It’s easy to do when the current carp scene is so unappealing, all good things come to an end? Well not really they just get displaced and a little harder to find, just like special carp waters. When I started to get serious about fishing I got caught by the carp bug, this was just about the same time you could buy a shelf-life pack of boilies, and monkey climbers were all the rage. In truth my success was moderate but I did fish quite difficult waters, (commercial fisheries had yet to plague the country) and I did catch some good carp. Once I came within quarter of a pound of breaking the carp record set in 1952 for Haywards Heath and District Angling Society, if I had broken the record I would have kept it quiet, but that is another story.
Sadly carp fishing is now dismissed by many anglers because of the ugly commercial side, the ‘purists’ turn their noses up and instead talk of the benefits of catching roach, perch, chub and crucians which is all very good, but it is easy to over-look what is still one of the most powerful and magical fish in the British Isles, the common and mirror carp. Puffed up footballs bursting with halibut pellets is not what I am talking about, more the longer, leaner specimens that still swim in mill ponds, lost souls that lurk in canals and rivers or the occasional ‘wildie’ that can still be found all over England and Wales.
So why am I harping on about carping in the middle of winter? Well while I was defrosting from a pike trip the other day I was drawn to my old 1980’s copies of Carp Catcher magazine, to help aid the thawing process. Articles range from interviews with the old establishment such as ‘BB,’ to new ideas discussed like the hair rig from Kevin Maddocks. Carp Catcher always had a pioneering spirit that set a precedent in carp fishing but in a way it was also feeding the end of a magical time, the modern carp scene was gaining popularity and the mystery was being made more transparent and accessible to lazy fishermen.
Those who contributed to Carp Catcher went on to create some of the biggest tackle manufacturers today but equally many did it purely for the love in a manner that was personal and relatively discrete. The editorial content was honest with a real sense of problem solving and watercraft, rather than re-inventing the invented that is now all too apparent in todays angling publications. A more recent read that I have acquired is Carp Hunters a book produced by the Carp Society which has contributions from Julian Cundiff, Jim Gibbinson, Andy Little, Ritchie McDonald, Tim Paisley and Chris Yates, again this captures a real spirit of carp fishing from anglers who approached their fishing in an individual manner. It may be this individuality that made this era such fun to follow? Although many consider the Walker years to be the golden age of carp fishing, I love to read about this latter period simply because I remember it and feel in some way part of that wonderful time in fishing when I was as a teenager and dreamt of owning matching rods and Cardinal 55’s.
Reading these articles again has prematurely ignited a yearning to carp fish, normally this arrives in late spring when the waters warm and the carp appear for another season. So until the sun burns longer I will have to sit on my hands and wait and dream about a place where wildies reside not so far from London and some lonely spots on the Lea. When I eventually make it out with my carp rod there will be no bivvies in sight and it will be personal, I will use the simplest of tackle and possibly I shall write the odd post here on TTS but often not, sometimes just a snap on my phone and a memory. Carp fishing never really changes.