World-famous carp could fetch up to £40,000, 70 years after being caught

Clarissa the carp
Clarissa is mounted in a bow-fronted case - MULLOCK JONES AUCTIONEERS/SWNS

One of the world’s most famous fish is set to sell for up to £40,000, 72 years after she was caught.

Clarissa the Carp weighed a record-breaking 44lbs when she was landed by renowned angler and author Richard Walker, on Sept 12, 1952.

The catch is considered the single most important event in carp-fishing history and paved the way for modern-day angling.

Clarissa broke the previous record by nearly 13lbs and she went on to live at ZSL London Zoo Aquarium until 1972.

Her record stood for 28 years until a fish weighing 51½ lbs was caught in 1980 at the same location, Bernithan Pool, near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.

Now, the original skin mount of Clarissa is set to go under the hammer on July 24 and 25, at Mullock Jones, in Shropshire, with an estimate of £35,000 to £40,000.

Ben Jones, from the auction house, said it was “arguably the most important preserved specimen carp” in the world.

He added: “Five known cast replica copies were produced by Williams, with this being the original unique specimen.

“The capture of Clarissa the record breaking 44lb carp in 1952 propelled Richard Walker into the record books and carp fishing royalty for life.”

The fish is mounted in a glazed, bow-fronted case, with gilt writing and border, set in a naturalistic reed and gravel setting.

Originally mounted by a taxidermist for £80, it was restored in 2011 by Barry Williams, of Cannock, Staffs.

The back of the restored case
The rear of the case is marked with the name Barry Williams, who restored it 13 years ago

Clarissa had been kept at a fishing tackle shop in Coventry, West Mids, which has now decided to part with her.

Walker helped create the Carp Catchers Club alongside Maurice Ingham and Denys Watkins-Pitchford to study the fish, their habits and behaviour.

He believed a 40lb carp could exist in British waters but was ridiculed by both anglers and the press.

That changed after he caught Clarissa using a one-inch, two-piece, split-cane rod he had made in his garden shed.

The famous Richard Walker Mk4 was born and has become the cult rod among carp traditionalist.

On that day in 1952, Walker fished with no float, knots or lead and the bait was a homemade mix of paste and bread crust. He had difficulty persuading experts his catch was real.

At the time, he said: “Sometime about 9am or thereabouts the next morning I went up to big house and asked if I could use the phone.

“I rang the London Zoo and said, ‘Do you want a 40-pound carp?’ They said, ‘We’ve got a 14-pound carp.’

“And then I said, ‘Not a 14-pound carp – a 40-pound carp!’

“The man at the other end made some terse comments about how he did wish hoaxers would think of something better to do on a Saturday morning.

“Then I had to put it fairly bluntly. I said, ‘Now look, I say this carp is over 40lb and I’ve got it here and you can have it if you like.

“If you don’t want it I’m sure Bristol Zoo would be glad to have it.

“So he said, ‘I’ll send for it.’ About six hours later a van arrived with a tub and two obviously unbelieving people who thought it was going to be a hoax.

“They were quite surprised to find it wasn’t and drove off with the thing.”