Still Carp­ing On

June starts - and the suf­fer­ing of friends

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - -Tim Pais­ley

As be­comes a man who has more years be­hind him than in front, our es­teemed Carp­world founder, Tim, rem­i­nisces on ‘open­ing day’ mem­o­ries and those prom­ises of a fresh-born June. As Tim writes “Once you start re­flect­ing you stum­ble into an end­less chain of con­nec­tions” and so it fol­lows as Bob Mar­ley sang “Good friends we’ve had, Oh, good friends we’ve lost, along the way...”

Peo­ple ask me how I would like to be re­mem­bered and I an­swer that I’d sim­ply like to be re­mem­bered – Roy Or­bi­son

TThis is the time of year when my mind turns to work par­ties, and the re­sump­tion of fish­ing, which I guess is a his­tor­i­cal mind­set go­ing back nearly 20 years, and be­yond. Un­til the mid-90s the mid­dle of June al­ways meant the start of a new sea­son, not just on a few wa­ters, but for ev­ery­one other than the cho­sen few who lived in Lin­colnshire, York­shire or the South­west.. The start of a new sea­son af­ter an en­forced three-month lay-off was suf­fo­cat­ingly mag­i­cal: just the thought of it was. There was still a closed sea­son when I was drawn into carp­ing proper in the mid-70s. I’d caught the odd carp and wanted to spread my wings, so I joined Snow­berry Lake af­ter see­ing an ad­vert in An­gling Times, hav­ing no con­cept of what ‘carp fish­ing’ was about. My first trip to Snow­berry changed me for­ever. It was an over-nighter, and I was out of my depth, even on that lovely wa­ter, which could hardly be called dif­fi­cult (then). What bugged me, and cap­tured me for­ever, was the time­less­ness of a prac­tice that was en­tirely new to me, bivvy­ing out by the wa­ter for a pe­riod of time. From that point I was ad­dicted, not so much to the catch­ing of carp, but to all that went with try­ing to catch them as part of a time­less pur­suit on time­less ses­sions. Up un­til that time my es­capes from re­al­ity had been in my head: since then the es­capism has been real, or was un­til mo­bile phones made the es­cape a com­pro­mise be­tween di­vorc­ing your­self from re­al­ity and keep­ing in touch with it.

Eight years later this es­capism was re­in­forced by my first ses­sion on the Man­grove, then to­tally un­known as a carp wa­ter other than to a hand­ful of lo­cals, and Dave Pre­ston. My in­vite from Dave I have re­ferred to a num­ber of times in print, but if Snow­berry was men­tally life-chang­ing the changes wrought by fish­ing the an­cient at­mo­spheric mere known as the Man­grove were real. Carp fish­ing had to be­come a way of life, what­ever chaos the changes caused in my pri­vate life. I got lucky, sur­vived the chaos and, with a lot of help from my friends, found a way of life that has sus­tained me to this day.

Open­ers are usu­ally a dis­ap­point­ment. There was a suc­cess­ful one at Snow­berry dur­ing which I caught my first dou­ble (and sec­ond within an hour), and the first ten-day Man­grove one sim­ply took my breath away – both in terms of its at­mos­phere, time­less beauty, and the fish­ing. But for the most part be­ing there again af­ter the lay­off used to be more a cli­max to the three-months of an­tic­i­pa­tion than what you caught while you were ac­tu­ally there. It wasn’t just a ques­tion of the best laid plans etc. It was sim­ply that mid-june tended not to be a great time to catch carp, when they in­vari­ably had spawn­ing on their minds just when we wanted them to have reck­less feed­ing on their minds.

