MARTIN CLARKE

Carpworld - - EDITORIAL -

When Bev asked me to write a piece for this spe­cial fea­ture I was hon­oured, even though it was go­ing to take time to rec­ol­lect my first 30 as it was al­most 30 years ago that I achieved this tar­get. Oddly enough I’d caught my first 20 in 1980 and quite a few 20s came my way over the next five or six years, but some friends had joined Hare­field Lake – aka The Mad­house be­cause of some of the vi­cious gravel bars whose sole pur­pose seemed to be to cut you off. They asked me if I fan­cied join­ing them as it had a few 30s to go for – about half a dozen in about 45 acres – and was more chal­leng­ing than some of our lo­cal Bed­ford­shire club wa­ters.

That year, 1986, I also met a chap that fished other lakes in The Colne Val­ley – on the banks of St. Cassien in the South of France of all places. His nick­name was Keith the Tooth and we in­stantly started a friend­ship and when I told him I was go­ing to join Hare­field he said I’d need a bit of luck and that we’d prob­a­bly bump into each other in the in­fa­mous Horse and Barge pub.

Well I joined, and he was right, as Hare­field wasn’t easy, but I did get lucky in the first cou­ple of sea­sons with a num­ber of 20s up to 28lb. I’ve got to ad­mit I was still learn­ing, but fish­ing amongst the ‘who’s who’ in the Val­ley I learned fast in ev­ery as­pect of carp fish­ing. The lake was busy most of the time, mid­week or week­ends, and it didn’t mat­ter when you rocked up to the lake there were al­ways an­glers there – though not so many in the win­ter as it had a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing able to kick you in the nuts in the colder months.

Any­way, in my third sea­son I got lucky one week­end and had a five carp ses­sion from a swim known as The Mad – my best re­sult up to that mo­ment in time. One double, three 20s, and one of the big­gest mir­rors in there at the time – Tat­too at 34lb 4oz. Of course I was over the moon, not many an­glers had caught this carp, so I was amongst a small group of mem­bers who’d had the plea­sure.

What just came into my mind is the bait which I was us­ing was ac­tu­ally crap – well to me now it was – a cheap bird­food type bait and I’d roll one mix with gera­nium oil and the other with berg­amot oil – and used the two baits to­gether at the same time. They tasted dis­gust­ing, but ob­vi­ously some carp liked it oth­er­wise I’d wouldn’t have caught much.

The fol­low­ing sea­son I moved onto a much bet­ter, highly-di­gestible, fish­meal-type recipe, with a com­bi­na­tion of Rod Hutchin­son at­trac­tants and a dash of So­lar’s Squid and Oc­to­pus. My word did this bait stink, but by heck was it a win­ner – not just for me but also for who­ever I shared the knowledge with. We may think bait doesn’t make much of a dif­fer­ence to our an­gling, just like rigs, but I was soon cat­a­pulted into the lime­light sim­ply on my re­sults. This was great as they were stock­ing more carp and the carp were pack­ing the weight on. Amaz­ing to think back now but within three or four years my re­sults went from half a dozen over that mag­i­cal 30lb mark to about 20.

I went on to catch the three big­gest carp, and then double up on them. The Big Fully-scaled at 34lb and 36lb, Nel­son at 36lb and 37lb 8oz and Small Pecs at 35lb and 39½lb. With a dif­fer­ent bait and rig I soon be­gan to catch a few in the colder months too, though most of these were from a small area at range and from one swim. Hav­ing cracked The Mad­house it was now time to move on, an­other ball breaker had come to my at­ten­tion and the pos­si­bil­ity of my first 40-pounder.

Not only had I now sunk a few pints in the Horse and Barge – I’d met some very good an­glers too, and so it’s only right I thank my friends Gary Bear­man and Si­mon Day for sug­gest­ing I join them on some carpy ad­ven­tures.

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