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Canal Carping A Tale of Two Records
obscure the presence of yours truly.
Tinned potatoes and bread were
introduced for a couple of weeks prior
to the start of the season. Signs were
put up with the words “Pre-baited
swim. Please do not fish. Bill Phillips.”
No one ever did, such was the level of
honour. Can you imagine doing that
these days? Over the following few
years the bigger swim was
encroached by a family of badgers
and became a set for a couple of
decades. Those badgers, along with
many other wild creatures, became a
fascinating part of my time on the
canal.
The start of the 1973/4 season was
the turning point in my canal carp
fishing career. I not only caught my
first RMC carp but also had one of the
big mirrors. I arrived on the opening
night equipped with the right tools for
the job: a Richard Walker Mk 1V,
Mitchell 314 reel and Heron alarms.
The bait was to be my conditioned
potatoes on a size 4 hook free-lined
o n 8 l b l i n e. T h e f i r s t n i g h t w a s
uneventful. I had to work in the morning but returned at 11pm. During that
night I lost two carp, one of which
pulled the rod in and broke the line. At
first light a fast take followed by a
short but lively fight, resulted in the
landing of my first ever RMC carp, a
small common weighing 4lb 12oz. I
don’t expect anyone reading to
understand how much that small fish
meant to me. My duck was broken.
This was the only time in my life I
would ever catch my first canal carp.
At 8am I had another take, and I
was into a much bigger fish. Thirty
yards of line were ripped from the reel
as it ran for an overhanging tree
opposite. After several more runs, a
few problems with weed and getting
it in the net, somehow I managed to
get it on the bank. It was a magnificent 22lb 8oz leather carp. Later it
was officially weighed and recorded
as a record for Ashford AC. To say I
was elated is an understatement; I
was now a carp angler. Surely the
marriage was born out of the love
affair with this wonderful water. On
reflection, that night was to remain
one the most action packed nights I
(Top) A couple of winter doubles
from The Hague Canal in the mideighties.
(Left) The Holiday Cottage pound
before the boat traffic got too heavy.
38 FREE LINE

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