A Fond Farewell

With the sad and un­timely pass­ing of Rod Hutchin­son, Al­bert con­tacted us ex­press­ing his wish to pen a fond farewell, rem­i­nisce and share a story or two from their time on Savay to­gether

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Al­bert Romp

With the sad and un­timely pass­ing of Rod Hutchin­son, his good friend Al­bert Romp con­tacted us ex­press­ing a wish to pen a fond farewell, rem­i­nisce and share a story or two from their happy times to­gether on Savay

Ithink the words of Tina Turner’s song Sim­ply the Best sum Rod up bet­ter than I ever could! Rod was a hero of mine, as he was for many other well-known and re­spected carp an­glers. When I first started carp fish­ing, over 50 years ago, if ever carp fish­ing came up in con­ver­sa­tion, you could guar­an­tee that Rod’s name would al­ways come up. I’m not much of a reader my­self, con­se­quently I never read many of his ar­ti­cles but some of my friends and ac­quain­tances used to tell me about his ideas and the­o­ries, which I al­ways found very in­ter­est­ing. I al­ways hoped that one day I would get to meet him and many years later I was lucky enough to ac­quire a Savay Lake syndicate ticket, of which Rod was also a mem­ber.

Can you imag­ine just how ex­cited I was? Not only was I go­ing to meet him, I was go­ing to be fish­ing along­side him... Up un­til that point, it had just been an out of reach dream!

It was dur­ing those for­ma­tive syndicate years that I re­ally got to know him and learn from him, by watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to his words of wis­dom. I think it was then that I re­alised he wasn’t just an­other carp an­gler, he was gifted, some­thing spe­cial. For ex­am­ple, when he turned up at the lake, re­gard­less of weather con­di­tions and the di­rec­tion of the wind, he would al­ways seem to know just where the carp were – whether they were go­ing to move and if they did, where they were go­ing to move to!

I re­mem­ber one time when I turned up at Savay for a ses­sion and Rod was fish­ing in an area

called Cot­tage Bay and he had just caught a carp of 17lb, which back in those days was a de­cent fish. With that, he started pack­ing his gear away. When I en­quired what he was do­ing, he replied, “I’m off to the Birches, the carp are go­ing to move!” I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand his state­ment, so nat­u­rally I just jumped in be­hind him... and where were the carp the next day? Yep, you guessed it – the Birches!

He seemed to know what weather con­di­tions would make them move, and why. It was al­most as if he could think like a carp and I asked him once how was it that he al­ways seemed to know where they were. He shrugged his shoul­ders and said he didn’t ac­tu­ally know (ob­vi­ously), but that it was just a feel­ing he used to get – and nine times out of ten, he was right. It was al­most as if he had some kind of in­built carp de­tec­tor, some­thing that from my ob­ser­va­tions, is very rare these days.

I don’t think it was just this that made him a good carp an­gler ei­ther, I think that the baits he was us­ing were far su­pe­rior to those of the other an­glers around him. He al­ways seemed to use nat­u­ral themes, as op­posed to syn­thetic smells and flavours. That’s one thing that I took from Rod – my baits have al­ways kept that nat­u­ral slant and I have shunned the chem­i­cal ad­di­tives and in­gre­di­ents to this day. Nat­u­ral food is a lot more palat­able to fish than any­thing man­u­fac­tured.

Even when he started sell­ing baits com­mer­cially and be­fore you could buy ready­made boilies by the bag full, in any colour or flavour, his seafood mix could be taken any­where and you’d al­ways have re­sults, although you would have to roll it by hand back in those days!

The in­gre­di­ents for mak­ing the boilies, with­out giv­ing too much away, were a recog­nised, nat­u­ral food source to fish.

