Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The legendary angler, R.B. Marston, then editor of the Fishing Gazette, had just snared a small trout with his fake mayfly when an enormous pike seized his prey. The struggle between the two predators, recounted by Marston in the following issue of his newspaper, was an intriguing test of Darwinian law. The pike was evidently sensible enough to know that it faced a stronger adversary, but the fact that Marston was only interested in the sport, not the eating of it, would have mystified the carnivore.

“Halfway through the fight,” Marston wrote, “the pike saw me and tried to spit the trout out” – a somewhat fanciful notion. Automatic clamping is the rule of law in the animal kingdom, as well as the inner cities.

Marston continued his deadly game.
“I thought, if I can nurse you, my friend, I may get you as well,” he recounted and, surely enough, he landed the pike and the trout (which was probably willing Marston to finish the job quickly). The sport at an end, Marston was more concerned about losing his hook – “that would never do” – than the fact that he was making fishing history, so he decided to keep the 1lb 8oz trout and the 8lb pike and have them stuffed and mounted in their death pose.

The exhibit was passed down through the Marston family and is being auctioned with Martson’s Gazette article at Bonhams’ Honiton salerooms on October 11, where it is expected to fetch £8000-10,000 – or about ten times the value of an average cased fish.