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A Tale of Two Records Canal Carping
base of a steep hillside to the north.
Bedded into the hillside was Port
Lymne Wildlife Park and its noises,
the ruins of Stutfall Castle and Lymne
Castle. All added to the eeriness when
fishing alone as darkness fell. No fishing was allowed from the north bank.
It was mostly thick with trees, many
of which overhung the water. High
heavy bullrushes in much of the margins completed the backdrop. During
the summer the water was fairly clear
with depths of three feet in the margins, shelving to eight feet in the centre. The average width of about fifty
feet was largely occupied by twenty
feet wide margins of lesser yellow
water lilies on both banks. Most
anglers hated them, but both the carp
and I loved them.
Over the next three years I spent
nearly 700 hours failing to catch a single carp but did hook and lose a few.
Some of my efforts were so obscure
by today’s standards. Rubber gloves,
wooden deck chair, Fairy Liquid tops
and candles in jam jars. I even went
through a stage of preconditioning
tinned potatoes in the canal for a few
days to impregnate them with water
bugs before I would use them on the
hook. This was after only ever getting
(Top) My original old canal carp
fishing armoury: Richard Walker Mk
IV rod, Michell 314 reel, RW hooks and
the grayling float I used as a boy.
(Right) The hessian sack catastrophe
that now hangs on my study wall.
(Below) The Hague Canal in Holland
was a fascinating place to fish.
takes on potatoes that had been out
for over 24 hours. Floating crust in the
margins was one of my more conventional and nearly successful methods.
By 1973 I had built up a considerable knowledge of both the water and
the carp. I knew most were commons
to mid teens with a few bigger mirrors
that I saw often. The close season
was spent preparing a couple of
swims in the remote Aldergate area
where the banks were high and steep
making fishing at night difficult. To
overcome this, I dug the bank out to
allow my deckchair and tackle to fit in
a nice flat pitch just above water
level. Sheep hurdles were laid over
the top of the dugouts followed by
sacking and turf so as to obscure the
cave-like den beneath. Rushes were
planted in the front of the swim to
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