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14 Nov 2016
by CARPology
14 fish we thought were dead
CARPology investigates what’s the longest period of time a carp has gone uncaught for…

The Black Mirror (eight years)

“Other than the five year gap between Jason Haywood’s and Terry Hearn’s captures of The Black Mirror and the time between Malcolm Tab and my capture of the Burghfield Common, I’d say the longest I know of is that lovely fish Danny Smith caught from a large Colne valley pit in 2005,” states big fish expert, Nigel Sharp. “So like Horton’s Tetley’s Common, it’s avoided capture for the best part of eight years. Both fish lived in very different waters, one is a pressured syndicate and the other is in what can only be described as a mans water so the next question is: which is the wisest of the two?”

The Long Common (eight years)

Rich Wilby’s Spitfire Pool in Norfolk is quite incredible. Aside from only being an acre in size, it contains a near 50lb common that’s been caught three times in its life, along with another common known as The Long Common. It was last caught in March 2005 at 28lb but since then has avoided capturer. However, it has been seen and is said to weigh over 40lbs…

The Banana Common (nine years)

“The Banana Common that I caught from Colemere avoided capture for at least nine years until I had it,” states Jamie Clossick. Even more remarkable is prior to Jamie’s capture, it has only been caught once before that in thirty-years!

'We thought you were dead!' (10 years)

Says Nashbait’s bait guru, Keith Jones: “I think many lakes hold carp that are rarely caught and some fish that have never been caught – and not all of these are big fish so they tend to go unnoticed. A few years back on a 25 acre-ish gravel pit I caught a mid-thirty common that had been missing, presumed dead/pinched for around ten years.”

The Korda Common (10+ years)

“There are quite a few carp around the country that have never been caught but are seen a couple of times a season,” says Leon Bartropp. “I do know The Korda Common has been caught once at 41lb some 10+ years ago and is still seen on a regular basis now. And yes, it’s massive…”

'Big Mirror' (11 years)

This particular fish, which resides in a no publicity Lincolnshire venue, was last caught back in 2002. It is still seen by the members and is drastically bigger than the 28lb that it weighed 11 years ago, but for some reason (like all of these fish featured) it keeps avoiding capture.

Hilton's Linear (16 years)

Maurice Ingham caught a 24lber from Redmire in 1954 and that fish wasn’t caught again until Jack Hilton caught it at 32lbs in 1970. That’s a gap of 16 years in a lake the size of a farm pond. Mental, eh?

Jumbo (landed once)

Not to be confused with Yateley’s Pads Lake Jumbo. Ringland is a lake on the outskirts of Norwich and Jumbo is said to have only ever come out once, at just under 30 having rinsed itself spawning, but was said to be “MUCH” bigger later on but never saw the bank.

The Missing Mirror (23 years)

“Horton Church Lake is renowned for mystery: Phil Thompson’s 13hr fight; Tetley’s Common which was last caught at 40lb 4oz some seven years ago by the mighty Dave Slowen – aka Beadle; and a fish known as The Missing Mirror which has been caught just three times in 23 years. “It isn’t a big fish at 22lbs, and is probably a male but obviously feeds very cautiously,” says Oli Davies.

'The Non-Feeding Carp' (once)

It was a carp that I, and many others, used to see in a lake near my barracks in Aldershot,” states Ian Chillcott. “I fished the water on and off for many years during my time in the army, and caught probably every carp in the lake. Living only minutes from the lake I spent much of my down time walking and baiting the lake. If I got fish feeding in the edge, I would invariably see this particular carp come and investigate, but he never fed or showed any interest in doing so. Remarkably, on my last ever visit to the lake, I landed this carp. The fish were stocked in 1981, and although I can never be 100% sure, as far as I am aware he was never caught before, and has never been caught since.”

The 'Star' (never)

“Locally, there was ‘Scar’ in The Graveyard (Booton),” reveals CARPology columnist, John Hannent. “Although often seen, it wasn’t known to have ever came out! It was a Leney stocked in the mid 60’s as part of a consignment which went to Haveringland I believe.”

'Two fifty-pounders that have never been caught'

Over the fence from Horton Church Lake is Island Lake – aka K2. It is well-known that this 70-acre venue holds one or two very big fish (read: 50lb plus) that have NEVER been caught. “These two fish have been fished for by some of the best anglers in the country over the years,” interjects Oli Davies “and despite being seen regularly, no one has yet managed to put one on the bank. I have no idea why they are so elusive and have managed to reach such proportions; perhaps they are solely natural feeders with a low metabolism?”

The Snub Nose (never)

Another brute from that ultra hard Colemere, this one is said to have never seen the bank since it was stocked in the 1970’s.

'The Slate Gray' (never)

The tiny Crayfish Pool on the Horton complex in Berkshire has its own myths. Head Bailiff, Ian Valentine, is convinced that there is a large fish in there named ‘The Slate Gray’ that continues to evade capture year after year, and has never seen the bottom of a landing net.

But why do they go uncaught?

Nigel Sharp“Why do they go uncaught for so long? Good question. Do they simply not eat much in the way of anglers’ bait? Are they brilliant at dealing with rigs? I’d say a bit of both and on pressured waters anglers can become very stereotype so certain fish can learn to avoid the norm. Then along comes a clear head and BOOM, he has the big ‘un or the hard to catch one out straightaway because he did something completely different.”

John Hannent “I think it’s a mixture of things, but the main one is their mates. While they’ve probably got heightened senses of caution, their mates (combined) always get there first. I don’t think it’s a conscious decision by the fish, just its tendencies. Couple that with the fact he may prefer certain foods, like bloodworm or fry, and he’s going to be hard to catch. And on these lightly stocked waters, once one’s been pricked, they all go a bit ‘mardy’ when their body language changes. And he may fight really hard. So if he does get hooked, you never know about it. So I make that three ‘traits’ and if it’s got them all, it’s going to be an arse to catch! I’ve read somewhere that King Fungus from Wraysbury only comes out when his mate is in the sack or something?”

Jamie Clossick “I have noticed that these elusive fish usually have something in common: an over-slung hoover type top lip. I think this makes them far more adept at dealing with our rigs. You’ll notice that most once-a-year fish have that type of mouth. It must be something to do with the angle they feed at.”

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