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The Rocket Carp

My wife asked my this morning how fast carp swim. Seriously. I love that woman. I'd been talking about the wild carp (or near as dammit wild carp - lean, little torpedoes that look more like barbel than carp) in a local lake that I hadn't fished for years. I'd forgotten what they were like. Three casts in and I was mugged - float gone, line snapped, water in front of me all a-commotion, trousers round ankles (well, almost...). I can't believe anyone can actually catch these buggers they take a bait so fast and I've certainly never come across a fish with such pace.

I went to show Ray the remains of my line snarled around the end of the rod and we both laughed. I went back, tackled up with a cheaper float and had another go, this time holding the rod and waited.

There's an amazing thing that happens sometime when you're fishing. Something changes, the air almost crackles, the water comes alive, you can see shadows, sense movement beneath the surface, almost hear the fish as they move over the bait. Everything becomes hot and - let's face it - a little sexy.

So this time my early warning system went off and I managed to get the rod up and hold the fish when it tore off towards the reeds. Did I mention I was fishing with a size 14 hook, six pound line and a centrepin? Thought not.

What a fight, harum scarum, back and forth, left and right, zooming up and down the swim like a cat with its tail on fire. Ray came round about half way through to see what the fuss was about and stood quietly behind me as I huffed and puffed the fish into the net. I weighed it in at exactly 5lbs, my biggest fish of the season and a magnificent specimen - lean and solid, it looked as though it was cast in metal.

Afterwards, over a cup of tea, shaking my head I said again that I didn't understand how the carp could be so much faster than any other fish I'd ever caught.

"It's because it's so shallow," said Ray. "They can't dive, so they shoot off because they've got nowhere else to go."I looked at him, wheels turning oh-so slowly.

Of course it makes perfect sense but it had never occurred to me before. I still don't know how fast carp swim, but at last I know why these ones seem to have rockets strapped to their backs.

As always, cheers Ray.
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