Nick Helleur: How I caught the Thames 50

Nick Helleur: How I caught the Thames 50

Nick Helleur has revealed his 50lb Thames-record carp fought so hard it pulled his boat off its anchor.

The experienced angler told Carpfeed his incredible 50lb 12oz mirror made him throw up as he realised what was nestling in the bottom of his net after an epic 40-minute battle.

Speaking to us tonight, Nick said: “Like all these things it’s still sinking in, if I’m honest. I feel I’ve been rewarded for keeping the faith in this style of fishing. I’m just really happy.”

Nick targeted the fish, which is the first 50 ever publicised from the Thames, on a stretch of the middle river from his cabin cruiser.

Catch of the year? Nick’s 50lb 12oz Thames mirror

Catch of the year? Nick’s 50lb 12oz Thames mirror

With his boat on a trailer, each trip to the spot from the access slipway involved going through two locks as part of a two-hour journey.

Recalling the capture, Nick said he anchored up away from the bank on Thursday evening and caught five or six bream within moments of each other before the action ceased.

He told Carpfeed: “About 10pm – I’d had a glass of wine, I’d listened to the radio, having a lovely time, my dog was with me, I had the candles on – I heard a big slosh and the all the coots went wild.

“Not long after that I must’ve fallen asleep. It was the early hours when I had the take. If I’m honest, had I lost it I would have said it was an upper-20 common – it was very fast, like a tuna.

“The fight was a complete nightmare, it was a farce.

“It pulled so hard it pulled the boat off its rear anchor on the marginal shelf. So it was pulling the boat round as I was playing it, the rear anchor had lost its footing.

“The weed has just started to break up and I was having to put the rod down and pull handfuls of rotting streamer weed off the line – I must’ve done that half a dozen times – but sometimes you’re name’s on a fish, and my name was on this one.

“It was an absolute beast of a fight that lasted 40 minutes or more.”

It’s a new Thames record

It’s a new Thames record

Initially believing it was a common, before glimpsing its linear scaling as it neared the net in thick mist, Nick admitted the eventual realisation hit him hard.

“I was actually sick,” he said. “I wretched and pulled a proper whitey. When I realised what it was, my heart was racing.

“You’ve got to remember how big it is. A 30lb river carp is a huge fish. A 50-pounder is just something else entirely.

“I was absolutely beside myself with stress. That night I swear I aged 10 years. It’s a huge responsibility [to look after that fish]. It’s the rarest thing you will ever see. It’s a living dinosaur.”

Nick had been fishing the area for three months and was planning to target this spot later in the autumn, but the capture of two 20s during an earlier session brought forward his plans.

He baited very heavily with peanuts flavoured with half a kilo of “the hottest chilli powder available” per bucket, and lots of salt, plus glugged Sticky Krill boilies. 

“I baited for it,” said Nick. “I stuck to one aim and I thought, ‘I will feed them to an area’, and that’s effectively what I did. 

“I was trying to build a spot. Nobody else was fishing there and with the head of bream you seriously couldn’t have put enough bait in.”

Intriguingly, Nick ditched bite alarms while fishing from his boat and used cheap clip-on bells attached to the rod tips.

“Bellkims, we call them,” he laughed, “The hull is glass fibre and the whole boat acts like a speaker, so you don’t miss anything.

“With a buzzer, a bobbin and backleads the flow is always keeping the line tight. There are so many occasions where you’d wake up with a bream on each rod, without any indications.”

Reflecting on his achievement, he added: “I achieved my dream, whether it was a conscious one or not. I feel I’ve been rewarded, doing it my way, the right way, with no impact on anyone else’s fishing.

“Did I deserve it? Does anybody? I think you have to live your life with a bit of hope and faith, and I’ve always lived that life, with faith that one day my numbers would come up. And they came up!” 

Nick’s Thames campaign, including the capture of this fish, will form part of a forthcoming Sticky Reflections video.

“A living dinosaur”

“A living dinosaur”

Nick’s tackle

  • Snowman rigs

  • Hookbait: Heavily glugged Sticky Krill bottom bait with Signature Squid pop-up

  • Loosefeed: Peanuts with salt and chilli powder, plus Sticky Krill boilies with Krill Liquid

  • Rods: 10ft Wychwood Extricators

  • Mainline: 20lb

  • Hook: Size 5 Thinking Anglers Wide Gape

Nick’s view on the state of the Thames

Nick told Carpfeed the Thames is flourishing when it comes to big coarse fish, but is in need of a fresh injection of young carp.

“The Thames is in desperate need of fish – it’s dying,” he said.

“It’s great for big fish – there are 20lb barbel in several stretches, and lots of 18/19-pounders, plus record chub, without a doubt – but carp are non-indigenous so they won’t stock them into rivers.

“Because of otters, everyone is fencing their lakes, so there won’t be another influx of fish during floods.” 

Where is the fish from?

All large carp spark a flurry of rumours about their provenance.

This carp is the same one that Steve Shenfield had at 48lb 7oz in June 2017, and the same one that was caught by the angler known as ‘Katch Bullet’ at 43lb in 2014.

Nick told Carpfeed he had seen photos of it as an upper 30 and added: “It’s been there a long time and got put in from a lake on a caravan park.”

Some online commentators believe it is a Dinton Pastures fish known as Clusters, but Nick said he had studied photos and said they are definitely different fish, though he admitted it could originally have come from the same strain.