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Canal Carping A Tale of Two Records
hindsight, very dangerous. Often, I
would be with fishing mate Steve. We
would set ourselves at the top, as if on
a starting grid, and then race like
lunatics to the bottom. The prize to
the winner was first choice of swims.
Unfortunately, it occasionally resulted
in parting company with bikes causing injuries and tackle damage. Stupid, but we still did it, and miraculously we never really got hurt. Probably the worst pain was at the end of
a long day’s fishing, weighted down
with tackle, the half hour or so pushing the bikes back up that wretched
hill.
The section of the RMC that ran
along the bottom of the hill was
known as West Hythe, it was controlled by Cinque Ports Club. The
main reason for fishing there was
because it was the closest to home.
The water was shallow, weedy and
murky. In those oh so magic days,
nothing seemed to matter. There was
always the feeling of anticipation that
we would catch a monster. We never
did of course, but the enthusiasm was
relentless.
My tackle now consisted of bamboo rods with Intrepid Black Prince
and Regent reels. Favourite floats
were of the grayling type. I’m sure
that was due to the rings of ripples
they produced when signalling a bite.
Occasionally, a really good bite would
be heard as the float “plopped” under.
What a lovely sound that was! We
often caught lots of small roach,
bream, perch, occasionally a tench
and then pike in the winter. Never, in
34 FREE LINE
those days did we catch carp. We
knew of them, but had read, heard
and believed that they were all but
uncatchable. Even to talk about them
had to be done in a slow whisper. It is
so strange now to reflect on the mystery the word “carp” portrayed. Very
occasionally, monster carp would be
seen, usually drifting under the old
brick road bridge, which was so often
a vantage point to be fished from.
It must have been about 1962 when
I was first infected by the carp virus. I
didn’t know it at the time, but it was a
massive influence on the future of my
life’s fishing. The day was hot and
still; I was fishing alone at West Hythe
and was bored with the lack of action
in the heat of the midday sun. On the
opposite bank I became aware of a
presence, an almost ghostlike figure,
crouched between two elder bushes.
He was obviously fishing, but what a
daft place to fish, I remember thinking. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I went round to have a
closer look. As I approached from the
bank above him, I could smell his
pipe. It was gently puffing clouds of
grey smoke that hovered around him
like a mist. “What are you doing mister?” I asked. “Carp, lad. Carp,” was
the slow, determined answer. He
(Top left) The only time in my life I
will ever catch my first canal carp,
17th June, 1973.
(Bottom left) June 1973, 22lb 8oz – a
turning point in my fishing career.
(Below) August 1974, a new PB and
AAC record at 25lb 7oz.

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