1 Prepare for the fitty
Having flicked through the perineum pages of CARPology (the ones between the good bits), you prop your magazine in the spokes ready to audition the finger puppets to Tania from St Neots, only to see a vaguely overweight, four-eyed fella from Norwich… Sorry boys, I’ve got her slot this month (if only).
2 Wade on the edge of a gravel bar
Imagine the scene: an inviting margin cave which opens up to you like a super model’s pins if you just don the waders and tiptoe out along the plateau some 30yds and drill your bait in there (past her bush). Now, when you drop a lead on this gravel feature the resounding shockwaves nearly make you throw down the rod as the ‘BANG’ of your lead landing transmits the vibe of a concrete-like table up your fluoro. Trouble is, aggregates behave totally differently under the weight of a beer swilling, kebab munching carp angler (as do super models for that matter). The once solid carp-table becomes a shifting avalanche of sand, taking you, like quicksand, towards the precipice into 18’ of fishery. Plus, the water is never as warm as expected, it’s as cold as a whore’s heart, believe me. Within seconds, you’re running backwards like Usain Bolt on rewind as the meniscus (I’ll take the Booker Prize for that word) creeps dangerously to the top of your waders. In a blind panic, you drop the rod, melting your PVA elaboration in the process. Clawing at the top of the bar, you make your way, crestfallen back to the seclusion of your bivvy to cast the now demoralised-looking rig into the bush.
3 Take health food
Such as the humble pumpkin seed. What seems like an omega-3 rich, carb-laden nibble, when consumed by the pound (as you do when you’re angling) turns your posterior (alright, ‘arse’) into something akin to sitting on a Gatling gun. Never, never again. Give your money to that nice Mr. Lineker and his crisps.
4 Employ cotton to keep you toasty
Fleece is the Emperor of the winter fabric kingdom. Cotton is his ass-wiper. It has the insulative properties of paper, plus it collects moisture to further demean itself. The nightmare scenario is waking to a roaring take, in a northerly, and sliding from your sweaty pit to stand, playing what could be the fish of a lifetime in your sweat dampened, bait baron hoodie. After two minutes your knees are doing the jig. After five your jaw is cramping as you try not to chatter. Seven minutes in and your limbs are behaving like Jack Douglas on amphetamine. The poor bloody carp, of unknown, uncared for proportions is trussed in the net alongside the reeds as you dive headlong into the bag, trying to light your stove but you can’t work the lighter as your hands are paralysed.
5 Fish too close to snags
Yes. YOU! And is your Baitrunner on?
6 Eat your own bait
From the ‘goes through ‘em like a Porsche’ days of Winter Secret (wheat germ you know) to various animal-based baits, infused with blood meal (would you drink cow’s blood? Then why eat it?) and the ground-up entrails of a some poor, unsuspecting shoal or herd… You don’t actually know what’s in it. If you did, you certainly wouldn’t eat it. Look at it like a woman: a little lick is fine, but don’t plan your night around it or it’ll spoil your fishing.
7 Chop and change
Like all of us, I like a bit of tackle. But when Like all of us, I like a bit of tackle. But when everything’s working well for you, and it can take years to get to this point, why decide to employ something new? Sure, if it’s replacing dead items it’s a necessity, but buzzers, lines, hooks, rigs, rods, reels… It’s all a recipe for disaster and if there isn’t one huge problem you didn’t foresee, there’s always a slight nuance with the new stuff that’ll throw you for the session until you get over it. And it may cast you fish. That’s the voice of 30 years a tackle tart speaking, I’ve actually fished for twenty minutes during that time too.
8 Put it off
I said ‘PUT IT OFF’… Casting to a jumper (though why you’d reel in for a chunky knit Arran I’ll never know), a new wind or just a feeling – act on it! It’s the difference between you and the rest of the fellas in the previous pages.
9 Hail a take-away
On a recent cheeky work overnighter, I’d been somewhat remiss and precluded to take any food. ‘I’ll be okay’ I said to myself as I turned the bag out to reveal not even a biscuit. 7 o’clock became, 8, 8 became 9 and I was looking at Aquatexx® in the way a Somalian looks at a crust (I managed to avoid the flies). Then I remembered the local take-out delivered to the lake. A swift exchange on the blower, with me bumping my menu up to ‘over a tenner’ with four cokes and a rum baba saw me arranging to meet the delivery by my pick-up in the Norfolk lanes beside the lake at 10:30pm.
At twenty-five past I swerved off the lake, remote in paw, to the motor. It’s times like that when you realise how suspicious a man looks in a head torch, dressed as a soldier at night on a quiet country lane.
After five minutes I heard a moped approaching above the noise of my rumbling tummy. As the flickering light whirred towards me, I took to standing in the road, smiling. The mean machine showed no signs of slowing down, so I decided to wave my arms around a bit. Still with no impending stoppage, I threw myself into the path of the whirring chariot, screaming “Large Donna”. The moped skidded to a halt in front of me. While I stood there, hand out to collect my bag, the most frightened woman I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few) raised her visor, visibly trembling. Yup, it was just a passing moped, probably on her way home from work. “I’m soooo sorry, I was after a kebab,” I explained. “I’m not cooking now,” she snapped before clicking down the visor and speeding(!) off into the darkness. I’m writing this now from a cell in Beccles.