Carp Fishing History

Richard walkerwith a common carp

The introduction of carp to England and Wales began as early as the 1300’s when carp were imported from mainland Europe and reared in stew ponds. Today carp flourish in almost every river and lake in the country. From small village ponds to the largest, most powerful rivers. The carp has thrived in every available habitat. Introduced initially by monks as a food source, carp became established and were stocked into estate lakes and fisheries, and once available, quickly became a target for anglers. At this time, the carp had a fierce reputation for being incredibly difficult to tempt, and was thought by some to be un-catchable. Slowly anglers developed their knowledge and techniques, culminating in the birth of modern ledgering techniques pioneered by the likes of the legendary Richard Walker.


These anglers had none of the specialised tackle available today, and had to make their own, nets from hessian sacks, specialised split cane rods and eventually the first electronic bite alarm. During the mid-20th century, carp became increasingly popular with anglers and in 1952 Richard Walker netted Britain’s first 40lb fish on breadflake from the legendary Redmire Pool. Ever since, carp have been one of the most sort after species, as confirmed recently when an Environment Agency telephone survey asked the question; Which species you most like to catch? 55% of licence holders stated carp as their preferred quarry. The British Record now stands at over 60lb. Whilst a carp of this size rarity in England, they readily grow to over 10lb, with 20lb being considered specimen sized. Carp are amongst the longest living fish species in the country, with wild fish of over 60 years old being recorded, but this depends on many factors, environment, angling pressure etc.. It is more common for carp to live for 10 - 20 years in today’s fisheries.

In China, Carp were the first fish to be bread for food with several domesticated verities emerging. Chinese domesticated verities include the Mirror Carp, The Leather Carp and the Crucian Carp. The Japanese were responsible for breeding Koi Carp, which are an ornamental verity with mixture of colours including White, Orange Gold, and Black. An interview with carp fishing historian Kevin Clifford about the upcoming launch of his highly-anticipated new book, A History of Carp Fishing Revisited.