Bluebell Lakes, England: Breeding ground for giant fish

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Fishing is serious sport in Great Britain, and the Bluebell Lakes are favorite fishing holes in the English countryside near the border of Cambridgeshire and Northhamptonshire.

The lakes are known worldwide for their famous residents: huge carp. The untimely death in 2009 of one such famous carp, the 64 pound Benson, caught the attention of newspapers and sport fishermen’s forums across the world. World media outlets such as the BBC reported that much of Britain was mourning the loss of their favorite fish.

A calm day at Kingfisher Lake, part of the Bluebell Lakes, England
Bob Jones / Kingfisher Lake, Thetford via wikimedia commons

The Bluebell Lakes are actually six lakes that cover about 50 acres: Bluebell Lake, Kingfisher Lake, Sandmartin Lake, Swan Lake, Mallard Lake, and Wood Pool. Opened in 1994 to the public, the owners stocked each lake to maximize fish size.

Although giant carp get the most press coverage, the lakes also grow huge catfish, pike, tench, chub, perch, roach and bream. A two-mile section of the River Nene is also under control of Bluebell Lakes and offers excellent fishing along the reedy banks, locks, and weirs.

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Reeling in the mystery of Benson the Carp

Prized celebrity carp Benson lived in Kingfisher Lake. Another giant carp, named “The Creature,” lived in Swan Lake and weighed in excess of 60 pounds before dying in 2009. The Z Fish, which lived in Swan Lake and topped out at 55 pounds, was found dead in 2017. The fish was estimated to be about 22 years old.

An angler holds Benson, a giant carp
Benson at 56 pounds. Kingfisher Lake, 2008. Photo courtesy of bluebell-lakes.co.uk

Benson, a female carp, was caught and released more than 60 times before her death. Carp can live to be 60 to 70 years old, so Benson’s death (1984-2009) raised suspicions and generated theories about her untimely departure.

Although smaller fish can be removed from the lake, large fish must be returned after having their photograph taken with the proud angler.

The Cambridgeshire / Northhamptonshire area of England is steeped in history. Remains of a castle overlooking the River Nene mark the birthplace of Richard III and the execution place of Mary Queen of Scots.

Visitors can tour preserved manors and estates that date back to the 13th century. Plan your stay in a quaint thatched-roof cottage in one of the area’s many small towns, with the customary local pub on a nearby corner for traditional foods and ale.

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