Chilled Out

“This wheel’s on fire, Rolling down the road. Best no­tify my next of kin, This wheel shall ex­plode.” Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trin­ity – 1967

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Ian Chill­cott

Chilly con­tin­ues with his carp fish­ing ad­ven­tures that bring mean­ing to his life and is the medicine that helps him on the road to com­plete re­cov­ery

Iwas to­tally on fire! There can be no other way to de­scribe how I was feel­ing at the time, and, as luck would have it, things were go­ing to get like an in­ferno as the weeks went on. It was so hard for me not to overdo things, I just wanted to go fish­ing as much as I could, but my body wasn’t about to al­low it. I had never re­alised just what my con­di­tion could mean, hav­ing bust 32 bones in my body over the years and re­cov­ered quickly from them all, I thought this would be the same. Think again, Chill­cott! There was also the fact that I still couldn’t drive, and the rather shoddy way you are treated by the DVLA only added to the frus­tra­tion. I have said it be­fore, but I was truly con­cerned about the dan­ger I could po­ten­tially be to oth­ers on the roads, so I didn’t push things maybe as hard as I should. How­ever, when the DVLA de­ci­sion mak­ing takes up to six weeks about each in­di­vid­ual sub­ject at a time, I could only think that it would be the fol­low­ing year when I fi­nally got the nod... if at all!

I wanted to get Lynn out of the bun­ga­low and back to see the horses – just tak­ing her some­where that could take her mind off the last few months. You see, there are some things in life that are so much more im­por­tant than an­gling, and Lynn tops the list by a bil­lion miles. In say­ing that, I can­not deny how fish­ing at Wil­low Park had re­minded me of the essence of life, the free­dom, and the joy. All I needed to do now was grab a lit­tle more of it.

My last visit to Wil­low just hap­pened to co­in­cide with a tele­phone call from a mate of mine, Tony Cadd, who hap­pened to be sit­ting by an­other lake not more than a mile from me and my rods. For rea­sons I won’t get into here, the sit­u­a­tion at Holly­bush Lakes had been sorted out af­ter nearly be­ing ru­ined by a pre­vi­ous em­ployee. The sit­u­a­tion with the pre­vi­ous regime had been hugely de­press­ing, be­cause Holly­bush has a mas­sive place in my heart. It’s where I learnt al­most all I will ever need to know about carp fish­ing, and en­joyed the mag­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment so much. For years it had been tum­bling out of con­trol, not be­cause of who owned the place, but be­cause of one per­son that told peo­ple he did. He just ran it for the owner, and very badly too. Tony told me what was about to hap­pen to the lakes, and how he saw the fu­ture. It was like mu­sic to my ears, and very quickly I de­cided that my next trip would be to my old stomp­ing ground from the 1980s... Holly­bush, here I come!

It may sur­prise a few of you, but I was a lit­tle wary of go­ing there, ini­tially. You see, although all of the fish bar one have died from my time there in the late-80s and early-90s, and hav­ing tried to help (fool­ishly I might add) the pre­vi­ous man­ager by catch­ing a great many of the new fish, I wasn’t so keen to catch a few of the fish I had caught be­fore. Not be­ing able to drive of course puts a bit of an edge on pro­ceed­ings, and at the end of the day, I just felt it would be nice to sit and rem­i­nisce for a few weeks un­til the DVLA got their fin­ger out and al­lowed me back burn­ing rub­ber once again. The first thing to sort out, how­ever, was a lift to the lake, and be­cause of the huge amount of gen­eros­ity shown by oth­ers, I was able to solve this very quickly in­deed. A mate of mine Tim Ash­well, who lives nearby and was one of the first mem­bers on the new syndicate at Holly­bush, came to my res­cue and said he would be out­side my place at around 6am the fol­low­ing Tues­day morn­ing. The next few days were spent in prepa­ra­tion. Prepa­ra­tion that was done to take my ex­cited mind off the ad­ven­ture, rather than do­ing things be­cause they needed to be done. But then, what the hell’s the point in go­ing fish­ing in the first place if it doesn’t make you feel that way?