I tend to cou­ple the Man­grove and Birch in my mind, but I first fished the Man­grove in 1983, six years be­fore we started run­ning the Man­grove syn­di­cate, and took on the run­ning of Birch Grove, in 1989. Birch open­ings were spe­cial,

Carp fish­ing had to be­come a way of life, what­ever chaos the changes caused in my pri­vate life

if not for the fish­ing then cer­tainly for the na­ture of the open­ing ses­sion so­cial oc­ca­sions. They were pre­cious oc­ca­sions be­cause there was al­ways a very tem­po­rary ‘too good to be true’ feel to them. Mary loved Birch Grove, as Julie does now. The same peace­ful­ness that per­vades the Man­grove em­braces Birch Grove. Look­ing back it’s al­most as though open­ing ses­sions were about the build­ing of mem­o­ries, as much as the catch­ing of fish. From time to time the fish would co­op­er­ate – not ev­ery year – but the mem­o­ries of oc­ca­sions which fea­tured owner Bill Gwilt and fam­ily, Fred J Tay­lor, John Ma­son, Tag Barnes, Chris Ball, Micky Sly, plus John Lil­ley, Brian Gar­ner, and the Man­grove syn­di­cate dur­ing much of the day, will live long in the mem­ory, and are re­vived ev­ery time I am look­ing through my back cat­a­logue of pic­tures to il­lus­trate the next fea­ture. There is a feel-good as­pect to go­ing back to Shrop­shire each May for the close sea­son work par­ties. I have long been in love with that part of the world and cher­ish the friend­ships we have made there.

There is a les­son to be learnt from open­ings, and that is ‘don’t burn out’. What you did by way of pre-bait­ing and as­sess­ing the wa­ter pre­sea­son, or dur­ing the first few ses­sions, may not bear fruit till the au­tumn. How many of you will still be stick­ing at it in the au­tumn, us­ing the same bait which may be just about to start pro­duc­ing re­sults? Stick at it, and learn. The big­gest mis­takes most in­ex­pe­ri­enced carp an­glers make are three­fold: im­pa­tience for re­sults, over­bait­ing, and re­cast­ing too of­ten. You go to school on the ef­forts of the suc­cess­ful on a venue not by ask­ing (heaven for­bid!), but by watch­ing how they go about catch­ing. How much bait, and how of­ten? How of­ten do they re­cast, and when? There are feed­ing times, and there are ‘get­ting caught’ times. Out of your com­fort zone? What you learn from ex­pe­ri­ence is that you are rarely in it! You tor­tu­ously put it to­gether, and fig­ure it out, and start to get some suc­cess, then the carp fig­ure you out, and you are fine-tun­ing, or start­ing again. If things go well you achieve suc­cess, and then be­come the vic­tim of your own suc­cess.

I fine tune, then rely on a large dose of luck now and then. I have no great ex­pec­ta­tions. I’m more sur­prised by suc­cess than fail­ure. When I gave my stage talk, or in­ter­view with Hugh­esy at Five Lakes, I felt fairly apolo­getic about some of my suc­cesses, and said so. Suc­cess at carp fish­ing is oc­ca­sional, and fleet­ing, and a talk fo­cuses on 50 years of oc­ca­sional high­lights. Or it is for many of us. Each carp im­age is a re­flec­tion of a thou­sand non-images. The price of suc­cess is fail­ure. Hang tough for how­ever long it takes, and en­joy the whole evolv­ing process be­cause deep in­side you need the pa­tience to un­der­stand that at the end of the road suc­cess will come. But not nec­es­sar­ily on the open­ing ses­sion – or three!

The older you get the more peo­ple mean to you, and the pass­ing of Len Gurd threw up more than its share of mem­o­ries, and con­nec­tions, not least in con­nec­tion with Len him­self. I penned a few trib­ute words on Face­book when I learnt of Len’s death, but on re­flec­tion they were far from ad­e­quate, as tributes for some­one so mul­ti­tal­ented and in­flu­en­tial are likely to be. Len was a very suc­cess­ful, highly re­garded, old school carper but his tal­ents and achieve­ments far out­weighed his carp-fish­ing suc­cesses. Some of the ear­li­est suc­cess­ful carp fish­ing videos were pub­lished by the Orig­i­nal Video Com­pany, aka Len Gurd. He was a tal­ented artist, and il­lus­trated a num­ber of books, in­clud­ing the Fourth and Fifth BCSG books. He was the pro­pri­etor of the orig­i­nal Lin­ear Fish­eries com­plex, Lin­ford Lakes, and was in­volved with the own­ers in the de­vel­op­ment of the now-fa­mous Lin­ear Fish­eries com­plex.

