When I first came up with the idea of writing the 'Charlton Carper' blog the main aspect was to capture the essence and the reality of carp angling, there is no bullshit or 'slight of hand' in what I write, what you see is what you get. I always promised myself that there wouldn't be any form of negativity within my writing, but the subject I want to talk about is very much a reality, not only in carp angling, but in society as a whole, and it's negative. Before I continue, there's a chance that what I'm going to explain might rub some people up the wrong way, unfortunately that's just the way it is sometimes. I'm going to say it exactly how I see it, which, again, is what this blog is all about, so - where's Etiquette gone?
We live in troubled times and the state of our society is morphing and shifting into shapes that are very different to what they were decades ago. More than ever I sense that we really are living in a 'dog eat dog' world where the majority of people are happy to step on the necks of others to get to where they want to be. To a degree, I know its always been this way, but with the rise of technology and social media, it's amplified to colossal proportions. Social media has given a voice to many that don't have one of any significance in 'the real world', the negative voices always seem to be the ones that reach the furthest, this is where it gets dangerous. Our inner thoughts and feelings, good or bad, that use to be kept behind closed doors can be broadcast to the planet, in a moment of irrational thought, by a simple push of a button.
As humans we get given an incredible tool with 'the worldwide web', that if used correctly, can be such a beautiful thing. We have access to learning and knowledge that, 'a few decades ago', we could only really have dreamt of. But like all things humans are given, we rarely take it to dizzy new heights, we manage to take an incredible gift and drag it right down into the 'pond-life' region. I doubt that when Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the internet he thought that it would ever be used as a weapon in regards to both bullying, revenge porn and spreading ill feeling. In the same breath I doubt that Chad Hurley, when creating YouTube, thought 'happy-slapping' and other forms of hateful actions were going to be broadcast - simply for some 'low-life' to get as many hits as possible on his channel. It interests me to know exactly what it is in our DNA that leads certain people to do such things.
These types of actions can be far more damaging than you think, being mental health awareness week I feel it's fitting to touch on this point. Whilst you and your mates are sharing pictures of total strangers, posting them on facebook groups, systematically pulling them apart and having a real good laugh. You actually have no idea about 'said person' or what they could be growing through. Lets face it, no one really knows or cares about mental illness because it doesn't effect them. But I assure you that if you or someone in your family suddenly gets effected by it. Your viewpoint would change over night, it doesn't take much to push people over the edge when they're in a fragile state. Next time you see it fit to lay into someone for no real reason, both on and off line. Maybe you should consider this point.
We all have to start somewhere and no one has the right to make anyone feel bad about what they're doing. In my mind the same 'lack of etiquette' used by some in the angling community online, carries seamlessly onto the banks. My last three sessions have been plagued with a stupidity that I try very hard to avoid. I won't bore you with the exact details but I will touch on the points a little later on. I grew up fishing in a time when a number of aspects ran parallel with each other. 1. the art of angling, 2. fish care 3. care and consideration for those I share the waters with. All these points are equally important but now-days number 3 is practically non-existent. I attribute this to the points I've made thus far. Times are changing, attitudes are changing and it's making its way onto the water.
When Did Attitudes Change?
We live in a world of 'false idol worship', many are sucked into the celebrity illusion, they have no real self-belief so they put all their expectation in a 'tin god'. It seems that some want their five minutes of fame so badly, and they're going to try to get it any way they can. Be it X Factor, the voice, posting near naked photos of themselves to their 10.500 pervy followers on Instagram every 3 seconds, or aspiring to be the next carp angling star - 'whatever that means'. There was a time when genuine talent had to fight and rise to the surface, but nowadays, people want to short cut the graft in any way possible, and with this, mediocrity and the 'F**K everyone else' mindset has very much become the normal. Social media communication went from being a useful tool to keep in touch with family and friends, to being a facility to feed the ego with shameless self promotion and bile - don't get me wrong, for many it isn't, but for a certain demographic, it is. Out of all the above I think that the current carp angling scene and the way I see it heading, is the perfect example of all the above.
I understand that many out there love their fishing, love the adventure, love the peace that comes with it, and quietly go about their business. I respect you for this, that's what it's all about. On the flip side though, I understand we have the arrogant, the elitist and those that will literally bend over, with 'vaseline in hand', for the chance to change their Facebook occupation to 'Consultant' or 'Field-Tester'. Again, if that's what floats your boat then fair play to you. But I personally think, this is where the problem lies, fishing isn't just about fishing anymore.
