As I wind up this article, there’s a couple of thoughts I’d like to leave you with. Firstly, I believe that catching carp is getting harder. If you think of any of your local waters, I’m pretty certain that runs will be harder to come by as each season progresses, even if the stock remains constant. The actual level of a fish’ intelligence is a much-debated topic, but there can be no doubt that they become conditioned to anglers and respond to external influences. Each season, this conditioning is reinforced, and they get harder to hook. Small carp are a shoal fish that display all the traits of an animal hard wired to avoid predation. As grown-ups, much of this self-preservation remains; they learn and adapt as nature teaches them. This is why we need to adapt accordingly and try and at least keep up with the game.
The best way to debate fishy topics such as this is undoubtedly via Kronenbourg. I reckon beer makes me cleverer and I feel for the young up and coming carpers that are denied this fast track to brains by no-alcohol rules that some clubs now impose. The other week I found myself wandering the hallowed banks of Yateley when a young angler, sporting the inevitable fluffy beard and woolly hat combo, offered me a green tea. An actual green tea… Erm no ta, I’m a builder’s brew kinda fella.
Some of the best, most enduring friendships are forged on the banks of carp lakes whilst clutching a cold one. Not so much match venues; too competitive, nor trout venues as all the casting requires a safe zone around each Orvis clad keenie. And never, ever will banter be found amongst eel anglers. Brilliant undoubtedly, but solitary, intense beings that on no account should ever be allowed to babysit.
I have a fabulous photo from the West arm of Cassien in the nineties, where my friend is perched on a tower made from slabs of beer with his binoculars trained on the water.
Apologies for the misty-eyed nostalgia, but things rarely seem to change for the better. I remember when, on returning from a French trip, the standard procedure was to check you’d packed all the tackle, a bottle of red for the wife and perhaps a Toblerone for the kids. Nowadays a further check is needed to see if you’ve gained a gentleman from Sierra Leone who’s searching for a better life, a Man United season ticket and a plump single mother with self-esteem issues.
Next time out, I shall be taking my rig and trying to catch the largest fish this country offers. Cheers.