FREE-LINE 01.pdf - Page 142



In Search of Monster Carp
through Darenth Valley. For people
who don’t know, the Darenth Valley in
those days was the centre of English
carp fishing. I didn’t know the people,
but it was the start of the protein bait
era, and there were people like Fred
Wilton, Bob Morris, and Gerry Savage.
They were all older than me and I didn’t know them, but these were the
people who were fishing the lakes
when I was fishing there. Every now
and then I would see them catch a
carp, and I’d go up and have a look
and they seemed like huge fish to me,
but I’m talking about those days,
whereas they’re little tiddlers now.
They were probably mid- to upperdoubles, but by English standards,
they were quite big. Brooklands and
Sutton were actually big fish waters
in those days, and it was a long time
before I got my head round actually
trying to catch one of those, just
because to me, it was out of my
league. I could catch pike, but I saw
what these guys were using, all these
special paste baits and things like
that, and I just didn’t have a clue what
they were.
I think the first time I actually cast
a bait at a carp was down at Sutton
Lakes. I could see all these fish feeding; it must have been a hot summer,
as the water was very low, and I just
remember seeing all these bubbles
and tails waving out of the water. I
didn’t have any bait; all I could find
were these swan mussels, so I tied a
swan mussel on, or hooked it on, cast
at these carp, and just spooked the lot
of them basically, but that was my
first real attempt at catching a carp. It
got to me, as I always liked a challenge, even in those days, and I
thought to myself, they’re going to be
the hardest fish to catch, but I’d love
to catch one. My carp fishing really
started off differently to most people’s
because most people you talk to or
read about, all started off carp fishing
by catching carp either by mistake or
on waters where they caught loads of
little ones and worked on from there,
but I started off on the hard waters.
The hard waters at the time were the
Darenth Valley, the real pressured
waters where carp fishing was really
going on so well. I did what I could do
at the time, but I only had little ledger
rods and things like that, and I was
only on a pound a week pocket
money as well, and protein baits have
always been expensive. They were all
hush-hush recipes, and there were
rumours and whispers here and there
of what people were using and I’ve
heard of things like casein and
Beemax was one of the things that
was around in those days, but they
were all things that were way out of
my league; I couldn’t have afforded
them, even if I’d known what to do
with them. So I was very restricted on
what I could use – a pound a week
pocket money got me a tin of luncheon meat and a loaf of bread, and that
was it.
So I set out to try and catch carp,
and this would have been about 1972.
You know, I tried really hard during
my summer holidays; I was there all
the time every day. My dad would
drop me off on his way to work down
at Brooklands, I would spend the day
fishing, and then he would pick me up
and take me home. I just used to go
(Top left) Brooklands in the mid1970’s. Back then it was one of the
country’s premier carp waters.
(Top right) First Darenth carp – just a
tiddler from the Big Lake in 1975.
(Left) A scaly mirror from the
D.D.A.P.P.S. small lake at Sutton-atHone.
142 FREE LINE

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