An Extra Bit - Written October 2000
Why is it that no matter what the weatherman says the conditions are going to be, it always blows a gale and pours with rain when I go fishing? Take today for instance. It was supposed to be bright and warm, so I dressed accordingly. I am now sitting in my van watching birds fly backwards trying to make headway into a howling wind. About an hour ago I had a take, the first bleep of the buzzer coincided with a cloudburst, so I got soaked by an eighteen pound common that looked as pleased as I felt.
John Carver (of Redmire fame) is sitting in his car in the next swim; he hasn’t had to get wet yet! The weather is so awful that if I do get another take I’ll pretend to be dozing and see if he reels it in for me, hopefully it won’t be too big.
I’ve been through a couple of old magazines, they’ve been left in the van by someone, and both of them have articles extolling the virtues of stalking. Both writers have gone through all the old bollocks of not sitting behind lifeless buzzers etc. Well, if their buzzers are lifeless it’s because they are doing it wrong!!
If they wish to advocate that the concept of creeping around the lake and casting to fish they see is more productive than fishing behind a set of rods cast to different ranges from a chosen swim, why do we seldom see any pictures of decent fish accompanying these articles?
One of the writers even suggests that a low double caught stalking was a more exhilarating experience than catching a fat thirty by more sedentary methods. Has he ever seen a thirty? Let alone caught one? I very much doubt it.
I do in fact occasionally go for a morning or afternoon’s stalking myself, but if I have more time available I’ll usually set up in a swim and fish two or three rods. If I think some fish are going to be in close I can cast one rod along the margins. If I think most of the fish are going to be in close I can cast another rod along the margin on the other side of the swim. Both of those baits would be cast far enough along the margin to prevent my presence disturbing any fish that came in to feed. When stalking it is very hard not to disturb some fish, they normally see you long before you find them, and once they know you are there they very quickly disappear.
If enough readers of these articles are inspired into creeping through the undergrowth round the edges of their local waters the carp will very soon stop visiting the margins. But even if they do continue to feed in the edge the people who write the articles on stalking will soon find all their favourite spots taken and have to resort to other methods!
I’ve just had another take, it was going so fast I decided to let John stay dry. In the immortal words of someone I can’t remember, the weight is immaterial, the picture says it all! The fish is incidentally the new lake record and quite typically the rain stopped when John got out of his car to net it for me. It didn’t start again until he’d taken the photos. He’s now back in his car and it’s pouring again whilst I’m trying to cast back into the same spot which is a long way out. I could have stalked the fish from a boat I suppose!
Another thing I noticed in these magazines is that credit is now given to the people who roll the boilies for anglers who appear in the magazines with large carp in their arms. I would like to publicly thank the Spanish farmers who grew the tiger nuts; they have caught so many fish. Then there’s the management and staff at Mothers Pride who provided the bait for Dick Walker to catch Clarissa, which in turn started the whole thing rolling.
The biggest thank you of all must go to the Jolly Green Giant for providing a bait that enabled Chris Yates to catch a carp so big that John Carver got soaked when he had to paddle out to net it (a thought that I find so enjoyable as I sit here soaked through while he sits bone dry, in his car).
For many years I wondered why Walker’s fish was called Clarissa, but recently I saw a picture of a very prominent politician of the time with his wife who was also called Clarissa. I’m not suggesting that she looked like a fish, only that I was mistaken in thinking that she was the model for the Carp Society logo.
It’s now three weeks later and I’m fishing a fifteen-acre gravel pit in N.W Kent. I arrived yesterday afternoon with Ted Hadaway (the legendary Tri-cast Ted), expecting three days of gales and rain. As it grew dark last night, with the wind roaring in my swim, fish started to roll. At nine o’clock I landed a low twenty leather and then the wind dropped. This morning we’re sitting out in t-shirts. The sun is shining, there’s no wind and all the fish are gone. Sunbathing in late October is certainly a novel experience, but the fish don’t seem to like it very much.
I’ve heard this week that an imported fish has been caught at a weight that beats the British record. The guy who caught it isn’t claiming the record, but is nevertheless getting slagged off for having caught it! It’s his right to fish any water that he has permits for ,and if the water contains imports it’s still up to him to whether he wants to fish it or not. I doubt that those that make the most noise about it have any idea of the origins of the fish the fish for.
Is there any relevance in a national carp record anyway? Richard Walker's 44lb common held the record for a good number of years, but the accuracy of the weight is now doubtful. It is suggested that the fish was removed from and put back into a hessian sack a number of times, which would have removed its protective mucus and in turn caused it to absorb water and show an artificially high weight when it was eventually weighed. If the fish didn’t absorb any water then the time taken to weigh it would have caused an artificially low weight, but in either case it was still the largest carp ever caught in Britain. Walker then caught a thirty-four and three quarter pound fish which was the second largest carp ever caught in Britain, and for a while had the distinction of being the captor of the two largest carp caught in Britain.
If Walker’s fish had actually weighed less than the 44lbs then when Chris Yates caught his 43 ¾ fish it would in reality have been a record, then when he caught his 51 ½ he would have been the only person to have caught a record carp twice.
All of these fish were caught from Redmire, and unless you were one of the few anglers who was able to fish there you had no chance of catching a record from anywhere else as there were no fish larger than the existing record in any other waters.
Then the Wraysbury fish was caught at a new record weight. This fish has been caught several times over the last few years, and each time its weight increases a new record is claimed. It is still the same fish.<
The Conningbrook fish is now shadowing the Wraysbury one and could be caught as the new British record. Terry Hearn has caught both fish and Peter Springate has caught the Wraysbury fish three times; these are both very meritous achievements.
Another carp of record weight was caught from somewhere near Northampton at about the same time as the Wraysbury fish. Whether it became the record or not I can’t remember, but if you take Bob Richards’ record fish of 31lb 4oz into account then there have been five different record fish caught in the last seventy years, of which three were almost certainly imports.
So at what size must an imported or British fish be stocked into a water where it can grow into a record to keep people happy when it gets caught? Some anglers have told me only a fish spawned in the water they are caught from counts as a record. This probably discounts all five of the previously mentioned fish!
There’s a fish in the lake I’m fishing as I write that was stocked some years ago at 28lb; it is now a mid fifty. If this fish gets caught at 57lb will the carp-angling world accept it as a record? Of course not, it’s an import! If this same fish had been reared from an egg at a fish farm and then stocked here at 28lb and still grown on to 55lb, the carp anglers would then be waiting with baited breath for it to get caught at a record weight.
So if a new fish is actually caught and the record claimed, the record fish committee will need to exercise extreme caution when vetting the claim, although I’m not sure they have any rules that pertain to imported fish. Last time I read their rules they were still asking to see the fish, alive or dead!
I’ve just had a take, not just any take, but the only one on the lake for two days; and as I had the last take as well I momentarily elevate myself to superstar status. The feeling is very short lived however when, after wondering which one of the monsters that live in this lake it was that was spinning my spool at an alarming speed,. I struck and landed an 8lb mirror - possibly the smallest fish in the lake!