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Friday, 7 December 2018

Charlton Carper 'The Cell'

"In this blog I'd like to step away from fishing and cover a subject that many may feel uncomfortable talking about. I have no problem with putting this out in the public domain, and in doing so I hope it will help others.

So here we are in December 2018, I've been stupidly busy with my work so my fishing has been on the back burner since September. I've managed to squeeze a few short trips in here and there but I've found myself scratching for bites. I'm not necessarily helping myself with the waters I'm choosing to fish but, I'd rather sit it out for one good bite than cater to my ego fishing a runs water. Looking back now, I can't help but think the prime Autumn 'bite time' has past me by and with the temperatures starting to fall, it's looking like I'm going to be struggling as the year comes to an end. Having said that, my last few fish have been pretty special, topped off with a mythical 33IB common, so I can't really complain. In regards to my blog writing, it turns out I'm about a year and a half behind, it's crazy looking back that far, I'm a very different person now compared to who I was back in 2016. I have stacks of note pads and sketch books full of session notes, it's going to be interesting knocking them all in to shape. This post isn't a session blog, instead I've chosen to cover something that I feel is very important. I've said many times before that I write with honesty about my own reality. In this synthetic, edited and filter world we're now forced to participate in, I'm finding these two elements hard to come by. - so please try to bare with me on this post.

Into The Bleak
Time seems to be accelerating at such a pace that I'm finding it hard to process. To be totally honest, I feel so down that I can barely find the energy to type these words. However, that within itself is reason enough to take the time to write about how I feel. I seem to have hit a wall which finds me questioning everything, mainly the world around me and where I actually fit in. I've always had this underlying feeling, but since vacating my drums as my lifeline and survival, there's no real outlet to beat all the unwanted thoughts into oblivion. I'm finding the simple task of 'existing' so bloody exhausting, I feel like the system we're forced to live in is reminiscent of a 'hamster wheel'. We're kept in a perpetual state of confusion and our senses are being constantly bombarded from all directions. There's mindless junk on the TV screens, continuous propaganda and misery projected in all forms of media, and it appears, both technology and social media is erasing basic human interaction. There's a huge shift occurring that's changing the way the human race is conducting itself. Vast amounts of the worlds population are now relocating their consciousness on to a collective hard drive. Two realities have been created, a life both on and off line, I personally don't believe this is progress, if anything, parts of our psyche are regressing. If you're the type of person that's very sensitive to both their environment and the world around them, you're going to find yourself having a hard time.     

I look upon myself very fortunate, being self employed I have a lot more control over my life, I'm in a very unique position which I both respect and appreciate very much. Unfortunately, and this is hard for some people to understand, when you struggle with a mental 'dis-ease', all the good things in your life can become insignificant, almost meaningless. They can't break you out of the 'cell' that comes slamming down around you, the worst thing about this 'cell', you're the only one that can see it, it can come at any time and you don't know how long your sentence is going to be. The creation of this 'cell' is not your fault. Some people are born with a happy brain and others aren't, our brains are a universe of connections, pathways and chemicals. It's all very delicate, it's common sense that things can and will go wrong in some of us. One of the biggest misconceptions about mental illness is that you're doing it to yourself, that it's your fault. I can tell you now that it isn't and you have nothing to feel ashamed about, unfortunately both shame and self loathing walk hand in hand when you find yourself trapped in a psychological prison that you can't get out of.

Welcome
"I know there's millions of people out there suffering with mental illness, I understand the isolation you are feeling. I understand the fear and confusion that you are going through. I know what it feels like to see no way out. I understand how desperate you feel, that you will literally do anything to feel better. I know there are many voices out there that claim to offer help and a solution to your problems - when in fact they're just preying on the desperate and vulnerable. I realize that you may have anxieties about antidepressant medication, I also understand that some of you, who thought they had lots of friends, have came to realize that they actually don't have any - because the first time you really needed them, they were nowhere to be seen, I know you feel totally alone - I could go on, I think you get my point". 

I Want To Describe Part Of A Journey.  

As we proceed to exist in our own personal 'cell', it all starts to become very real, its foundations strengthen, the darkness starts to get really dense, the outside world proceeds to shrink and become smaller until it disappears into nothing. The walls of your cell now act as an 'echo chamber', an amplifier for the sticky thoughts that are looping round and round and round inside your head. Your train of thought disintegrates to the point where rational thinking disappears. These limited thoughts won't stop, they're like a song on an old vinyl record that's stuck on repeat. The longer it rotates the deeper the needle sinks, there isn't an off switch and the mechanism that lifts the needle up is broken. You get to the point where your 'mental stylus' is stuck so deeply in a 'groove' that it has no way of getting out. It has no other choice than to keep playing the same song/thought process over and over and over again, you can't stop what is happening to you. It turns into self-hypnosis, you're now living in a trance, the longer this goes on, the deeper you fall, you are not in control of the situation, it's in control of you. The longer you're on this mental carousel, the harder it is to get off, you start to become an expert, a master craftsman, you're perfecting the art of complete isolation, you're making all these poisonous thoughts as solid as concrete. Your prison cell is now complete and this will start to effect the way you participate and translate the world around you.

