In­spi­ra­tion ver­sus mo­ti­va­tion...

Adam makes a wel­come re­turn to the pages of Carp­world. Here he looks at what makes us tick as an­glers and re­counts tales as to why the fires may burn longer and stronger in some of us, than oth­ers…

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Adam Clewer

Adam makes a wel­come re­turn to the pages of Carp­world. Here he looks at what makes us tick as an­glers and re­counts tales as to why the fires may burn longer and stronger in some of us, than oth­ers...

Iguess we have all lost a few angling ac­quain­tances over the years. Com­mon causes be­ing work, re­la­tion­ships, chil­dren and for some, golf. Whilst these rea­sons are all valid (ex­cept golf), one com­po­nent is usu­ally in the mix too – the pas­sion for angling that once burned bright, has now faded. The use of the word fade is fit­ting. Like a sun­set that dis­ap­pears over the hori­zon, light fades slowly, and is of­ten dis­creet in its pass­ing. Many of my fish­ing friends of yes­ter­year, whose rods have caught more cob­webs than fish in re­cent times, sel­dom de­cided one day to quit fish­ing. The pas­sion sim­ply faded – from a once burn­ing fire, to a mod­est flame, un­til the fi­nal flicker ex­tin­guished.

Life does have a habit of get­ting busy, but it is re­mark­able what can be achieved if fo­cus, ded­i­ca­tion and most im­por­tantly, pas­sion en­dure. What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween those who fade in to the carp fish­ing archives and those who con­tinue to burn with en­thu­si­asm? In my opin­ion the an­swer is in­spi­ra­tion. In­spi­ra­tion is time­less. In­spi­ra­tion stim­u­lates a per­son to ac­tion. In­spi­ra­tion is rarely cen­tred on the goal but rel­ishes the lived ex­pe­ri­ence in all the mo­ments of won­der and woe. At times I have at­tempted to reach out to my fish­ing friends whose pas­sion for angling was wan­ing and tried to save them from the per­ils of golf, girl­friends and more time spent at the of­fice. In­ter­est­ingly my de­sire to mo­ti­vate them to ac­tion and go fish­ing rarely works. Per­haps that is be­cause mo­ti­va­tion on its own is not enough.

Let me ex­plain... In­spi­ra­tion and mo­ti­va­tion are not the same. They’re not even close. Mo­ti­va­tion tells you to ‘keep on go­ing keep­ing on, push through, work harder, etc’. These

say­ings are usu­ally sup­ported with sto­ries of peo­ple who have laboured hard, en­dured ad­ver­sity, got up early and stayed out late – and have lived to tell the tale. In small doses, this can work. How­ever, other than the ob­vi­ous risk of sound­ing trite (nearly al­ways the case), they can also ap­pear to be ut­terly ex­haust­ing and fail to truly mo­ti­vate on so many lev­els. Why? Be­cause mo­ti­va­tion pa­rades as in­spi­ra­tion but is not the same thing. Mo­ti­va­tion on its own is like end­less fit­ness DVDS. End­less in­struc­tion to “come on, you can do it”, whilst the Eye of the Tiger blares loudly in the back­ground. Sure, this will work for a while (post-christ­mas detox/gym mem­ber­ship, etc). None­the­less, after a short time, the most re­fresh­ing thing to do with those fit­ness DVDS is to hit the off but­ton, sit down and make a nice cup of tea. That, my friends, is why mo­ti­va­tion on its own is never enough.

In­spi­ra­tion is a to­tally dif­fer­ent an­i­mal and is re­quired in all spheres of life to truly sus­tain the pas­sion that for many once burned so bright.

What fol­lows are a few per­sonal re­flec­tions, ex­pe­ri­ences and sto­ries – not­ing that in­spi­ra­tion sus­tains where mo­ti­va­tion has at times failed. At times I have de­spaired at as­pects of the mod­ern scene and had lit­tle de­sire to go fish­ing – is it okay to say that in a fish­ing mag­a­zine? At other times, I have basked in the de­light of an early morn­ing mist, a lesser known fish that has graced my net, and the pleas­ant aroma of a curry de­liv­ered to the bank dur­ing a win­ter ses­sion. In re­cent win­ters when lakes have been frozen or carp fish­ing con­di­tions poor, I have fished lo­cal rivers, los­ing my­self in the end­less al­lure of watch­ing a float me­an­der mys­te­ri­ous mar­gins and dance across clear gravel. When the float has re­fused to dip I have reeled in and en­joyed a good cup of tea and slice of cake by the river. I have learned to en­joy these mo­ments as much as the times when a fish dis­cov­ers my baited hook. Long may the pas­sion burn.

