Ben Eagles Other Stuff

5 types of carp angler we've all met on the bank

From Dave Fulltimer to Kev O'Profishional

Angler 1: Roger Retiree-Minter

Although his week’s salmon fishing in Norway is what Roger really looks forward to every year, carp are the retired accountant’s bread and butter and he flits between the local club lake in summer and well-stocked commercial in the autumn. Gleaming Mercedes estate in the car park, Barbour jacket and shiny new waders donned and a large, shiny rod pod are his constant companion. “Custom engineered, aerospace-grade, titanium-stainless steel alloy – it’ll last for a thousand years and cost more than your car…” reveals Roger when queried about this Brunel-esque monolith.

Roger treats his carp fishing much like his salmon angling: they’re simple creatures and are easy to catch. If not, they’re gearing up to thinking about spawning, thinking about spawning, spawning, recovering from spawning or just “not in the mood, like my wife for the past 40 years…” (50% of Roger’s fishing is driven by a need to catch something – the rest by a strong desire to not see his wife very often.)

Thus, his rigs hark back to a golden age of simple Hair rigging, when a piece of silicon on the shank of the hook was considered “tarty” and a Knotless Knot was the height of sophistication. Roger incorporates both of these ‘developments’ into his one and only rig, and even started using a lead clip in 2015 but jams the rubber on quite tightly so he doesn’t lose too many leads per season.

Rigs are also changed sparingly - every few weeks or so, or anytime the hook point looks blunter than a fence post. He doesn’t like spending money unnecessarily. Roger tried pop-ups in 2003 but gave up when he hooked his third coot of the session – they’re also expensive and unnecessary, even when they’re spawning.

On an average week, Roger will spend at least two afternoons at the lake, often in one of three swims that he knows like the back of his hand. All are close to the car park and offer some shelter from the wind and rain, meaning he can usually dry his kit off to avoid condensation in the Merc when it’s home time – always 6pm on the dot. Even allowing for the Nuneaton bypass traffic, this should see him home in time for dinner and the news.

A few weeks ago, when he caught a last-knockings season best 18lb mirror that currently occupies the screensaver on his phone, he was late and his formidable Yorkshire-bred wife threw his dinner in the bin with the words: “If those ruddy fish are more important than me…” Roger didn’t have the heart to answer this truthfully and resolved to reel in a few minutes earlier from now on.

Having been carp angling, allegedly, since the days of Fred Wilton and HNV baits, one thing that Roger is utterly confident of is his choice of boilie: a garlic, catfood and aniseed mix, which his friend rolls for him in small batches of 20mm baits. They smell like rotting roadkill. Roger is unaware that his friend uses increasing amounts of sawdust during the rolling process – but this is understandable given the old skinflints refusal to pay above £3 a kilo and use of roughly ten baits per session over both rods.

He once caught a brace of 20s on this exact mix, he’ll tell anyone who cares to ask what bait he’s using, but he can’t possibly give away the recipe or he’ll be breaking a promise made to a well-known carp angler who divulged the magic ingredients to him personally at an NEC Show in 1986… although this may have been a wind up.

Being stuck on a PB of 25lb 1oz for well over two decades is, however, not ideal for Roger’s desired image of a man blessed with all-round sporting prowess. But his recent purchase of a set of three 13’ Hi-S Ive rods and Basia reels will soon sort this out – that cast of 65m to the island spot that produced the 26lb club lake common last week is now within reach, as is carp fishing fame and fortune, which he’ll be sure to tell everyone about. Just don’t ask for his bait recipe, or where he got his pod from.

Angler 2. Keenan McKeen

After honing his watercraft, rig tying, baiting strategy and casting technique through watching literally thousands of hours of videos on YouTube in his bedroom, Keenan received a three-rod set-up for his 17th birthday and an old Nissan Micra shortly after passing his test and kicked off his carp fishing career. A Dub Step Anthems 2016 CD and carpy seat covers came next, followed by his first kilo of boilies – the deadly Dolphin Extract X, of course, as seen smashing up Oxfordshire on all those videos. It can’t fail!

After blanking twice on his local runs water, a friendly bailiff made a few adjustments such as lowering the pop-up’s height from six-inches to one, and before Keenan could turn on his £9.99 bite alarm, the rod was away. Nemo hadn’t been out for a year despite the best efforts of the dozen or two regulars, but it didn’t put up much of a fight as the astonished onlooker netted and weighed her at 41lb 12oz – a new fishery record and instant local hero status, and also now the subject of an hour-long YouTube video shot on his iPhone. This has attracted literally dozens of views.

With a PB better than most adults, Keenan has found it easy to beguile various tackle and bait companies with his impressive CV and can’t wait for his bait sponsor social on a lake he’s dreamt of fishing since that episode on a DVD he watched twice. Multiple hits of double-figure fish are a certainty, which is great as Keenan has never caught anything smaller than a 21lb koi during his three-month-old carping career. He can also only tie a Knotless Knot and a Blood Knot.

