My love for carp started way back. I started fishing early on in my younger days when I was about 8 years old or I could have been slightly younger. The real change was when I started fishing my local river, I used to cycle there daily during the school holidays. One year, I took my kit with me on a holiday to Wales. My parents dropped me off at Lldindord Wells Park Lake and unbeknown to them was pretty famous for its carp. As I sat there with my float rod and ledger rod, a monster crashed out and cruised about with big bow waves. These memories are still with me today. I came over so close to landing a carp on my ledger rod after a carp picked up my bait and gave me the run around for what felt like a lifetime. My small panned net was clearly too small and I desperately tried to guide that carp into the entrance of my keepnet, but the hook pulled out and I suppose knowing what I know now, if I’d carried on, it may well have ended up in my net, but at that age, I was lacking in knowledge.
My next encounter was on a small farm pond out at Framingham, which was close to where I lived in about 1981. I was more mobile and could travel a lot further, my kit was still not the best but my net was and a lot bigger. However, the carp I had hooked, just charged in and out of the reed bed each time I got it out until the line gave way. I later discovered that this was its party trick every time it got hooked and not many people had landed it. Apparently, it was about 14lbs.
This sparked my memories of the Welsh trip, I started looking for bigger waters and a bigger club with more options. I found Barham Pits which was run by G.A.P.S (Gipping Angling Preservation Society) and started fishing on there. From the off, I was doing nights after the tench and trying to learn as much as possible about fishing. I was unaware of any magazines at this point in time but just started picking things up from other anglers.
I had a dabble at making my own bait at this point, but not with great success as I didn’t have the knowledge yet. However, I did manage to lose two carp, this time to my hooks snapping. This only fuelled my quest and I finally managed to capture my first carp. I was still just dabbling about with tench, pike, and anything that came along. On this historic day, I was fishing with a friend with a ledger rod on to the far margins with bread flake, the tip pulled around so fast and I missed the bite. I quickly got it back out there as this was clearly not a tench bite and within a few minutes, it happens again. This time I was connected to another carp, after a long battle and some guidance from a carp angler (and his net) who was pitched up, on a small point, some distance away. I finally had a carp in the net!
I continued to fish for all other species until one night. One of the carp anglers that I knew from pike fishing over the winter months (which was something we had in common), spent a good couple of hours talking about carp fishing. He said that I would also be catching more tench and if I was lucky the carp would come along in time as well. This started my carp journey. I’m not 100% sure which year it was but working other things back in my mind, it must’ve been 1982 June or July. The next year I was full-on carp fishing and by 1984 I had moved on to Weybread Pits with all most all the kit I need, forgetting the fact that it didn’t all match yet.
Finally, I ended up with matching kit, a pair of rods and reels, a KJB pod and Optonics, Wavelock brolly, but still using a chair from Argos! I just could afford a Fox one. Bait and end tackle has always been more important to me and still is these days, but you can’t always tell that.
I will have been carp fishing properly (in my book) for 40 years next year and how things have changed within fishing in general. Not just the carp side of the industry, I think it’s all for the better I must say. I’m not planning on hanging my rods up yet. As long as I can find the right place to fish, which is getting harder, but there are plenty of like-minded people out there, and still, I’m sure plenty of hidden gems to be discovered and fished.
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