Latest Issue April
CARPology Other Stuff

The 25 Greatest Captures That Shaped Carp Fishing: Part 1

From Kevin Ellis's 76lb Cassien carp to Terry Hearn with Mary...


Kevin Ellis's 76lb Cassien carp

In an image that recalibrated the term ‘monster’ in the eyes of the angling public, Kevin Ellis is seen struggling with a barrel of a carp from a water that, back in 1986, was far from the Mecca it would later become. In fact, young Ellis - with his square-rimmed glasses and boyish looks - was responsible for catapulting the French venue into the limelight.

What That Capture Meant… By Steve Briggs
“It’s hard to explain now just what an impact that capture had, but it was a huge fish and a major moment back in 1986! It was the main inspiration for me to start fishing Cassien and I was there just a few months later. For me it’s one of the all-time great captures.”

The Record-Breaking Duo: Terry Hearn and Mary 

It’s possible that this capture has launched more carp careers and lit more fires than any other moment in angling history. The fish set a new British record and looked incredible in the arms of fresh-faced Tel against the perfect late-autumn backdrop - but it also came at just the right time. In 1996 carp fishing was ripe for a boom in popularity and this catch ignited the fuse for an explosion that still burns today.

How I Heard The News… By Dave Ellyatt 
“Obviously this was still several years before on-line carp forums would break news fairly quickly and many years before social media, so I think the first I heard of Terry’s capture of Mary would have been in the Angling Times. The issue dated 20th November carried the story and an iconic photo of Tel with Mary on the front page. So that was 10 days after the capture which shows how long news like this took to reach the masses in those pre-internet days.

“I was well aware of Terry at the time through the reports of his captures - especially from Yateley - as I subscribed to Carp-Talk. I only really knew about Wraysbury through Pete Springate’s and Phil Thompson’s well publicised captures and was well aware that it was a low stock in-land sea, so to hear about this relatively young bloke going on there late in the year and catching two of the lake’s most prized carp and one at a British record weight was pretty mind-blowing! I think Tel was already gaining a reputation prior to this capture as being a rather gifted angler and this pretty much sealed it.”

Martin Clarke: Summerleaze brace

With photos that blew everyone away, Martin Clarke’s Summerleaze brace from 2000 will spark fond memories for anglers of a certain vintage. Within an hour or so, Martin landed two incredible-looking scaly mirrors weighing an astonishing 45lb 8oz and 46lb 2oz. Both were lake records at the time and the larger one came while Carp-Talk’s Chris Ball was en route with his camera. Writing on his ‘Special Album’ thread on, Chris said: “Around half way through the journey my mobile rang, and the now slightly high-pitched voice of [editor] Simon Crow blurted out something like this, ‘Chris, Chris, you’re never gonna believe this, but I’ve got Martin Clarke on the other phone and he has another fish in his landing net which looks as big as the first one!’”

What’s Happened To Summerleaze?
Summerleaze is still a syndicate, but it went no publicity some years ago. The famous Sandy Fish (which was thought to be fifty-plus) remains uncaught… 

“My memories of CT that day was of it being mega busy. In those days it was all a bit frantic as communication wasn’t as easy as it is today. Mobile phones cut out or didn’t connect, no-one used text, there was no Messenger etc. There was a lot of back and forth trying to get the story first. Chris Ball was our man ‘down South’ and he was on route to Clarkey when he caught another, so Clarkey rang me at the office in Hull. It was a great story and catch for the time as they were very special carp in there.”


Chris Yates and The Bishop

There is no other photo in the history of carp angling that holds your attention longer than the image of Chris Yates kneeling at the Redmire altar, gently tipping forward the first 50-pounder Britain had ever seen. Chris’s intense half-grin, his weathered wax jacket, the punt in the background, the ancient linear in front of him… it was, and is, iconic. Even if it was never officially claimed as a record. Chris slipped it back, refusing to adhere to the rules of the time that stated such fish must be made available for inspection to the BRFC (usually by way of killing them).


Dick Walker: Clarissa/Ravioli 

Redmire Pool’s mythical status was cemented with this truly mind-blowing capture back in 1951. On that September day, the current British record was 31lb 4oz. Walker’s mighty common obliterated it by nearly 13lb. The fish, known to Walker as Ravioli but later universally called Clarissa, lived for the rest of its days at London Zoo. It died, weighing less than 28lb, in 1971.

To read Part 2, click here

Signup to Carpology

Get CARPology's Newsletter, your no-nonsense briefing on all the biggest stories in carp fishing, in your inbox every Monday morning.