Len’s in­volve­ment in the lat­ter-day Lin­ear meant his sphere of in­flu­ence was en­hanced enor­mously through the events that were run there. For a few years, for me, Au­gust be­came spe­cial for the Young Carpers Cham­pi­onship, and the MNDA Fish With the Stars events, the venue

be­ing made avail­able for both of them by Len and his col­leagues. Stars were launched from the Young Carpers’ events, and went on to en­hance the Stars’ events. Many now-grow­ing carpers owe their in­volve­ment in those events to the or­gan­is­ers, An­gling Pub­li­ca­tions and their helpers, and Len for mak­ing the events pos­si­ble. The fire that burns brightly within them now may well be passed on down the line to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. That is an im­pres­sive sphere of in­flu­ence, prob­a­bly un­recog­nised by many of those so in­flu­enced.

Some years back Len lost his wife Shirley to mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease and even­tu­ally struck up a friend­ship with Fran Best at MNDA meet­ings, which even­tu­ally re­sulted in their get­ting mar­ried (Fran had lost her hus­band to the same dis­ease). I think the hon­ey­moon was a fish­ing one be­cause I pur­chased Fran’s bed­chair in an auc­tion at one of the MNDA Fish With the Stars events that Len and Fran ran for a num­ber of years. The only time I ever saw Len in less than to­tal con­trol of his emo­tions was im­me­di­ately prior to the first Stars event. The pre­lude to the event had worn him out, as or­gan­is­ing these events can do, as I have found in the past. ‘Never again...’ was his as­sess­ment on the eve of the first event. I as­sured him that af­ter­wards he would feel so re­warded by his ef­forts, and the out­come of the event, that it would be­come an an­nual fixture – and so it did, for a num­ber of years, un­til I think it was felt that the cost of phi­lan­thropy was get­ting too high.

The sup­port Len re­ceived for these events from stars and pay­ing guests alike spoke vol­umes for the re­gard he was held in by young and old alike, and I make no apol­ogy for us­ing pic­tures of the stars from two dif­fer­ent years. I’m sure they have all paid their own tributes, but this is one fur­ther ‘thank you’ to Len from all of us who were present for those spe­cial, un­miss­able oc­ca­sions. I’ll come back to Lin­ear be­cause I have an­other spe­cial mem­ory of these events which I’ll re­late.

Fit­tingly Chris Ball gave one of the trib­ute ad­dresses at Len’s fu­neral, and touched on his tal­ent for film-mak­ing. I think I omit­ted this as­pect in my Face­book trib­ute, which was re­miss of me be­cause I was in­volved in at least two films made by Len, one at Birch Grove and one at Orchid Lakes. The Orchid one I had com­pletely for­got­ten about! In a fea­ture a cou­ple of months back I touched on the sub­ject of re­peat cap­tures, and one at Orchid had com­pletely slipped my mem­ory. I fished the wa­ter through the win­ter of 2001, and even­tu­ally had some suc­cess there, which was pre­sum­ably why I was asked to take part in the Gard­ner film. I was al­ready fa­mil­iar with Len and his film-mak­ing be­cause he had filmed us at Birch

Grove in the 90s. He was laid back, easy to work with, and very suc­cess­ful. Film­ing carp fish­ing is a frus­tra­tion, as it must have been for Len who was prob­a­bly a bet­ter carp an­gler than many of the peo­ple he filmed, a cat­e­gory into which I would will­ingly vol­un­teer my­self. My most no­table fish from my win­ter cam­paign on Orchid had been a Fe­bru­ary mir­ror of 35lb 8oz. Dur­ing the Gard­ner film­ing I caught a mir­ror which looked vaguely fa­mil­iar, but weighed in as a high twenty. It was the same fish. Was I dis­ap­pointed by the weight? Not in the least. When you go to film at a wa­ter like Orchid you feel you are on trial, so to have caught any­thing was a cause for re­joic­ing, what­ever the weight and how­ever many times I had caught it be­fore.

Few peo­ple can claim to have in­flu­enced a past gen­er­a­tion, the cur­rent one, and fu­ture ones, too, which will be Len’s le­gacy through his films, his draw­ings, the wa­ters he ran, his fund rais­ing, and his sup­port for the Young Carpers Cham­pi­onship, which will have in­spired nu­mer­ous carp an­glers of the fu­ture. Thanks Len: you were spe­cial, and one of the nicest guys it is pos­si­ble to meet. You will be re­mem­bered.

