The moving finger writes...
Just my opinion of course...
I am in a bit of a maudlin mood as I sit down to pen this piece because I want to write about a very heartfelt subject, one that gives me nearly as much pleasure as actually going fishing in the first place. Ironically, as you are reading this in a magazine, it may seem that I am talking to the converted anyway.
From the age of six-years-old I have read about fishing; there were probably other things that I should have read at school, but none of it ever interested me or had the same life-changing effect. So much so in fact, that basically I retired from my schooling in my early teens to concentrate on getting the money necessary to buy the tackle I needed to conquer my angling dreams. Dreams driven by the spellbinding literature created at the hands of Richard Walker and Fred J. Taylor. It’s not very often you can absolutely pinpoint those who changed and shaped your life, but these two legends did exactly that.
Along with reading military books about the role of Airborne Forces in the field of war, my life had almost been written for me by the time I was sixteen-years-old. I had heroes to follow, hopes to fulfil and dreams to chase, and all of them came by turning the pages of hallowed books. Books that one could get lost in as those pages were turned, and the anticipation of what the next part of the tale may unfold. At times I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, so lost was I in the excitement the tome created.
Along with the joy of reading from a book about my obsession, there were also the weekly angling newspapers to soak up and enjoy. One of the jobs I had as a young boy was a paper round, and Wednesday morning not only meant the papers would be late in delivery; I would also be late for school… if I intended to go at all, of course! I was never going to buy the Angling Times or Anglers Mail, so I read them in a safe and covert spot just inside my grandmother’s property, which just happened to be part of my route.
Interestingly, coming from Bristol, I was never sure that carp had even been discovered, because we didn’t know anywhere which held them in that area of the country. However, fishing, as it has always been, is an escape from reality, just the way reading makes me feel.
There have been other books that entertained and enthralled me, such as Phil Thompson’s Waiting for Waddle, which quite literally travelled the world with me, parachuting into various countries around the globe. It just seems that books, newspapers and magazines are becoming a thing of the past. A past that was driven by them, shaped by them and ultimately inspired by them. So inspired in fact, that I cannot think for the life of me about going into the toilet to do my business, without some carp angling literature to peruse. Yes, my legs may go to sleep and my wife may think I have died sitting there, but I have probably learnt as much on the throne about angling, as I have on the bank!
I am the first to admit that I am a dinosaur when it comes to anything of a technical nature, but I must also admit that the domination of the internet has done nothing to enhance the thrill of actually fishing. The classic worded descriptions of the dawn chasing away the darkness over a lake, the enthralling sight of the first swallows taking insects from the water’s surface and the joy of carp silently breaking the calm water’s surface in the early dawn mist, all seem to be missing whilst some strenuously pursue instant gratification.
There is also the anticipation of pictures that seem to be lost, too. When you had to take as many slides as possible, and then wait a week whilst they were developed. It was like catching it all over again when you viewed them, discovering the one you yearned.
Then of course there was the fact that you could send them off to the press! Again, another week or two would pass as you waited for it to appear in print, if at all. And when it did, it was like catching it for the third time. So much excitement has been lost as in today’s techno world, your capture can be in the public domain within seconds… and then it’s over.
The intro web seems to delete any of the emotions that fishing used to generate; sometimes it feels like the same old, same old. This rig, that bait and then reel it in. Nothing seems to matter anymore other than “how big and how many?” Carp fishing was never meant to be easy, but this magical creature has gone from being the most treasured of captures, to one of almost annoying frequency.
I guess I have chosen to look at things this way because of the passing of Carp-Talk, another exciting moment has been withdrawn from the fishing world. My thoughts and deep feelings of gratitude go out to everyone involved with that weekly legend; Bev Clifford, her brother Mick and all who sailed in her.
The first ever fish that I publicised, appeared in the mid-nineties in issue 17, a memory that will live with me forever. However, there is more to come, I feel. We have already lost some carp magazines over the past few years, and I can only hope and pray this trend will stop. Please don’t feel that I don’t think the intro web thingy hasn’t got a place in our world, it very obviously has. I just hope technology allows the writer to survive too, so the author can continue enthral and entertain. It was never meant to be easy, either to catch carp or to get the world to see them. It’s what made carp fishing so interesting and challenging in the first place. And without those traits I just can’t see it surviving in its present form; a sad day for me, but an even sadder day for people that extolled the virtues of carp angling to the masses.
I, at least, thank you for urging me to try just that little bit harder. Only my opinion of course.