Kevin Nash In­ter­view

In­ter­view by Bev­er­ley Clif­ford and Ru­pert White­man Type­set­ting by Tom Gib­son

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Carp­world

Carp­world edi­tor Ru­pert, and Bev Clif­ford, trav­elled down to Es­sex to ask Kevin Nash some ques­tions about his last 30 years in carp fish­ing and the tackle in­dus­try

Carp­world: What is the first ever Carp­world cover im­age that you can re­mem­ber? Did it have any sig­nif­i­cance, or in­spire you in any way?

Kevin Nash: I think it was is­sue num­ber one. I’ve got an aged mem­ory now but if I re­call, wasn’t it the one with Rod Hutchin­son in the mist at Cassien? I wouldn’t say that it in­spired me but, wow, it was the first edi­tion of this new mag­a­zine with great con­tent. I’m gut­ted that I never kept it as I hear they’re very hard to get hold of now!

CW: Yeah, I don’t think there are too many of them!

KN No, they cer­tainly have a value I think. Not sure if peo­ple know, but in the be­gin­ning Carp­world was bi-monthly wasn’t it?

CW: Yes.

KN: Do you know why it went monthly?

CW: I don’t off the top of my head, it was a lit­tle be­fore my time.

KN: It went monthly be­cause Rob Maylin brought his mag­a­zine, Big Carp, out. Tim Paisley, as soon as he found out, said to Mary, we’re go­ing monthly and that was his re­sponse.

CW: Good ol’ Tim, al­ways likes a chal­lenge! What was the first ever ar­ti­cle that you wrote for Carp­world and what was it about?

KN: I’ve no rec­ol­lec­tion, but I spoke to Ju­lian and ap­par­ently in is­sue one, I think maybe in is­sue two and three, you had ex­tracts from my rig book back then. What date was the first is­sue?

CW: So it’d be 30 years this year, with the first is­sue be­ing Au­gust 1988.

KN: That would’ve in­cluded the rig book I brought out at the time called The Ad­vanced Rig Book. I have ac­tu­ally writ­ten four dif­fer­ent rig books.

We ven­tured down to that hot­bed of carp an­gling, Es­sex, and in par­tic­u­lar to Nash HQ, ear­lier in the year, to ask Kevin some ques­tions, based around his time within the in­dus­try over the past 30 years...

CW: Have you still got copies of those?

KN: There’s def­i­nitely copies of them all kick­ing around our of­fice, prob­a­bly in the ar­chives. The first one I think was the early eight­ies, and to the best of my knowledge that’s the most suc­cess­ful carp book ever sold. It was so ba­sic, be­cause I was the first to bring out a range of rig com­po­nents. It’s crazy, you talk to the kids nowa­days and they think Korda in­vented rigs. Well, Korda weren’t even around then, and I was the first to put a range of rig com­po­nents on the re­tailer’s walls. If I re­mem­ber, the book sold in the re­gion of 150,000 to 180,000 copies. I let my Benelux dis­trib­u­tor have it for noth­ing just to get it out there and he did 120,000 – un­be­liev­able! And, he never even bought me a drink [laugh­ing]!

CW: What did Carp Fever sell? That was a phe­nom­e­nal amount wasn’t it?

KN: Yeah, if I re­mem­ber cor­rectly, that did just over 100,000 and it set Kevin Mad­docks up with his pub­lish­ing busi­ness, which went on to buy the video busi­ness, Clear­wa­ter, from David Hall. That’s a funny story – An­gler’s Mail al­leged that Kevin had, shall we say, moved carp to new homes. This re­sulted in Kevin su­ing An­gler’s Mail for li­bel and he won about £80,000, if I re­call. He then ap­proached David Hall to buy Clear­wa­ter which David read­ily agreed to. The fact was though, there was no money in videos. I had found this out my­self af­ter pro­duc­ing Starting Carp­ing and Ca­nary Carp­ing in the late 80s. It was all video rental – you sell a cou­ple of copies to a shop at five quid each and they rent them out all day long at fifty pence a time. Very few peo­ple bought copies out­right. David told me he couldn’t be­lieve it when Kevin rang him up and of­fered him eighty grand; he would have taken twenty just to get rid of it!