Once you start re­flect­ing you stum­ble into an end­less chain of con­nec­tions. As many of you will know Marsh Prat­ley, owner of Orchid Lakes, is ter­mi­nally ill with cancer. His ter­mi­nal ill­ness is be­ing sto­ically borne – you would ex­pect no less from a hard­ened war­rior like him – and I’ve been down to see him a cou­ple of times and spent time with him at Five Lakes. I be­came friendly with him dur­ing the win­ter of 2001, was im­pressed by him, as you would be, and ap­proached him to be­come chair­man of the Carp So­ci­ety when that va­cancy was com­ing up early this cen­tury. He was made a life mem­ber for his ser­vices and as a re­sult has been a serv­ing di­rec­tor since the suc­cess­ful out­come of the board­room bat­tle two years back. His ser­vice to his coun­try, char­i­ta­ble causes, and the an­gling com­mu­nity has been ter­rific and our thoughts are with him dur­ing these dif­fi­cult days. Hang tough, old friend, as we know you will.

I was taken aback when Big Ron Buss turned up at Five Lakes in a wheel­chair. I hadn’t heard he was ill, but the big fella had suf­fered a heart at­tack, had died and been re­vived, and was champ­ing at the bit be­cause of his in­valid sta­tus. Ron is one of those larger-than-life char­ac­ters you meet and trade in­sults with from time to time, and a few of those times were an­nu­ally at the Lin­ear MNDA events. As it hap­pened my birth­day tended to co­in­cide with these mid-au­gust oc­ca­sions, and word got round. So I’m back with Chris Ball now and the auc­tions he ran at Lin­ear in aid of

the MNDA. A book came up for auc­tion which I wanted, and I found I was bid­ding against Big Ron for the book. When it reached a silly price I dropped out of the bid­ding, and next morn­ing Ron brought the book round. It was my birth­day present and I’d pushed him up to a silly price to buy it for me! My mem­ory not be­ing what it was (or never was) I think this may have hap­pened two years run­ning!

Ron lives near Portsmouth and his long­suf­fer­ing wife Jo had driven him up to Five Lakes, doubt­less suf­fer­ing a run­ning com­men­tary of in­sults re­gard­ing her driv­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties through­out the jour­ney (Ron rue­fully ad­mit­ted as much). I would guess that Ron can be a hand­ful at the best of times, but he won’t take at all kindly to be­ing in­ca­pac­i­tated. Hope you’re on the mend, big fella. There is a lot of af­fec­tion out there for Marsh and Ron and our thoughts are with them, and their loved ones who are on hand to help them cope at this dif­fi­cult time.

One more sad re­flec­tion, I’m afraid. Mau­rice Stee­les, who is back on the scene af­ter a long sab­bat­i­cal, rang to tell me that Gra­ham Reed­man, from Not­ting­ham, has died fairly re­cently. Gra­ham’s name will be known lo­cally, but he and wife June were ac­tive on the na­tional scene dur­ing the early days of the Carp So­ci­ety. Our paths hadn’t crossed in a long time, and I gather he had been far from well for quite some time, but you de­velop a dis­tant af­fec­tion for all those peo­ple whose in­volve­ment made the early days of the So­ci­ety such a suc­cess­ful cru­sade. You are re­mem­bered, Gra­ham; rest in peace.

Age sucks, and so it goes on... Chilly was one of the on-stage in­ter­views at Five Lakes. It was a bril­liant, emo­tional in­ter­view, which both Chilly and Hugh­esy han­dled del­i­cately, and en­ter­tain­ingly. Chilly is on the mend, but doesn’t know if he is re­ally out of the woods. He isn’t al­lowed to drive, his par­ents down in Ply­mouth are far from well, and of course wife Lynn is semi­in­valid. Our man is far from happy and just wants a de­gree of nor­mal­ity back in his life so he can give more prac­ti­cal sup­port to his loved ones, and get on with his beloved carp fish­ing. He is an ad­dict. His tri­als and tribu­la­tions are hard to han­dle from afar. He is one of my clos­est friends in carp fish­ing and my thoughts are al­ways with the on­go­ing prob­lems he and brave wife Lynn are cop­ing with.

