40 years ago, a mad keen long haired kid was sat down the river Trent, huddled down in his Grand Fathers old army coat with big thick prickly collar surrounded by a proper white out landscape of snow. The river was in full winter flood looking more like a strong cup of tea than an ideal fish catching environment.
That kid was me. I must have looked a bit of a sight for not only did I have my grandfather’s old coat with a rough wool blanket liner wrapped around me, I also sported my father’s wellies. Both were far too big for me but it was the best solution I had come up with in my school days for keeping warm. The coat was no doubt warm because of the huge amount of air that was trapped inside and the wellies were warmer than normal wellies as I had 3 pairs of socks on, as well as a few layers of newspaper to help fill them out.
I was sat watching my float in a back eddy whilst at the same time going slightly cross eyed with the dew drop that was forming from my nose whilst deep down hoping a chub would find my large worm I had put on to hopefully put the smaller fish off for it was too cold to be catching and handling too many wet fish.
Eventually the float sank and the strike connected with what appeared to be a totally bionic chub. First glimpse of the fully scaled flank I still thought chub but big chub!
After leading me a right old dance around the swim I eventually coaxed the fish over my net and there in front of me was the first carp I had ever seen on the bank and in the snow too! I was ecstatic, a new species, a personal best - obviously and a new tale to tell my relatively young angling journal. The common went into the keep net as I knew no better and I continued to fish whilst reliving the epic fight over and over in my mind.
After my third carp of that cold winter day, I just couldn’t hold my excitement any longer and got on my bike, left my tackle where it was and pedalled as fast as my legs would allow over a mile away to find a phone box to ring my parents and ask them to bring the camera. Naturally I rang the operator first to reverse the charges as I had no money. Can you still do that?
Back at the river my tackle was all still there and I continued to fish, forever looking around to see if my parents were here yet. When the Cortina pulled up in the car park they were the bearers of bad news. The camera was out of film and back then almost everywhere closed on a Sunday. Give them their due, for two people without the slightest interest in angling they had still come down to see the fish that had caused me to ring them.
The following evening after school I was straight in the local library looking for a book about carp fishing and upon finding Jack Hilton’s Quest for Carp, little did I know it was going to totally re-shape my life. The obsession had begun. I’d even drawn my first carp when I’d got home after catching it beings I had no photograph. It is still there in my old diary now.
Who would have thought that 40 years on every penny I have ever earned has been through angling. I certainly wouldn't have done at the time.