Sticky Thoughts That Won't Stop

You're now regressing further and further inside your head, you're physically present in the world but you're not taking any of it in, it's meaningless to you. The days and nights are now morphing into one, you may have been awake for days, maybe even weeks. You have no defenses left, you don't know what day it is, more importantly, you don't care, you're scared, frightened and confused. Depending on how you are functioning, if at all, you need to get help. You should of looked for help long before it got this bad but if you haven't experienced anything like this before, you have absolutely no idea what to do or where to go. The term used when you've arrived at a point where everything has completely fallen apart is called crisis. You can't function, you can't control your emotions and your 'fight or flight' system is attacking you on all levels. You desperately want someone to help you but the people around you don't have a clue what to do either. They've probably never dealt with a situation like this before. Do you go to your local GP? What happens if they want to put me on that evil medication everyone talks about?.

You decide to give the doctors a miss and try to continue to deal with it yourself, you start to try and think your way out of it, but that isn't going to work. It was thinking that got you in this mess in the first place, but you don't see it that way, so you continue to think, trying to find the key that will unlock your perfectly constructed 'cell'. It's around this point where you might feel the urge to stop talking and communicating with everyone. You don't need to talk, you've got way too much to think about, not only are you completely locked inside yourself, you've become mute, talking is just way too much effort. It's at this stage of this god awful journey that people might start telling you to "snap out of it" or "pull yourself together". These are literally the worst things anyone could say to you in this particular situation. Firstly, you can't do either of those two things, secondly those two statements alone make you feel responsible for the position you've found yourself in. I'll repeat this again - you are not responsible for what is happening to you.    

There Is A Stigma - There Always Will Be
Weeks have now passed, you're dragging yourself out of bed after another sleepless night. Your days now consist of sitting on the couch staring at the wall, desperately trying to break out of your 'cell'. Through severe desperation you finally decide it's about time to go and see your doctor, surly they can help you. Once you've actually managed to get an appointment, you do your best to try and explain how you're feeling. After a short 'robotic' conversation you're presented with two leaflets, one with "Time To Talk" written on it, the other listing all the side effects and problems that antidepressant medication can cause - no benefits are listed. You leave the appointment no clearer on anything. One things for sure though, you're giving the medication a miss because all the information you've been given has put the fear of god up you. The only option you're left with is to call the number on the "Time To Talk" leaflet. After another soulless conversation with someone on the end of the phone, you discover,'ironically', that you can't 'talk to anyone' for at least 6 to 8 weeks. Not only that, when you can, you only get 20 minutes a week for about a month, so what the hell are you going to do with yourself whilst you wait to talk to someone?. I'll tell you what you do, you get worse, you get so bad that you start to lose the will to live.     

Truth

The days continue to pass, you now haven't slept for about 6 weeks, your 'cell' is shrinking at an alarming rate, not only that but the one window you had has been bricked up. You yearn for peace, preying to god for a second of rest. It's clear you're finally going to have to take the plunge, medical intervention is needed. "Before I continue I would like to state that medication should only be considered if you are barely functioning, I believe it's a last resort and you should think very carefully before taking the plunge, there's a big difference between 'mental illness' and just "feeling fed up". So, you go back up to the doctors and commit to taking some form of drug, you're prescribed an anti-depressant along with some sleeping pills. You're told it takes at least 6 weeks for the anti-depressant meds to start working. So in theory I should feel the benefit around the same time I get to talk to someone for my 20 minutes a week - perfect 'sarcasm'. The one thing that you aren't told is that your local GP has very limited knowledge regarding both anti-depressants and mental illness. They have a choice of about 5 pills and there's a very high chance that none of them will actually suit you. The 'default' prescription they hand out is usually a drug called 'Citalopram'. This specific drug can actually make your symptoms worse before they get better, so if you're struggling with acute anxiety I would recommend an antidepressant with a 'sedative' in it - like 'Mirtazapine'.