He was one of the pi­o­neers, if that is the right word – by that I mean some of the ideas and meth­ods he put in place are still used in fish­ing to­day. Some of them now have slight vari­a­tions but the ba­sic ideas are the same. The first time I ever saw PVA string was when Rod was fish­ing next to me and he caught a fish shortly af­ter cast­ing out. Due to the (lack of) tech­nol­ogy back then, PVA didn’t dis­solve any­where near as quickly as it does in this day and age. You have to re­alise that back then things were a lot more se­cre­tive too – which I think was more fun – and when he net­ted the fish, I could see three boilies hang­ing out of its mouth. At first I thought they were on some sort of long hair but be­cause I was there and had seen it, the se­cret was out. To the best of my knowledge, he was the first per­son us­ing it. Whether or not oth­ers had used it be­fore I’m not sure, but it was cer­tainly the first time I had ever seen it...

There’s an­other setup used to­day, which they call the chod rig. It’s sup­pos­edly rel­a­tively new and apart from a few, ev­ery­one and his un­cle seems to be us­ing it nowa­days. Don’t get me wrong, it does seem to catch fish and lots of them but don’t be­lieve for a mo­ment that it is a de­vel­op­ment of the mod­ern era. Rod showed me that rig many, many moons ago and he de­signed it for fish­ing in silt. The the­ory be­ing that the lead plum­mets into the soft bot­tom and the rig it­self was free to move up­wards on a swivel, un­til it came in con­tact with a stop knot, or down­ward un­til it came into

con­tact with the lakebed and was still pre­sented. Fished on a fairly tight line, if the carp moved any which way, in­clud­ing up or side­ways, the weight of the lead would aid in hook­ing it. I don’t know who the rig is at­trib­uted now but make no mis­take, Rod was us­ing it over 40 years ago!

Those were just two ex­am­ples amongst many oth­ers of his work and I was lucky enough to be there and wit­ness it as it was all hap­pen­ing.

Apart from his in­ven­tive mind, the meth­ods he used and his seem­ingly nat­u­ral abil­ity to catch a carp, there was an­other side to him – the lighter side! He also en­joyed a good joke, a good wind up and a laugh in gen­eral. In fact, I think he just en­joyed life! One of the jokes he told me al­ways sticks in mind and I still tell it to this day and get a laugh from it:

A woman went into hos­pi­tal to give birth. Af­ter the de­liv­ery, the doc­tor said, “You’ve given birth but there have been some un­usual com­pli­ca­tions, I’m afraid the baby is slightly de­formed and un­for­tu­nately there is just a head and no body. Ob­vi­ously the woman is dis­traught at the news and de­spite the doc­tor’s best ef­forts to com­fort and con­sole her, she is be­side her­self and just wants some time alone with her hus­band to think about their sit­u­a­tion.

Af­ter a few days and when they are ready to leave the hos­pi­tal with the head, the Doc­tor says: “Amongst all the neg­a­tives, there is one tiny ray of light, the pos­si­bil­ity of a trans­plant in a few years – it is ob­vi­ously just a pipe dream for now but with the ad­vance­ments in med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy, there is ev­ery chance we can pro­vide your son with a new body one day. So if you can just try and lead as nor­mal a life as pos­si­ble for now, I’ll be in touch at the first op­por­tu­nity.”

So, they take the head home and try as best as pos­si­ble to give him a nor­mal up­bring­ing. Ev­ery day they feed him at the ta­ble, take him into the sit­ting room and let him read the pa­per and watch the tele­vi­sion be­fore tak­ing him up and plac­ing him in bed at night. This goes on for a num­ber of years, decades pass, un­til one day, the doc­tor calls.

“You’ll be de­lighted to know that if you want, we think we can of­fer Ed a body trans­plant. We have the ca­pa­bil­ity now and we also have the per­fect spec­i­men to work with.”

The par­ents take a day or two to think about it and both agree that it is for the best, so they give their con­sent. The mother rushes in to give her son the good news and says “My child, you’re go­ing to be so, so happy. As you know it’s your 21st birth­day soon and we’ve got you the best present ever – you’ll be so ex­cited! We can’t tell you what it is, as it’s a sur­prise, but we know you’re just go­ing to love it.”

