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In Search of Monster Carp
down there, sometimes see carp on
the top, and perhaps lose one. The
first year went by and nothing happened, and when you’re 12 years old,
a year without a carp is like a lifetime,
but I was determined to keep going.
Towards the end of the second year
what really changed was that for
Christmas 1973, my dad bought me a
set of second hand carp rods. They
were only £5 glass rods, but all of a
sudden I had a proper carp setup. I
had teamed up with this guy who
used to fish Brooklands, Don
Llewellyn was his name, and he was a
real old character. He was quite well
known as well because he had been
around; he was quite old then, and he
had been around carp fishing for
years. He actually had a fish from
Brooklands listed in the back of Jack
Hilton’s book, Quest for Carp, in the
list of big carp at the time; I think it
was 22lb or something like that, so he
was quite famous around the lakes for
having his name in Jack Hilton’s
book, and I sort of latched on to him. I
thought he was going to teach me
how to catch a carp, and I suppose he
did; he helped a lot. I used to save him
a swim – that’s what he got out of
me! I used to get there early and save
him a swim, and he used to show me
a few bits and pieces, but it was all
luncheon meat and bread for me –
sweetcorn wasn’t even around then.
I remember the little sequence of
events that led up to my first carp. I
had fished on the Sunday with Don
Llewellyn in a swim that we call the
144 FREE LINE
Sink Swim at Brooklands. I doubled
up with him, and we were getting all
these bites, which were probably liners at the time thinking about it, but
Don caught a 17lb mirror, which again
was a big fish then. It was just coming up to half term and I had the next
week off. I thought, I know there are
fish around here, so I’ve got to be
back down in that swim. Of course I
had used all of my luncheon meat, so
I said to Don, “Look, I ain’t got no bait
for the next few days, so if you’ve got
any luncheon meat left, can you leave
it here?” There was an old hollow tree
behind the swim, and he said, “I’ll put
it in a bag and I’ll stuff it in this hollow
tree for you the next morning.” So the
next morning, my dad dropped me off
with a mate from school, Grumps his
name was, and we went down to the
Sink Swim, looked in the tree, and
there was this little bag of luncheon
meat he’d left me, which was brilliant.
So cast out and we were sitting
there, on a gloomy old day in March,
and I remember the bite to this day.
The little yellow bottle top sort of
went half way up, stopped, dropped
back a little bit, and I was going, “Go
on my son!” Then it went all the way
up to the butt, I struck, and there was
a carp on, which, after two years of
not catching a carp, was quite an
event. I still didn’t expect to land it
though, and I remember it kiting
around and everything. It was a good
fight, but got it in, and I remember
that moment when it actually went
over the drawstring and into the land-
(Above) A Sutton mirror caught on a
piece of anchored crust.
(Below left) An early Horton Kirby
common.
(Below right) My best catch from the
early years, including a PB of 18lb 8oz
– all caught on worms!
ing net. It was like something that I
thought was never going to happen,
but it had just happened, if you know
what I mean. It was an amazing
moment, and it weighed 16lb 4oz, a
mirror, and it was fantastic. It had
taken me two years of my life to

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