Gone are the days of just getting out there and soaking it up. It seems to be more of a contest between anglers themselves, it isn't 'you against the fish', it's you against the angler, against the fish'. It's the cliques, those that think they own the water, the snide stroke pullers. The backstabbing infantile mentality that big fish waters seem to breed, and of course, 'last but not least', the 'local hero's' walking around like the cock on the block, 'looking like human billboards, because they're with a tackle firm, or they're getting some free 'cake mix', from some bedroom bait company. All of a sudden they seem to think this gives them license to be 'Billy Big Bollocks'.
It was only last year one of the 'aforementioned' approached me when I was quietly daydreaming away. There I was fishing the shallows up on Braxted Reservoir, I was having a good session when out the blue this guy comes strolling over, who within about 30 seconds of meeting me had to throw in that he was a big player in a major tackle company, and he was only after the big common in back lake. Fair play to him and well done, but it didn't stop there. He then proceeded to give me a review of all the tackle I was using and how he'd be fishing if he was me. Ten or so minutes of him talking down to me about himself, he asked what I did for a living. When I proceeded to tell him what I do, his attitude quickly changed. Before I knew it, he was pretty much my best buddy and I got a certain invite to fish some very exclusive garden ponds for some pet fish. I'd like to add, I didn't except the invite.
This is only one example of many and might not appear relevant, but to me, this backs up the whole 'in it for myself' attitude. The only reason his tune changed was because he actually thought that he could benefit from knowing me. Solely because of the position I've managed to get myself in regarding my work. I don't look upon it as anything special and I certainly don't look upon myself as anything special, so why should he?. It's not quite the 'stepping on your neck' approach that I touched on before, more of a 'I'll climb on your back' and see where it gets me. Now lets take this 'back climbing' and put it in a fishing scenario. If you've got a guy that's clearly on the fish and he's fishing within the boundaries of his swim - what do you do?.
Personally I'd leave him to it, he's there first and that's the way it is. I'd go and find another spot on the lake, get my baits out and get on with my day. But from what I've experienced of late, that isn't the case for some. What you shouldn't really do in this situation is set up next to him and cast your baits as close to his spots as possible. Equally it isn't really very good 'Etiquette' to then setup opposite him and proceed to cast or spod into, or on the edge of his water. For all you know, he got there at the crack of dawn and after a good few hours waiting patiently, he's finally got some fish on him. The last thing that guy is going to want is someone spooking the hell out of his water. Most of you reading this will understand my point, however if you're a "catch at any cost" type of person and you don't understand my point - maybe you should reread it until you do.
My second example and a very common one is, setting up opposite a carp angler when there's lots of free swims to choose from. I understand you've "paid your money and you can fish where you want", but from a 'consideration' point of view. Why setup directly opposite another angler if you don't have to?. I'm not talking about large waters here, I'm talking about you're standard size club water. We all know that 9 times out of 10, if possible, most carp anglers, 'me included', like to fish to the far margins. However when I grew up I was made aware that there's pretty much an unspoken code that, whenever the situation dictates and I can help it, I won't roll up and pitch camp opposite someone who's clearly fishing for carp. It's different if it's a pleasure angler, you can normally see their float, and if they're on the 'feeder', chances are they're only a short distance out. However I will still go around and ask 'how they're doing, and where they're fishing'.
By now some of you may be thinking, "well if you dislike it all that much mate, why do it?". That answer is very simple, why should I stop doing something I love due to a rather large minority that clearly couldn't care less about anyone other than themselves. What I'm going to be doing in future is choosing carefully where, when and how I fish, in the hope that it will limit the chances of stupidity. In regards to my social media use, that will stop, the only thing I'll be sharing is links to future blogs. I've got nothing to prove and being hemmed in between incessant statuses telling me to #get on the going bait, is something I've never really felt comfortable with, in fact it's all rather mind numbing.
I could carry my point on but I feel I've said enough, if I was to touch on every example of selfish behavior, I'd be writing for a year. The aspects I've touched on are just a few of many. If what I'm trying to say hasn't been understood at this point, I fear that it never will be. To conclude, I've met, and continue to meet many good people when I'm out and about both on and off the bank who truly love their fishing. I understand that there are many anglers out there that are caring and considerate who understand completely what is and isn't exceptable behaviour. I'm not tarring everyone with the same brush. Maybe if there was more education then the penny might drop for the blissfully unaware.
Finally, I don't want to be writing a blog like this, maybe if tackle companies and the comics took some time to highlight what is and isn't exceptable. The problem might not be as bad, and overtime could become a thing of the past. But I can't see this happening anytime soon, they're too busy coming up with the next piece of overpriced garbage that we don't really need. Carp angling, like all styles of fishing is a beautiful pass time and all of us that do it are in it together. I feel with a little kind consideration, education and compassion for all those we share the waters with, it could be so much more enjoyable for everyone involved.