Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Carp fishing

Originally written August 2007

Nothing! Not a touch, not even a Tench. Another Carp-less night passed and the August day was dawning bright and clear. The Carp in this gravel pit were notoriously hard to catch but when they did grace your net, as one had mine earlier in the season, they were big mirrors with stunning scales and colouration. Well worth the effort.
I rebaited and recast, more in hope than expectation. The left hand rod was an easy 60 metre cast to the edge of an island but the right hand rod was more difficult. The distance was about the same but there was no margin for error. The spot was a tree shaded gully between two islands which lead away from the bank at a right angle. I was attempting to put a bait into this gully from an angle, it was like trying to cast into a door that was slightly ajar. Too far to the right and my line would tangle in the trees on the nearest island, to the left and it was featureless open water. For once everything went perfectly and my rig landed on the edge of the trees on the far island. If ever a cast was worth a fish then that one was.
Settling back in the bivvy it was hard to feel confident despite the array of tackle around me. Rods, reels and bite indication, all state of the art and by no means cheap. The bolt rig I’d just placed in the gully was the latest self hooking device and that just left the bait. I’d lost confidence in the fishmeal concoction that had been successful earlier in the summer and had produced another using ground dog food. So far the Tench had developed a taste but not the Carp. Should I have persevered with the fishmeal?
Time ticked by and the pit was beginning to get busy with anglers arriving at normal hours, some were friends who stopped by for a chat before finding a swim of their own. It seemed as if my chances of a fish were passing but out of the blue the alarm sounded on the right hand rod, signalling a steady take on the bait cast to the gully. The rod took on a nice curve and the fish felt heavy, this wasn’t a Tench! I pumped the fish back towards me, it hugging the margin of the adjacent island. I bullied it away from a bed of lilies and soon had it plodding up and down the margin while a crowd of friends gathered behind me. Before long my Carp was safely in the net. There it was, the most beautiful fish I had ever seen, with a deep purple back and bronze flanks decorated with an almost perfect row of gold sovereign scales. She was perfectly proportioned with flawless fins and the icing on the cake a new PB! My friends dwindled away with a mixture of “well done mate!” and “lucky bastard!”, the sun was shining bright and everything in my world was perfect.

That was in 1982, Kevin Maddocks had only just published “Carp Fever” and we really couldn’t believe a hair rig could work……could it? The multitude of rig bits and gadgets anglers take for granted today was non existent. Lots of what we had to use was modified or home made. My state of the art gear consisted of; 11 foot glass fibre North Western SS6 rods, Mitchell 300a reels and the original Optonic alarms, without volume control. We did use monkey climbers but they hadn’t been given that name as of yet. Boilies were home made because they had to be, trout pellets or dog biscuits crushed and mixed with milk powder. Richworth was still a few years away and surely only noddies would buy them? Balanced baits? Pop ups? Unheard of! My bivvy was called a ‘brolly camp’ back then and consisted of a large green sheet of wavelock material, shaped to fit over an umbrella. My chair was a humble and very battered folding garden chair. All of this I transported a mile and a half on my bicycle.

A couple of days ago I went back in time and fished successfully for Tench with corn and the lift method. I also managed to catch a Carp, the first double in my net since I stopped fishing for them in 1993. She was a strange looking fish, (and this will sound daft), she had a miserable look on her face. Probably expected to end up as bait! However she was almost a fully scaled mirror with large plate scales lining her flanks and a real cracker otherwise. I caught her on a floater fished on a simple controller rig, another method I hadn’t used in years. It was nice to catch a Carp again; I’ll have to do it again sometime. Oh and the fish at the beginning if you’re still interested, weighed a massive 11lbs 15ozs!

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