Hunt on for big carp
THE hunt is on around Casino this weekend for our very own version of ‘Benson'.
Benson was a cult-like carp believed to be one of the biggest in Britain.
While the 29-kilogram behemoth attained near-celebrity status in the UK, the carp doesn't command nearly the same affection here.
Instead, about 100 fishers will be on the hunt for the species in the Richmond River today and tomorrow as part of the Casino RSM social fishing club's carp muster.
The second event of its kind, the muster is designed to protect the Richmond River from a carp takeover.
For anglers, the deal is this: if they help the environment by catching a carp this weekend, they could share in $3000 worth of prize money.
The muster is a pre-emptive strike to try and stop carp from getting a stranglehold on the waterway.
“They're not a major problem yet but we want to be able to keep a handle on them. They've been gradually building up,” Rex Clarke from the Casino RSM fishing club said.
“Out at a place like Moree they catch them by the tonne and we don't want them to get to that quantity here.”
Mr Clarke said carp, which appropriately sport whiskers akin to a villain's moustache, caused several problems for the natural environment.
“They eat all the vegetation and kill off the native fish,” he said.
Carp are also believed to contribute to reduced water quality, as well as an increase in algal blooms where they exist in substantial numbers.
Not that you would know it from the outpouring of grief in the UK that followed the death of ‘Benson' in the middle of last year.
News of Benson's demise saw the illustrious Times of London newspaper mourn Benson's death on its front page in August last year.
While this might be acceptable in a country devoid of natural wonders, if an equivalent Benson is claimed in the Richmond River this weekend, he won't be going back in the water for another angler to catch later on.
Instead, he'll be unceremoniously sent to the meat works, along with any other mustered carp, where the fish will be turned into feed for stock.
Not even a fish Benson's size will stave off the trip to the meatworks, with Mr Clarke unimpressed by Benson's weight.
“He wasn't too big,” he said.
“The biggest one I've seen in a photo was 160 pounds.
“It took two blokes to hold him up out of the water.”
Fishers keen to lure their own Benson will need to register for the event at the Casino RSM Club.
The fishing will take place in the Richmond River between Swan Bay and Cooks Weir.
The weigh-in, where adult and junior prizes will be given away, will take place from 3pm on Sunday at the club.