An angler who reeled in a 5st carp claims he has been “cheated” out of setting a new British record after judges disallowed his catch because the fish was already too big when it was imported into the UK.
Vinny Parker, 54, said he was “shaking like jelly” when he hauled the 69lb 10z carp, known among fishermen as Captain Jack, from the water at Holme Fen Fishery in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
The painter and decorator believed he had broken the current official record for the largest catch, set in 2016 when Dean Fletcher fished a 68lb 1oz carp from Cranwells Lake in Wasing, Berkshire.
But Mr Parker’s claim was rejected by the British Record Fish Committee (BRFC) last month after a judging panel decided Captain Jack was too heavy when it was stocked in UK waters from Israel in November 2013.
Adjudicators also disqualified the catch because the carp had been fed too many pellets while at Holme Fen Fishery before it was plucked from the water in September.
Mr Parker claimed he had been treated unjustly by the committee, arguing clearer rules were needed so that anglers are aware of what constitutes a legal claim.
The 54-year-old is unable to appeal the ruling.
He said: “I feel slightly cheated because the rules are very vague and it comes down to the whim of the judging panel.
“There are criteria to work to, but they don’t let us know what it is. This case was an exercise on trying to get the rules down, but they completely fudged it.”
The BRFC published guidelines last year outlining how it decides whether a catch has broken an official record.
But while the organisation said it analysed factors including height, weight, length and origin of any given fish when they are stocked in Britain, no specific criteria is given.
Carp are not native to British waters and those found in the UK are either imported or specially reared here.
In a statement, the BRFC said: “We cannot consider this a British record, and that word British is important, because it was imported from Israel at such a high weight and stocked into the fishery at a high weight.
“The second consideration is that for several months the fishery was artificially fed with 150kg of pellets a week, and that goes against the criteria we set.”
In response to claims its rules are “vague” and lacked transparency, the BRFC added: “The BRFC has stated on more than one occasion that it will consider claims on their merits. It would be difficult to impose rigid criteria.”
Mr Parker suggested the committee was reluctant to issue clearer rules as it could potentially limit their future role in deciding on whether records had been broken.
He added: “They’re scared they’ll cheat themselves out of a job if they set clear rules – they would lose the power they have. It’s a case of jobs for the boys – can’t beat it.”
But BRFC secretary Nick Simmonds dismissed the claim. He said: “I think that it’s completely bizarre to me if the carp community think that they’re the only people taking up our time.”
Earlier this year, the BRFC announced it was to introduce stricter rules to ensure any fish submitted for a British record attempt was born and raised in the lake where it was hooked.
It came after angler Tom Doherty tried to register a 69lb 3oz carp, known as Big Rig, as a new national record after he caught the fish in Shropshire in September 2016.
However, it later emerged Big Rig was bought from a farm at a weight of 40lb and hand-reared to near the record weight before being placed in the water.