CW: So you’ve flit­ted in and out of writ­ing for Carp­world for many years, with your most re­cent stuff be­ing ‘Tales from an Es­sex Monastery’. Why did you stop?

KN: For the sim­ple rea­son I de­cided to write my first au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Mem­oirs Of A Carp Fisher: The De­mon Eye. And I didn’t re­alise how much of a project writ­ing a book was – as well as when you go fish­ing, try to live life, have fam­ily time and, un­for­tu­nately, some­thing had to give. It took me, if I re­call, a year. That was ba­si­cally four to five hours, one day a week – be­cause I’m a pro­lific writer and re­ally fast. I used to knock out the Monastery pieces in two or three hours and they were four or five thou­sand words. I re­mem­ber speak­ing to the late Kevin Green, he couldn’t be­lieve it. He used to spend a week writ­ing a thou­sand-word ar­ti­cle in the An­gling Times. I was able to just smash ’em out.

CW: When you’ve been do­ing it for such a long time, it’s a skill that you’ve honed isn’t it?

KN: I think it is you know. I was say­ing to Ru­pert ear­lier, I left school with an E in English and as it hap­pens in Maths, and now it’s clear that was down to the poor stan­dard of teach­ing in schools in those days – as mod­estly, Rosie Barham, who used to edit for me says I’ve got a nat­u­ral tal­ent as a writer. I don’t know about that but as I was say­ing to Ru­pert, ev­ery time I used to write for Tim, I’d be so anx­ious if it’d be any good, ring­ing him up, ask­ing him if he’d re­ceived it. He’d al­ways say “Well, it’s go­ing in be­cause it’s by Kevin Nash”, which used to kind of up­set me in a way be­cause it was go­ing in be­cause of my name rather than a piece that had writ­ing merit, was a good read, in­for­ma­tive and hope­fully with a laugh or two. It’s the same with the book, I was strug­gling how to make the book ap­peal to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. I was very aware the old school guys wanted a good read. The new kids that are into the sport, how­ever, just wanted the tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion. It was a mas­sive head f*ck, try­ing to jug­gle it and achieve my am­bi­tion of who­ever bought it think­ing it was a good read and worth the money.

At the end of it, I was men­tally drained, as well as that, it was a re­ally emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence and I don’t mind ad­mit­ting that when I wrote my fi­nal words I burst out into tears – it ab­so­lutely drained

me. I picked up my pen to start writ­ing ‘Es­sex Monastery’ again and I quite sim­ply couldn’t. It was bizarre. It took some­thing like three years be­fore I was able to write again and then only very oc­ca­sion­ally.

CW: That leads on to the next ques­tion, apart from this in­ter­view, do you see your­self writ­ing for Carp­world or writ­ing any­thing again?

KN: I think the sim­ple an­swer is no; there’s a lot of rea­sons for that. Age is creep­ing up on me. I never ex­pected to see it com­ing but it’s ar­rived and I think carp fish­ing is a young man’s sport, or a rel­a­tively fit per­son’s sport. I haven’t fished now since last year, be­cause my hip’s play­ing up and I’ve got to have a hip re­place­ment. I think to write a reg­u­lar fea­ture se­ries, it’s im­por­tant that you’re out there fish­ing and that’s for sev­eral rea­sons. Un­less you’re out there fish­ing, you can’t re­ally think of great con­tent. Cer­tain peo­ple can churn out pieces, year af­ter year, with­out be­ing out on the bank but my god it shows! It’s so clear to see in an an­gler’s writ­ing whether they are out fish­ing reg­u­larly or not – you need to be out there do­ing it, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it and think­ing about it to write good con­tent. The ‘Es­sex Monastery’ was great be­cause I could just write about what other peo­ple had writ­ten about and have a laugh with some of them. It was so easy to write, add a bit of fish­ing into it and a lit­tle bit of thought. But you still needed the pic­tures.

CW: So, once upon a time you ac­tu­ally used to sell the ad­ver­tis­ing for Carp­world – how did that come about, and did you en­joy do­ing it?

