Who am I?

My photo
An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition, that was until Covid-19 intervened!. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A few carp - now & then

With this current cycle of never-ending wind, rain and grey skies, my post-shift afternoon daylight (14.00 - 16.00hrs) tends not to be particularly rewarding in terms of encounters with the local natural history.
My PB - 23lbs 14oz of Stanborough Mirror Carp (Feb '84)
So, sitting in my study, I find myself sifting through long forgotten files in search of images that might give rise to a train of thought which, in turn, could lead to a subject worthy of a blog entry.
It was February 1984 when I caught my PB carp (23lbs 14oz) from Stanborough Lake, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. Rob Maylin had christened this venue "The Cracker Factory" and I have to agree that it was a superb place to catch, what were at the time, big carp; I had taken three twenties in three casts during the previous November - special enough to make the weekly angling press.
Today fish of this stamp are so common as to be treated with contempt by the higher echelons of carp anglers, big fish now weigh over 40lbs and 30's are as troublesome as mid-doubles were, when I thought carp fishing was important.
I am eternally grateful that I had gotten carp fishing out of my system before the mid-80's. My memories of chasing Catfish, Bream, Tench, Roach and Pike throughout the rest of that decade and the start of the 90's are some of the happiest of my life.

14lbs 6oz of "Carp Puddle" enjoyment - a wildie?
My return to angling (hardly specimen hunting) has been a journey of re-discovery; almost like someone switching on a new light in a dimly lit room. Yes, I've caught some very big fish, yes, I have plenty of experience on which to draw yet, somehow, none of this means "diddly-squat"! In 2013, angling is nothing like the hobby I walked away from in 1993. The rise to prominence of commercial day-ticket venues and the dominance of carp angling, above all other forms of "fishing for pleasure", has led to a very distorted situation, from my perspective. Whereas, in the 1980's, I would have to spend inordinate amounts of time and money, chasing after big carp, buying the ingredients to make my own "special" boiled baits - today it's all available under one roof. It is possible to buy the complete package, including the holiday in France where carp fishing has developed into a massive tourist business, and with no previous experience, return with a PB well in excess of 30lbs. There is absolutely no point in me dwelling on this fact - the clock will never go backwards and the modern anglers will never be able to undertake the apprenticeship that I was able to follow. I can feel sorrow that they've missed out on something, but I also think that about kids who use calculators and don't know how to use logarithms. Perhaps this has more to do with me rapidly approaching 60 rather than a fault of the younger generations - it doesn't require a science degree to recognise that I am rather opposed to change!
11lbs 15oz of Tyler Hill Common Carp
 taken on a floating crust 
So where am I now? Obviously, my living in Kent means that I am in close proximity to some of the finest carp fisheries in the UK. Thirty years ago, I would have killed for this situation, today - I couldn't give a monkeys! Big carp chasing is very similar to the extreme world of UK400 Club "twitching" - all politics, snide rumours and dirty lies; I'm well away from any of that stuff. My angling now is all about enjoyment, of the fish, of the surroundings, of the company and simply being beside the water's edge. I am doing everything I can to remove the need for competition from my life. My lists are for my reference, not for someone else to judge me on a scale of success/failure. Enjoyment is very much a personal thing - long may it remain.
Benno introduced me to the delights of "carp puddles" during the summer of 2011. I fell in love with this "pleasure" aspect of carp angling. I knew that I could go to a venue and, for £10, could reasonably expect to catch carp at 2/hour off the top - didn't matter what the weather. I hadn't invented some secret bait, nor developed a new technique - I simply fished free-lined floating crust amongst a few scattered cat biscuits.

What I find rather disturbing is the number of  these day-ticket carp anglers who don't have a clue how to maximise their returns. Sure, they've read the books; but do they really have the experience to "ring the changes" to ensure they are fishing their baits to the best effect? From my own viewpoint, what I've seen does nothing to support an advance in knowledge and a rise in the skill-base (you can't buy that from the tackle shop) with the present generation of pleasure anglers. Those that I have encountered, have no more idea as to rig effectiveness or bait presentation, than I did prior to 1982. Have they missed out on something because they haven't enjoyed an angling apprenticeship? - it's for the individual to make that call; but I know what I think!

I wonder how many modern "pleasure anglers" would take the time to enjoy this spectacle?  (June 2012)


  1. Love your blog! Mirror Carp is just a fish of my dream! But I am not so lucky as you!

  2. Sammy,
    Many thanks for taking the time to post a comment - remember the quote of Gary Player (the great South African golfer) "The more I practice, the luckier I get!" Let's hope you get your fish soon. - Dylan