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
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.
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