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Benson (1984 – July 2009) was "Britain's biggest and best-loved"
common carp. Benson's popularity was such that she was caught 63
times in 13 years, although the accessibility that made her
popular was also the cause of controversy among angling’s elite.
She has also been referred to as "the people's fish" and was
voted by readers of Angler's Mail as Britain's Favourite Carp in
The fish, who was female, was originally one of a pair: her
original companion, Hedges, disappeared in a flood of the River
Nene in 1998.
Benson was named due to a hole in her dorsal fin that resembled
a cigarette burn, in a reference to Benson and Hedges.
At her peak weight, in 2006, she weighed 64 pounds and 2 ounces.
Benson died in 2009, aged 25. At the time of her death, she
weighed the same as a large dog and was worth £ 20,000.
The owner of the lake where she lived alleged that she was
accidentally poisoned by anglers using uncooked Tigernuts as
bait. Another possible cause of death was the complications of
pregnancy with 300,000 eggs.
Living in the Kingfisher Lake at the Bluebell Lakes complex, at
Tansor just outside Oundle in Cambridgeshire, where she was one
of approximately 150 carp; the lakes are managed "to provide the
best environment for growth potential of the fish".
UK Carp magazine, ascribed Benson's fame to "her accessibility".
Among keen anglers there are about only 20 carp that can be
seriously called “household names”. Benson was near the top of
that league. The thing that made Benson famous was her
Unlike other big carp, she was a day-ticket fish — anyone could
go along and try to catch her. However, this very accessibility
made the fish controversial among the sport's elite: "Everyday
anglers loved her because there was a chance they could have
their photo taken with one of the big fish ... some serious
anglers did not like her because she was open to everyone."
Benson's record of being caught so often masks her
unpredictability. "There was a period when Benson was caught
every Monday for six weeks. Then it seemed that she disappeared
for the next 12 months."
The Daily Telegraph reported that the fish had been "poisoned".
A quantity of uncooked nuts, which are toxic to fish who swell
up because they cannot process them, were found nearby on the
bank. Owner of Bluebell Lakes Tony Bridgefoot, 53, said he
feared the fish had been killed by "irresponsible anglers". It
has since been confirmed that the most likely cause of death was
not nut poisoning, but rather reproductive complications due to
Benson's successor as a popular and very large common carp may
not live too far away from the fish's former haunt. "The same
complex where Benson lived boasts a lot of promising 40lb fish.
There’s one — the Z-Fish — that is ounces under 50lb and still