FL02 PDF (212pp) - Page 185

In Search Of Monster Carp
Darenth Tip Lake’s Scar Bar at 23lb.
75, I actually joined Darenth. We
didn’t even bother looking at the Tip
Lake, as it was just too weedy, but the
carp spawned in the Big Lake in 1970,
so by now, about 1974, there were
loads and loads of small carp, 4lb-7lb,
and that’s why I spent my time fishing there as much as I could. It was
nothing to catch seven or ten fish in a
session, but they would all be small.
One guy who sticks out as being
really successful at the time, catching
the bigger fish, was a guy called Tony
Howells; I think he came from
Walthamstow or somewhere like that.
Tony didn’t used to catch many, but
he had the odd 20lb’er, and big fish
wise, he was quite successful. He
used to attribute his main success to
the size of the baits he used and Rob,
to this day, these were the biggest
baits I had ever seen. On his third rod
he used to use luncheon meat; he
would open a tin, cut it in half, and put
half a tin of luncheon meat on the
hook. One day I can remember, I said
to Tony, “I can catch these carp
alright, but I can’t catch the bigger
ones,” and he said, “Told you boy –
use bigger baits.” So I went back to
my rods, put a bit of luncheon meat
on, not quite as big as Tony’s, and I
cast out and caught a 16lb’er, so there
was something in it.
Obviously on Darenth, there were a
lot of famous anglers, people like Bob
Morris, Robin Munday, Alan Smith,
Dennis Davis and they were all on this
secret bait. That was when we found
out about another bait – at the time
the Wilton boys were using a bait
called Red Devil, but in actual fact it
was a browny colour from memory, as
I saw them cast out a couple of times.
A mate of mine, Brian, was told to put
this stuff called Robin Red in there. So
we went down the pet shop and
asked for some Robin Red, but they
didn’t have any because Robin Red
only comes from Haith’s, and at the
time we didn’t know. So we bought
this Magnet food colouring, which
was a form of Robin Red. At the time
I was still living at Deptford and we
left Brian to do the baiting up because
he lived fairly near the Dartford lakes.
In those days we used to count how
many baits you had for a 10oz mix.
Fred Wilton invented the 10oz mix, so
you could easily work out the protein
content. Anyway, from memory, I
think Brian baited up over three
evenings on Brooklands, and he
baited up with a total of 21 balls of
bait, seven per 10oz mix, so that
shows you how big they were. He
baited up three times, and we fished
it that weekend. I think Brian caught
a 17lb fish, and I think I lost one, and
that was it. We just fished the Saturday night and all day Sunday, but in
between times, I spent every
evenings making up some more bait
so I could do a really big baiting. I
made them a little bit smaller than
Brian’s, and I can still remember
exactly how many baits there were –
over that weekend I fired in 132 baits.
But that was the turning point, and
from then on, it went absolutely mad.
Every time we fished there, it was fish
after fish after fish. It was a big thing,
how many doubles you caught at the
time, and I can remember that in the
month of October, I caught something
like 28 doubles out of Dartford, and
that was fishing it Thursday evening,
Saturday and Sunday, so it was pretty
From then as per normal, you
would pack up the fishing in the winter and do other things. From there
we moved on to Darenth, and did the
same thing with the Robin Red and all
that. Also, unbeknown to my mates
and me, you had people like Pete
Springate who teamed up with Ian
Booker and Kenny Hodder, and they
really baited it like mad with the
Robin Red. I don’t know why, but we
didn’t quite have the success that
they did; I think the main reason was
that we weren’t quite using the
amounts of Robin Red that they were.
They were using probably 6oz of it in
a 10oz mix, whereas we were using
2oz, and obviously it made a difference for them. But then, it really
brought home the importance of bait,
because they were catching loads
more than anyone else. From there
Kenny and Pete moved off to pastures
new, but I continued fishing Darenth.
By that time I was experimenting
with a lot of things, and we started off
by using casein. But there was always
a problem; you’d get your baiting
going for a couple of sessions, and
then it would go dead, and it was
obvious that the bait had blown; you
couldn’t catch another fish on it. People like Alan Smith, who became a
really good friend, and Denis Davis,
their bait just got better and better. I
used to buy casein from Jeff Kemp –
Scottish Pride or something like that
it was called. Anyway, I got in conver-


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