Shortly af­ter­wards, the fa­ther fol­lows suit. “Boy, you’re go­ing to be so happy. We have got you the great­est gift ever, to mark your spe­cial day! You’re go­ing to be so pleased. You’ll never guess what it is, I’d love to tell you but we’ve agreed to keep it a sur­prise.” To which his son replies, “I re­ally don’t care what it is, so long as it’s not an­other f*ck­ing hat!”

One of the most fa­mous and well-known wind ups I had with Rod, would have to be ‘John Baker and the but­ter­flies’. Rod said he was go­ing to do an ar­ti­cle about it in one of his books and again, I’m not too sure whether he ever did or not, so I’ll tell you about it. I’m fairly sure John won’t mind but if he does – tough! It was back in the days when ev­ery­one was very se­cre­tive about their rigs and bait of choice – es­pe­cially their baits! At the time, John Baker was re­ally into his bait, far more so than many of the other guys on the lake, in­clud­ing me. He was us­ing all sorts of high pro­tein baits with ex­act mea­sure­ments of this and ex­act mea­sure­ments of that – amino acids, etc. – and make no mis­take, he used to make a very good bait, catch­ing his fair share of fish!

John was chat­ting to Rod and said “I won­der what bait Al­bert and Bob were us­ing?” Rod, as sharp as he was, saw the op­por­tu­nity for a good wind up and replied “You know as well as me what they’re us­ing, John. They’re on the pheromones.”

Well, I hap­pened to find a very good bait and con­se­quently Bob Baker – who I used to fish with – and my­self, started to catch a few fish too, more than the av­er­age an­gler. John, be­ing well into his baits, ob­vi­ously wanted to try and find out what it was we were us­ing. A cou­ple of days later, John was chat­ting to Rod and said “I won­der what bait Al­bert and Bob were us­ing?” Rod, as sharp as he was, saw the op­por­tu­nity for a good wind up and replied “You know as well as me what they’re us­ing, John. They’re on the pheromones.”

So, John, not want­ing to look silly, said he had a funny idea it was some­thing like that. “Do you know ex­actly which one they’re us­ing?” he added. Rod replied “Have you not no­ticed that ev­ery time you go into Al­bert’s swim, there are al­ways lots of but­ter­flies buzzing around him? And at night, there will al­ways be one or two moths flut­ter­ing about around his bait as well...” and then Rod just changed the sub­ject and started talk­ing about some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. But the dam­age was done and the seed had been well and truly planted!

Later on that day, John came into my swim and asked whether I’d be go­ing up the pub that evening. That in it­self wouldn’t have been par­tic­u­larly strange from any other syndicate mem­ber, as we of­ten did in those days, but John far pre­ferred his an­gling to the lo­cal nightlife and he wasn’t much of a drinker. I replied that I would be and he said “Right, well I’ll see you at about seven to half past then” and off he went.

Now then, for those that don’t know, moths and but­ter­flies use pheromones to at­tract a mate, as the smell can travel for long dis­tances on the wind. A male can then home in on the scent and fol­low the trail un­til he finds the source, reach­ing the fe­male and mat­ing with it. For any­one that doesn’t know what ‘mate’ means, look it up in the dic­tio­nary...

Back then there used to be some Bud­dleia grow­ing at Savay; it’s a pink­ish/mauve colour and has a long flower not un­like a lupin, which hangs down­wards and for some rea­son, the but­ter­flies seem to love it. I used to have a big, wicker box to keep all my tackle in then and so later that day, Bob and I took it and col­lected 20 or so but­ter­flies, which we placed in­side it, tak­ing it back to my swim. By now it was about 5pm and I knew John would be around in a cou­ple of hours. I was in a swim in the Cot­tage Bay called The Point and Bob was down to my left in one known as the Rat Hole, which you had to go past if you wanted to get to The Point. So we de­vised a plan, which was that when John turned up, Bob was to give two coughs, so I would know he was present.

Upon hear­ing said cough­ing, I said in an overly loud voice “This is get­ting on my nerves now!” Bob called back “What’s the mat­ter, mate?” I replied “It’s these bloody but­ter­flies flut­ter­ing about around my ‘ead, I’ve had enough of it!”

