Although the three phases of an anglers' development, within the hobby, are not his own invention; Luke Jennings description of these stages, through which an individual will pass, are wonderfully explored, explained and examined in his superb book; Blood Knots -ISBN 848871335. I have neither the eloquence, vocabulary or skills with the written word to ever hope that anything I post will come close to such a masterclass of literary technique, but I'll continue with my efforts because I derive great satisfaction from the process of blogging. So the three phases of an angler's journey is the place for this offering to start. That there are so many analogies that can be drawn with other pursuits, is understandable, because these phases are also about individual development and the search for answers, thus will apply in many other walks of life?
The discovery of angling as a way of connecting with another dimension; like opening the door of a darkened room and peering in on a world of mystery and intrigue, full of creatures, unlike any others within your experience. Simply by picking up a rod and casting a line you are able to be at one with this alien environment and its' inhabitants. As I was a child, when I first became involved, I cannot remember if the thrill of the chase, or the adrenaline rush caused by a disappearing float, that kept me going back for more? At this basic, entry level, part of the journey, it's all about catching fish. It matters not about size or species, the whole purpose of going out is to catch a fish. My own adventure coincided with a period when the rivers and canals, around Hemel Hempstead, still teemed with life. Minnows, Gudgeon, Bullheads and native Crayfish were widespread and common, Roach and Perch were to be expected whenever the Grand Union Canal was visited. There were Bream and Tench in the local fisheries, monstrous pike (the fish of legends) lurked in the murky depths and someone once caught a Carp! (We're talking 1960's here!) So I was aware of the multiple species which inhabited these environments, but was happy to fish for whatever turned up and think that this is the basis for any entrant to the hobby. There are some who are happy to remain at this stage and, for want of a better description, they are the fair weather, pleasure anglers, always cheery and the source of many a "the one that got away" tale!
|Circa 1990 - Benno with a mixed bag from the GUC at Tring|
The bug has really taken hold and there are two manifestations of this second phase. If competition is in your nature, it is very likely that match angling will be the path you choose? However, if big is beautiful, then specimen hunting (it's now called carp fishing) is where you're headed and exactly what I did. A spotty teenager with a burning desire to catch the biggest fish that swim. I probably spent twenty five plus years at this level of angling, chasing from pillar to post in order to place another statistic next to a PB list entry. I would be lying if I said that it wasn't a very enjoyable part of my life but, when all said and done, I wasn't particularly successful because I wasn't a very good angler. The ability to (ab)use time disguises many shortcomings, and I had amassed a very creditable PB list purely because of this time bandit, law of averages, approach. If I had my time again, would I change anything? Not a bit of it; they were crazy, enjoyable times and only by experiencing that aspect can I now look back and realize just how pointless my involvement was. I learnt very little although I rubbed shoulders with some of the finest angling brains of the period. Hindsight, that old chestnut, suggests I should have spent more time listening to their advice and less time on the piss - hey ho!
|It has to be a Wilstone Tench (8 lbs +) which encapsulates the whole experience of|
my angling journey through phase two. The happiest, maddest period of my
entire life and one that I look back on with great fondness, despite being a twat!
Resonating around in my head is the pounding sound of Bananarama, with Fun Boy Three, and their
nauseating "It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it!" lyric. Yet, despite my inability to praise anything about the quality of this musical abomination, there is no denying the accuracy of the statement in this particular context. I would be lying, through my back teeth, if I said that size no longer played a role in my enjoyment of fishing, because I still want to push myself as a specimen angler. Big fish, of whatever species, are very special creatures and remain central to my efforts whilst on the bank. However, "the way that I do it" is paramount in my thoughts, and actions, thus the reason for this post. Some of the modern angling equipment is of outstanding quality and design. The downside is that it comes with a hefty price tag and is accompanied by huge quantities of sundry items which have no useful purpose other than to fill a space in a tackle box/carp barrow. My constant quest for an edge results in my spending much spare time scrutinizing the carp angling t/v channels on Youtube. Some of the kit that is being marketed is mind blowing. If money were no object it would be quite possible to, easily. blow £5k and not have purchased a, triplicate, rod and reel combination to cast a bait in the water, because we all know how important it is to "look the part" in 2018!
|1959 Mk IV's, Mitchell 300's and Siren R3's - Dick Walker would have liked it?|
Sid & Jasper, my homemade swingers just add to the contempt I have for fashionista carp angling.
