|July 5th 1983 - Bridigo Pond, Cheddington, BUCKS (where the Great Train Robbery was staged)|
My first twenty pound carp. Taken on "floating slyme" a Duncan Kay concoction.
Back then my carp fishing was a very serious business
|Stanborough Lake - November 1983|
One of three twenties (in three casts) which fell to my
"secret bait" - Semolina and soya flour boilies flavoured with chocolate!
Carp Puddles are the best place to do this, although not unique; there are plenty of other opportunities to display anarchy amidst the ranks of the branded tackle disciples, but commercial carp fisheries provide the most obvious. It is the number one faux pas not to have matched rods and reels, preferably in triplicate, the more expensive, the better! Such are the peer group pressures and values which dominate the modern carp angling scene; it doesn't matter if it is the bite alarm, rod-pod, landing net, un-hooking mat, weigh sling, bivvy or bed chair; each and every item on display allows other, like minded, souls to make an immediate assessment of your angling prowess. There is only one type of item that will not be on show - that will be the anglers' choice of bait. If these guys are actually catching carp the last thing they want to do is show their competitors what bait they're using! Stupid thing is that it will be Mainline "Cell" boilies in 90% of cases or the New Grange in the other 10%. Make no mistake, these baits are probably the best available, yet hardly a secret - manufactured to the very highest specification and developed over many years of field testing by some of the UK's top carp lads. They are superb baits which consistently catch carp - end of conversation - and will cost £12.95/kilo RRP!
When all said and done - "you pays your money and makes your choice!". If you think that the venue is worthy of such effort then who am I to question any individuals approach? Modern, day-ticket, commercial fisheries exist to cater for a demand that wasn't present during the 1970 - 93 period. I don't recall the price of a day-ticket at Stanborough, whilst I was fishing there, but I know that it wasn't extortionate - far too many families and pleasure anglers enjoying the facilities; my guess would be in the region of £1.50/day for two rods? And at a venue capable of producing carp in excess of 25lbs in 1983 - so over 40lbs in today's money! I took three twenties in consecutive casts in November 1983 - enough to make the weeklies at the time! Carp fishing has, in less than half a century, lost all the romanticism of the Dick Walker era and become the dominating force in UK freshwater angling 2014. It's a clinical science, with devotees as obsessed with the capture of these magnificent fish, as anything that has occurred in previous generations. Denys Watkins-Pitchford (alias BB) wrote "Confessions of a Carp Fisher" (1950 - Eyre & Spottiswoode) in which he offered the very direct comparison of the desire to go carp angling with an addiction to opium. Some of the stuff that appears on Youtube does nothing to dispel the myth of the obsessional drawing power of these magnificent fish. I suppose I should count myself fortunate for having gotten away from the carp fishing scene when I did?
|Another of the Stanborough trio - 21lbs 3oz|
Camo jackets and silly hair were compulsory if you were serious about carp angling in the 80's
As I no longer have the time, or inclination, to spend extended periods after "specimen" sized fish I am now happy to make do with whatever comes my way. I still use techniques that are designed for the capture of large fish, but the requirement to succeed has been replaced by the desire to enjoy. I'm not sure if that makes sense? I know what I mean.
Carp puddles fulfil all the requirements I need. I can turn up, pay my money and be in with a realistic chance of getting a bite or two. What it isn't is serious carp angling! Those guys who are bivvied up, giving it the big 'un are simply kidding themselves. Catching carp in these venues is easy. I deliberately use mis matched rod/reel combos, home made bite indicators and a 24" oval pan net, because none of that stuff matters. My bed chair, brolly, sleeping bag and jacket are emblazoned with the CK emblem of Carpkinetics (AKA Dragoncarp) which to, proper, carp anglers is the sign of the devil! I use "Spicy Pepperami" as hook bait (on offer in Tesco 5/£2) and leave it on display for all to see. If you've got it; flaunt it!
All of these visible signs are capable of sending the message "NODDY" to the fashionistas. Strange thing about it is, I catch carp fairly consistently whilst I am at these venues. My efforts are concentrated, as always, on where and how my baits are presented - not on "do I look the part?"
I do miss the romantic ideal, the world in which Richard Walker and his chums did battle with fabled monsters in mythical pools. I grew up with the notion that carp were intelligent, unreachable fish which required magical skills in order to trick into taking a baited hook. I have some fantastic literature pertaining to the impossibility of catching carp - H.G.C.Claypoole: Introduction to the Art of Coarse fishing 1955. has a wonderful chapter on "summer carp fishing" which is introduced by this quote from Denys Watkins-Pitchford's "Confessions of a Carp Fisher"
"Having laid out your rods (you may just as well have two while you are about it, with a different bait on each), you are at liberty to smoke, meditate, read, and even, sleep, if all goes well. Nothing will happen to disturb you. You and your rods, and floats gradually grow into the landscape and become part of it -...."
Carp angling, angling in general, has come an awful long way since those fanciful times. I can't help but feel that we've lost something from the hobby as the mysteries are unravelled and commercialism begins to exert its' influence? The clock will never stop and these advances will continue to gather pace - not too sure that I have any desire to keep up with them, but will continue to do things in my own way. After all, we're only catching fish for fun, my family will not starve if I fail.
P.S. - This rambling nonsense has been three days in preparation; it is nothing like what I'd intended when I first started writing. Funny how things turn out?