ICONS | Mary

There are very few venues in Britain that have been written about more than Wraysbury 1. Other than Redmire Pool and the Yateley complex, Wraysbury is especially important to British carp fishing history since the lake once held the British record carp; in fact the same fish broke the record twice.

This is no surprise when you come to learn about the nature of the venue, as in the late 1990s many believed there were roughly 20 carp living in 120 acres. In more recent years, Wraysbury 1 has undergone many changes under its new ownership, whereby the lake has been divided into two (45 and 75 acres respectively) and each lake has since received multiple stockings of fish. Changes to such an iconic venue were hard to accept for many anglers and some still feel that the lake should have remained untouched, although as the saying goes, nothing stays the same forever.

It is believed that the large gravel pit had begun formation as early as the 1920s, whereby extraction carried on over a number of years until the pit reached and settled at its current size. Fish were steadily and unofficially introduced into the venue over time but the recorded history of the venue becomes much clearer after Leisure Sport Angling took control of Wraysbury in 1970, including several other lakes in the surrounding area.

The inland ocean was to throw up many surprises in the coming years thanks to a stocking in 1983 with 20 carp containing six mirror carp and 14 common carp, as well as another unofficial introduction in 1986 with four carp from a local lake called Rayners. These four mirrors were to become a solid foundation for Wraysbury 1’s history, by becoming the venue’s largest fish, one of which would become Britain’s largest.

Mary had reached a peak of almost 27lb in Rayners but with Wraysbury 1 being a low stock and extremely rich environment, this particular carp, along with others, proceeded to grow at a phenomenal rate.

The first recorded capture of Mary was in 1988 at a weight at 28lb 14oz by Dave Cumpstone, and he was to catch the carp twice more in the future. Of course, Mary is a female name but the carp that spent the rest of its life living in Wraysbury 1 was a male fish. Several fish that had broken the record previously were female fish and were carrying spawn, whereas Mary did not.

Pete Springate was another angler to bank Mary three times. He started fishing Wraysbury back in the late 1960s, targeting the tench, but the sighting of a carp quickly started his burning desire for catching the biggest and best carp in the land. Amazing only three years after Dave Cumpstone caught Mary the angling world was to witness something magical as 45lb 6oz of relatively unknown mirror carp was caught from Wraysbury 1 back in July 1991 by Pete. Having located a very large fish close to underwater snags he had seen in the close season, he used his previous knowledge to look in the same area, and lo and behold he soon found what he was looking for.

A trap was set in close proximity to where Pete had seen the big mirror, as well as a smaller resident accompanying it. Of course, the larger fish took the bait and after some time both Dave Cumpstone and Pete Springate compared photos, when they realised they had both caught the same fish. Nearly 17lb growth in three years is almost inconceivable but it most certainly did happen and is testament to the fantastic environment the carp were exposed to.