Ascer­tain­ing where in­spi­ra­tion comes from, and what main­tains this most enig­matic of at­tributes, can be traced back to my very early days as a fish­er­man. I started gaz­ing into clear wa­ters and be­ing lost in the world and mys­tery of what hap­pens be­neath the sur­face some 30 years ago. My grand­par­ents lived in a bun­ga­low on the banks of the Hamp­shire Test. We walked the banks ev­ery week of my child­hood. In many ways, the beauty and mys­tery of the river birthed an an­gler in me, long be­fore I ever held a rod. Net­ting min­nows in my lo­cal canal re­sulted in my first fish – a min­now of about half an inch. I re­mem­ber hold­ing it and feel­ing alive – the min­now wrig­gling in the palm of my hand for a few sec­onds be­fore I watched it swim away. My grand­fa­ther be­lieved the Test was no start­ing ground for a boy. He in­sisted that the canal and a lo­cal for­est pond would serve me well be­fore my float would glide through the wide runs and sweep­ing bends of the Test. In hind­sight, he was right. Why do we rush so much in life – even in pur­suit of our dreams? Rarely do you hear

Rarely do you hear peo­ple tes­tify in life, work or re­la­tion­ships that they are re­ally pleased that they rushed. Of­ten the sen­ti­ment is ex­pressed the other way around

peo­ple tes­tify in life, work or re­la­tion­ships that they are re­ally pleased that they rushed. Of­ten the sen­ti­ment is ex­pressed the other way around. The slow years of min­nows, gud­geon, roach, trout and in the win­ter, grayling, only added to the fire that was burn­ing within me. Grand­dad knew that for the fire to burn for a long time you need to start with kin­dling, progress to small logs, be­fore large logs are added – and then con­tin­u­ally stoke the blaze to burn hot and long. This pic­ture has been the story of my angling life. It was five years of dab­bling by and fall­ing in streams, ponds and creeks be­fore I caught my first carp. My cousin, David, and I were fish­ing a for­est pond on a sunny evening when we heard mys­te­ri­ous suck­ing and slurp­ing from un­der the lily pads. As the carp for­aged for food on the un­der­side of the lilies, our minds wan­dered, dazed by the oc­ca­sional glance of the mys­te­ri­ous dark shad­ows. We had to know more, and the best way to learn what these won­der­ful crea­tures were, was to catch one. We tried all num­ber of tac­tics that sum­mer be­fore even­tu­ally suc­ceed­ing in catch­ing one of the beasts by means of an­chored chunks of bread flake (now we call it zig­ging). The mys­te­ri­ous crea­tures stepped out of the shad­ows and into our land­ing nets, and, ul­ti­mately were en­graved onto our hearts. Carp an­glers were born.

Rem­i­nisc­ing those early days is both won­der­ful and telling. Telling in that, seem­ingly, my pas­sion, has scarcely di­min­ished. Why? In the sim­plest terms, be­cause I have al­ways sought to en­joy my­self along the way. I am a great be­liever that en­joy­ment is more im­por­tant than achieve­ment. Fast for­ward 30 years and my re­cent ad­ven­tures con­tinue to echo sim­i­lar themes...

Over the last few years I have flit­ted be­tween wa­ters, en­joy­ing a vari­a­tion of fish­ing sit­u­a­tions. Whilst this ap­proach of not fo­cus­ing solely on one wa­ter has al­most cer­tainly made me less ef­fec­tive in re­gard to catch re­ports, it has stretched me as an an­gler. On nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions I have had to adapt my ap­proach to be suc­cess­ful. At times I have in­ter­preted the signs, made changes, and suc­ceeded. At other times I have failed mis­er­ably! Whilst this tour­ing style of angling does have its ben­e­fits, to­ward the end of last year I was be­gin­ning to feel some­thing of a wan­der­ing nomad. It was there­fore won­der­ful tim­ing that an op­por­tu­nity to join a quiet syn­di­cate pre­sented it­self. The lake is ap­prox­i­mately five acres, sur­rounded by fields set in beau­ti­ful coun­try­side. Moo­ing cows, the call

of lambs search­ing for their moth­ers and bird­song fill the air. This was such a won­der­ful con­trast to the many gravel pits I have fished that suf­fer con­stant noise from neigh­bour­ing roads. I had been aware of the lake for some years but had never spo­ken to any­one who had fished the wa­ter. After sev­eral years of wait­ing, and an an­nual tele­phone call to the owner re­mind­ing them of my in­ter­est, my name made its way to the top of the wait­ing list. How won­der­ful.

“Of course, I am in­ter­ested in a ticket” was my re­sponse, on a wet Fe­bru­ary morn­ing. “But you haven’t seen the lake or asked any ques­tions about the stock, etc” was their re­sponse.

I paused for a mo­ment and asked a ques­tion. “Is it quiet?” Long pause...

“Yes, was the re­sponse, we only have 35 mem­bers, and only half of them are what you might con­sider ac­tive.” I replied, “Fan­tas­tic, what ad­dress should I send the cheque?”

The owner con­tin­ued to be sur­prised at my en­thu­si­asm, not least be­cause the lake is two hours from my home. How­ever, when the owner de­scribed the tran­quil­lity, the rolling coun­try­side and the al­lure of a rel­a­tively small mem­ber­ship – I was hooked. The cheque was in the post the next day.

