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In Search of Monster Carp
something like an early zig rig I suppose, basically a very long link ledger
with the link going down to the lead,
and a hook length about 4-5ft long
with this little bit of crust that was
just enough to cover a size 6 hook.
We’d cast that out to the middle, it
would be on the top straight away,
and we caught loads of fish on that.
The big ones would just swirl at it or
leave it alone, but the little ones
would come along and take it, and
you know, that was our first bit of
inventiveness if you like. It was good;
we were catching a few more fish
that other people around us, which
made us feel quite good at the time.
The following year, we didn’t catch
so many, but I remember Paul making
up his first special bait, and I rememb e r b e c a u s e i t w a s n u t m e g. N o
flavours then; it was actual powdered
nutmeg. I don’t know what the mix
was, but all I remember was he cast
out these brown nutmeg baits, and
the indicators were going up and
down all over the place. Whereas you
might sit there for a weekend and get
one bite, he was getting all these
bites, not necessarily catching the
fish, but there was loads of activity. I
thought I must nick some of them, so
I did. I remember at Horton Kirby,
casting one out and waking up in the
middle of the night with the reel handle spinning round, because I didn’t
have alarms in those days. I caught
this carp and I remember walking
(Right) The result of a night’s work
with the maple syrup boilies.
(Below) The fish might not have been
massive, but it was an important
learning curve that would help in
years to come.
round, showing it to Paul, and saying,
“Look at that, my first carp on the
special bait, thanks for the bait.” He
didn’t even know I had nicked it I
don’t think, but that’s what mates are
It was great stuff in those days; we
had to do everything ourselves
because there weren’t magazines
around to tell you how to do things,
but there was a couple of books. I
remember Jim Gibbinson’s first book,
Carp – I saved up out of my pocket
money, went and bought that, and he
sort of told you how to use crust,
which was what we were doing anyway. So everything we used and
everything we had, we had to do ourselves; the indicators were Fairy Liquid bottle tops, and it was quite funny
even then because to be a proper
trendy carp angler, you had to have
yellow bottle tops. If you had red
ones, well, you wouldn’t even talk to
them if you saw someone with red
bottle tops because every shop you
went into, all the bottle tops were red
and they were easy to find. But I
remember Sunlight washing up liquid
came out; they had yellow tops, and
they were the ones to have. It was just
a yellow bottle top, but you had to
have it. So we used to go round the
supermarkets and nick all the tops off
the bottles because we couldn’t
afford to buy the bottle, so yeah, that
was it, a trendy carp angler even then.
As I said, my dad had bought me
my fibreglass, rods but I used to break
them down, take the rings off them
and remake them all myself – varnish
them and all that. I must have done
them four or five times whereas people don’t do that now; you get them
custom made or whatever, but like I
say, we did it all ourselves then. It was
all part of the fun, I loved doing it, and
I suppose in a way, it sums up the
early part of my fishing, because we
come to the next season now, which
was actually the 77 season. I was still
fishing, but I remember it was a big
upheaval; I had just left school and
my mum and dad wanted to move to
Burton-on-Trent. I thought Christ,
Burton on Trent – it was like moving
to Timbuktu because to someone
who had lived in Dartford all his life, it
was another country. I thought Christ,


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