AND THEN THE SH*T GOT SERIOUS
Despite keeping my head down at work and having zero interest in a career, a vacancy for a Trainee Court Clerk cropped up in York and the boss made it clear that this was an opportunity I would be taking up – if you catch my drift. The days of overnight sessions and rolling into Selby court straight from them were over, as I’d have to travel to York each day. Although I’d graduated from pushbike to moped to motorbike, I still hadn’t passed my car test. In a ‘Shallow Hal’ type approach, girlfriends were selected on having a car first, then their patience, and finally their physical attributes... gulp... sorry. And for all you guys out there carp fishing 24/7 and thinking you are going to get a glamour girl and keep her, then think again. Been there and still got the scars. So, double whammy, I not only had to lose valuable fishing time but I also needed to pass my car test – so I needed to find a girlfriend who could teach me to drive. I’d done my local waters to death and, in all honesty, was using too many favours up, left, right and centre to fish around the country. As a member of the Carp Society and the CAA, poor old dad was press-ganged into taking me to slide shows and conferences as the ladies had dried up, not surprisingly.
The year 1986 turned out to be pretty memorable in that I passed my driving test first time, started corresponding with Tim Paisley and, horror of horrors, had to start leaving home for weeks at a time to do my law exams. From March to June I had no choice but to get my head down and study for exams (1986-89) which absolutely broke me when it came to close-season preparation and groundwork. Balancing my writing commitments to Coarse Fisherman, Carp Fisher and Carpworld with work and fishing was starting to become problematic. First and foremost I was an angler, secondly I was a writer hoping to make a name for myself and finally, probably trumping both, I had to keep work sweet and not fail my exams. If I did so then I was going to be out on my ear which wasn’t good for my long term prospects in any department. The carp fishing had to be kept fairly local (Tilery/ Motorway/drax/three Lakes, etc) which resulted in some barbed comments from many: “Yeah, you can catch them in Yorkshire but you are nothing down south!” – and others a lot more direct.
Sometimes you just have to smile and take it, albeit begrudgingly. So to all of you out there, working and feeling you should simply pack it in and just go fishing, my advice would be, don’t! It is possible to do both. Accept there have to be compromises and, that whilst you may not be making the angling headlines, you need to play the long game. Unless you own or work full time in a fishing company you are not going to make a living out of catching carp. Not even Terry does that. He writes books, does talks, the lot. And that was in a different era when so few were doing it in comparison to today. There are more opportunities nowadays but far more people competing for that same slice of the cake.
Finally, the exams were passed, the cars had been upgraded so they didn’t break down and, most importantly of all, my carp fishing was back on track. Still living at home with mum and dad, I’d survived a dangerous liaison with ‘an apparition in leather’ (Tim Paisley’s apt description). I’d hooked up with a lovely girl called Julie, the writing and consultancies were increasing and the future looked good.
LEFT In the early days the only way to the pond was via our motorbikes. The amount of gear we carried was crazy
Tilery success with the scenic Tile Bank behind me LEFT
LEFT Late 80s long-range CARP FISHING WITH A BAIT boat, bent hook and birdseed boilie