Bob shouted back “John’s here” in such a tone as if to say, don’t say any more...

A cou­ple of min­utes later, John came into my swim and started the usual chit­ter chat­ter. “Has much hap­pened? Have you seen any?” – stan­dard stuff. I told him I hadn’t seen any­thing of note, at which point I stood up and started go­ing through my pock­ets, then those of my jacket. John asked what I was look­ing for and I said that I couldn’t find my lighter but I knew I had it some­where. With that, I said, “I won­der if I left it in here?” and lifted the lid on my tackle box. Of course, 10 or 15 but­ter­flies came shoot­ing out and you should have seen the look on his face. Both as­ton­ished and price­less!

He couldn’t help him­self and blurted out, “What are they all do­ing in there, Al­bert?” I brushed his re­mark aside and said some­thing non­cha­lant like “Oh, they’re al­ways do­ing it, I think they’re try­ing to get out of the sun.” With that, I wound the rods in and we headed off up the pub.

When we got there, John was first to the bar. Noth­ing un­usual in that, as he wasn’t a mean man but af­ter three rounds in quick suc­ces­sion, I no­ticed he was drink­ing far slower than ei­ther Bob or I and was def­i­nitely try­ing to ply us with drink. Ob­vi­ously try­ing to get us pissed! In­evitably, as I’d ex­pected and planned for, the sub­ject of baits came up.

John said “I think you and I are us­ing the same bait.” I said “Oh yeah? Well you tell me what you’re on then.” John stated that he didn’t re­ally want to as he liked to keep his bait a se­cret. I sim­ply coun­tered with a “Me too.” With that

he asked where I got my bait from and so I told him ei­ther from a de­cent gar­den cen­tre, although fail­ing that, you could prob­a­bly get it from some kind of an­i­mal re­search lab­o­ra­tory. I thought, that’ll throw a span­ner in the works for him! He then said that he was pretty sure we were on the same thing but dropped the sub­ject for fear of ap­pear­ing too pushy and de­cided to leave it at that.

Know­ing the type of char­ac­ter John is, I was cer­tain he was go­ing to go home and start gath­er­ing as much info as pos­si­ble on pheromones. A few nights later and we were back in the pub again, when John brought the sub­ject of moths into the con­ver­sa­tion, con­firm­ing what I had thought, that he would have gone home and read all he could on the mat­ter. Then he said how do you think one moth at­tracts an­other dur­ing the mat­ing pe­riod? Calmly, I said I was fairly sure that a fe­male Tiger moth could at­tract a mate from a dis­tance of 300-400 yards, which as luck would have it was spot on, as it tran­spired to be one of the very moths that a by now as­ton­ished John had re­searched!

He then said what would I think if he said Hawk moth? I said “Well it all de­pends. When you say the Hawk moth, John, do you mean the Po­plar Hawk, the Lime Hawk, the Privet Hawk, the Death’s Head Hawk, the Hum­ming­bird Hawk, the Ele­phant Hawk, or the Pine Hawk?” It was at that point that I re­alised I had him hook, line and sinker and it wouldn’t be long be­fore he was in the net!

Un­be­known to John, as a young­ster, one of my main hob­bies was col­lect­ing the cater­pil­lars of dif­fer­ent types of Hawk moths and watch­ing them turn into a chrysalis and then into fully-fledged adults – I spent years study­ing them! He then asked me if it was my be­lief that they at­tracted each other with pheromones? I did my best to look dumb­founded and shocked in equal mea­sure and in as sub­tle a man­ner as pos­si­ble, changed the sub­ject back on to rigs or such like.

He wouldn’t let it go though and once more he said he was cer­tain we were us­ing the same bait and asked which par­tic­u­lar pheromone I was us­ing. I coun­tered with the same ‘you tell me yours first’ ar­gu­ment that I had used on the first evening. Now I don’t know quite how many dif­fer­ent types of pheromones there ac­tu­ally are and still don’t to this day, but by now we were all a lit­tle bit pissed, to put it bluntly, and then he cracked. John said “Please tell me what you’re us­ing. I’ll give you

any­thing. I’ll tell you any­thing. I’ll tell you all my top rigs, I’ll tell you all my top baits. I’ll even tell you about Mad­docks’ top rigs – just please, for God’s sake, tell me what you’re us­ing!”

