At Home With Albert Romp
Not only can Albert tell a good yarn and play some great mind games, he also got some interesting theories on carp fishing too...
Footnote: This article was originally featured in issue 11 of CARPology (February 2005), and is being rerun as part of our 200 Issues celebrations.
Do you think there is such a thing as a ‘big fish’ bait?
“Yeah, use bigger baits! In all my so-called theories, I always try and equate fish to other animals. Now let's change the lake to a field, so they’re land animals. If I had a field full of Fox’s and I chucked lots of little bits of mince meat in there and one joint of beer, I reckon they’d try and kill each other for the joint of beer before they worried about all the little bits of mince meat.
"I think it applies with any animals. You can feed lions, tigers, even my two dogs. If I throw down two or three small bits of meat down on the floor at the same time as I throw down a big piece, they’re not worried about the small bits; they want the big bit. I think providing the big fish thinks it’s safe, they will go for the bigger baits.
"For example, if you put out loads of small boilies or loads of particles and you put one big lump of food amongst them, which is two big for the small fish i.e. the tench and the smaller carp, I think there will come a time when you will get a take and it will be a big fish. However, you’ve got to be prepared to sit there watching the carp crash out over your baits and get bleeps etc. but after time you will get the bigger ones.
"The reason I know that is because it happened to me when I went out to France in October 2004. I was fishing the same stretch of rive that I fished previous, and to be honest hadn’t caught that many, but I know the area is a ‘big fish’ area and I’ve seen pictures of fish to over 60lbs. I also know that there’s been a lot of fish nicked from that area, but I try and weigh it up logical. When you’ve got an area as big as the River Seine, with all the lakes and things that come off it, you can drive around all day and you might find four carp anglers. I’ve been a great number of times, and that’s all I normally see and that’s spread over miles and miles.
"Now if everyone of those people you saw was a ‘carp nicker’, how many do you think they can nick out of a lump of water that size? People keep saying to me, ‘Oh yeah, all those fish have been nicked from around that area.’ If you put ten blokes in that area, fishing every day of the week – like I did, and I’m no carp expect, but I’ve got half an idea, you I don’t catch that many. I hear them and see them, and all the other blokes fish it the same as me, so they catch and sometime they don’t.
"Yeah, there’s been fish nicked out of there, but as I say, if you were going there to make a living catching carp, I don’t think you’d do it. The reason I think they’re so hard to catch is because they’re clever. I think all carp learn. I think it’s like all animals. The older they get, the wiser they get. I don’t think a carp of 60lbs is as daft as a 6lber. I think if you drop a lump of bread in front of a 5lber I think it would come and take it. You try it in front of a 60lber. As soon as your line goes into the water it would be gone. That’s for no other reason than it’s just cleverer.
"Right back to the original subject, where I was telling you about the ‘big fish’ area on the river. Now, there are some big catfish in this area, but I’ve fished this particular way of fishing a big boilie over a bed of small bait for sometime. I hadn’t had a lot of action, then out of the blue I had this funny run. It wasn’t a screaming take. I felt the line expecting to feel something tugging on the end, but it didn’t feel quite right, then the line tighten up and it was away. I stuck into it thinking it would be a barbel or a chub. On its first run it stripped off 100yrds of line! I thought to myself I’ve got to slow it down, so I tighten the clutch up a little bit, but it gave such a powerful run it snapped the line – 18lb line! I had six takes like that; four snapping me up and two were bite-offs.
"Bob Baker was with me, and in all fairness it could have been catfish, because there are catfish in that area, and on the next trip Bob caught one. Now, I’m not saying there were all carp, but I’ve spoke to a lot of catfish expects and although some say it is possible to get bite-offs, the way a catfish’s mouth has been described to me and from what I’ve seen if it has got teeth, they’re not in its mouth because you can put your hand in there. They also said they’ve never know about bite-offs with catfish. So even if the four that snapped me up were catfish, the do know one thing, those two that gave me a bite-off were carp, and they were on very big baits.
"In all areas of that Seine there are some big fish about. To take a big fish, you got to think about it. If you’re fish a particular stretch of water, be it river or lake, and you’ve got 100 carp in there and only three of them are very big and you put a bait out there, your chance are what, 40/1 that one a big one should pick it up unless there’s a reason why the smaller ones don’t want to pick it up.
