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19 May 2017
by John Hannent
What not to do when you visit a new water...
A new season can mean a new water - so here's John Hannent's guide of 'what not to do'...

The ticket’s flapped onto the doormat, the bait’s caged in the freezer, reels are loaded (they should be at that price), hooks are filed, rigs are tied and you’re ready. Ready to accept the challenge of a new water.

If you read magazines from the back (‘Footypagers Syndrome’ or, in extreme cases ‘Lonely Housewives Dialexia’), you’re probably expecting some ‘expert’ advice on location, a few knarly mud hogs and a matted beard shot. Well my friend, that’s in the rest of this magazine, the good bit to your right, my left. I, I’m afraid, I am the equivalent of the village drunk. I’ll give you a few pointers as to what to do, who not to do and who’s done it to who before you realise I’m slurring, my breath smells like a shit smuggler’s duffel bag and there’s a map of South America on the upper leg of my beige Farrahs. But, like the local piss-soaked rag, I’ve made mistakes (‘kin thousands… nay… millions) and seen them made and it’s this experience, the foundations of ‘etiquette’, that I feel inclined to pass on, before I pass out.

1. Don’t give it large

Few anglers have the raw talent or just the plain golden balls to pull-off (don’t worry Joe, it’s not another masturbation tale) ‘giving it large’. While the young(‘er’… Sorry Rob) Maylin could pillage Fox Pool off the top whilst wearing a fluoro pink shirt and Lord Regan could write ‘Looks Easy’ in the Kingfisher visitors book, rarely will the carp gods smile on you if you’re perceived as being bulbous of swede.

‘Asking for it’ is much the same thing really I suppose. Take, for instance, one evening on a sultry carp pool twixt Norwich and the sea. As the lake’s inhabitants cruised meaninglessly from weedbed to weedbed, frowning at pop-ups, laughing at rigs and rolling their eyes at watercraft, the pond’s land-dwelling inhabitants frowned, laughed and rolled their eyes whilst exploring weed too. The lake’s induced calm was shattered by the arrival of a new sound, the sound of a new diesel. The sound of a new ticket holder. While my Norfolk kin grunted and squinted towards the car park, wondering whether to grease the wheels on the wicker man, our new member (I use the word selectively) unloaded a barrow’s load of crisp, new gear. 

Unable to contain himself, our new-found friend sauntered over to Car Park Corner, standing in full silhouette over the edge, sparking up an Embassy Extra Length before asking, “Any good mate?”. “Nu” came the reply from deep under the brolly. “Brew?” “Nah, I’ll have something stronger” our friend retorted before taking a few paces back to his barrow and pulling a tepid Fosters from his rucksack and doing that annoying, completely ineffectual tapping of the ring pull before opening his Australian wonder lager with a wet, fart-like ‘pffft’.

Taking a long chug of angel’s wee, he grimaced slightly before asking, “So, what have you really had then?” before winking and grimacing vaguely again. While our brolly dwelling friend drew a long breath through hairy nostrils, about to divulge his hard-earned result (he hadn’t hit plural yet), Mr. Fosters went into a Zippy-like monologue about his own extensive results on the local girl’s ponds, whilst arm waving and scraping dog rope off the edge of his four stripe trainers. Before he met the answer to his original question he strutted, like a Bee Gee, around the rest of the lake ‘giving it large’. He could be heard in every plot detailing how, where and why he would nail the lake’s big three, or ‘take’ one of the rarely caught commons before being ‘off in October’ for a ‘better, Suvan’ water he was getting a ticket for. He was met with the usual silence (doubtlessly why his nerves made him talk) and occasional verbal prodding of piss takers lounging like lions in the Serengeti. 

Having exhausted the supply of unwilling recipients to his unnecessary banter (which translates ‘not listening’ in Scrote’s Book of Wordage), he tossed a hollow can into the shrubbery and strode in a blur of snow-wash denim back to the car park to push his olive steed to the High Bank, where he had decided to start his ‘Campaign’. (Who seriously calls ‘going fishing’ a ‘campaign’? F***ing Rommel?).

On returning to the car park, jazz hands in front of him primed to clutch his barrow’s rubber grips, he stopped in his tracks, swivelled his head left, right, up down then pirouetting on his four stripes before a stream of expletives (they’re bum and front bum words Jason) echoed into the glorious sunset. It had been half-inched, nicked, purloined.

I often muse at how the unseen assailant must have been on a recce or delivery before making his innocent way through the ferns and nettles to the layby, only to come to a small clearing where a shaft of light illuminated a new mega-barrow, fully laden with brand new tackle. Looking up and down the shaft of light, he would have glanced furtively left and right before rubbing his hands together briskly before lifting the handles, bathed in shards of golden light and running like Road Runner, but clicking his heels every five paces, to his still running van.

While I can’t condone theft (I’ve been a victim), The Good Lord (or Pete The Chemist) had worked in mysterious ways that evening. Our man never returned to the lake, probably taking to golf and the captive audience of the 19th hole, or the second hole, but that’s another story.

2. Don't leave your belongings on show

See above.

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