The fish­ery con­sists of three lakes, and although they had been given some strange names in the re­cent past, the new man­age­ment wanted to re­vert back to what they had been known as for decades. Pit 3 is a day-ticket fish­ery, which are avail­able from Hamp­shire Tackle in Alder­shot. The syndicate mem­bers can fish it, but have ex­clu­sive ac­cess to Pit 1 & 2 (one lake) and Pit 5. The lat­ter is a lake that has prob­a­bly the great­est place in my heart as far as carp fish­ing goes, and I will prob­a­bly never fish it again. I just want to have those early mem­o­ries in my mind, and what­ever hap­pens there to­day will never have the im­pact they had on me way back then.

There is an­other lake on the com­plex, Pit 4, one that has al­ways been shrouded in mys­tery. In 1974 it pro­duced the big­gest carp in the coun­try at 38½lb, and in the process at­tracted many of the le­gendary Red­mire syndicate to her banks. This lake isn’t open yet, but hope­fully one day. Any­way, that’s the way it was and how it is now – all I wanted to do was some fish­ing and an­gle not only for the carp, but for the in­cred­i­ble at­mos­phere the place has al­ways cre­ated for me.

Tim ar­rived bang on time, and for the first time in nine months, I kissed Lynn good­bye as she fell back to sleep. It was a huge mo­ment for me, some­thing that took me an­other step to­wards nor­mal­ity. On ar­rival some five min­utes later we un­loaded the bar­row, and af­ter putting the rods on top, I set off for a look-see. Three things had been on my mind – find­ing the small­est of semi-clear spots in the weed, bait­ing them heartily, and a fully scaled carp I had caught a few years be­fore. Why I thought of that fish was ob­vi­ous, but, of course,

I had no wish to catch it again. It’s funny how things turn out, isn’t it?

Af­ter sev­eral laps of Pit 1 & 2, I even­tu­ally set­tled on the one area I had seen a lit­tle ac­tiv­ity. Whether it was carp I’m not sure, but some­times you have to re­act to the slight­est of in­di­ca­tions. Tony Cadd popped round and told me about a large clear area to my left, and as usual I ig­nored every­thing. This was my mis­sion, and any­thing I did would be the only thing I could blame if I failed... Some things will never change! Sev­eral casts to the right later, and I had found just what I wanted – a small strip of clear silt at around 40 yards, sur­rounded by weed. I couldn’t have dreamt up a bet­ter area, and in short or­der I had two short, stiff link pop-ups nestling in it, about four yards apart. All that was left to do was feed the carp, and even­tu­ally 3kg of Hy­brid in 10mm and 15mm came to rest around them. A third rod was po­si­tioned some 10 me­tres to the left of that, and once again was fol­lowed by a scat­ter­ing of the same boilie con­coc­tion. Traps set, ket­tle on and all that was left to do was keep my eyes on the wa­ter in case a move was in or­der. It was stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dure for me, what wasn’t so ‘stan­dard’ were events which started to un­fold about 2.30 in the af­ter­noon.

Around mid­day I had re­ceived quite a few big, lazy line bites, and in be­tween gusts of wind had spot­ted sev­eral small patches of bub­bles over the baited ar­eas. Just to jolly them up a lit­tle, and of course to go against all that is writ­ten about how fright­en­ing spods can be (?), I let the two rod spot have an­other kilo of boilies. Much against the gen­eral con­sen­sus, one of those rods ripped from the clip around two-thirty. Thank­fully I was all on my own, and as the bat­tle com­menced I couldn’t help but smile, this for me is what carp fish­ing is all about. We ar­gued for some time un­til even­tu­ally the an­gry carp rolled into my out­stretched net. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather. There lay the fully scaled I had thought of ear­lier, and at 25lb 10oz she looked as ma­jes­tic as ever! My friend Stu Dawes did the pic­tures for me, and it was won­der­ful that the new man­ager, Tony, came for a look-see too. As I said be­fore, catch­ing the same fish all the time is not what I like to do, but all things con­sid­ered, I found it hard to wipe the grin from my face. In­deed, I didn’t get the chance. An hour later, I was gaz­ing once again at the bub­bles over the baited area, when one of the rods howled for at­ten­tion. They had re­ceived an­other kilo af­ter the first bite, and it ob­vi­ously hadn’t taken them long to come back. Again the fight was a pro­longed and tense af­fair, but once I had got it mov­ing from the weed it didn’t take much to get the com­mon into my net. She was long and broad for sure, but I could have no idea she would be­come my ‘new life’ PB at 27lb 10oz! It kind of made me sad for a mo­ment; I never wanted a fish to over­shadow the 26lb I had landed from Wil­low Park. How­ever, that mem­ory will re­main for­ever, just as it should do.

