Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Carping and King Fishers
Carp are one of those species that cause heated pub debates between angling factions. My own position? I love them, but I do feel like carp angling sometimes suffers from tunnel vision. There are so many ways to catch carp, and not all depend on multiple rods and multiple hours on the bank. Just ask Dan Sales and Ben Hayward, two anglers with intriguing and very different approaches to their carp fishing.
First stop on a mini road trip was on some gravel pits for a spot of fly fishing. Ben Hayward is one of those anglers who doesn't just imitate. Or perhaps I should say that's exactly what he does- he imitates fly life! As a Devon angler used to pokey little ponds, the pits are a different world. They're also fertile places when it comes to fly life. There's something rather refreshing about watching a guy with just one rod strolling past bivvies armed with a box of bloodworms, bugs and dry flies as opposed to boilies.
I'm not going to lay all his cards out here- that's a task for an in depth feature. But what I would say is that Ben is living proof that with some smart thinking and a lot of legwork, anything is possible with a fly rod. He doesn't always imitate specific hatches, but I noticed plenty of large nymphs and dry flies such as Hare's Ears, damsels and daddies in his box. In spite of only fly fishing for three or four seasons, he has picked up some impressive skills. Getting stuck in to tight corners and accurate roll casting play a big part:
The recent thunder seemed to have made the carp picky, but Ben managed to hook and land a battling eight pounder with the added pressure of my lens on him (and the added pressure of Fly For Coarse organiser Charlie Hancock making lewd comments to try and break his concentration). A great effort- and we didn't see a single fish taken by anglers with two or three rods per man.
Another angler with a refreshingly different approach to carping is Dan Sales. Being a total canal enthusiast I couldn't wait to hit the towpath with him and go in search of some commons and mirrors on his local cut. Again it was mobility and an open mind that stood out. Here's a line you don't hear often from carp men: "I can't stand sitting around in one spot!"
And it paid off. Negotiating ducks, boats and other obstacles, Dan managed to get into the fish on a tough day. Much of his approach is about free-lining bread and other simple baits, which certainly helps beat the crayfish. When ducks are a menace he also zig-rigs bread or slings out simple legered pop-ups. Again, there are too many ideas to pack into the quick scribble of this blog (and I have to save some of the choice bits for articles, because the tinned food is running out).
The camera has a strange effect on my fishing at times. You can't be an active photographer and a 100% committed angler at the same time, and vice versa. And I wouldn't grumble at this simple fact, because I find getting quality images just as rewarding as fishing itself these days. That said, I did manage to catch a small but scrappy common on a free-lined piece of bread.
Some wise guy said that a fishing adventure is not about the final outcome, but all the things that happen on the way. And so it proved on a sweltering afternoon. We saw quite possibly Britain's oldest female impersonator on a canal barge of all places. And exhibit B was this rather strange llama type thing with really odd mannerisms, which looked like something out of a Kafka story, all swivelling ears and curiously human scratching.
Talking of surreal experiences, do tune in to "King Fishers" on Monday if you get the chance (National Geographic Channel, 8pm, 5th Aug). From African war dances to humpback whales, it was a fishing adventure I will never forget. Looking at some of the friction in the series so far, I'm also grateful to have been competing against two really friendly (but still slightly nuts!) characters in Gambia's Tony Tabbal and Geir Sivertzen of Norway. These guys are legends. My rivals perhaps, but one of the best bits of the show was making two great friends. I've already been ice fishing since with Geir, while Tony has really taken to fly fishing after the hasty casting lesson I gave him in England. A true exchange of angling ideas and cultures you might say. Enjoy the ride!