Help

It turns out that 'Citalopram' and sleeping pills react really badly with each other and you end up in a bigger mess than you were in before you went to see your GP. You return to the doctors to explain the situation and he simply asks for the tablets back. There were no suggestions or talk of any alternative so you're sent home empty handed. You find yourself back at square one but now you've been awake for around 8 weeks and you're genuinely starting to lose your mind. The brain hasn't had any rest for so long, it starts to have indescribable effects on your bodily functions. What you're experiencing now adds a whole new level of fear and panic to a situation that you thought couldn't get any worse. What you're feeling is 100% real but when you try to explain it to anyone, you get looked at like you're a madman - this is when the word 'delusional' starts to appear. When the 20 minutes of CBT a week finally comes around, you find it's a complete waste of time. When you're trapped so perfectly inside your cell, this kind of talking therapy achieves nothing. I believe CBT maybe of some help to those who are stuck in unhealthy thinking habits but for severe mental illness I see no point in it at all. I'll explain my viewpoint in the paragraph below.

The Abyss

For any talking therapy to be effective you have to be at a certain level of thinking to be able to adopt and take onboard what you're being told. You can't rationally take any information in when you are incarcerated inside your mental 'cell'. The standard practice at this point is .... once you've been prescribed the correct medication for you. You'll find the walls to your 'cell' will, very slowly, start to crumble. Your sticky thoughts will eventually loosen and you'll find that your mind will start to let the outside world in once again. In regards to the correct medication, you need to be diagnosed by a proper psychiatrist not a GP. If you're at a point where you really feel that you are on the verge of fracturing, don't wait. Go and see your GP quickly and ask to be referred to a psychiatrist straight away, don't take 'no' for an answer and don't be convinced to go through the NHS, it might cost you more going private but you will get the help you need quicker, I can't stress this enough. I ended up at the Priory. What I went through with the NHS is beyond words and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, if I was to even begin to describe my journey, this blog would turn into a book. Just the idea of writing about it actually gives me anxiety, it was pure hell. Once you have a diagnosis by a proper psychiatrist, if they see it necessary, they'll put you on a combination of medication that helps your situation. They have a far greater understanding of what meds work well in accordance with each other, compared to any local GP.

Finding The Balance

Going back to the subject of 'sticky thoughts', these are the cement that helps to build and strengthen your mental 'cell'. I would say that these are the first elements in its construction. So it's common sense that these need to be the first thing stopped to encourage the walls of your 'cell' to topple. To loosen sticky thoughts an 'anti-psychotic' drug maybe prescribed. I know that the word 'anti-psychotic' sounds scary, I can assure you that there is nothing to be afraid of. The purpose of these drugs is to slow your thought process down, they help to break the mental trance you've been trapped in. Antidepressant medication has a different job to do, this lifts your mood, they stop you from remaining in a bottomless pit of despair, they help you to rebuild your foundations. They will allow you to gain control of your emotions and genuinely help to make you feel better, but this takes time. You mustn't rely on the pill to do all the work, 'you have to work with them'. What I mean by this is, don't take them and wait to feel better, it doesn't work like that, it's down to YOU, you have to work towards feeling better. The pills act like a 'walking stick', they'll accompany you and support you to get back to a level of normality. It was during this critical stage that I dreamt up the idea of the 'Charlton Carper blog', writing about my carp fishing helped me to break down the 'cell' walls and project my thoughts out of my head. 

I know you may have some anxieties about medication - for instance.

1. What are the side effects?
2. What will people think? 
3. How will I come off of them? 
4. Are they addictive?
5. Will they dumb me down?

I can only answer the above questions by my own experience.

What are the side effects? - there are bound to be side effects when anything unnatural is introduced into your system. I believe we all respond differently, I do find myself feeling dopey and lethargic, some days it's worse than others, but I don't entertain any of these feelings. If you're going to spend the whole time monitoring yourself and clocking the way you feel it's only going to make things feel 10x worse. The key to living on medication is to accept your situation and get on with your life, don't give it a second thought - this can be hard at first but you have to work at it. If you are experiencing an acute reaction, go back to your psychiatrist ASAP, sometimes it can take a while to work out what is best suited for you.
     
What will people think? -  this can be a common thought, who cares what anyone thinks, you have to understand that people who have never experienced severe mental health problems don't have a clue about what you're going through - or what they're talking about. You'll find everyone will have an expert opinion if you let them, it's easy to give 'great advice' when you don't have a problem. Never let anyone make you feel like you're doing the wrong thing by taking any form of medication. You've made the decision yourself, you have been brave enough to do everything you can to help yourself, that makes you a strong person.

How will I come off them? - you don't need to worry yourself about this, the priority is to feel better and get yourself back to a level where you can start living again. Don't concern yourself with the future, live in the now and deal with things as and when they arise. 

