1977 I had caught my first carp and the Sex Pistols were in full swing. Punk Rock had arrived and I like so many other young frustrated kids found myself swept away along the wave. I had two things in my life. Fishing and Punk Oh yes, I almost forgot. There was Karen Burton as well, now I bet she didn’t go out with another angler after me!
So, where is this taking us? Well, I don’t know really other than ’77 must have been a particularly influential year in my life. I still continue to fish for carp and I still enjoy listening to the ‘Pistols. But how things have changed in the intervening years, I now feel most fortunate to have fished for carp pre-hair-rig days and pre-bolt-rigs. The year before the hair I felt immensely proud to have caught twenty carp for the season.
Now there’s one big change for a start off. ‘Season’ do you remember them? The frustrating time when we couldn’t fish between March 14th and June the 16th but that incredibly magical moment of casting out at mid-night on the 16th and yes, where I fished most obeyed this rule.
The following season after landing twenty carp I got on the hair and caught seventy! I certainly hadn’t become an instant brilliant angler or anything like that. It is just that the carp simply didn’t know how to cope. Every take ended up with a hooked carp on the end. The following year I started to use bolt rigs in conjunction with the hair. Well, that was ridiculous. Suddenly I found myself struggling to afford all of the camera film!
Yes, I have certainly seen some changes. I guess one of the biggest of these is the type of angler that now goes carp fishing. The breed has changed. It has changed big time, even more so than the British Bulldog and like the Bulldog – in my book at least not necessarily for the better. There are still a few ‘old school’ out there. Not those that call themselves ‘old skool’ but those who actually are, but most of them seem to spend all their time on quiet syndicate lakes or fish for completely different species these days rather than get involved in the hectic hustle and bustle world of modern carp angling.
In this neck of the woods (Nottinghamshire) it was an event to actually bump into another carp angler, other than the half a dozen or so that fished our local pool. Indeed, you could usually tell at a glance the quality of angler by the gear they used. Yes. How things have changed. Carp fishing is now an accepted form of dropping out of society. So long as you have a couple of rods cast out it seems that no-one batters an eyelid to the bloke who stinks of alcohol and has decided to live rent free in the countryside. Take the rods out of the equation and ‘Mr Drop Out’ would be asked to move on.
Carp fishing also seems to be an acceptable excuse for a two day piss up! Try telling the missus every week that you are going out with the lads Friday night and probably won’t be home until Sunday. I will assume she won’t be too happy about the situation. Tell her you’re going fishing and it’s a completely different kettle of fish – even if the outcome is the same. Now don’t get me wrong. I love a drink. I would love to be able to fish long sessions. But I feel many anglers these days use carp fishing as an excuse for other things, each to their own though I guess.
Don’t get me wrong there are some incredible young anglers coming through that definitely seem to have the right attitude whilst angling and the actual angling comes first, but it strikes me that so many others have all the gear but simply go to socialise and choose swims accordingly. But once again I guess each to their own so long as they aren’t affecting other anglers chances that so sadly they sometimes do.
I look back on the late 70’s with much nostalgic fondness but if I were to be completely honest with myself I don’t think I could cope with moving back to late 70’s again. I enjoy the comfort of modern day carp angling too much. I don’t think I could sit up all night watching a piece of silver paper anymore. I don’t think I could sit in a rainstorm with my reels inches from my knees in order to stand a chance of hooking a take.
Now if I could take the methods and gear back with me to the 70’s and share ample bank space with the few anglers that were around here then. Hey, hey! It would be all my Christmas’s come at once. What a lovely thought!
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