SOMETHING jarred in my mind when I read the article on Alfred Jardine’s Mote Park pike, caught back in 1877 (AM, Sept. 19). It got me consulting the relevant chapters on pike that were written by Jardine himself.
In Vol 2 of Fishing, from the Country Life Library of Sport, published circa 1906-1910, in a list of over a hundred big pike caught between 1874 and 1905, Jardine counts four 19 lb fish, 16 fish of over 20 lb and three of over 30 lb as his own captures.
Strangely, for a selfpromoter of rods, reels etc, there was nothing recorded of a 20-pounder in 1874, his earliest fish on the list weighing 21 lb, from the River Frome on January 2, 1876.
My biggest problem came with the 36 lb Mote Park fish. So I consulted Fred Buller’s The Domesday Book of Mammoth Pike and John Bailey’s The Great Anglers.
Fishing with Francis Francis, editor of The Field, Jardine allowed the pike to gorge his jack livebait for 15 minutes before he tightened onto the fish and battle ensued, at the end of which the pike gained freedom by breaking the line above the float, following late 19th century sporting conventions.
After a lapse of three days, Jardine received a parcel from the bailiff, containing the dead fish, float, gimp trace and several yards of line.
The fish was later sent to the famous taxidermist Cooper to be set up, and weighed 35 lb 8 oz.
I also found anomalies regarding the 37 lb Shardloe fish, witnessed by MVH Broughton, secretary of the
Richard Breakspear: do away with treble hooks. Max size 2 in single hooks.
ANeal Lees: Method feeders, because they badly damage the lips of fish, in my opinion.
AAlfred Jardine’s inclusion in Matt Sparkes’ latest series of historic moments prompted Mail reader Alan Baker to scour the archives.
Thames Angling and Fish Preservation Society.
This fish was weighed on club scales back in London some 12 hours later at 34 lb 12 oz.
And it does seem odd that Jardine failed to publish an account of either fish until both Francis and Broughton were dead, which really is a shame, considering his obvious angling talent, as it does cast some doubt regarding the true weights of Jardine’s other big pike.
Biggin Hill, Kent.
■ MONSTER CARP