RICHARD WALKER

LUCKILY FOR RICHARD WALKER, CARP WERE VIRTUALLY ON HIS DOORSTEP...

WHEN Richard Walker posted his now famous letter to “BB”, in January 1947, its recipient would not have guessed that he was receiving correspondence from England’s most accomplished carp catcher.

This said, in an age when Albert Buckley was still regarded as England’s greatest ever carp fisherman, BB still thought highly enough of Walker’s letter to include it as one chapter, in "Confessions of a Carp Fisher".

The rest, as they say, is history; but it could have been all so different.

Little more than five years before Walker set the angling world alight with the capture of “Clarissa” he was confessing to BB that his experience of double-figure fish was limited to just one, rather tiny pool which was located – conveniently enough - close to his home.

Walker, at the time, was a non-driver and his target, to all intents and purposes, had to be Bearton Pond, in Hitchin: a half acre puddle that still exists, and which is now very private.

However, it was a pool that gave at least one remarkable fisherman, Richard Walker, the confidence to develop techniques that would soon be the talk of the angling world.

And Walker invited BB down to fish it and achieve his long-standing ambition of landing a “double”: an ambition that BB was to achieve at long last, on the littered banks of Bearton Pond.

But the author of “Confessions of a Carp Fisher” must have wondered what he had got himself into, having already seen and appreciated the lonely, isolated beauties of scenic waters like Beechmere.

In the Fifth British Carp Study Group Book, BB had some interesting things to say about his first encounter with Walker.

He said: “I went to stay with him and we went out one night and there was a pond right in the middle of town, a dreadful place, a deep pond full of old perambulators and things that people had pushed in...”

Walker’s first letter to BB is printed of course in “Confessions of a Carp Fisher”, and in it Walker states clearly: “A carp pond where I fish is quite small; about an acre in extent...My experience of big carp is practically confined to this water. I have caught them elsewhere, but usually accidentally and none over 8lbs.”

In fact, as the carp fishing historian Kevin Clifford points out, in “A History of Carp Fishing Revisited”, Walker’s home water of Bearton Pond was and is little more than half an acre in extent. Walker had actually doubled its size in his letter to BB.

Against these somewhat startling facts, we must set this statement by Barrie Rickards that “before the formation of the CCC (Carp Catchers’ Club), before the 1950s, he (Walker) was an exceptional carp angler...” (reference: Richard Walker, Biography of and Angling Legend, Medlar Press, 2007).

The two accounts seem very hard to reconcile, and it is hard to see how Walker was able to rise so quickly to carp fishing prominence even by 1951, when he was yet to land a twenty pounder.

This was unlike a number of highly successful pioneers, at Dagenham in particular, including Harry Grief.

But it was the sheer quantity of doubles landed by Walker that made him something special, because his achievement was probably unparalleled at the time.

How many doubles had Walker caught by then?

If Walker had perished during World War Two, his record would still have been commendable, even unique for the period, and for many decades afterwards.

In his excellent book, “The Carp Godfather”, Peter Maskell writes: “By the time Dick was called up to work in radar research in 1939, he had a personal best carp of 16lb 8oz and had taken a staggering 53 carp over 10lb from Bearton Pond...”

Other doubles would come from Temple Pool (Hexton Manor) and from Woldale, and Walker would finally catch his first twenty, a common from Dagenham, in August 1952.

By the time Clarissa came to the net, Walker had caught well over seventy doubles; but many of those, as we have seen, came from Bearton Pond, and most of those fell to floating crust in very weedy and difficult conditions.

Yes, there must have been many repeat captures in such a small pond, but his achievement is still considerable, and the hours he spent on the banks of Bearton Pond laid the foundations for modern carp fishing as we know it.

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dave fish | Reply 25.01.2019 10.49

And did he have permission to take it from redmire,always wondered ,bloody cruel ever way,THE HITCHIN PIKE KILLER!!! Lol

Gary 25.01.2019 18.46

Different times and different values. Yes, they asked permission from McClean to remove fish.

dave fish | Reply 25.01.2019 10.37

And did not Chris yates go on about a 'big wild carp' in one of his books that he had at redmere , was that a leney as well

Gary 25.01.2019 18.49

He had a very long common at Redmire - and yes, that had to be a Leney. It could have been nothing else.

dave fish | Reply 25.01.2019 10.11

I am from the bath area., and funny enough ,walker was fishing huntstreet in bath just about that time,so he may have a point

Jj | Reply 21.06.2018 14.59

I always understood that redmire was stocked with 50 mirrors at a cost of two pounds and seventeen shillings !!!! There was only mirrors I am sure !!!

dave fish 25.01.2019 10.42

Train them as well to eat bread from your hand the next day after a relly long drive ! Lol

Gary 22.06.2018 09.41

As I recall, Clifford did some research, mentioned in his A History of Carp Fishing, which seemed to indicate that Leney did also stock one or two small commons

james | Reply 16.04.2017 23.15

It does not matter if its true ,we all moved fish about before , and he done alot for the sport , but he was no angel like everyone thinks!!!!

Gary | Reply 15.04.2017 21.41

Well, it's an interesting story James - and if true, it would totally destroy Walker's reputation. I hope it's not true...

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