I was ner­vous that I would have an au­di­ence of three for my stage in­ter­view, but it was well at­tended, and well re­ceived. I was billed as the God­fa­ther of Carp Fish­ing, which doesn’t thrill me for rea­sons I’ve ex­plained re­cently. Part of my show was taken up with pre­da­tion images, and I in­cluded a hand­ful of shots of those giants of the carp and an­gling scene Richard Walker and his friends at Red­mire. En­deav­our­ing to be at the sharp end of carp (and there­fore an­gling) pol­i­tics, my ad­mi­ra­tion for Walker grows year by year. He was a gi­ant who stood astride the an­gling world like no one be­fore or since. I’m re­peat­ing a re­cent com­ment, but would he have stood for the pre­da­tion non­sense we are hav­ing forced on us at the mo­ment? No, he wouldn’t! He had a force of char­ac­ter that I can’t as­pire to, and which I don’t see in any of my Pre­da­tion Ac­tion Group col­leagues – hard-work­ing and coura­geous though they are. I hope none of them takes of­fence at that. I sense that Walker would have been ham­mer­ing at the doors of the House of Par­lia­ment de­mand­ing jus­tice for an­glers, and the ecol­ogy, and we have not as­pired to that – yet.

On the other hand by the time this ap­pears our 16-page pub­li­ca­tion, Fact Sheet: Some Un­wel­come Truths About Pre­da­tion will be avail­able and will be wing­ing its way to ev­ery­one we feel may be will­ing to study it, and act on it. The idea for the Fact Sheet came about through ex­changes on Face­book. There are peo­ple out there will­ing to act, if they have the am­mu­ni­tion. The Fact Sheet sup­plies some am­mu­ni­tion. The Bar­bel So­ci­ety pe­ti­tion was from the heart, but short on am­mu­ni­tion. It was cru­elly put down by the En­vi­ron­ment Agency, whose re­gard for an­glers and sup­port for cer­tain preda­tors verges on the neg­li­gent. We are hop­ing that there are some un­wel­come truths in the Fact Sheet that it is go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult for the au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing the En­vi­ron­ment Agency, to ig­nore. The Fact Sheet will ap­pear on the PAG’S web­site, and will be pub­lished in hard copy. You can ob­tain your own copy along the lines pub­lished in the ad­ja­cent panel. We hope at least some of you who are af­fected by pre­da­tion will ob­tain a copy, take it to your MP, and ask him/her what the gov­ern­ment in­tends to do about the sit­u­a­tion. Some­one is go­ing to be alarmed by the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion and take up arms on our be­half at the high­est level.

So what hap­pened at Five Lakes apart from me and Chilly be­ing in­ter­viewed by Rob Hughes and the vis­i­tors who were roy­ally en­ter­tained by the usual sus­pects? Well it snowed both days, which was a bit of a downer for Es­sex in mid-march. Bev, Pip and Jemima work tire­lessly to make a suc­cess of the event, then the el­e­ments give them a maul­ing. A much higher per­cent­age than usual of pre-show ticket buy­ers didn’t turn up, which will al­most cer­tainly have been re­flected in the short­fall in the pay-on-the door foot­fall, too. Hav­ing said which I think it was one of the best shows we’ve had, and I thor­oughly en­joyed the whole week­end (although my legs didn’t).

High­light to me was the Ques­tion of Carp panel quiz, fea­tur­ing stars of carp fish­ing and show busi­ness – the lat­ter be­ing rep­re­sented by TV star and ad­dicted carper Scott Maslen, who was on fire. The quiz was lively, and in­cluded Scott do­ing a lap of hon­our round the stage for get­ting a ques­tion right, then stand­ing on the ta­ble with his fists in the air when he got an­other one right. Un­for­tu­nately, I’d put my cam­era away by the time that hap­pened so wasn’t able to record it for pos­ter­ity. The out­come was that

The out­come was that Ju­lian’s team won the quiz by a short head, fol­lowed by what looked from the back of the au­di­ence like Ju­lian pre­tend­ing to uri­nate on the los­ing team!