"It’s like us. A kid couldn’t eat a particular big Brussel Sprout whole, but we could. It’s no different with fish. If they’ve got small mouths, they can’t eat big food. Although there aren’t many that can eat really big bait, but if there happens to be two or three in an area and there’s competition for the smaller stuff, they’ll have the big bit. Call me old fashioned!”
If you were targeting a known big fish, how would you bait the swim?
“I don’t actually fish for known big fish, but anyway, I don’t think it’s how you bait the swim, I think you have to learn about the fish habits: where it goes, what baits it likes, etc.
"On the rivers, and I might have it totally wrong, but I like to put out a reasonable amount of bait out to attract fish of all species and of any size. I think feeding fish will attract more fish. I might be wrong, but going back to other animals; if you threw a load of bird feed down, you get some come along and them more and more start turning up.
"So I like to bait up for everything, so I attract all species into the swim and eventually if you’re lucky I think the carp will move in and then the big ones. The smaller fish are probably fitter and more active and more able to pick the food up quicker than the big ones. But if you have a big bait on that is slightly to big for the averaged sized carp, and you’re happy to wait, I’m sure you’ll get a take on your big bait and it will be bigger than the average fish. That’s probably way I don’t catch many because that’s how I fish! Ok, when I hook ’em, I have lost them recently, but the reason why I lose them is because they were big and I wasn’t ready for them.”
Do you think fish give off warnings to other fish?
“Yeah. There was one particular time when a mate and I were standing near some snags. We threw some pellets in just to see how the carp would feed. Straightway two or three carp came in and started feeding on these pellets. Then another one moved in; a good sized one, and went up to the pellets, looked at them, and gave a great big blow with its mouth, swirled its tail and a massive fizz of bubbles came up and off they went leaving them.
"Whether or not that was a warning, ‘don’t touch those,’ I don’t know. The first two or three fish were quite happy feeding until this other fish came along and once he’d done his little performance they weren’t interested. Another strange thing was that although that fish made that great big fizz of bubbles, while the carp were feeding on these pellets there wasn’t a single bubble.”
“A few years ago I was fishing Savay and I had a TV show called Screaming Reels came down and film me. It coincided at the time when I had a few little bits and pieces on the market that I was selling. One of those products was a ready tied hooklink – a standard Pig Rig.
"I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll use these rigs.’ So they came down and while they were filming me I was talking about tackle, bait etc. and as I was doing this I put one of these rigs on, mainly just to advertise it. As luck would have it, some fish started fizzing up on the spot out in front of me. So I said to them, ‘carry on filming, I’ve got a good chance of getting a take here.’ It was one of those rare occasions when they were really having it.
"So I cast out there and got it all sorted. It couldn’t have been more than two minutes before I was away. I’m playing this fish and they’re filming it all and all of a sudden its come off. So I wound in and it had gone at the swivel on the hooklink. I thought, ‘blimey, what’s gone on there.’ So I put a new one on and cast it back out. Its gone off again, almost straight away, and the same thing happened. I turned round to the film crew and said, ‘Oh, it must have cut me off on the bar.’
"Anyway, that was that, and I put another rig on. Unbelievable they were still out there, really having it, so I cast out again. This time its gone off again and I finally landed a tench. I then cast out again and got another carp take. I’m playing it again and all of a sudden its come off again. Its gone again at the swivel! I was standing there saying, ‘This is carp fishing, you win some, you lose some!’ Anyway, I got away with that and I put another rig on. This time where I attached it to my main line I gave it a tug to check the knot. I can remember watching the knot, which was on my hooklink, which was on sell in the tackle shops, slowly come undone!
"What had happened was that the company who were tying the rigs for me, hadn’t done the knot I wanted. I asked for a Tucked Blood Knot. This company had tied it using a Blood Knot, which slips. I had 100,000 rigs like that out in the shops!”
Can we have another more funny story to finish?
“There was a swim at Savay called The Brambles. You’d never eat the blackberries there because people would always wee on them! They were the most beautiful blackberries, but just behind there was another big blackberry bush, again with big beautiful blackberries on, but what I used to do is wee as high as I could all over those!
"I used to say to people, ‘don’t eat the blackberries, because I’ve been weeing there!’ And they used to say, ‘Oh, I won’t’. But once you’ve put blackberries into their mind – in the summer when your mouths dry, and they look round and there’s some beautiful ones there, still with the dew on ’em! I was horrible back then!"
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