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10 things you wish you'd known in 2004

Definitely number 9...

1. Which waters to get on early

It’s 2004 and we’ve just handed you a crinkled treasure map. You unroll it and squint to make out the words Wingham, Grenville and Wasing. Would you have acted on the information? At the time Wingham’s 12-year-old stock averaged 23lb; Grenville had only just been stocked with singles and low-doubles; and Wasing’s record-breaking Parrot had only been in the venue for seven years. All three venues went on to do 60s.

2. That carp matches could be a nice little earner

If you and your partner won the BCAC in 2004 - when it was still the only major domestic carp comp - you netted £6,000. Not too shabby, but nothing compared to the £30,000 later offered by both the UK Carp Champs and BCAC, or the £15,000 put up by the British Carp Cup. Should’ve started practising… or persuaded Hewitt and Bartlett to take up golf.

3. That Realtree would go out of fashion

Oh god, did we really used to wear that? Thankfully, the only place you see that reedy brown patterning today (horrifically faded after just one wash) is when former fishermen are made to clean out their sheds and put ‘full carp set-up, 2 much to list’ ads on Facebook.

4. That less is more

2004 was not a time for subtlety. Rod blanks were chunky and the massive LC Baitrunner was still a big seller. If you had told someone back then that anglers in 2019 would be using semi-telescopic 9-footers and small front-drag reels they would almost certainly have removed their Von Dutch hat and scratched their mini mullet in bewilderment.

5. That forums wouldn’t be around forever

It was a weird time for angling media in 2004. Printed mags were thriving, hence the launch of ‘Ology, but there was a growing community of anglers on forums like Fishing Warehouse and RMC/CEMEX. Facebook and YouTube had yet to be invented, so the closest you got to interacting with big names was on these messageboards, and plenty of stories were told. Sadly, many of these tales that we assumed would be online forever have now been lost in the digital ether.

6. That carp fishing existed beyond the UK and France

Sure, places like Lake Raduta in Romania and various other venues in Belgium, Spain and even South Africa were well known by 2004, but Europe was still largely untapped back then. Without social media and Google Maps it was undoubtedly harder to ‘pioneer’, but imagine if you’d known about the carp in Croatia, Hungary, Sweden and Poland back then…

7. That you’d be Spielberg soon enough

By 2004 there had been just two instalments of Korda’s groundbreaking State of the Art Underwater Carp Fishing videos. The footage was mesmerising and only got better as the series developed. Back then, only a company with Korda’s clout could even dream of making it - but now thousands of anglers poke GoPros on landing-net poles beneath the surface. In 2004, the first GoPro product was still using 35mm film!

8. Which rigs to get on early

The Chod Rig feels like it’s been around forever, but in 2004 it was still widely unknown. Credited to Frank Warwick and honed by Nigel Sharp, this instant classic only really hit the angling press in 2005, so if you’d got on it in in the year of CARPology’s birth you would have been laughing. And the same goes for Zigs!

9. About predation

These days, almost all of us can say ‘I wish I’d fished that place before the otters’ in relation to at least one venue. Articles about predation had been written by 2004, but the problem didn’t really hit home for many until it was too late.

10. What tackle to horde

Have you seen the secondhand prices fetched by out-of-production Daiwa reels these days? Or ultracult stainless from the likes of Steve Neville? Or original Terry Hearn rods? If only you could have predicted it all and started a collection! Or maybe you could have just used the gear as intended and not worried about profiteering later on…