Spend the day with carp leg­end Chris Yates as he tar­gets spec­i­men fish off the top

A day in the com­pany of Chris Yates take me back to a more leisurely era

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

IHAVE fished with many fa­mous an­glers over the years, but no-one has had more im­pact on fel­low pis­ca­tors than Chris Yates.

This angling icon in no way dis­ap­points. Meet him in the flesh and he turns grown men into ex­cited school­boys once again!

Is this down to his record carp? A Pas­sion For Angling? Or per­haps the won­der­ful words cast through his books? All these play their part, but there’s more. His im­age isn’t cul­ti­vated and there’s noth­ing false about the man. Chris is a true ec­cen­tric liv­ing the life many dream of, far from the madding crowd. He’s never hap­pier than in his Wilt­shire cot­tage where days are long and lazy.

His life­style is a tonic that few will ever take, but just get­ting a glimpse of it through Chris’ eyes is spe­cial enough. So when he and I auc­tioned our ser­vices in aid of Sue Ry­der Hos­pices and the RNLI, I knew ex­actly who the big­ger draw would be!

Gen­er­ous bid­ders Sam and Ben Wak­er­ley were due to ar­rive early in the morn­ing, but it was a two-hour jour­ney to the pit and I knew Chris to be a stranger to prompt time-keep­ing! We de­cided to travel up the af­ter­noon be­fore in prepa­ra­tion for the big day and, prov­ing me wrong, Mr Yates ar­rived bang on time. We com­pleted our jour­ney be­fore the rush hour, giv­ing me plenty of time to prep the tackle.

Chris was itch­ing to make a cast be­fore our guests ar­rived, and who could blame him? The un­ruf­fled wa­ter, baked by the sum­mer sun, was alive with carp and the mo­ment dog bis­cuits hit the sur­face, greedy mouths gulped them down. Chris’ trusty Ed­ward Barder Bishop rod was im­me­di­ately pulled from its bag.

Eleven feet of cane crafts­man­ship were matched to an equally an­cient Abu Car­di­nal reel, its body scarred from count­less bat­tles down the years. The braid

it held was sun-bleached and white, and I hoped it still re­tained its strength. My doubts were dis­pelled as Chris gave it a hard tug be­tween both hands. “Of course it’s all right – I’ve only been us­ing it for 30 years,” he said with an imp­ish grin.

What fiendish ter­mi­nal tackle ar­range­ment came next? In a world of ch­ods and Ron­nie rigs, Chris only needed a hook tied on to a 6ft-long 11lb mono hook­length. “Can I bor­row a hook please, Martin?’ he asked.

I had to laugh! He was, how­ever, pre­pared with soaked and soft­ened mix­ers. A hair to at­tach them wasn’t on the agenda. Three baits, im­paled di­rectly on to the hook so no metal was on show, seemed rather crude to me – but my com­pan­ion was con­fi­dent and made his cast with the free­lined bait into a melee of mouths.

The Cane quiv­ered in his hand as the ex­cite­ment built. A mixer en­gulfed to the left and then the right meant a take just had to come next. The three bis­cuits be­gan to ro­tate in a vor­tex as thick lips sucked on the bait. Braid pulled across the sur­face as the carp dis­ap­peared and I urged Chris to strike.

Pa­tiently, though, he waited un­til the hookhold was cer­tain. The Bishop flew into ac­tion and all hell was let loose. Chris fu­ri­ously back­wound as a mir­ror carp leapt like a dol­phin time af­ter time. My cam­era went into over­drive as I recorded this clas­sic angling mo­ment, then helped with the net.

A wash­ing line of weed ar­rived be­fore a carp, ini­tially thrash­ing the wa­ter to a foam, be­grudg­ingly flopped into the net. I scooped with the wooden pole, forc­ing it into an un­healthy curve, but the fish was ours and we shook hands glee­fully. With the fish safely re­turned there was only one thing to do now – have a cup of tea! Time to rest and be ready for our guests.

Sam and Ben weren’t due to ar­rive un­til eight o’clock, but I was up four hours ear­lier, feed­ing more krill float­ing pel­lets, de­ter­mined the pair would be treated to a feed­ing frenzy.

Smoke rose from the woods as the Kelly Ket­tle once again went into ac­tion. Break­fast for Chris was peanut but­ter on bread!

My only con­cern was keep­ing him out of the swim as the first carp sur­faced. I needn’t have wor­ried, though. Chris was keen to feed, not fish, and even wielded a blow­pipe, last demon­strated in A Pas­sion For Angling. By the time our guests ar­rived ev­ery­thing was set for in­stant suc­cess.

I had the finest equip­ment and rigs on of­fer but I knew this wasn’t what our guests wanted. Time with Chris us­ing tra­di­tional tackle and the most ba­sic of tech­niques was the or­deer of the day and, for a short time, they ex­pe­ri­enced a taste of his life­style. As cane creaked and cen­tre­pins whirred, pounds and ounces weren’t im­por­tant. On a bliss­ful sum­mer’s day, shar­ing cel­e­bra­tory slices of gin­ger cake and tea with Chris Yates was ab­so­lutely price­less.

Sam Wak­er­ley with his angling hero Chris. and pa­per as fuel. can brew up us­ing only twigs Time for tea – the Kelly Ket­tle

Shared de­light in the cap­ture of a fine mir­ror.

Chris’ bait was as sim­ple as it gets.

No hair rigs, just three mix­ers on the hook.

Cane rod, cen­tre­pin reel... clas­sic stuff.

Chris shows how to feed with a blow­pipe.

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