Keenan rates two things as key to his carp fishing prowess: his ability to line his folded reel handles up to within a thousandth of an inch of each other and the fact that he now only pays £3 a kilo for the #AwesomeDolphinExtractX so he can afford to use at least a third of a kilo a session. He might even stretch to a whole kilo for his second-ever night fishing trip this weekend, remembering to hang them up after the rats ate the whole lot on his first night - keeping him awake as he lay cold, hungry and terrified inside his leaking, flapping bivvy. Buzzing, mate!

Angler 3. Dave Fulltimer

Following an unfortunate workplace accident, Dave found it impossible to return to work with a missing appendage and so began his odyssey as a full-time carp angler and his subsequent detachment from modern civilisation in the late 00s. Finding himself in receipt of a large pay out and various benefits, and also perpetually single, tickets were soon secured to some of the country’s most prestigious waters and he set off to pursue the country’s largest English carp from his Astra van, never to return to brick-based accommodation ever again.

Dave is fanatical about only catching pure-bred English carp, anything less is not worth even weighing let alone adding to his many albums, in his book. Unless the carp in question has a provenience worthy of the Antiques Roadshow and a family-tree stretching back to Donald Leney’s garden pond, then “it’s a Simmo”, Dave tells anyone who visits his peg, which is currently on a secret lake in the Cotswolds where he’s been bivvied up for the past three months.

Staying on one lake for such a long time allows heavily-bearded Dave to really get to grips with a lake and usually work his way through the A-Team before he gets turfed off by the controlling club for ‘waste disposal issues’ or when he runs out of food and bait completely. The latter two are largely interchangeable; he once survived for a week on 18mm boilies and ketchup. It’s surprising what can taste okay after a quick boil in some lake water with a dash of sauce. Narrowly avoiding scurvy twice hasn’t been Dave’s idea of the carping life, however.

With a large two-man Euro-size bivvy and orthopaedic-approved bedchair from Germany, the camp makes Scott’s Antarctic expedition look modest but boasts similar levels of nutrition and diet, with the main toilet facilities consisting of an 18-litre bucket, a roll of Tesco Value Bin Bags, some wet wipes and, preferably, the cover of darkness.

Snag fishing isn’t a problem with this set-up, either, with the simple addition of a large poncho over the whole lot Dave can relax, ‘sat’ next to his rods to do his morning business (Stella and Stagg Chilli for dinner, for weeks on end, keeps you very regular) and nobody suspects a thing, even when they stop for a chat or a cuppa.

Dave achieved peak carpiness in 2010 when he pre-empted the current trend of looking like a homeless deer hunter from 1955 with some surplus DPM combats and a chunky knit sweater inherited from his grandad. This outfit, combined with an underexposed shot of an old mirror with some crappy old bite alarms in the background, officially marked the start of the carpy era, or so Dave claims.

He’ll reveal all in his book, which is still some way off but he already has the title, Carpy Carping Capers Vol.1, sorted. A series akin to Tolkien’s is planned and will cover all of Dave’s carp fishing life; from bivvying up and catching some big carp on the secret Cotswolds lake, to bivvying up and catching more big carp on other lakes. It’s going to be like an Andy McNab novel crossed with a Bear Grylls adventure.

For company, naturally, a mongrel called Parp is Dave’s ever-present companion and he sleeps in the sleeping bag in winter and on the unhooking mat during summer, scaring off the rats and farting loudly when he gets excited. This is usually when they have a visitor - an irregular occurrence; often a bailiff, inquisitive bank walker or his mum on Mother’s Day or his birthday.

Dave hasn’t spoken to a woman who wasn’t related to him or working behind a supermarket check-out since 2009, and his parents have given up hope of him ever meeting a girl ever again. But, he knows that if he can catch the mythical big common Old Bluey from the club lake this summer, he’ll be getting some extra ‘admirers’ visiting the bivvy for sure! The four-pack of Stella and can of Lynx Africa is ready and waiting, ladies.

Angler 4: Kev O’Profishional

With his shifts working out perfectly for prolonged, multi-day campaigns, enthusiastic Kev has racked up some impressive captures over the years with practically every named fish in South East Kent finding its way into his phone’s photo album.
This has led to an extensive network of sponsorship and consultancy deals ensuring he never has to buy particles, head torches, PVA, plastic corn or hiking socks again, such was the generosity of the companies desperate for a piece of the action when he caught The Three Eighths Lin at a record 49lb last spring. He doesn’t let the fact that he foul-hooked it on a Zig bother his conscience - the celebratory tattoo looks great!

Saying goodbye to his fiancé every Tuesday, Kev hits the road for three days of solid carpy action, sometimes to the tough syndicate he’s recently joined, but more usually the local commercial complex’s speci lake, with his heart set on bagging one of the A-Team for his next bait company video blog. That mid-thirty ghostie would be ideal. Whatever happens, there’ll definitely be a 40-minute YouTube video of the whole session featuring all the action, and a lot of montages and bait company plugs.

