January 2015 and the weather is almost not stop rain. With an average day time temperature of about 5 degrees & accompanied by strong winds I go to my barn to start making bait in preparation for my next fishing trip. The preparation going into just a couple of nights fishing is vast, I must make the bait and pre-bait a few days before I fish as it’s a hard time of year to get the carp moving to find bait.
It’s difficult to boil the water needed in the process of making bait as the gas bottle is cold and doesn’t release the gas under the same pressure as it gets colder. I must have my rigs ready, in fact all my fishing equipment ready, including my bivvy to shelter me from the bad weather. I need to buy food and take all I need to cook and feed myself, the list goes on.
Any fisherman knows the routine – the early starts, the sleepless nights, the disappointing lows of not catching and the uplifting highs of a successful capture and all the soul searching in between. So what is it that ‘hooks’ so many carp anglers? What drives people to brave all conditions, spending time & money, sometimes risking relationships and jobs? How do you justify the time and money spent to the non angler, especially when the rewards at best are a brief encounter and picture and at worst, well, speak to any carp angler and they can recount several diabolical fishing trips that had gone hideously wrong.
The answer for me may not be the same for every one else but I think it’s a combination. Catching fish – although the goal – is not the sum total of fishing. For me, during the monotonous 9-5 routine, I feel we become disconnected from nature. Humans weren’t designed to be kept behind a desk getting repetitive strain injuries or running around carrying out orders from the person on the next step up on the corporate ladder. We are animals and all animals if removed from nature are never quite fulfilled. Even the most spoilt dog in the biggest garden will pine for the freedom that the other side of the fence may bring. For me fishing is a way to briefly visit the other side of the fence, to reconnect with nature a little, to get outside.
Whilst lakeside I am in nature, it’s all around me. As I become immersed in the sounds, the fresh air and the creatures that at a quick glance would be missed, you can for a while forget the world you have left behind. Man many years ago was a hunter and now back in nature I look to once again engage in catching my quarry. Although I’m capturing only for a picture the aim is still the same, to track down , out smart, and snare my prey. Even if this time I come back without a trophy photograph, I have at least for a brief moment forgotten what might be happening in my life and am living in the moment focused on one single purpose, to catch a fish.
At first glance around the lake, especially this time of year, it can be bleak. Few leaves on the trees, mud, very little seems to be moving. Some times in life we look but we don’t always see. To a quiet fisherman nature will reveal she is still working furiously all around. A menagerie of animals still have to make a living and when you become part of nature they will continue to work away in front of you. Excluding the fish we so desperately seek, birds of so many types that you would otherwise never encounter, mammals from rodents to even deer all move before you when normally they pass without being seen.
Carp fishing can also be a roller coaster, never is it indifferent! If you fail it’s bad, if you fail badly it’s a disaster. If you succeed the adrenaline and excitement is great, if you succeed with something special then it creates a memory that will last a lifetime. In between the massive highs and soul destroying lows are stories of friendship, laughter, pain, and joy all of which you will carry with you where ever you go to recount over and over.
So when people ask what the attraction is of carp fishing I always say it’s hard to explain, it’s not just because we love to catch and see carp. It’s to lose yourself in nature for a time whether you achieve catching a carp or not. The bad trips can be worn like a badge of honour, a testament to your dedication and determination, something you go through to earn your stripes, proving your worth as a carp angler to yourself and other fishermen.
The good trips you will return from triumphant with stories to tell and memories to cherish.
So once more I pack up and move off, out into the wilds of the french countryside. Ever confident and ever hopeful that this will be the fishing trip I hold above all others, one I will be telling stories of many years from now, from my arm chair in the warm as an old grey man reliving a past glory…
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