FL12Sept - Page 218

In Search Of Monster Carp
swim out to one of the small islands
and build a swim. There was just
about enough room for my brolly
camp, so I baited up with corn a few
times and fished it opening week, ferrying my kit out to the island on top of
a lilo. What a great adventure it was,
all alone on my little island. I caught
loads of carp, eight in fact on opening
night, which I kept in two homemade
carp sacks, four in each, and I photographed them all on the floor in the
morning! What a kerfuffle, I can tell
you. Carp fishing was still in its
infancy, and no one had even thought
of an unhooking mat let alone owned
one. Grass was all we had – a far cry
from today’s luxury carp cradles
where a newborn baby could sleep
There were quite a few major
changes toward the mid to late 70’s.
Of course the hair rig, Lenny Middleton’s wonderful gift to carp anglers all
over the world, became known to
carp anglers everywhere. It was all
kept very quiet when it first came out;
in fact a number of lakes actually
banned the hair rig before it was ever
used. Duncan Kay was a big name in
carp fishing at this time, and he was
quick to ban the hair rig on his Mid
Northants carp fisheries. I’m not sure
quite what he thought was going to
be so bad about the hair rig, but it was
indeed banned. Boilies too became a
lot more widely used. Fred Wilton’s
writings and other well-known carp
anglers of the day began to put
together the very first boilie baits.
I was working at Vauxhall at this
time as a draftsman, and on one Saturday afternoon while I was working
overtime, a guy came into the drawing office (bearing in mind this was
January I believe and carp fishing as
far as we knew it had all shut up shop)
to say that he’d just come back that
morning from taking his dog for a
walk around Stanborough Lakes.
Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City
was a man made lake in a park; it had
been dug in the early 70’s and it had a
butyl rubber lining, and it had been
stocked with large number of carp. I
had actually fished Stanborough for a
couple of seasons using luncheon
meat and sausage meat as baits.
Once again up to my old tricks, I
would fish it mainly at night even
though there was a night fishing ban
on the lake. I actually got caught over
there by Stuart Arnold who was a
bailiff on the lake at the time and had
a tackle shop in Welwyn Garden City.
He was a big, flamboyant tackle
dealer of the day and of course, up to
no good as usual, Maylin and a couple
of mates were down there after midnight pulling in the carp. Of course
you could catch a lot more at night,
and they were all on sausage meat
and luncheon meat baits. Once again,
we were using little bits of silver
paper as indicators, and you would sit
there with your hand over your rod
with this thing twitching up and
down for hours on end as the fish
gradually whittled away the large
lump of meat until they had virtually
hooked themselves on a bit of
exposed hook.
Anyway, this particular guy came
into the drawing office and said he’d
just been for a walk around there and
watched a couple of guys catching
some carp. I said, “Are you sure they
were carp because it’s very cold out
there? I thought the lake would be
frozen,” and he said, “Well actually
half the lake is frozen but they were
up the other end. They’re firing in
these tiny little balls with a catapult
that looks as though it’s come from
some science fiction movie.” This was
like a carrot dangling in front of a donkey to me, and I quickly packed away
my pens and pencils, stood the drawing board upright, jumped in the car,
and drove down to Stanborough. Sure
enough, here were the ultra-cult carp
anglers at the start of modern day
(Above) A Wyboston linear.
(Bottom left) Floating crust did the
(Bottom right) Stanborough.
carp fishing if you like, and I met the
guys from the Carp Cellar for the first
The Carp Cellar was a shop in Watford; it was one of the first specialist,
if not the first specialist carp shop in
the country. I mean Alan Brown’s was
a specialist shop but it did all sorts of
fishing – pike, salmon, everything, but
the Carp Cellar was just carp, and it
was run by Lloyd Bent. It was he and
a few of his friends who had decided
to pull off their Colne Valley waters


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