested we go fishing sometime!” Roddy said.
Once the furore had died down, Roddy carried on fishing the same venue for another season before moving on to another water near Little Irchester for the next four or five years. There, he managed to catch a few nice commons to about 33b, and also fished further afield , namely at Fishabil in France where he enjoyed some good hits of fish alongside carp angling giant Tim Paisley.
“I remember on the final trip I fished next to Tim and he blanked, while I caught fish after fish. Good memories!” joked Roddy.
Not long after Fishabil, however, Roddy found the demands of everyday life taking over, with long work hours and the pressures of starting a young family meaning that fishing inevitably had to take a back seat. Incredible as it sounds,
Roddy hasn’t wet a line since, although plans are afoot to change that before too long, as he explained: “I’ve been meaning to get back into it for a few years now that the kids are a bit older, and I’ve got a mate who’s nagging me to go with him. I know that as soon as I give in and actually get out for that first session, I’ll be well and truly hooked all over again!” he said.
“I’ve still got all the kit I used to catch the record carp in the garage – the rods, the reels, even the old Nash Titan bivvy – and I’d never sell it.
“The only bit I don’t still have is the net I used – I gave that to Tim Paisley and he sent me a more modern one with carbon fibre arms in return. Plus, I gave the rig I used to catch the fish to Chris Ball, the carp historian.”
Of course, the carp market has changed out of all recognition in the 22 years since Roddy made his famous catch, but he’s been managing to stay abreast of all the changes and has made plans to finally get out on the bank later this year.
He said: “I don’t really buy the fishing magazines, but I watch a lot of videos and ‘how to’ type masterclasses on YouTube and other internet sites. Although I’m interested in all the latest rigs and other developments, I find it a little bit daunting.
“It all seems to have become so technical and over-complicated, and every rig seems to involve shrink tube or ‘kickers’ and all manner of swivels and other gizmos. I believe that you can catch just as many fish on simple rigs as on all-singing, all-dancing ones.
“That said, it’s only a matter of time before I get back out, although I’m not sure I’ll start back with carp fishing to begin with. I was initially from a match-fishing background, so that’s the area I’ll probably look to get back into first. “In particular, I’d like to try trotting for big roach. I’ve been watching a lot of videos and reading instructional articles about it and I’m intrigued to give it a go. I think it would be the perfect way for me to get back into fishing, and to return to the beginning, as it were, to try to rediscover the magic I felt whenever I went fishing as a kid.”