KN: I can­not rec­ol­lect the time­line of events but this is when I made a leap of faith to go full-time, sell­ing carp tackle, in 1982. At the time I was friendly with David Hall, who pub­lished Coarse Fish­er­man mag­a­zine, and I was a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to that and I re­call a con­ver­sa­tion with him where he said he wanted to bring out a new match fish­ing mag­a­zine and he needed some­one to sell the ad­ver­tis­ing. I said “Well, I know the re­tail­ers who are hot for the trot” so he of­fered me the job. I started go­ing up to Daven­try once a week to sell the ad­ver­tis­ing for it. I wasn’t any good at it as the match shops weren’t my cus­tomers and I wasn’t a match an­gler; they didn’t know who I was, so there was no re­la­tion­ship. I got talk­ing to the edi­tor at the time, Dave Phillips, and I was con­vinced that there was a mar­ket for a spec­i­men hunter’s mag­a­zine. He went to David Hall and his re­sponse was sim­ple... “Well, if you get me the ad­ver­tis­ing, I’ll launch it”. So I rang the shops that were my cus­tomers, the ones I had a re­la­tion­ship with and I sold the ad­ver­tis­ing in a day as easy as any­thing! I think that mag­a­zine was called Big Fish. It was the first mag­a­zine to fo­cus on a spe­cific dis­ci­pline within coarse fish­ing. If you track back from the 70s, the mag­a­zine of the day was An­gling which cov­ered all the dis­ci­plines from coarse fish­ing, spec­i­men, sea, trout and salmon. As a kid I would buy an­gling mag­a­zines in the hope that there might be one carp ar­ti­cle in the whole mag. This is the days when the carp scene was re­ally small but a few were starting to write, the likes of Paul Snepp, Robin Mun­day, Gerry Sav­age and Bob Mor­ris. There were very few carp ar­ti­cles, maybe as lit­tle as six through­out the year. Then David Hall started the first ded­i­cated coarse fish­ing mag­a­zine which was down to a sin­gle dis­ci­pline, coarse fish­ing, but we had every­thing within that, from maybe team fish­ing, to bream fish­ing, to match fish­ing, and a carp ar­ti­cle – and then, as I say, we brought the Big Fish mag out so that fo­cused it down to spec­i­men hunt­ing and, more to the point, a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in carp con­tent. Later on I was ap­proached by Peter Mo­han to sell the ad­ver­tis­ing for the Carp An­gler’s As­so­ci­a­tion mag­a­zine, so I guess with­out know­ing it I was build­ing up a bit of a rep­u­ta­tion in sell­ing mag­a­zine ad­ver­tis­ing. Any­way, I got to know Tim, I can’t re­mem­ber when, but with­out doubt it would have been through the Carp So­ci­ety, which emerged as a di­rect competitor or­gan­i­sa­tion to Peter Mo­han’s BCSG and CAA. Peter’s or­gan­i­sa­tion got into fi­nan­cial trou­ble, ba­si­cally be­cause Peter took the funds out, so the mag­a­zine folded.

Tim started up Carp­world and Mary called me to ask if I’d help them out to sell the ad­ver­tis­ing which I hap­pily agreed to. I’d al­ways try to get the ad­ver­tis­ers to sign up for a 12-month book­ing. All the ones who I could get in would book a page a month for ex­am­ple, and then I’d just have to spend a cou­ple of hours ring­ing around to get the guys who might want a quar­ter of a page. It was half a day a month to get all the ad­verts and I think they re­alised how easy it was as I’d taught them how easy it was! So, in the end Mary took it back off me, which was fine as I was starting to get busier with Nash at the time – but to an­swer your ques­tion, yeah, I en­joyed sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing as I en­joyed talk­ing to peo­ple. I run the com­pany cus­tomer line. I just love talk­ing to peo­ple and talk­ing to the cus­tomers, not from a point of view of try­ing to sell, just to give them the ad­vice on tackle or equip­ment from Nash. A lot of the time I would say it isn’t right for you, other times peo­ple would ring me up about some wa­ters and I’d say go in with sweet­corn to which the re­sponse would be, “Aren’t you go­ing to sell me some Nash­bait?” I’d say no as it isn’t right for the sit­u­a­tion. I love talk­ing and if it leads on to a sale then happy days...