Ju­lian’s team won the quiz by a short head, fol­lowed by what looked from the back of the au­di­ence like Ju­lian pre­tend­ing to uri­nate on the los­ing team! Jules has re­cently re­tired from be­ing a re­spectable le­gal ea­gle so per­haps this re­mark­able ex­am­ple of him let­ting his hair down was by way of a ‘school’s out’ (‘Court’ ac­tu­ally) cel­e­bra­tion. En­joy your re­tire­ment, Jules. My money is on you soon be­ing gain­fully em­ployed in some carp-fish­ing ca­pac­ity...

Two off-show in­ci­dents to record... Scott groped me in the ho­tel cor­ri­dor (play­fully), act­ing like a luvvie in full flow (wit­nessed by Chilly and Lynn), and Ju­lian re­neged on his Face­book threat to buy me a drink to cel­e­brate his re­tire­ment. He ob­vi­ously felt that not buy­ing a drink was a bet­ter way of cel­e­brat­ing. I blame my­self. When he ar­rived I was sit­ting in the foyer watch­ing the Friday af­ter­noon/even­ing ar­rivals – an en­joy­able an­nual prac­tice – and he came across to see me. I ex­plained I was drink­ing Mer­lot, and that a medium glass only cost £6. I re­alised from his re­ac­tion that was a mis­take. The care­fully sprayed-on tan fell off, he turned white, and steered well clear of me for the rest of the week­end, other than to say he would join us for din­ner, which he didn’t!

Thanks for the sup­port for the PAG stand over the week­end – manned by chair­man Toby Gib­son and sup­porter Merv Pen­nell – to ev­ery­one who con­trib­uted by way of prizes and buy­ing tombola tick­ets, sup­port­ing the on-stage auc­tion mas­ter­fully con­ducted by Rob Hughes, and mak­ing do­na­tions. Gary Bayes of Nash­bait now makes an an­nual do­na­tion of £1,000 to PAG funds hav­ing seen the on­go­ing ef­fects of pre­da­tion at close quar­ters, and the Carp So­ci­ety also makes a four-fig­ure do­na­tion. The pre­da­tion film was pre­viewed at Five Lakes and will be avail­able shortly, and Big Pic­ture Two will be pub­lished in late May as a more com­pre­hen­sive fol­low-up to the Fact Sheet. I’ll give more de­tails of I re­alised from his re­ac­tion that was a mis­take. The care­fully sprayedon tan fell off, he turned white, and steered well clear of me for the rest of the week­end, other than to say he would join us for din­ner, which he didn’t!

the avail­abil­ity of these projects in the near fu­ture, but our thanks to ev­ery­one who is mak­ing our ex­is­tence, and our work, pos­si­ble. All our ef­forts are en­tirely vol­un­tary, but we are ap­proach­ing the stage where we are go­ing to have to em­ploy some­one part-time to field re­ports of pre­da­tion, and ex­plain to peo­ple how they go about fenc­ing wa­ters, and just what their rights are where preda­tors are con­cerned. The fact is that the sit­u­a­tion is go­ing to get a whole lot worse be­fore hoped-for fresh mea­sures are in­tro­duced and give the ecol­ogy a chance to turn the cor­ner. My own view is that it is too late. Too many heads have been buried in the sand for too long.

‘Now is the win­ter of our dis­con­tent made glo­ri­ous sum­mer for this son of York...’ Ac­tu­ally it has been a quite en­joy­able win­ter, and I’m from Cheshire via Lan­cashire any­way, but who’s telling this? Fish­ing beckons, in­clud­ing the odd ses­sion on the Man­grove and Birch and then on where my fancy takes me. The long over­seas slogs are on the back burner, apart from the de­fence of the World Carp Clas­sic ti­tle with Jacko and Benji in Septem­ber. I haven’t fished since the Rain­bow ses­sion in De­cem­ber, so I’m start­ing to build up some an­tic­i­pa­tion for the re­newal of my love af­fair with bivvy life, carp, and na­ture, or what there is left of it.