I had sev­eral more fish that ses­sion, although it made me feel rather un­well. I was still reel­ing in for a while on the sec­ond night, just to get some un­in­ter­rupted sleep; it seemed to be the only thing to do. That said, all I could think of was get­ting back the fol­low­ing week. Un­for­tu­nately, again through my con­di­tion, I couldn’t go, but as I started to feel bet­ter, my friend Tony Smeets asked if I could join him on the lake that Fri­day. Of course, I told him week­ends were easy, and it would be my plea­sure. I hadn’t fished so­cially for a very long time, and the whole 24 hours was

spent putting the world to rights and gen­er­ally hav­ing a great time. As it hap­pens, the only fish caught that week­end was a 21lb com­mon, which some­how ended up in my net. Who said it was tough on Satur­days and Sun­days? It was just the pick me up I needed, af­ter I said my good­byes to Tony, and I was al­ready think­ing of com­ing back on the fol­low­ing Tues­day... Things were just about to get even bet­ter.

I wanted to fish a dif­fer­ent area of the lake this time around, so af­ter Tim had once again very kindly dropped me off in the car park, I set off for a look around. It was a cou­ple of hours later that I spot­ted some fish, and af­ter watch­ing them for a while, I got my gear into the swim. I was look­ing once again for the small­est of holes in the weed, and as long as I could present a hook­bait in it I was happy. An hour later two rods were nes­tled in a hole, and spend­ing their time with 2kg of Hy­brid, in­tro­duced via the spod. I was sip­ping from my sec­ond brew a cou­ple of hours later when one of the rods heaved over. It was a dour fight as the weed played a huge part, but af­ter much huff­ing and puff­ing I got a very old and hand­some mid-20 mir­ror onto the un­hook­ing mat. It was al­most an emo­tional mo­ment again for me, but most of all, the tackle and tac­tics were work­ing.

Af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of some more bait, of course, I was soon play­ing an­other fish in a very sim­i­lar way. Yet an­other old mid-20 war­rior posed with me for a pic­ture, but the ses­sion wasn’t over yet. Two up­per dou­bles in the night just added to the ex­cite­ment, but it wasn’t un­til very early the next morn­ing that things started to kick off again. It was 5am when I landed an­other old 20lb mir­ror, and lit­er­ally mo­ments af­ter re­cast­ing the same rod was away again! Even the weed couldn’t stop this one, but I won in the end and a very hand­some 27lb 2oz mir­ror made the ses­sion com­plete... Or so I thought. I had just re­turned it when one of the other rods joined in the fun. No mat­ter how big carp get, they will never mean as much to me as a carp that looks like that one. At a lit­tle over 20lb it is called the Wood­carv­ing, and it’s very ob­vi­ous why. A great end to a great ses­sion, but life was just about to change once again. Even though the whole sit­u­a­tion had made me in­cred­i­bly emo­tional at times, quite right­fully, a let­ter in the post when I got home had me reach­ing for the box of tis­sues. The DVLA had fi­nally granted me per­mis­sion to drive once again, and the let­ter con­tained my driv­ing li­cence. I just couldn’t stop look­ing at it, and this was in­deed a huge step back to­ward nor­mal­ity.

All I could think of was driv­ing Lynn around, go­ing places and watch­ing her smile. We got my Amer­i­can truck on the road, and we both roared with laugh­ter as she started first time, and the big old V8 shook the win­dows of the cars we passed. It was mag­i­cal, but ob­vi­ously my thoughts soon turned to driv­ing my­self to a lake for the first time in eight months – some­thing, if I’m hon­est, I never be­lieved I would ever do again. It would never be as emo­tional as driv­ing Lindie around, but it came a close sec­ond the fol­low­ing Mon­day morn­ing when I set off for Holly­bush, all on my own. Lynn saw me off at the door, and as wor­ried as she was, you could see the ex­cite­ment on her face, too. As mo­ments go, there could never have been a more spe­cial per­son to share that with. I pulled up at the fish­ery gate and let my­self in, drift­ing slowly round to the car park. I can never ex­plain how I

felt, but all too soon there were carp to find... So off I went, in search of the next phase of my jour­ney.