CW: Carp­world has got a strong international pres­ence amongst its read­er­ship. You’ve fished all over the world so where’s the most amaz­ing venue you’ve ever fished – if you had to pick one?

KN: I think I would have to say Lac Du Der/chante­coq. I had such great times there, also made so spe­cial by the per­son who I was with, Nigel Bother­way, who was an in­cred­i­bly fit guy. You needed to be fit to fish a lake where you might row 10 miles a day or be wad­ing in mud up to your knees. We went there on the back of the Joe Tay­lor times and in fact, Joe had just given up his fish­ing in France. For the record, it was Joe who’d found Chante­coq, driv­ing back from some­where and he saw this huge wa­ter. I re­mem­ber him telling Nigel and then telling me that he’d sat there and thought: “Where do I start!?” What he didn’t

know was it was a flip­pin’ aquar­ium! There’s just so many carp in there. Nigel took an Orkney Long Liner – an ocean­go­ing row­ing boat. He’d had oars cus­tomised to eigh­teen inches longer than nor­mal and with an elec­tric out­board it still took us an 1½-hours to get to this is­land – that’s how big Chante­coq is! It’s over 50 miles around. We’d go out at night and just drift down the whole lake lis­ten­ing for fish crash­ing. The mud used to be up to our knees and we de­cided to go bare­foot as we thought it would be eas­ier. It didn’t turn out that way though – the mud packs un­der the bot­tom of your feet and it puts pres­sure on your ten­dons on top. On one ses­sion I be­come ab­so­lutely crip­pled as I just couldn’t deal with it. I re­mem­ber the last evening I had a cou­ple of bank­sticks to get down to the rods (act­ing as crutches) to get to this take and I said to Nigel, “You’re go­ing to have to have all the takes”. It re­ally pissed me off that he wasn’t af­fected by it! But he even­tu­ally had it, de­layed, as we walked onto the ferry on the trip home. And be­cause we were bare­foot, I ended up tread­ing on a bro­ken bot­tle, cut­ting my foot. It was a bad cut but we both agreed I wasn’t go­ing to hos­pi­tal. So he set his sights on some hook­link to stitch it up. As he stuck the nee­dle in my re­ac­tion was, of course, “Ouch!” He just looked me straight in the eye and said, “Kevin, pain is rel­a­tive!” I thought... you fu**er! I never made a sound af­ter­wards!

It was all just a mas­sive ad­ven­ture, it re­ally was. I’ve al­ways said it’s not the lake, it’s not the coun­try, it’s the peo­ple. We kept it quiet and in fact it was Kevin Mad­docks who blew it with Alan Tay­lor. That’s how Alan Tay­lor and Joe Tay­lor fell out, be­cause Joe was re­ally se­cre­tive and he’d told Alan not to tell – but Alan told Mad­docks and they went to the lake. Mad­docks then re­ported it to An­gler’s Mail and I think there was a head­line re­veal­ing some­thing like they’d “caught a tonne of carp in week.”

I re­mem­ber wak­ing up one morn­ing dur­ing a storm and look­ing out of the bivvy and see­ing carp launch­ing out of the wa­ter ev­ery­where – they’d be in shoals of hun­dreds, com­ing through. In fact, I came up with this idea that we could hold them. There’s a photo some­where, I think Nige has got it, where I took a quar­ter of a ton of boilies to try and hold them and this was just for a three­nighter. We still couldn’t hold them – they’d just eat us out in 3-4 hours! It was like herds of wilde­beest.

We found the fish­ing so easy, the long­est ses­sion we ever did was four nights. Frankly, that was enough with the tough con­di­tions and catch­ing 10-15 carp per night. We’d just drive around, talk to the an­glers and from them, fig­ure out where to go. We’d al­ways go the op­po­site di­rec­tion be­cause we were poach­ing ba­si­cally, fish­ing at night, which was il­le­gal at the time. Yes, Chante­coq was an un­be­liev­able place – it was just pure ad­ven­ture time but we had to give up on it, iron­i­cally be­cause they opened it up and made a num­ber of au­tho­rised night fish­ing spots, which made it harder for us to fish it covertly. Let’s be hon­est here, the most ex­cit­ing form of carp fish­ing is fish­ing for carp when you’re not al­lowed to! It was a mas­sive buzz – the huge lake, the huge shoals of carp and try­ing to dodge the Garde-pêche to boot! Some of Joe’s sto­ries are awe­some, of when the Garde-pêche sent the army out on night sor­ties, to try and catch him. They re­ally took their job se­ri­ously!