My di­ary af­forded me lit­tle space on the run up to Easter (I am a church min­is­ter). It was there­fore not un­til early April, just after a re­cent snow­fall, that I vis­ited the lake for the first time. The owner had kindly agreed to meet me and show me round. He was once again star­tled at my de­ci­sion to join the lake with­out know­ing what the stock was like. Seem­ingly, many other peo­ple ask about the ‘prizes’ first and the fish­ing sce­nario sec­ond.

I ar­rived at the owner’s farm to be greeted by a wel­com­ing west-coun­try ac­cent. We pro­ceeded to talk as we made our way through the gates of his dairy farm and into the con­verted out­build­ing that of­fered the an­glers shel­ter, toi­lets and show­ers. As we en­tered the build­ing I saw some­thing that stopped me in my tracks. The walls were lined with catch pho­tos of nu­mer­ous big fish. A mix­ture of mir­rors, com­mons and some beau­ti­ful scaly carp all call the lake home.

“Oh yes,” replied the warm and open-hearted owner, re­gard­ing the stock, “at the right time of year there are prob­a­bly 60 fish over 30lb”

“Good­ness, I didn’t ex­pect that – what a bonus!” In­ter­est­ingly, and re­turn­ing to the sub­ject of in­spi­ra­tion ver­sus mo­ti­va­tion, the stock was/is a bonus. The lake is truly quiet and a pleas­ant place to be. Given the dis­tance from my home, I have lit­tle in­ten­tion of fish­ing the lake a lot. In­spi­ra­tion cap­tures the heart and is about the ex­pe­ri­ence. Num­bers con­nect with the head, and whilst mea­sur­able sta­tis­tics are im­por­tant in busi­ness, fish­ing for me was never about busi­ness – it’s about plea­sure. I am now sev­eral months in to the new syn­di­cate and so far, the fish have greeted me as warmly as the owner did on that chilly April day. I’ll tell you more about what I have caught an­other day...

An­other high­light that su­per­fi­cially has lit­tle to do with fish­ing but has in fact en­riched my fish­ing con­sid­er­ably has been around good food on the bank. Long ago are the days when I could en­dure a Pot Noo­dle or toasted sand­wich. Now, in the sum­mer, I reach for my BBQ. When it’s cold I of­ten en­joy a spicy curry, or a Mex­i­can dish. A re­cent ad­di­tion to my culi­nary im­ple­ments has been a Cobb cooker, al­low­ing me to cook piz­zas and other items that re­quire an oven (I roasted a whole chicken last week). Re­mem­ber, this is meant to be fun, and good times nearly al­ways in­clude good food!

An en­joy­ment for good food ex­udes be­yond the lake. I man­age a small syn­di­cate on the stretch of river my grand­fa­ther main­tained dur­ing the win­ter months, and last year I was most im­pressed with some of the bank­side feasts sev­eral of the mem­bers en­joyed. Port, cheese and crack­ers made an ap­pear­ance. Home­made cakes were com­mon af­fairs. And if all else failed, the lo­cal pub served a won­der­ful sausage and mash and pro­vid­ing a warm wa­ter­ing hole.

When con­sid­er­ing how to keep in­spi­ra­tion lev­els high when you’re not fish­ing, I love to read and oc­ca­sion­ally watch fish­ing on TV. I must con­fess I am not a fan of fish­ing on the screen. So many Youtube videos seem to be in­un­dated with ex­ces­sive prod­uct place­ment and pre­sented by peo­ple with an am­bigu­ous grasp of the English lan­guage, in­stead sound­ing like pi­rates: “I got me bivvy up”, “me right hand rod went into melt­down” – nearly al­ways con­clud­ing in said an­gler “buzzing”. Per­son­ally, I much pre­fer the writ­ten word. Some ex­cep­tions ex­ist, and for this I en­dure all things ‘carpy’. Per­sonal favourites in­clude The Chal­lenge and ITV’S Mon­ster Carp.

A side thought: If you’re not en­joy­ing it, go home and come back an­other day. In­spi­ra­tion is of­ten un­de­tectable yet at the same time un­stop­pable. Do what­ever you need to keep the pas­sion alive. Read, pon­der, move slowly around lakes and rivers and no­tice the sub­tle things that an­glers in a hurry of­ten miss. Take pho­tos, write notes/sto­ries and most im­por­tantly live a story.

Tea, cake and good com­pany. A pleas­ant dis­trac­tion dur­ing an af­ter­noon’s fish­ing ABOVE

RIGHT A cold night and a tasty curry de­liv­ered over the fence in Yate­ley. Al­ways good!

ABOVE TOP Steak, roasted car­rots, toma­toes and mush­rooms, mixed salad with lemon dress­ing, flat­bread – my Pot Noo­dle/toasted sand­wich days are long gone!

A chunky 36½lb mir­ror after only three hours of fish­ing. Very in­spir­ing to get the rod back to the spot LEFT

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