If I had to pick one thing that surprises people I meet on the bank more than any other, it would be the minimal amount of tackle I have with me. Although many people I meet on the bank read much of my published content, you get the impression that whilst they know I write about it, they perhaps think that in reality I must surely have a front on my shelter in the winter… I mean, how else could you survive..?
When they do meet me on the bank, especially at this time of year, you can almost see the look of shock on their faces as they eye up my gear... he really does fish that light!
I think as carp anglers we are so often led to believe that we have to have this and that, and once we have it, we have to have it with us at all times. Many feature writers talk about always having items to hand in order to effect a change in bait, tackle or tactics, but few talk about the negative impact of having to cart a shed-load of gear around with you all the time!
Every month, the magazines will have pages full of the latest must have items that your fishing can simply not do without, and why not, it’s in their interests that you keep buying more and more tackle you’ll probably never use more than once, but no matter; once you can’t fit it in your bivvy, get a bigger bivvy and once you can’t get it to the swim, buy a bigger barrow… and so it goes.
I’m not knocking the products. In the main, they serve a purpose; it’s the mind-set that’s at fault. Many seem to just find themselves bumping along (quite literally!) adding more and more weight to their gear and it becomes a must that they have to have a barrow, even when the swim is only 100 yards from the car!
I dread to think how much time the majority of anglers must waste every time they go fishing; transporting, sorting out and then packing away tackle items they never actually use! I suppose I’m lucky in that coming from a method study and problem solving business background, I’m always looking for the most effective way to do something – on or away from the bank – and if there’s waste to cut, it’s gone, without a second thought. I’m positive this lean approach to my angling gives me so many advantages.
I can honestly say that, aside from a spare torch and lighter, everything in my gear gets used every time out on the bank. Every month or so I will systematically go through stuff to make sure I only take what I need to.
I see so many anglers taking fifty leads, twenty different hooklinks, thousands of swivels, and so on and so forth. One guy I used to fish with had all this and more. It was almost as if the more tackle he had on show, the better he thought it made him look as an angler. Never mind the kitchen sink, this guy took it to another level – he even took three different brew spoons with him; a spoon for his sugar, a spoon for his coffee, and a third spoon just for mixing, and don’t even get me started on his Tupperware collection!
Don’t get me wrong, I know for a lot of people it’s the social aspect that they like, and it’s having the home from home that makes it enjoyable for them, but the thing is, you can’t then moan about the fishing. So many times I see anglers who have no option but to remain rooted to the spot with the amount of gear they have complaining that the lakes not fishing when it reality it’s actually they who are ‘not fishing’. They’ve become so laden with crap that they can’t actually find the fish, get on them, and catch.
I remember in my formative angling years I had the opportunity to fish with an angler who I really looked up to. There wasn’t many fish in the northwest he hadn’t had from some of the toughest waters. I was able to join him for a twenty four hour session at the end of what had been a week long session for him on Birch Grove, and the only reason I’d had the opportunity is that his angling companion had to pull off a day early for a wedding and he kindly invited me to join him for a night.
When I got there I was gobsmacked. He’d been on the water for almost a week, and banked a shed-load of fish to over 30lb, and aside from nets, mats and rods, the full sum of his tackle amounted to a lightweight shelter with no front, no groundsheet and I kid you not, a tackle box that was, literally, a shoe box!
Of course, as the eager young amateur, I’d turned up with a car full of gear for a mere 24 hours. Out of embarrassment, I left most of it in the car and learnt a very valuable lesson in doing so. I was fortunate enough to fish with the same angler a good deal over the following years and I quickly realised the reason he caught so well was precisely because of the tiny amount of gear he took with him.
I fished an overnighter last week where the lake partially froze on me, yet I was still out there same as every session through winter with just the bare essentials required and no front on the bivvy. The next morning, once packed up, I spent five with a few friends fishing the same lake and one of them quipped I must be losing my touch as it had taken me more than my usual twelve minutes to pack up…. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the only reason it had taken more was that I was waiting for my brew to cool enough so I could drink it, pack it and get gone!