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Richard Walker and the capture of Clarissa, the 44lbs carp

The Special Album – 13th September 2021

69th anniversary of a carp that rocked the angling world

As you read this on 13th September 2021, sixty-nine years ago on this very morning Richard Walker made his way up the track away from Bernithan Court water (later known as Redmire Pool) to the big house, Bernithan Court, and asked to use the telephone.

Here in Richard Walker’s own words is what happened.

‘Sometime about 9am or thereabouts the next morning I went up to big house and asked if I could use the phone. I rang the London Zoo and said, “Do you want a forty-pound carp?” They said, “We've got a fourteen-pound carp,” and then I said, “Not a fourteen-pound carp - a forty-pound carp!” The man at the other end made some terse comments about how he did wish hoaxers would think of something better to do on a Saturday morning.

“Then I had to put it fairly bluntly. I said, “Now look, I say this carp is over 40lb and I’ve got it here and you can have it if you like. If you don’t want it I’m sure Bristol Zoo would be glad to have it and they would not have so far to come. If you send out a vehicle and something to fetch this fish in and you find it’s a hoax - all right you’ve wasted a journey, but if you don’t send it out and your employers at the Zoological Society find somebody else has got the carp because you wouldn’t believe me, I think you might be in worse trouble. Suit yourself, but you must tell me now which it is you are going to do. So he said, “I'll send for it.” About six hours later a van arrived with a tub and two obviously unbelieving people who thought it was going to be a hoax. They were quite surprised to find it wasn’t and drove off with the thing.

“Then I sent a telegram to Bernard Venables - because this was the day of the all-England match of that year - which simply said: “Caught carp, 41lb.” (it pulled a 32lb balance to the stop. Then an additional 16lb balance was also used to get a rough figure of 41lb 8oz.) “So that started things moving as far as Bernard Venables and the Daily Mirror was concerned. He got Ken Sutton - who was one of the founders of Angling Times - to go along to the zoo and collect an inspector of weights and measures on the way so the fish could be weighed without anybody ever having any doubt in the future about the actual weight.” The recorded weight was 44lb.

Incidentally, this year also marks 50-years since the demise of Walker’s record carp which picked up the popular name of Clarissa.

I’m not sure the following info has been aired in modern times concerning the capture:

Rod – Mr. Walker’s own make Mark IV carp rod.

Reel – Mitchell fixed spool.

Line – Finlayson’s ‘Green Butterfly’ plaited nylon 12lb BS.

Hook – Allcock’s ‘Model Perfect’ taper shank, whipped direct to the line; no float, knots or lead.

Bait – Balanced paste and bread crust about pheasant-egg size.

Length of fish – 37in (estimated).

Girth of fish – 31in (estimated).

So an epic day for UK coarse fishing, signaling a seismic change in attitude to the size carp could grow in British waters.


1) The front cover picture of Dick with the 44-pounder taken from Walker’s pivotal book, ‘Stillwater Angling’ published in 1953.

2) Redmire Pool as it looked in early part of the 1952/3 season. The Willow Pitch, where the capture took place, is at the extreme left hand edge of the weeping willows.

3) Walker’s praying gesture paid off around 5am on 13th September 1952 with the 44-pounder.

4) A map drawn by Dick Walker of the fight of his record carp.

5) It's been mentioned a few times that this record carp didn’t really look its weight. This picture taken by Pete Thomas on his Kodak Box Brownie camera amply shows the tremendous bulk of the fish.

This article has been written by Chris Ball who has kindly allowed us to add it to the website. One of the iconic moments in angling history.