Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. 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!


Sunday 23 April 2023

A "Carpy" continuum

I'm pretty sure that I've blogged about this subject some time in the distant past but, because so much has happened in the interim, feel it's worth revisiting? What needs clarifying, right at the off, is that Carp aren't the only species worthy of attention within a UK freshwater angling context. Although I have no diary account of my first Carp capture, know that I was still just a spotty oik attending the Halsey Secondary Modern, in Gadebridge, Hemel Hempstead, Herts during the early 1970's. It wasn't until 9th March 1983 that I actually landed my first "double". At 11 lbs 9 oz it was never likely to have any impact beyond that of a personal milestone but, boy, what a pivotal moment. 

At this juncture, I'd already amassed a very creditable list of PB's including Pike over 20 lbs, Tench of 7 lbs +, numerous Roach over the magical 2 lbs barrier and a, Great Ouse, Chub of 4 lbs 7 oz.  It seemed crazy, when. my second double figure Carp was my first "twenty" (21 lbs 10 oz) purely because they weren't a species which was part of the regular scene up to that point. It will have surely been my, ever increasing, involvement with NASA (The National Association of Specialist Anglers) which was behind my decision to target Carp over the Autumn/Winter of 1983/4? I was a member of the National Executive Committee and also NASA Chiltern Regional Organiser. Being around the likes of Phil Smith, Des Taylor, Dr Bruno Broughton, Neville Fickling, Dr Barrie Rickards, et al, there is no surprise that improving my PB list became central to my angling effort at this point in my angling adventure.

Fellow Tring Syndicate member, Lester Strudwick (RIP) of the Carpike SG, pointed me in the direction of Stanborough Lake, Welwyn Garden City, where he, and his gang, had been pulling a few strokes and catching some very big Carp (for the time) by night fishing the venue. Back in 1983 a Carp of 25 lbs was an absolute monster and, therefore, very much sought after by the speccy hunting crowd. So with Lester's words of advice ringing in my ears, off I went to do battle with the Stanborough Carp. 

Between 17th September 1983 and 25th February 1984 I was to experience some of the most exciting angling I'd been involved in up until that time. On that fateful February day, which culminated in landing a new PB of 23 lbs 14 oz, I walked away from Carp angling and returned to chasing PB's of other species which also needed my attention. Looking back through my diaries, some thirty-nine years later, it was a surprise to learn  I'd only landed seventeen doubles, including five twenties, during that entire period. Fantastic memories of crazy times, wonderful company and some stunning Carp. All centred around a municipal park lake. I'd like to mention the impact that Keith Sellick, proprietor of Middlesex Angling Centre, Harrow, had upon my Carp fishing during this period. Not only did he supply the very first, purpose made, bait flavours for my home made boilies, but also showed me how to use a back lead! Yes, back in 1983 back leads were already part of the Carp angler's portfolio, although for very different reasons to the requirements in 2023. Stanborough is a park lake which not only provided anglers with opportunity, but also catered for sailing and windsurfing enthusiasts. It was the because of the boating community antics we required a back lead to avoid our lines being picked up on the centre boards/keels of these vessels. Keith was incredibly generous with his advice and contributions, although financial transactions were required for some items!

Forty years down the road I now look at Carp angling with a very different mind-set. Absolutely gutted that there are generations of anglers who've never known anything other than Carp fishing, don't understand the requirement of watercraft or bankside etiquette. It's a whole new world out there and one I'm very happy to steer well clear of. With this as the baseline, I feel incredibly fortunate to have discovered the East Kent "flatlands" and the wild Carp which reside in the intimate dykes and drains which criss-cross the marshland.  My PB Carp still hasn't reached that 25 lbs barrier (it's currently 24 lbs 10 oz) but, guess what, it no longer plays a part in my angling. I now go angling for the joy of being at the waterside. The desire to catch "big fish" hasn't been lost but, perhaps, replaced by a quest for enjoyment of the bigger picture? It could very easily be an age thing? How many "big fish" does anyone need to catch before they've had enough? I'm certainly happy to seek an answer to that final question.

They no longer have to be "big" in order to be beautiful.
An absolutely stunning "double" from the East Kent flatlands.


  1. Dyl, I guess I've some catching up with Carp to do. Caught my first in 1976 on floating crust (7lb's) and my pb is still the 15lb 3oz from the GU Canal in 1980 - also on floating crust. Way to go.

    1. Ric, the use of floating crust remains one of the most exciting ways to catch Carp. That I now use a centrepin and split can Mk IV Avon just adds to the fun when using the method. Wholemeal bread these days as it certainly has an edge over a bit of "Mother's Pride or Hovis". As I said in my last reply. We were so lucky to have been part of the angling scene during those halcyon years of the 1980's. Todays Carp anglers really have no idea what fishing is all about, they are so tunnel visioned. - Dyl