My­self and Nigel usu­ally did the three nights, but our very last ses­sion was four nights and we had 48 carp rang­ing from mid-20s into the 40s – you know that’s a lot of carp! We fished six rods, with lit­er­ally ev­ery rod go­ing off si­mul­ta­ne­ously. I re­mem­ber hav­ing three thir­ties in the net and hav­ing to put it down on the bank be­cause Nigel was into a big­ger one. It’s just a crazy place!

CW: Carp­world is, of course, a plat­form me­dia out­let to give the carp an­glers knowledge about carp fish­ing but from your point of view, also a ve­hi­cle to pro­mote your com­pany’s prod­ucts. How do you find a bal­ance be­tween these two things when con­tribut­ing – i.e. pro­mo­tion of your tackle and bait, ver­sus pass­ing on in­for­ma­tion and knowledge?

KN: That’s an in­ter­est­ing point – I never did find a bal­ance. I be­lieved that when I wrote an ar­ti­cle, I shouldn’t use it as a ve­hi­cle to plug gear to aid the com­pany’s growth. Un­like the mod­ern world now, where an ar­ti­cle is just used by the con­trib­u­tor to plug the com­pany’s gear or the com­pany’s spon­sors. You could say I was, well I still am, a very naïve busi­ness­man. Even if I did pick up my pen and be­come a pro­lific writer again I don’t think it would be any dif­fer­ent. I’ll be frank, a lot of carp an­glers, es­pe­cially new­com­ers to the sport, strug­gle with it and they don’t get it. You’ve got to get the fun­da­men­tals right. So rather than un­der­stand­ing the wa­ter­craft, they are look­ing for the se­cret. It is al­most like if they copy what the spon­sored an­gler says in their ar­ti­cle, then they are go­ing to au­to­mat­i­cally go and smash it.

You now have this new gen­er­a­tion of tackle com­pa­nies – let’s be hon­est, Danny Fair­brass was prob­a­bly the first one who re­ally un­der­stood mar­ket­ing, so they re­ally started push­ing the tackle rather than teach­ing peo­ple ac­tu­ally how to catch carp, and not that lo­ca­tion was more im­por­tant than spod­ding out what­ever. To be hon­est if you look back I think it’s been detri­men­tal to carp fish­ing be­cause an­glers come into the sport, they’ve seen the ar­ti­cle and the big fish, the videos and think that’s all they’ve got to do, just buy this gear and this bait and then they’ll be able to go out and be like the star names. There’s more to it though, so they lose their en­thu­si­asm and give up.

CW: We loved read­ing both your in­cred­i­ble books but for the guys who haven’t read them yet, why did you write two books?

KN: I wrote two books be­cause I couldn’t say it all in one – sim­ple as that! I thought it was go­ing to be three books though. When I set to on the sec­ond book, I had it in my mind the third would ba­si­cally be the tech­ni­cal one. What hap­pened though was when I got through to the Warmwell chap­ters in Her­man’s Hole, I re­alised that all I was go­ing to do was start writ­ing about ses­sions and ‘look

I tried to deal with the con­fu­sion of why for ex­am­ple one carp an­gler would have a rig with cer­tain prop­er­ties, whilst an­other could have com­pletely op­po­site views on what makes a suc­cess­ful rig. Most im­por­tantly is to cut through it all and get back to the fun­da­men­tals of be­ing suc­cess­ful – fo­cus and graft

at me and what I’ve caught’. We’d have noth­ing else to show ex­cept the tech­ni­cal so that’s why the sec­ond book be­came half story, half re-vis­it­ing every­thing I’ve learnt along the way. The plan when I wrote those books was to pick wa­ters where I could il­lus­trate my learn­ing curve, my pro­gres­sion if you like through my carp ap­pren­tice­ship, and hope­fully I could make peo­ple laugh at the same time.

