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In Search of Monster Carp
It was a period when I was only
fishing short sessions, days or even
just afternoons, but that was often
enough.
was one of his main ones, and I loved
that too. I used to literally fill the baits
with the flavours; I used to use half a
bottle because it just smelled great,
and I thought the carp would love it.
It was an early learning process; if you
put too much flavour in, you would
catch carp straight away. I used to go
down there, cast it out, get one in
about an hour and think cor, this is
great, and then catch nothing after
that. I soon realised if you put too
much flavour in, you might get one
straight away, but after that, it was a
bit of a repellent, and so I had to tone
it down at bit. I was still using the
same bait with the maple syrup, but
trying all these different flavours – it
was a learning year, a year when I
experimented a lot with all these new
flavours and ingredients, and you
know, I was just loving every minute
of it. I used to go over there every Friday after work, do the night, catch a
few, and I got my hundred carp. It
was in the winter sometime, probably
January or February, and I remember
smoking a cigar that I had taken
down. I’d saved this cigar all year,
because that was to be my celebration for getting my hundredth carp,
and I remember sitting there puffing
away on this cigar, coughing my
lungs up, but you know, I’d won it,
and that was a big landmark achievement for me. It was good.
So you know, Bulphan Park at the
time, looking back, was a very important year. I’d needed to learn more,
and the only way I was going to learn
was by catching more carp and trying
different things. Bulphan Park was
one water where I could do that, and
you know after that year, I probably
fished it on and off for a couple of
years, but that was my one solid year
on there, and after that, I was full of
confidence in what I was doing, and
wanted to get back onto Brooklands.
Brooklands to me was still the big fish
water in the Darenth Valley, and I
wanted to go back there with what I
had learned and all that sort of thing.
So I went back to Brooklands, and
there were a lot of inventions and
innovations going on there in those
years. It’s not said very often, but fish-
ing with controllers and mixer fishing
was invented at Brooklands. I’m
pretty sure of that, because even
years before, people used to make
controllers out of pike floats and candles to use with floating crust to get it
out there, and Brooklands was the
first place I had ever seen mixers or
cat biscuits used, or ever heard of
them being used. It was a great way
of fishing after floating crust, which
was the only way we knew – floating
specials and mixer fishing was like
particle fishing, but on the surface.
Talking about particles, there were
people at Brooklands like Dick Caldwell and Paul Gummer who were real
inventive anglers in those days. They
went on to fish a bit with Rod
Hutchinson, and they were the first
guys to really concentrate on particle
fishing. They had brought through all
the different particles, starting off
with sweetcorn, which was starting
to do the rounds all over the country.
I caught some fish on it, but everything was happening at Brooklands,
you could see it all unfolding before
your eyes, and I had gone back there
with high confidence, and I started to
catch a few fish.
I had bought a new set of rods, my
very first carbon rods, which were
Sportex 11ft 1¾ blanks, and they were
ideal for what I wanted. They’re a little like barbel rods are now, but in
those days, they were authentic carp
rods, and again, I bought the blanks
and the rings and made them myself.
I went down to Brooklands, did a bit
of mixer fishing, and I remember seeing this fish cruising along the top. I
mean they would have the mixers,
but it still wasn’t easy. I remember
getting a bit frustrated, and cast my
controller out, which was my old pike
float. This fish was cruising along the
top, I wound into it, and the fish just
took it. It was almost like I clumsily
wound on top of the fish, but for some
reason it just took it. It was 26lb,
which was a personal best at the
time. I had caught my first 20lb’er a
few weeks before, a linear at 20lb 4oz,
but 26lb was getting to the stage
where I had almost caught up to that
27lb’er that was foul-hooked. I
thought that with the mixer fishing I
would be able to get amongst some of
the big fish, and that was one part of
the fishing, the other part being moving onto the protein baits. I tried my
maple syrup boilies at Brooklands, but
I didn’t catch anything on them; they
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