Again, I wanted to fish a dif­fer­ent area, and the fish soon told me where that should be. Two rods were fished as usual on a large baited area, in rel­a­tively shal­low wa­ter, to­wards the mar­gins of a mas­sive point which sep­a­rates the two dif­fer­ent parts of the lake. No one could fish that part of the penin­sula from any other an­gle, so it was a safe bet. The other rod was fished in the open wa­ter, and to be hon­est, was baited with the same amount of Hy­brid boilies as the other two. Purely in an­gling terms, it was the hap­pi­est day of my life, but I could never have re­alised how good it was go­ing to get! The first bite came later that morn­ing, and re­sulted in a stun­ning mid-double mir­ror. I left it in the net for a while and rang Lynn to tell her of my suc­cess. Even­tu­ally she asked me what time I had landed the fish, and I told her I hooked it at about five to eleven and landed it at five past. She then told me I was play­ing a carp at ex­actly the same time the Duchess of Cam­bridge was giv­ing birth to the fifth heir to the throne! A few days later he was named Louis, and for ever more that is the name this carp will go by. A re­mark­able start, and it kept get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter. By the time I set­tled down that evening I had landed a fur­ther three carp, a cou­ple of low twen­ties and a feisty 19lb com­mon. The night was busy with three dou­bles con­tin­u­ing to keep my fires burn­ing. By the morn­ing how­ever, I was shat­tered, and I fret­ted about mak­ing my­self ill. To that end I reeled in for a while and got some se­ri­ous sleep. I re­set the traps a few hours later, and im­me­di­ately lost two carp in the weed. I baited again heav­ily, and it didn’t take too long for the carp to re­spond. A crack­ing 26½-pounder had me smil­ing again be­fore long, and the 21lb 4oz that fol­lowed it soon af­ter did ex­actly the same. The prob­lem was I was ill, and I had to reel in again that evening, but not be­fore bait­ing the spots and set­ting the alarm clock for an hour be­fore dawn.

Within min­utes of be­ing wo­ken, the rods were back out and fish­ing, and around half an hour af­ter that I got a bite, and the crack­ing 21lb mir­ror lead me a merry dance. It was great to get a bite so quickly, and to be hon­est I thought it was all over, as I was go­ing to pack up a cou­ple of hours later. The carp had other ideas and about six o’clock I was play­ing an ab­so­lute an­i­mal. We ar­gued for

what seemed an age, but even­tu­ally pa­tience and a large slice of luck saw me draw­ing the fish into my net. It looked ut­terly stun­ning as it lay qui­etly in the folds of the mesh, and when it span the wheel of for­tune round to 29lb 12oz I could feel the tears well up in my eyes. A ‘new world’ PB from a trip that it of­ten seemed im­pos­si­ble for me to ever do again, and made all the bet­ter when my buddy Stu Dawes and his bril­liant young brother Cameron ar­rived to do the pic­tures. Some­times it’s all about the com­pany you keep, and to hold up such a spe­cial fish with those guys was the ic­ing on the cake.

I had two more carp be­fore I left, and as I drove back out of the gate that old smile of com­plete hap­pi­ness was once again etched across my face. I had done what I wanted and I was on my way home to my wife – what more could I ever wish for from life? The list would prob­a­bly take me an­other ar­ti­cle to in­form the world of all the won­der­ful peo­ple who had helped me to the sit­u­a­tion I found my­self in at that very mo­ment. I as­sured my­self as I drove away from the wa­ter, that I would spend the rest of my life thank­ing them for help­ing me get back the sim­ple things in life that mean every­thing. All that was left to do was burn some rub­ber; I had to get home and start that big yel­low Amer­i­can truck up, and get Lindie and I back out into the world we thought we would never see again to­gether.

Take care of you and yours. Chilly.

A ‘new world’ PB from a trip that it of­ten seemed im­pos­si­ble for me to ever do again

BE­LOW Iron­i­cally, I had been think­ing of her for ages

TOP LEFT The new life PB had risen to 27lb 10oz

ABOVE This 27lb 2oz mir­ror made the ses­sion com­plete

BE­LOW LEFT As the sun set I had to reel in for a while, I wasn’t feel­ing well again

ABOVE LEFT I set off on the next phase of my jour­ney

BE­LOW RIGHT It was some­thing I be­lieved I would never do again

ABOVE RIGHT I baited heav­ily again, and didn’t have long to wait

BOT­TOM At 29¾lb she had helped me nav­i­gate an­other bend on the wind­ing road to re­cov­ery

BE­LOW RIGHT I had achieved all that I wanted to

BE­LOW LEFT It was a very royal oc­ca­sion!

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