Caught by the River

Fisherman's Story of the Year, 1952.

18th February 2010

Introduction by Jon Berry.

It is all but impossible to imagine carp fishing before Walker caught his 44-pounder from Redmire in September 1952. The small band of carp fishers in post-war England doubtless knew of Albert Buckley and of the mysterious Otto Overbeck, but big fish were scarce and those chasing them scarcer still. BB’s Confessions of a Carp Fisher hinted at an underworld of silent, patient men who fished long hours for little reward, but it was Dick who pulled remarkable and uncatchable creatures from the depths of mythology and in to the public consciousness.

With the benefit of his engineering and scientific background, a skill for designing appropriate tackle and an arrogant dismissal of dogma, Walker led his merry crew – Dick Kefford, Maurice Ingham, Pete Thomas and the rest of the Carp Catchers’ Club – to angling greatness. Old taboos were shattered by their catches from Mapperley, Dagenham and that small farm pond in Herefordshire, and the rod that had landed the record fish – Walker’s own Mark IV – became the most desirable 122” of bamboo in fishing history. It is still the best rod of its type, and with other Walker-inspired innovations such as bite alarms following soon after, generations of carp addicts were given a blueprint to follow.

The capture of Clarissa – or Ravioli as Dick preferred to call her – has been retold many times. Walker’s own account found a wide audience in his seminal Stillwater Angling, and reads factually, almost unemotionally. This was to be expected of Walker. He had set out to prove big carp could be caught, and having done so moved on to other challenges. Bernard Venables would later criticise him for his detachment, a perceived loss of the old spirit of angling, even ruthlessness. Walker’s biographer, the late Professor Barrie Rickards, saw it differently. Dick Walker loved fishing, and loved it even more when the fish were big. Once he had caught the one he was after, he simply began looking for a different monster. He did stop to smell the flowers along the way – but he chose not to write about them.

The article Jeff has unearthed offers the finest account I have read of Walker’s record carp. Like all the best journalism, it captures the essence of the moment – wide-eyed wonder, disbelief, and the dawning of a new age. Enjoy.

“B.B.,” President of the Carp Catchers’ Club, tells exclusively to “Country Fair” the story that every angler has been waiting for……

read the full story here tomorrow.