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Richard Somerville 1968 - 2013
It is with enormous sadness that we must pass along the news that our friend and colleague, Richard Somerville, has passed away after a battle with cancer. Richard leaves behind a wife, Elizabeth, and two young children, Katharine and Arden. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this tragic time. Our thoughts are also with the families of Jason Johonnesson and Jason Aylott who have done so much to care for and provide strength to Richard’s family.
Richard was a deeply private man so it is testament to his love for the sport and his gregarious nature that he also leaves behind a rich legacy and an enormous carp fishing family that extends to both sides of the Atlantic. Born in Nottingham, UK, Richard grew up in Grantham, Lincolnshire. He was an avid carp angler caught up in the carp fishing boom of the late 70s and early 80s. He became a game warden so that he would have more time to fish for his beloved carp. He was one of the first in the UK to test the Rod Hutchinson Flavors that he would later become the most recognizable face of in the USA. He made many, many friends in the UK carp fishing scene before moving to the USA, where he quickly became hooked on the almost unknown sport this side of the Atlantic.
Richard was hugely influential in developing the carp fishing scene in Indiana, and was heavily involved in the local Carp Anglers Group. He quickly became a leading name in the growing US sport and his hard work and willingness to explore new waters became legendary. Also legendary were his zest for life and the love of a good prank. Richard’s fishing partners knew the risks; they could wake up to screaming bite alarms only to find their bivvies zip-tied shut, or find a cackling Richard hovering over them in their sleep. He loved to tease his fellow anglers and enjoyed the camaraderie that fishing provides. And he knew how to tell a fishing tale that, more often than not, went beyond fishing and ventured off-road into the sometimes bizarre backwoods. He was in his element with a beer in his hand and an audience around him, holding listeners rapt with his tall tales that you never quite knew were entirely true. Certainly he enjoyed an incident-packed fishing life, and he seemed to attract the unexpected, and indeed welcomed it, but his ability to embellish his tales at just the right places often had his listeners rolling with laughter and shaking their heads. It is a great regret that many of his tales will be left untold.
But Richard was not just about tall tales and laughter. He was a consummate angler. He was one of those men that other anglers envy because he somehow always just knew how to catch fish. Because of that innate ability to catch fish, and his willingness to show others how to catch fish, he became CarpPro’s first, and most prominent prostaffer, and we are indebted to him for everything he did to promote the magazine.
That ability to catch not just fish, but record-sized fish often inspired in other anglers a feeling of awe, and sometimes just plain jealousy, but what many people didn’t see was the amount of effort and hard work that Richard put into his sport. After moving to Texas, he put in thousands of hours on waters like Lake Austin and Town Lake, pulling in spectacular fish and unofficial lake records that, we know, have yet to be broken. He never was one for claiming records; for Richard it was always about setting himself challenges and beating them. When they were well and truly conquered--and the swim named after him on Town Lake shows that they were--he set himself new challenges in the form of the massive, daunting lakes of East Texas.
Richard would drive for hundreds of miles and spend days scouting new waters. He drove cross-country to fish in the Carolinas, learning the secrets of packbaits and paylakes that he would become a convert to, blending his new-found knowledge with his long-established Euro techniques. He would drive even more and spend even longer pre-baiting virgin swims in East Texas lakes, concocting new baits, learning and devising new techniques, watching the water, and blanking hard before finally succeeding, pulling in 40lb+ carp and 60lb+ smallmouth buffalo--a fish he initially despised but came to love. In fact, Richard was instrumental in the establishment of the hugely successful Lake Fork Carp and Buffalo challenge, a 44-hour tournament that, for the first time, gave buffalo and carp equal billing. Immediately following the conclusion of the tournament, Richard took a few hours to wash and rest before hosting the World Fishing Network’s Mark Melnyk for an episode of Reel Fishy Jobs. The show was the first to feature catch and release buffalo fishing in the US.
With the show’s success, Richard set himself new targets, and decided to pursue a career around full-time guiding for carp and buffalo. He hosted InFisherman’s Doug Stange. He also hosted Florian Läufer who captured some instantly iconic images of Richard and Lake Fork. And, in his final guiding trip before his life was cut tragically short, he came full circle by hosting the Italian Rod Hutchinson team, showing them how the legendary flavors that he first tested as a boy growing up in Grantham, Lincs, were making a mark on a new and exciting frontier in catch and release carp fishing in the USA.
It is typical that, in the last few months of his life, Richard preferred to hear about the life-affirming adventures of his fishing family rather than talk about his own personal battle. He was keen to hear about tournaments and big fish and new captures and how the sport was growing and anything and everything about the friends he made in the sport he held dear. Although Richard is gone too soon, and he will be sadly missed, his legacy will live on in the many friends he made and the countless lives he touched along the way.
Tight Lines, Rich. God Bless!
Lastly, for anyone wishing to donate money to a great cause, The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a very highly-rated charity that does a lot for people diagnosed with the same condition as Richard. You can find the charity at http://www.pancan.org