Something made me reach for that magnificent book Redmire Pool by Clifford & Arbery (Beekay, 1984) last night. The wind was howling and the rain was smashing against the windows….that period just before you head for bed when a read puts you at rest. I had forgotten that the following day, today, marks the wonderful anniversary when Richard Stuart Walker (Dick Walker, Water Rail, The Master) caught the then record carp (Clarissa) at 44lbs from the legendary Redmire Pool in Herefordshire. The fish was caught around 5am on 13th September 1952. It’s a wonderful story, full of drama as the best stories always are.
I was obsessed with Redmire Pool as a schoolboy, we all were. Where was it? Did it exist? Who fished there? Walkers record was bettered by Chris Yates with a fish of 51lb 8oz in June 1980 – I still have my copy of Angling magazine that my friends and I poured over at school. We couldn’t believe it, that such a fish existed. The story and accompanying photographs blew our 12 year old minds away. Who was this upstart to beat Dicks record? If any of us caught a decent fish the cry would go up, even in the 80’s, “who do you think you are, Dick Walker” – happy days.
Needless to say, Dick Walker, ever the gentleman, was absolutely ecstatic that Chris caught the fish and later we would pour over the excellent articles by CY in the same magazine.
The story brought back many happy memories for me as well – for I last fished the pool around 2002 and virtually all of my twelve or so trips to fish there were with my much missed friend Pete. We fished a bizarre trip during the even stranger “Diedrich” period (1988 I think) when so many obsessives like us were ripped off and never ever got to fish the pool. We paid, heard nothing and just went. For we, by now, did know exactly where the pool was thanks to the book which had been published a few years earlier. I think Petes parents had actually walked near to the pool or knew a neighbouring farmer who also confirmed its location. The pool obviously hadn’t been fished for weeks, possibly months and it rained. It rained hard and the reason Redmire is named so became obvious – it was like fishing in a bowl of tomato soup. The original bailiff, an elderly Dave Bufton (who lived in a farm cottage on the estate), came down and was amazed to see us. He hadn’t seen anyone since the beginning of the season. He watched me fishing for carp that were feeding by the dam and uttered the words “thems artful fuckers ‘en um” – he was quite right. My friend Pete then became the bailiff himself at Redmire – he loved it, I loved it too as I got to go with him many times just to take in the air, talk fishing and then go for a pint on our way home. We met some incredible characters and sometimes, actually quite often, we would visit the pool and have the whole place to ourselves. It was magical. I’m sure some of that magic still exists, but for me a lot of it has gone, along with my memories and my friend.
So, for a period last night, I was transported to Redmire Pool. I was following Walker, him of the magic hat, in real time. I read as he travelled in pouring rain, arrived and set up at the pool and went to bed in the knowledge that both he and his friend Peter Thomas were waiting for the day to break and the hope of catching one of the Redmire monsters….I woke up this morning happy that they had succeeded.