Monday, 25 January 2010

Carp Fever Nostalgia

The two pictures posted below of ancient carp captures have been hanging around in our bedroom for some time, subject to the little shop of chemical horrors that is a woman's toilet, and so I thought I'd scan them (and remove to a safe place) and show you the only proof extant of my fishy adventures prior to moving to Coventry in late 2008.

I have no other pictures at all. I fished for bass for a whole decade and apart from a few long lost low quality snaps taken on one the first mobiles I owned that came with a camera, I have none whatsoever. I never saw any need to document my adventures at the time, but I sorely regret that decision now.

This is a fifteen pound common carp taken at South Weald, Essex, in the late seventies - perhaps 1975, or even 76? It can't be any later than December 1st 1976, the date of the historic career launch and disaster that was Bill Grundy's infamous ex Pistols interview, because my hair here is quite free of any stylistic affectations that would suggest I had turned punk, which I did on the morning of the second. I am probably 15 or sixteen years old.

At that time I had two home made, one and a half pound test curve rods, and a mismatched pair of mitchell 300's, one left handed and one right handed! The hair rig was still in development and the bolt rig too, but being just a kid I had no knowledge of them. I managed a few carp every season and took a personal best of 19lb 12oz from that lake that still stands to this day - a not inconsiderable fish at the time but quite insignificant now. Of course there is no picture of it..!

I was actually an experienced angler by this time of my life. My fishing surely began in the amniotic fluid of the womb; so early in life that it is now quite impossible for me to remember my first fish, my second or third - I have absolutely no idea how I came to possess any of my early fishing tackle, and all I can remember of it now is the smell of the keepnet - I had always fished and caught fish, but this period of carp angling heralds a cessation of hostilities. It is all over by nineteen eighty one; girls and guitars take me far, far away.

This fish was caught on holiday at a caravan site at Point Clear, St Osyth, Essex in the mid nineties - my angling second wind. I think it's of Leney strain? The site had a couple of fishing lakes, one of which was stocked with carp averaging ten pounds, with some approaching twenty. This lake was choked with reed and rush beds and the fish were forever crashing about in them - I used to bait a couple of spots off the edge of the reeds with home made boilies and fish the late afternoon, always through the evening and often the whole night - an average catch was a fish or three. I caught far more carp than anyone else because my boily really was a cracker! I used to give a handful to any kid that enquired and tell them to cast to the edge of the reeds and not touch it till they got a run, but adults never did enquire so they went without - consequently the kids would outdo them...!

I had to lock down hard on a fish upon hooking one to avoid having it reach the snags and then when I'd bullied the fish away from immediate danger I'd then have to avoid steering it near other sanctuaries because there was very little open water - consequently I became quite an expert in high jeopardy carping. This fish did beat me though, reaching the reeds and burying itself in them. It was eventually landed after I'd employed the old trick of slackening off and putting the rod back in the rests. Oddly, carp do seem to go in one way and back out usually via the same route, more or less. It was not weighed - I never weighed any fish from this lake - but it's a double figure fish

I fished for these carp for three seasons before I found out that the shore off Point Clear was crawling with Bass. They became an obsessive pursuit and the carp, well, I never fished for them again.

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