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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!


Friday, 12 September 2014

Cracker Factory memories

As a direct result of yesterday's offering I have found myself revisiting some of the great times of my angling journey. Stanborough Lake, Welwyn Garden City - September 17th 1983 my first visit and my first success. I caught three carp during that fateful afternoon; the best going a very respectable 15lbs 9oz.
The carp which set the ball rolling
15lbs 9oz of "Cracker Factory" fun
As a keen specimen hunter, I had been told of this venue by Lester Strudwick (a Tring Syndicate member and founder member of the Carpike Specimen Group) who'd been "covertly" night fishing the lake for a few years and catching some very large fish. As a member of Tring, I was in contact with some of the finest angling brains that were active during the period, so rig choice and bait wasn't a problem.
Stanborough Lake in 1984 - every swim occupied.
It was an incredibly exciting place to fish and some great characters were present on these municipal banks.
Leslie's of Luton (The St.Alban's shop) was able to supply us with every item we required; which included the first imported Shimano reels in the UK - Custom EX 3000 and Carbomatic GT 4000 models. No bait-runner facility, these reels were marketed as direct competition to the ABU Cardinal 55 and were rear drag only. But they were new and we were having some! (Tackle Tarts that we were!)
The major downside to fishing Stanborough during the daylight (when it was legal!) was the fact that the venue was shared by other user groups - they being sailors and wind-surfers! Although their activities made no difference to feeding fish, they were problematic, to say the least, to us anglers.
At this time, cutting edge carp angling involved tight lines, line clips and open bale arms - something that a centre board of a sailing craft could, and would, often catch upon. Relations between the two groups was, to say the least, a little tense.
Rod tips pushed well into the water.
Original Optonic bite alarms complete with sounder box!
Gardner Tackle monkeys on needles made from brolly ribs - this was the "dog's bollocks"
Our answer to this maritime problem was to sink our rod-tips deep underwater; Kieth Sellick (proprietor of Middlesex Angling Centre) showed us an alternative solution - he used back leads! Yep! way back in the 1980's back leads were already in use, although not for the purpose they are today!

There you have it - 1983 braided hook-links, hair rigs and a boily.
The distance between swivel and hook was deemed critical - 10" being the optimum distance.
I could still catch on this today!
We had the hair rig and braided hook-links, although Kryston materials were still a few years away. We used Grudbod dacron, which we were able to dye using various permanent markers. I have an image of the original rig, which we used, that hasn't changed so much in the intervening years? As I've said before; carp aren't that difficult to catch!
My younger brother Simon with his first 20lbs+ carp
October 1983
That I am able to look back on this period, with such fondness, is because of the passing of time and the selective memory that comes with it! We were the new kids on the block, the noisy neighbours, the tackle tarts of our generation. True that we required a longer learning curve, but that is a direct consequence of the technology available at that time. If I wanted a photo - I had to finish a roll of film and take it to a chemist in order to have the film processed and printed. Do I wish to return to those days? Not a bit of it, yet I still feel sorry for those who've followed and are unable to draw from this experience.
August 1984 - 19lbs 6oz of hard fighting Stanborough carp
Every generation seeks to reinvent the wheel - the carp anglers and twitchers of today are no different!

25th February 1984 - the best of the bunch 23lbs 14oz
Sailing boats in the background - this really was a very special place and holds many great memories.

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