The sun has just come out at last, and the dawn cho­rus is kick­ing in well be­fore day­light – and well into dark in the case of my res­i­dent male black­bird. The time­less­ness of bivvy life beckons, which I think is the el­e­ment of carp fish­ing that es­capes the un­in­volved, or even day­only an­glers. “Don’t you find it bor­ing?” Of course, but in this day and age of ‘hurry, hurry, hurry’, and de­mand­ing dead­lines, bivvy bore­dom is a lux­ury to be savoured, and wal­lowed in. It is what cap­tured me in the first place, and that el­e­ment of my at­tach­ment to it all hasn’t changed one iota.

Savour the frus­tra­tion, and en­joy just be­ing there. See you next time.

“Don’t you find it bor­ing?” Of course, but in this day and age of ‘hurry, hurry, hurry’, and de­mand­ing dead­lines, bivvy bore­dom is a lux­ury to be savoured, and wal­lowed in

LEFT A time­less re­minder of a lifechang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence: Dave Pre­ston out­side my bivvy on the Man­grove, 16th June, 1983

ABOVE Man­grove open­ing ses­sion suc­cess 1983: check out the ul­tra-cult bob­bins, the foamed butt ring and wired-up Op­ton­ics

RIGHT Birch as it looked when we took it on in 1989, with the an­cient red­wood se­quoia still in­tact

BE­LOW Birch open­ing af­ter we had moved from the com­pound to the present lodge site. From left: Tag Barnes, Bob Tap­ken, Youngie (check the Bar­net), Pip and friend, the late Dave Phillips, and Andy Mcalis­ter

BE­LOW Birch open­ing 1989, with Mary cater­ing and mem­bers of the Man­grove syn­di­cate present. From left: Tony Baskey­field, Joe Ber­tram, Paul Brit­ton, Brian Gar­ner, Bob Tap­ken and Ray Stone. I’m in the back­ground talk­ing to a cou­ple of lo­cals

ABOVE For a few years Lin­ear in Au­gust be­came spe­cial for the Young Carpers Cham­pi­onship, and the MNDA Fish with the Stars events. Crowy con­duct­ing the prize-giv­ing at a BYCAC finale

ABOVE LEFT A nice mem­ory of those oc­ca­sions. Pip and Jemima’s young­sters and friends did some fund rais­ing of their own for the MNDA cause and pre­sented the pro­ceeds to Len and wife Fran

ABOVE RIGHT & BE­LOW The num­ber of stars who gave of their time to sup­port Len, Fran and the MNDA bore wit­ness to the es­teem in which Len and Lin­ear were held. The line-up from two years’ events

ABOVE LEFT Chris Ball and the auc­tions were a vi­tal part of the Fish with the Stars events. Chris and Len fund rais­ing

ABOVE The Orchid film­ing ses­sion I had com­pletely for­got­ten about! From left: Chris Ball, Richard Gard­ner, Martin Bushell, Marsh, Frank War­wick and Len

BE­LOW LEFT & RIGHT My Orchid Fe­bru­ary big fish came to visit me again dur­ing the film­ing ses­sion, for which I was truly grate­ful

BE­LOW Chilly was one of the on-stage in­ter­views at Five Lakes. It was a finely BAL­ANCED BLEND of THE touch­ing AND THE en­ter­tain­ing

ABOVE Big Ron Buss at a Stars’ event. Un­known to me he was bid­ding for my birth­day present!

ABOVE High­light to me was the Ques­tion of Carp panel quiz, dom­i­nated by a wired-up Scott Maslen (what was he on?), and a re­cent­lyre­tired Ju­lian Cun­diff

ABOVE Gary Bayes of Nash­bait is a strong sup­porter of the PAG hav­ing wit­nessed its dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects at close quar­ters. Gary touch­ing wrist bands with chair­man Tony Gib­son

RIGHT The on-stage pro­ceed­ings were mas­ter­fully con­ducted by Rob Hughes, in­clud­ing an im­promptu auc­tion on be­half of the PGA. I do­nated Colin the Cor­morant, shot by John Wil­son on his wa­ters some years back and suc­cess­fully bid for by Dave Lane for £50. Thanks Dave

TOP Look­ing for­ward to de­fend­ing the World Carp Clas­sic ti­tle with Jacko and Benji at Ma­dine in Septem­ber

RIGHT First brew of a new bivvy ses­sion. It may not get much bet­ter than that mo­ment, although you al­ways hope it might

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