Always neatly turned-out in regulation logo’d hoodie and beanie, he’s got his finger on the pulse of the carping world with well over 200 followers on various social media channels, and has had features in all the major magazines following his exploits, pleasing his sponsors immensely. He’s even been asked to take part in a DVD for said bait company – surely Rob Hughes will be keen for a chat once he sees all this? Or he might get poached by that new bait company and get the chance to replenish his hoodie and beanie supply, as long as he uses at least ten #JustUseThisNewBaitPlsThanks hashtagged posts a month on Instagram.

Carp shows are Kev’s forte and he attends all the major ones religiously in suitable sponsor hoodie and full camo, sometimes he’s even been asked to be on one of the stands promoting various wares or tying rigs. But this is a bit of a faff and he’d rather just buy a few cheap leads, get his Jim Shelley book signed and drink Fosters with his mates for the afternoon before Terry Hearn comes on. It feels good to be amongst his own kind for a few hours.

Kev is almost mechanical in his approach to carp fishing. The hours spent in the living room ignoring EastEnders and the fiancé whilst tying rigs means he’s well prepared for any eventuality and he loves nothing better than perfecting the latest rig innovation – usually based around a solid PVA bag - and using it to “devastating” effect hauling double-figure fish of dubious origin, all posted online with #BOOM.

His fiancé is very proud of him but wishes he didn’t smell of tuna boilies so much, and that he’d spend more time with her and their five kids.

Angler 5: Alan Le Grand

Having sold his building firm for a quite magnificent sum a few years ago, Brummie Alan has devoted his recent fishing time to rinsing Continental Europe of its monster carp, one 70-pounder at a time. After all, he’s been there, done that and got the XXXL T-shirt in the UK.

An average month for Alan consists of a week at home (this is also known as Rig Tying Week) dutifully playing the perfect house husband with his fourth wife, followed by two weeks fishing at one of many French lakes he’s familiar with, and then a week in a static caravan by the sea with aforementioned wife to make up for not seeing her very much.

The start of his two weeks away are Alan’s favourite time of the month; he picks up his buddy Spud, a fellow “big fish man”, and heads to the Eurostar in his lowered, blacked-out VW van – number plate C4RP5, ground clearance 5cm – for a short hop to Calais and then onto his chosen venue. At the moment that’s Etang du Putain – three-hours south of Calais - where he’s got his heart set on catching Le Fromage: a 78lb-plus mirror with a belly like a space hopper and, seemingly, little awareness of even the crudest of rigs (it was last caught on a 25mm pop-up on a 1ft Zig by a German angler using a sea fishing rod and pink line).

However, in eight trips, this giant has so far eluded Alan’s perfectly set traps and expensive bait, which is surprising as the venue is less than an acre in size and he’s caught all the other 37 fish in the lake, some twice over. “It’ll happen soon, mate” reassures the venue’s expat owner, hoping that Alan won’t find out that his target went belly up months ago and is currently fertilising the petunias.

As a man of relatively wealthy means, Alan prides himself on using only the best rods, reels and end tackle. His custom set-up costs thousands and has his initials everywhere plus he has one of those big double bedchairs meant for couples, all to himself. His bivvy is something else, though: a structure only matched by the Eden Project in width and height, it is probably visible from space. It’s the perfect structure to house the DVD player and home cinema system – essential for keeping up with Corrie.

Out of all this kit, Alan’s pride and joy is his bait boat, which costs the same as an actual boat and demands a solar array occupying half his swim just to trickle charge its huge batteries. But with full 3D scanning and colour HD display, it ensures Alan has to put minimal effort into feature finding these days and the Dutch anglers always view this gadget much the same enthusiasm as a petrol head views a Ferrari: “Zis is the bahlacks, or how you say in Eng-ger-land, puk-ha?”

All of this equipment will, hopefully, propel Alan into the big league of European specimen carp angling. His record of five different 70-pounders from France has put him on track to become the first Englishman whose name begins with ‘A’ to catch six different French 70s. The mags will definitely want to feature him on the cover once he hits this milestone. Hell, he might even start his own bait company if that happens! That cash buried under the swimming pool won’t launder itself, after all.

During his two-week sessions Alan has a very set routine: cooked breakfast at the fishery café at 9am, cups of tea (English, none of that “foreign muck”) in Spud’s swim for the morning, a massive ham sandwich for lunch, afternoon snooze, lasagne or curry for dinner and then lots of lager in the evenings before bedtime. This is what overseas adventure fishing is all about.
Every morning, without fail, a solitary Ralph Lauren cotton sock – freshly washed in the lake – is hanging from Alan’s bivvy porch. Few know why, except Spud, who often hears a noise like an out-of-breath bulldog coming from somewhere nearby, last thing at night.

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