Rob Hales on the record carp

Angling Times talks to Rob Hales, the man be­hind the new record carp

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME - BEN MILES News ed­i­tor

ROB Hales is with­out doubt the most talked about UK fish­ery boss in the UK af­ter his Shrop­shire venue The Av­enue pro­duced the 69lb 3oz Bri­tish record carp.

The fish, Big Rig, was hand reared by the RH Fish­eries owner and specif­i­cally grown to be­come Bri­tain’s big­gest-ever carp... di­vid­ing opin­ion within the sport.

As the dust set­tles on one of the most con­tro­ver­sial cap­tures of re­cent times, Angling Times caught up with Rob to gain an in­sight into the world of big carp. You bought Big Rig at 39lb as one of a hand-se­lected group of fish. Do you have any other carp from this batch in your lakes? When I bought Big Rig she was one of a group of fish that were all big­ger than she was, with amaz­ing po­ten­tial to grow huge. I bought those too.

All my lakes con­tain fish-of-al­ife­time and I just keep ad­ding to them, giv­ing more an­glers a shot at the fish of their dreams.

How big do you think carp can get in a UK water? I think Big Rig has the po­ten­tial to reach 75lb… pos­si­bly more.

But there’s no doubt that a qual­ity strain of carp in the right en­vi­ron­ment could break the 80lb bar­rier.

In my opin­ion that’s great for carp fish­ing in the coun­try and the fish­ing in­dus­try as a whole.

You use state-of-the-art feed­ers set on timers to op­ti­mise the growth of carp at some of your wa­ters. What does this cost? I can spend up to £15,000 on feed for just one lake dur­ing the course of a year.

This in­cludes pel­lets and med­i­cated boilies just be­fore the

win­ter which keep the fish in top con­di­tion through­out the colder months.

I’ve put 100 ki­los of these boilies into one of our lakes in the last week alone. This is what it takes.

What is your mes­sage to those peo­ple who say that pur­posely grow­ing carp to break records is wrong? Peo­ple must think that all I do is buy big fish and force-feed them bait un­til they reach mas­sive weights.

Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.

The fish I buy and raise are from the high­est qual­ity strains.

Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand how much time, ded­i­ca­tion and hard work it takes to grow so many huge carp.

An­glers want to catch big fish and I meet this de­mand.

Those who crit­i­cise this need to wake up, be­cause it’s fish­eries like mine that hold the fu­ture for the Bri­tish carp record.

Were you sur­prised by some of the neg­a­tive re­ac­tions af­ter the cap­ture of Big Rig? Not re­ally. Sadly, it’s of­ten the un­e­d­u­cated mi­nor­ity that tend to spout off and don’t re­alise the harm they can do.

The na­tional pa­pers picked up on this and all the cov­er­age did was to paint angling and an­glers in a very bad light.

Some of the com­ments that were aimed at the cap­tor, Tom, were shock­ing and those re­spon­si­ble should be very ashamed of them­selves.

They should take up another sport.

Did you re­gret the way in which the record story played out? The only thing I would have done dif­fer­ently was not to speak to the daily pa­pers, be­cause it ’s now clear that they didn’t want a good fish­ing story.

In­stead they fo­cused on all the neg­a­tiv­ity that came from small-minded and, in some cases, vi­cious in­di­vid­u­als.

At the end of the day a great guy caught the big­gest carp in the coun­try and it’s an achieve­ment that should be cel­e­brated, not den­i­grated.

Is the de­mand for catch­ing big, com­mer­cially-stocked carp still on the rise? The ap­petite among an­glers for catch­ing huge carp is just get­ting big­ger and big­ger.

There’s no sign of this trend slow­ing down at all.

Have you and your team been in­un­dated since the cap­ture of Big Rig? Put it this way, our web­site usu­ally gets around 350 hits a day. Since Big Rig was caught we’ve had over 5,000 a day. It’s crazy – the phone hasn’t stopped ring­ing and our email boxes have been filling up fast.

Now you’ve grown the big­gest carp in the UK, what comes next for RH Fish­eries? To con­tinue to pro­vide huge carp for UK an­glers. It’s my pas­sion. We now have thou­sands of Big Rig’s off­spring that all have the po­ten­tial to grow to mas­sive pro­por­tions.

Not only will I grow and nur­ture these fast-grow­ing carp for my own wa­ters, but I will sell them to other venues so they will have carp bear­ing the genes of this record-break­ing carp.

“I can spend up to £15,000 on feed for just one of my lakes dur­ing the course of a year”

Rob with Big Rig, the fish he hand-reared to a record weight.

The mo­ment when Tom Do­herty caught Big Rig. The carp record claim will be made at an of­fi­cial weight of 69lb 3oz.

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