On with the tale, Redmire pool is not just a couple of words, it is a dream: an experience, a Mecca for anyone who had heard of carp before Kevin Maddocks explained how to catch this uncatchable species. It is a magical place of amazing natural beauty, incredible really as it’s so close to Wales! (Sorry Taff!)
Back to the past, forget bivvies, bolt-rigs, ultra high protein baits and waiting a lifetime to hook your record, I’m talking of the days when just a bite was a result.
The British record carp stood at 26lbs. before Richard Walker smashed it with a common carp, called Clarissa, at 44lbs. When in history has a record been beaten so unequivocally?
Forget the rugby world cup or even the 1966 football result; this was a record demolished: totally trashed.
This was at a time that it was inconceivable to the majority of anglers that fish could even grow this big.
But despite this huge achievement another syndicate member, a certain Jack Hilton, revealed he had seen bigger!
A four-foot monster, he claimed. Rod Hutchinson saw the same fish at a later date but thought it was nearer five foot. Rod asked Jack why he played down the size of the fish, he replied “They thought I was nutter saying four-foot, if I’d said five-foot I would have been sectioned!”
Jack has later been sectioned: Rod has not!
Our editor, Geoff Maynard and I, gained the opportunity to fish this legendary pool for a couple of days in depths of winter a couple of years back, not the optimum time for ‘filling your sacks’ but a once in a lifetime chance that could not be refused.
Arriving at the pool made the hairs stand up on the back of our necks: this was a place steeped in history, Walker, Wilton, Yates and Ingram had all sat here and succeeded.
If you ever get the chance to fish this pool you will get the feeling of no lake on earth, forget Lac du St. Cassien or L’Orient; this is British history.
Geoff and I must have stood just gazing out at the pool for an hour or more in complete awe until one of us had a quick reality check: it would be dark in less than forty-five minutes and we hadn’t even begun to set up camp.
I’ve written before about the necessity to keep warm in winter and wasn’t about to find out the hard way. The coldness was biting as we tried to allure the fish beyond those wintry, watery depths. We retired to the warmth (!) of the bivvy and started to chat.
I recall a conversation between the two of us as we discussed the lyrics of Bob Dylan (Mr. Tambourine man in particular), before moving on to the Loch Ness monster then finally finishing on the meaning of life.
I have spoken to many people over decades of time but that conversation still sticks in my mind second only to my fathers speech on the ‘birds and the bees’, to think my mother actually laid an egg… amazing!
We went to bed at nightfall, hopes exceeding reality by ten.
We slept for an eternity before I awoke to slow deliberate beep, beep, beep.
I was out of the bivvy door in a blur; I knew this might be my only opportunity to catch a fish from this historic venue. It was a drop-back bite that I hate, so much more difficult to get a proper hook hold on the strike. I was in luck, the resistance was solid, I screamed out to the sleeping Geoff to no avail.
The fish held hard and deep as I applied constant pressure.
Now I have been accused on numerous occasions of ‘bullying’ fish and I will often scoff at people who claim, “I couldn’t do anything with it!” I’ve hooked and held twenty-pound carp before now and my friend Duncan Kay once did it with a fish of thirty-five pounds, you can do something with them, trust me.
For the first time in my life I had a carp on that was genuinely calling the shots.
I screamed to Geoff again: nothing. Those ‘roll-ups’ of his are certainly conducive to a good nights kip!
In desperation I kicked over his rods, a two-pronged idea this, firstly I would get his lines out of harms way, secondly the noise from his buzzers must provoke some reaction surely…? Ah, that would be a no then!
Twenty minutes into the fight my arms were starting to ache, my balls were turning blue but my heart thumping, my brain was racing, my first fish from the legendary Redmire Pool could be a record, the enormity of the task snapped in suddenly, the British record now stood at fifty-one and a half pounds from this water, a carp that had subsequently died, and for the first time in my life I had hooked something I had no control of.
The weather worsened, I could barely make out the far bank, Geoff, like his rods, lay in disarray.
Finally the fish began to tire and started to come into view, then just kept coming into view!
Rod Hutchinson, Jack Hilton you were both right the monster myth of Redmire pool is five-foot long, and bloody deep too.
I extended the net; it was ‘shit-or-bust’ time as the huge leviathan finally succumbed.
As her nose gently met with the spreader block I raised the net to claim my prize. I grabbed the landing net arms with both arms and heaved.
The next part is inexplicable; as I lifted the net the huge common literally fell through the micromesh. An empty net stared back at me as I watched the huge back slowly drift back to the hallowed water.
Before I have lost big fish and slung the rod in disgust but now I just stood in bewilderment. I replaced the rod in the rests and went back to my bed chair in a daze; I lay motionless, unable to sleep.
I must have drifted off eventually as Geoff woke me up at first light with a bacon sarnie and a cup of tea, and all rods still in place!!!
Phew, I thought it must have been a dream, but then Geoff said, “Must have had a goose or something fly through the swim last night, all the rods were on the floor, it was a right mess!”