I still recall that day in 1978 when my Uncle Frank took me out fishing on the River Trent in England. I was 10 years old and had never fished before in my life. I was excited as we left the house and made the long drive to the river. We set up on the shoreline. My Uncle cast out the rods and told me, “this one is yours – watch it – closely – and when the tip bends around to here, strike and start reeling”.
As with all 10 year olds, paying attention was not my strong suit. I sat there for what seemed like hours watching the tip of that rod bend slowly back and forth with the current. Finally the tip bent around, I yanked the rod from the simple y-rests and started reeling as if my very life depended on it. A few minutes later, net in hand, my uncle was emerging from the shallow water with my prize in his net – a chub. It was not huge, perhaps a couple of pounds in weight, but it was my fish, I had caught it, nobody else but me!
That was the start of an angling obsession that often consumed my summers for many years. Carp soon became my target species. I was always searching for, but was never able to bank, that elusive 20. I did finally land an 18lb mirror and that remains my UK PB.
It is now almost 30 years later. I stopped fishing around the time I left school – different interests consumed my time back in those days. I have been married for over 16 years. I emigrated 12 years ago from the UK to the US and reside in Colorado Springs, CO.
My unexpected return to the carping passion began spring 2012 on my first ever camping trip. I had planned a trip with my wife to Lake Hasty. Of course, whilst at the lake, I knew I must cast a line or two into the water. I made the obligatory pre-camping trip to the local Sportsman’s Warehouse and left armed with a veritable arsenal of entry level tackle designed for spin casting aimed at catching trout, walleye or bass.
During that first camping trip, and after a few days fishing, I soon learned that I was obviously a horrific trout fisherman, the walleye must be a fish of mere legend and bass, well, that was a fish I would have to look up on the internet to actually see one. Eventually, a passing retired gentleman handed me a “stocker” rainbow his grandson had caught earlier in the day. Turns out, he felt pity for me that I’d been there for days and had failed to bank even a single fish. I was seriously reconsidering my new fishing exploits.
Having failed to catch the local “sport fish” I decided to spend my last few days fishing the way I had learned as a youth so many years ago. The powerbait was deposited in a nearby trash can. The spinning lures returned to the tackle box. I went down to the local bait store and bought a carton of worms, rigged up a simple running rig with an egg-sinker and tossed the lines out. I positioned the rods at a 90 degree angle to the bank and fished the old school “ledger” – and waited. To my amazement I soon caught a small common carp, then another and another. As you can imagine I was very surprised to see the fish of my youth coming from a lake some 5000+ miles from home. Well, that was it - there are carp in these here waters! That old passion for carp fishing had been rekindled anew.
For the remainder of 2012, I spent my free time fishing in the local lakes in and around Colorado Springs. I even managed to land a 24 lb common, a new PB.
2013 my obsession with carp fishing continued and I have met some great fishermen through the FXR forums to share my endeavors with. As soon as the ice was off the lakes my quest for Carp began, this time, the journey was to "video blogged" in my Carp Quest series on youtube.
There have certainly been highs - a 37 lb 5oz common carp from Chatfield Reservoir, the lows - blanking for 9 straight sessions at my favorite local venue, Pikeview Reservoir. I have learned that patience is key and that you must have confidence in your tackle, methods, baits and choice of location.
Most of all I have learned that I enjoy sharing my tales and my experiences with others, promoting the sport of carp fishing, and assisting others in achieving their goals. Often I have found more pleasure in seeing a fellow angler catch a new PB, than landing a fish of my own.
I am also the Colorado State Chair for the Carp Anglers Group (CAG) - a group of passionate and dedicated catch and release carp fishermen across the Americas. There is a link to this group from the "Fishing Clubs" section on the main page of FXR.
I am a writer/contributor to Big Carp News, www.bigcarpnews.com and a Pro Staff Member of Born to Fish Media.
Some call me the "UK Madman", others CO Springs John. Me, I call myself a fisherman - perhaps a little obsessed with my passion at times!
Tight Lines, and hope you see you on the bankside.