The Royal 40 - Louis Archer

The Royal forty has been a target of mine for the last four years, ever since I was shown a photo of it. Since then, the great fish seemed to shimmer before my eyes, just out of reach...until a few days ago.

Now, for those who don’t know, the Royal is a very special and very old fish that the lives in Royal Parks’ Richmond Park. It was first caught in ’91: an unknown fish at the time, it was already over the magical forty, having grown on naturally. It has always been a low stock water, originally with only six carp, but nowadays that number is more like twenty-five. It also has no night fishing.

Last season I finally bought a ticket for the park, and duly blanked the whole summer on the top lake. Although I caught a few from the smaller lake, I was determined to get my hands on the big boy next door. I left the park to go to university in September, but vowed to return next summer.

When the exams had finished at Uni in mid may, I began my baiting campaign on the big lake after finding an area that I was sure the carp would visit during the morning feeding spell. Every 2-3 days, I would put in whatever bait I could onto an area about 15-20 yards. I worked out that I cycled over 160 miles between my house and the lake during the close season.

He was caught on the 16th: it was great to see the fish on the bank at 46lb, but I couldn't help feeling disappointed. Three weeks into the season, I was planning again! Despite not fishing there, I had been keeping the bait going in. In hindsight, not having rods on my baited area for so long was to my advantage.

Anyway, on July 4th and 5th I put bait on the spot, in preparation for a very sneaky two-nighter on the 6th. First morning, I managed to lose a fish from the spot. That was an absolute gutter, but the silver lining was that I could get bites off the spot. Next morning, at 2am I had a blinding run and blearily pulled into something heavy.
The fish felt big all the way in but I didn't put on the head torch as I normally do, from fear of being seen by the park rangers. The fight was fairly uneventful but was very heavy. When I saw ripples 10 yard away from where I had waded out, I couldn’t resist it, flicked on the light, and was just in time to see an enormous pale shape materialise out of the clear water. I maneuvered the great fish into the waiting net and let out the cry I had been practicing in my dreams for four years: “ROYAL!!!!!!”

Words cannot describe how euphoric I was in those early hours, and the blood red sunrise seemed just for me! My mum, sister, and my mates Matt and Reece came down to take some awesome pictures, and a video. He was slightly underweight, at 43lb 12oz, but who honestly cares!

I would like to thank Korda for producing most of the end tackle that caught the beast on. I used a balanced 18mm Ocean Fresh Red Shrimp Garlic boile with a size 6 Mixa, 4 oz square pear and Kontour main line (first time used!).

Louis Archer
Age 19