Fortunately, being an old fart, I am able to look at the challenges from a totally different perspective. I am comfortable/confident to start my planning from the hook/rig/bait presentation before worrying about the line, rod and reel choices and what logo adorns my bivvy. The vast majority of the other stuff doesn't enter the equation, being over-hyped and completely unnecessary. A bivvy table and a guest chair, nice as they are, won't add a thing to your ability to catch a carp! If I worried about my appearance, as perceived by a third party, I couldn't be happy that, for the last fifty years, I've managed a very reasonable impression of an unkempt Yeti! Guess what? I couldn't give a toss for other angler's opinions of my ancient gear. The tackle I now choose is all about maximizing my enjoyment of the encounter without jeopardizing the welfare of the fish I seek.
It goes without saying that location is paramount in any big fish challenge. Only when you have found your chosen quarry is it worth thinking about the tackle and tactics required to outwit them. My split cane project means that I have to discover a population of carp (at least one in excess of 30 lbs) which inhabit a venue suited to the limitations imposed by the rods. Vast gravel pits or reservoirs are no place for my kit, nor my choice. To gain the maximum pleasure from using these ancient rods, I want to fish venues which allow me to experience the thrill of a creaking Dick Walker Mk IV as I imagine he would have done, himself, way back in the 1950's.
Only thing is, rather worryingly, I'm turning into a bit of a tackle tart. As I explore the huge resource, that is Youtube, I am discovering little tweaks which might assist my own angling. Almost all are presentation biased, being either a rig variation or bait enhancer. My desire to be successful has seen my carp tackle expand beyond anything I could have envisaged when I first set myself the challenge.
Whilst my bankside appearance lacks the logos of the fashionista brigade, the stuff in the water, doing the business, is top drawer. I have no allegiance to any particular brand and buy whatever items I require on merit. My hooks are Nash, hooklink material is Korda and so it goes on. Bait is a very personal thing, borne from confidence, and I am happy to say that my particle approach is still very much the first choice strategy at any venue I turn up at. However, I am not so stupid as to ignore modern bait developments and "Camo" has been very generous with his advice (and bait) about how I move forward with this aspect of carp angling. PVA, stick mixes, pop-ups, bait soaks, Korda Krushas and Kutters, Ronnie rigs, I've stopped short at spods and "Spombs" - we used to call them "doppelgangers" in the 1980's! - but I have to admit that these advances are a positive development in my ongoing project and for that I am truly grateful. One aspect of modern angling about which I find myself totally drawn is that of hook sharpness. There is a guy at Nash who has made it his mission to promote their "Pin Point
" hook range and has convinced me that there is much to be gained from maintaining razor sharp hook points, I now have a Nash diamond file in my rig bin, just for this purpose. Am I a victim of advertising hype, or simply taking advantage of technological advancement?
|Nowhere close to my goal, nor the type of carp I hope to catch in order to keep|
that promise. These gross, boilly munching, mud pigs are as far removed from
my target as it is possible to get.
I'm using boilies, Siren R3's, Ronnie rigs, pop-ups and umpteen other carp related items that Dick Walker could have but dreamt of - so why is my split cane "Thirty" such a challenge? It certainly doesn't require me to morph into Chris Yates, Tweed jacket and all, in an attempt at travelling back in time. All I seek is the fulfilment of a promise, to my Father, to use a piece of angling history to create a memory for myself. It matters not a jot, to the rest of humanity, if I succeed or fail - and that's the crux of our existence. We all have a choice about what is important in our individual journeys - "Sir, remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life." (Cecil Rhodes) A quote that my Dad made me aware of, many moons ago, during a conversation about the importance of being an individual and remaining true to who you are. I don't know if others are any less proud to be Scots, Welsh, Irish, Polish, Armenian or Inuit, the list is endless, but I do know how important it is to remain true to yourself, a lesson embedded at the very core of my soul. My desire to achieve my goal is without question. I have no timescale, thus no deadlines to my project, so will take as long as is required. Within the last week I have been offered membership of Wantsum Angling Association, something I am rather flattered by. They control Marshside Fishery, where I had that recent "twenty", but also a stretch of The Stour and a couple of sites along The Wantsum. I've never cast a bait in any of these new venues and the unknown potential is a very exciting prospect. Mick and Ben, the two bailiffs, paint a very rosy picture - that's their job! With the 16th rapidly approaching, and chaos around the bungalow, I remain hopeful that I'll be able to continue to chase my dreams in these new waters, seeking that fish, the capture of which will enable me to move on to pastures new.
|Another eight pounds and jobs a good'n|
This is what a real carp looks like and something similar will see my challenge completed.