I wouldn’t and it drove him ab­so­lutely mad for the rest of that whole sea­son. How­ever, in the end, I did re­lent and tell him that it was just a wind up all along!

Dur­ing that par­tic­u­lar sea­son, Bob and I did re­ally well on Savay, so did Rod. It wasn’t un­til we spoke later on in the year, it tran­spired that we were all us­ing the same bait! With­out giv­ing too much away, it in­volved the use on a cer­tain type of en­zyme, which re­acted with the bait be­fore you rolled them.

I think one of the other things that sur­prised me about Rod, was his setup. Be­cause he was so well known and seemed to catch carp wher­ever he went, I had ex­pected him to have all top qual­ity rods and reels and all the lat­est equip­ment. In an era where ev­ery­body had a full, match­ing set-up and their rods/reels had to be set 8-inches apart and ex­actly 12-inches off the deck (I’ve even known peo­ple to setup us­ing a spirit level to en­sure their mon­key climbers and buzz bars were per­fectly straight) Rod wasn’t like that. In fact, he was quite the op­po­site. Come to think of it, I don’t think I had ever seen any­one so un­tidy!

The rods weren’t dead-level, or the cor­rect dis­tance apart. To be hon­est, the whole of his tackle looked like a pile of crap, but boy, didn’t he catch some fish! For my own ben­e­fit, it didn’t take me long to work out that it didn’t mat­ter what it looked like on the bank, it was what it looked like at the busi­ness end that counted, and whether or not the fish per­ceived it as dan­ger! Rod was ob­vi­ously far more con­cerned about the lat­ter and it is for this rea­son that I think so much of what he dis­cov­ered and cre­ated back then, can still be found in use to this day.

A big ma­jor­ity of carp an­glers to­day seem to do what ev­ery­body else is do­ing. It’s al­most as though they no longer have the abil­ity to think out­side the box, as Rod did. I can go on and on about him but I have to end some­where.

I don’t think there will ever be any­body else that un­der­stood carp the way that he did. So god bless you, Rod. Keep catch­ing ’em and I’ll see you again soon.

Al­bert

The rods weren’t dead-level, or the cor­rect dis­tance apart. To be hon­est, the whole of his tackle looked like a pile of crap, but boy, didn’t he catch some fish! For my own ben­e­fit, it didn’t take me long to work out that it didn’t mat­ter what it looked like on the bank, it was what it looked like at the busi­ness end that counted

Rod was a hero of mine

Be­fore you could buy ready­made boilies by the bag full, in any colour or flavour, his seafood mix could be taken any­where and you’d al­ways have re­sults, although you would have to roll it by hand back in those days!

TOP LEFT Rod was a Savay mem­ber at the same time as Al­bert – here’s Rod with a fab­u­lous Savay brace TOP RIGHT The fa­mous Savay brace shot of Rod, with the disco hat, that nearly lost him his Savay place LEFT This photo, taken by Rod, is Savay viewed from the road bank

ABOVE Rod with some of his bait-mak­ing in­gre­di­ents

ABOVE LEFT Al­bert with his 1990 Savay 45lb 12oz carp that paired an­other of 39¾lb – the big­gest brace caught at the time ABOVE RIGHT “I hap­pened to find a very good bait... John, be­ing well into his baits, ob­vi­ously wanted to try and find out what it was we were us­ing”

ABOVE Bob Baker with one of Red­mire’s unique com­mon carp

BE­LOW Bait wiz­ard John Baker who was com­pletely taken in by Al­bert’s pheromones... “It was at that point that I re­alised I had him hook, line and sinker”

ABOVE “He was so well known and seemed to catch carp wher­ever he went” – Rod was one of the early pi­o­neers at Cassien

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