FREE LINE 03 - Page 101

Small Carp from Small Rivers
s the title suggests,
you will find no
great tales of success from me here.
Rather more likely
to be brought back
down to earth with a bump after reading tales of the more fortunate. Whilst
I would love to reel off reminiscences
of thirty and/or forty pound carp, the
fruit of my river carping, I cannot, for it
would all be fiction. In truth, I’m still
chasing my first twenty from the
flowing water. So, to me at least, a
twenty pounder from a river is still a
very big fish and well worth some
time. To those who have achieved
such a feat, surpassed it by far and/or
might scoff at my meagre aspiration
go my congratulations and slight
envy. I know from my own (occasionally concerted but always feeble)
attempts, that a big carp from a UK
river is much easier said than done.
As with most fish they can occasionally be fluked, but it is a rarity in my
experience, and so I acknowledge the
effort and skill that culminates in the
capture. Well done, lads! So, having
admitted my own seeming ineptitude
at the discipline, what words of wisdom might I write? Well, for once I
may be the voice of normality or even
reality – not something I’d seen coming to be fair! Big carp from the UK’s
rivers are not the norm, and the reality
is that there will likely be a hell of a lot
of not catching them involved, and
that is something of which I do have
plenty of experience!
My first sighting of river carp was
in the Trent. I’d been sent (with some
other Sparsholt students) to the Environment Agency’s Calverton fish farm
for work experience. I wasn’t driving
at the time, but thankfully a college
mate was, and I’d hopped in with him
for the journey there. That also meant
occasional fishing sessions in down
time – result. We’d go to the local
gravel pits, canal or commercials. One
set of pits we visited was right beside
the mighty Trent, and so off I went for
a look. It was the close season so
there would be no fishing, but I wasn’t
about to miss an opportunity to walk
(Above) Grantham canal carp.
(Below left) The Gipping.
a bit of the Trent – a 40lb-plus ghostie
can’t be hard to find, he he.
I’d not gone far when I came across
a big fallen tree over some shallow
water, so I stood to watch a while. A
group of carp, five or six I recall, came
gliding out from beneath the bush,
big black old things highlighted over
the yellow gravelly bed. Commons
and mirrors from around mid-doubles
to low twenties I estimated. They
turned out into the river then arced
back around into their sanctuary. I
watched them until they had had
enough; shortly after I tried getting in
the bush with them. I had gear that
could well have dealt with them over
with my mates on the pits, but rules
are rules and so that was a chance,
albeit not one I’d be taking. Supercharged by excitement I hatched a
plan, weak though it was. Our work
experience was due to finish (if I
remember rightly) two days before
the close season ended. All I had to do
was convince Al that he didn’t need
to go home straight away, “Hang
around a bit and fish the Trent when
it opens,” I said. “No,” said he, continually, and so we didn’t. Not only did
those three weeks give me my first
sightings of river carp, but I was also
to have my first experience with canal
carp. The Grantham canal, open as it
were, was fair game when I stumbled
upon a couple of backs amongst the


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