freeline-28 - Page 141



Big Carp Now and Then
Changes
– Mike Willmott
Having started carp fishing in the
mid-seventies, and like so may of my
generation, I’ve witnessed some huge
changes within our beloved sport.
Back in those days there were few
dedicated tackle or bait companies,
no dedicated magazines unless you
were a BCSG member, and certainly
no dedicated television programmes.
On the plus side, carp anglers were a
rare breed! This in turn of course
meant that the bankside was a much
quieter place and the ceiling for many
venues was unknown. Sadly those
days have long since gone and very
few waters give me that magical
‘buzz’ that was once part of the
everyday scene.
In the eighties I gained membership to the aforementioned BCSG, and
this was a real breath of fresh air
because they published (and still do)
a magazine called ‘Carp’, which contained contributions from many of the
country’s most talented and successful carp anglers of that generation. In
the late eighties and into the nineties
carp fishing increased in popularity
and with that came more and more
dedicated magazines. One of them
was ‘Big Carp’, and I was one of the
early contributors to the magazine,
writing features about Ashlea Pool
and Frampton Court. I find it hard to
believe that 23 years have gone by
since then!
During this time I was still supply-
ing bait to a number of carp anglers
up and down the country, as well as
the umbrella and stormsides my company used to make. I was very tuned
into the industry and attended most
of the big carp shows, which were
then held at Wembley. In those days it
was a tablecloth thrown over a pasteboard table – oh how things have
changed! I used to provide talk/slide
shows for different organisations up
and down the country and eventually
into Europe.
As we progressed through the
nineties, more and more tackle and
bait firms started to spring up, new
magazines popped up, and the popularity of carp fishing began to acceler-
ate at an alarming rate! It was the
decade that everything changed. I
remember going to France on the
turn of the nineties and you couldn’t
find a fishing tackle shop anywhere
that had carp tackle. Ten years later
there were dedicated carp stores all
over the place, and I knew that it was
spreading across Europe like wildfire!
After contributing many guest
chapters to different books over the
years, I finally published my own book
‘Carp Life’ in 2002, this being nearly
twenty years after the birth of Essential Baits! Over the next decade my
company went from strength to
strength and I employed my son and
daughter within the business before
supplying our range of baits to countries such as Czech Republic, Serbia,
Slovenia, Romania, Poland, Slovakia
etc.
And here we are today, a completely different world to where we
were 30 years ago. There have been
some massive changes, some good…
some not so good. From a personal
viewpoint, I find myself being torn
between two places. I love the carp
fishing I once knew before the commercial merry-go-round arrived, yet
the current explosion in carp fishing
popularity feeds my way of life. It’s
sometimes difficult to find a balance
between the two, but I always seem
to find a way. Besides, I’m currently
writing Carp Life 2 and reliving all
those wonderful memories of the past
decade. It won’t be ready for another
18 months, but I’m determined to
make it worth the wait!
FREE LINE 57





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