CW: So, which is the chap­ter or section that you most en­joyed writ­ing?

KN: That’s a dif­fi­cult ques­tion as I en­joyed writ­ing it all, for dif­fer­ent rea­sons – for re­mem­ber­ing the sto­ries, for the tech­ni­cal part be­cause it was so chal­leng­ing to write it. I found my­self re-read­ing bits and think­ing “God, how do I put that across?” and what would be the most en­joy­able way?

I’d prob­a­bly go for the Sil­ver End piece, lead­ing up to the cap­ture of the Es­sex 40, be­cause I’m think­ing of the char­ac­ters and telling the story of ‘Un­cooked’. Well, you know ev­ery story I told in the books was ab­so­lutely true. That may sound un­be­liev­able when we are talk­ing about three deaths and two mur­ders, but writ­ing ‘Un­cooked’ just il­lus­trates some of the crazy char­ac­ters we have in our sport. It was just such a mad story where he (Un­cooked) fell in and nearly drowned, along with his re­ac­tion to the event, as well as mine.

CW: What chap­ter or section do you think the reader will take the most away from?

KN: Well, it’s got to be the ‘Knowledge’ just for the depth of

tech­ni­cal con­tent. I re­ally tried in the Knowledge to con­dense down a life­time of learn­ing that was por­trayed across both books – from the ba­sics of wa­ter­craft and un­der­stand­ing carp, to the me­chan­i­cal el­e­ments of the rig and what you need out of it, and the many di­verse el­e­ments of bait. I tried to deal with the con­fu­sion of why for ex­am­ple one carp an­gler would have a rig with cer­tain prop­er­ties, whilst an­other could have com­pletely op­po­site views on what makes a suc­cess­ful rig. Most im­por­tantly is to cut through it all and get back to the fun­da­men­tals of be­ing suc­cess­ful – fo­cus and graft.

CW: Con­fi­dence? I think con­fi­dence plays a mas­sive part of it still...

KN: You’re right Bev, I think the big­gest rea­son these top an­glers just seem to go any­where and catch is con­fi­dence. This was a thing that, once upon a time, was a com­plete mys­tery to Tim, as he used to write about it as if you could only pack­age it up in a bot­tle – but it’s quite sim­ple.

It’s about con­sis­tency when fish­ing. The more you go out and catch, you are by def­i­ni­tion be­com­ing more ca­pa­ble, con­fi­dent and you’re work­ing harder at it. In short, rather than wait­ing for it to hap­pen you are mak­ing it hap­pen. With the top an­glers it’s about the work ethic. If you’re on it, you are ac­tu­ally work­ing harder and that’s my def­i­ni­tion of con­fi­dence, you’re mak­ing it hap­pen. It is as sim­ple as that. I touched on it when I went on to the mid-90s in my book where every­thing had come to­gether. I’d got it then. It took me a bloody long time, but I re­alised I had my best re­sults on chal­leng­ing wa­ters af­ter I had been on a wa­ter where I had caught stacks of carp. This was why I went to Star Lane to get a load of fish un­der my belt, and trial my rigs and meth­ods be­fore the big chal­lenge of the Manor and Warmwell. When I walked on to The Manor I knew I was the b*llocks and I could catch carp any­where! I know that’s not a good thing to say, but in your head you don’t doubt your­self – you just know you’re go­ing to go and catch them and that’s be­cause you’re on it, you’re just catch­ing so many carp...

ABOVE TOP I chose Star Lane to al­low me to hone my rigs and tac­tics


ABOVE RIGHT An­other res­i­dent of Dorset’s Warmwell. An in­cred­i­bly busy lit­tle lake on a hol­i­day park. Although the mon­sters are long GONE, IT CAN STILL BE FISHED TO­DAY

ABOVE LEFT WARMWELL WAS TO PRO­DUCE TWO HUGE fish for a wa­ter of its size

BOT­TOM By the time I rocked up on the Manor, I had the self-be­lief that I could catch ’em from any­where!

RIGHT Things were dif­fer­ent back then

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