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Carp

Carp photos? What do you take me for?


I don’t often spend much time fishing for carp and when I catch one it’s usually because it’s snaffled a bait meant for a tench or a roach, a rudd or a crucian. That’s not to say I’m unhappy when one comes along, more that I’ve never seen the point of all the rod pods, bite alarms, monkey climbers and the rest that seem such an intrinsic part of modern carping.

The one exception to this is surface fishing, which I’ve done from time to time with some small success. In fact, the biggest guestimated carp I ever caught was bagged right at my feet on a day ticket water on floating crust - I’d seen them snorting about in the reeds and tackled up a rod for that very purpose. When one rose at my feet, took the crust and I struck, I don’t know which of us was more surprised.

Returning to a small lake in Sussex I’d had the foresight to visit Tesco’s and buy some Chum mixer. Took me long enough to find among all the other dried food (do dogs really need to eat fresh rabbit and country vegetables?) and in the end I had to buy an enormous BBQ briquettes-style bag. Still, they smelled good and pongy and I remembered the old trick for softening them for the hook when you’re in a hurry. Get a freezer bag, pour in the dried biscuits, boil a kettle, pour the water into the bag so it covers a single layer of biscuits at the bottom, then seal the bag and give it a good shake. By the time you get where you’re going they’ll be soft enough to hook.

So, the deal was this. Set up a float rod and fish maggots and corn for roach and rudd and periodically wander round one end of the lake in search of carp on the surface. I’d forgotten what fun this is, how frustrating and how extraordinary it is to stare a piece of water that has nothing in it, nothing at all, no sign of a carp - until in the next second there they are, singly, in pairs or occasionally in a line, like carriages in a train. These were beauties, too - dark and broad backed, silent and full of purpose. Two I disturbed as I walked out onto a wooden platform. They simply withdrew unhurriedly to the middle of the back bay and I never saw them again. Several smaller ones stayed in the rushes either side of the platform and were still there when I left, rooting excitedly among the reeds. In another swim, two fish cruised round the reeds and ended up at my feet. The bigger one drifted away as I lobbed the size six hook with two biscuits on it at his tail. The smaller one rose from the bottom, sucked in the bait and then spat it out again, far too quickly for the angler who was just standing there with his mouth open.
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