Are they addictive? - this is hard to say, as mentioned before, anything going into your system on a regular basis will need to be phased out correctly if and when the time is right. I do believe that there is a risk of becoming psychologically addicted/reliant on them. If you have a naturally addictive personality you could find yourself having problems. This question falls into the one above, cross the bridges as you come to them, don't create problems that don't exist.

Will they dumb me down? - yes they will but you have to be brave and work through it, if you keep both mentally and physically active then you shouldn't feel too bad. As mentioned before, if you're going to pay complete attention to how well you're feeling 24/7, then you're only going to feel worse, you're spending too much time inside your head, your aim is to get as far out of your head as possible. Be defiant and be strong, deal with your situation and get on with living your life. The more you live, the less mental space you'll have for any possible side effects and/or negative thoughts & feelings.

So now we've finally started to take the right steps to help our recovery, this can be a long and hard road, you have to stay resilient and determined. At this stage, there are two major points that I feel are very important to touch on. Number one, don't spend your time on the internet researching any medication you've been prescribed, this is utterly pointless, you're always going to find horror stories about everything online, most of it is utter rubbish. Number two, I would advise against joining online groups and forums associated with mental health problems. I don't believe these places help you in any way, by participating in them, you are continually focusing on, and validating your condition. You don't want to be doing this, you want to be living your life and getting on with what you have to do, you shouldn't be giving your condition any acknowledgement at all. I can't help but feel that some people wear their illness as a badge of honour and use online forums and social media to acquire some kind of attention and sympathy. **CK attention and **CK sympathy, live your life and work towards carving a healthy existence for yourself.

Awakening

As the days go by you'll start to feel yourself aligning with the world around you. I found myself seeing the simplest of things in a completely different way. It was such a relief to be functioning again, for the first few months I was severely medicated, it was actually a miracle that I managed to get out of bed. This was where my fishing played a vital role, I fished a lot, traveling all over the place to different waters. During this time I started to blog and account for the sessions I was doing, if you go back to my early blog entries you'll notice my pupils are the size of bowling balls. This was caused by the amount of pills I was on, mainly 'Diazepam', my blog was now my life line and inspiration. Carp angling had always been a big part of my life but now it took on a greater role, it was saving my life. Now with my thoughts flowing again, it was time to find 'the right' therapist. I can't stress how important it is to find someone that understands you, you don't want some 'robotic' clock watcher that provides you with a load of generic 'by the book' antidotes.

I was given a contact through a friend, I ended up seeing an amazing lady that helped me stitch both my thoughts and my life back together again - it took at least two years. For therapy to work you have to commit to what you're being told and apply it to your life. Just like the medication, it's up to you to work with it and help yourself. There's no rush with any of this, move at your own pace, there's no need to put any unnecessary pressure on yourself. It takes a long time to change the way you think about things, the mind is a muscle, when it has been operating in a certain way for so long. It's common sense that it's going to take a fair amount of time to change the way it functions. Without realizing it, we've all mastered our own 'default' responses and reactions, perfecting our own way of thinking that's been fine tuned over our lifetime. These 'defaults' and 'ways of thinking' might actually be major contributors regarding the construction of our prison 'cell'. If you can change the way you think, along with your 'default' 'responses' and 'reactions', you can work towards creating a mental environment that makes the construction of the 'cell' much harder.

Master New Ways Of Thinking

Where Do We Go From Here.

There's no specific time frame when it comes to recovery, there's so many factors involved. I think it has a lot to do with just how far you fell in the first place. Everyone's journey is different, my situation is a little more complicated because some very odd things happened to me due to the extreme sleep deprivation. I'm now at a point where "this is as good as it gets". If I knew what I know now things wouldn't have got so out of control, that's the reason why I've decided to write a blog on this subject. If what I've written helps others and gives them an understanding of what they need to do if they find themselves in a similar situation, then the purpose of this post has been achieved. Continuing on the subject of recovery, even with both medication and therapy on the go, there will be periods of time where you will find yourself struggling. Don't worry about this, it's just a natural response to everything you've been/going through. There's nothing wrong with feeling down, just don't let it get to the point where it's overwhelming you. If you want to feel pissed off, sad or angry, you're within your right to do so. Emotions are like waves, let them break and wash over you but don't let them pull you under. "Imagine if a wave was kept from breaking, it would build in size to such a degree that when it eventually does break, it would wipe out half the planet". This sentence describes our emotions perfectly, "If you ignore the way you feel, eventually those feelings and emotions will be unstoppable and the effect they could end up having on you when they eventually come to the surface, could be irreparable".

I'd like to end this post with one last point

This can effect you at any point in your life if you've had a breakdown or something similar. I still have a terrible time with it 6 years on, it's called "the mental scar". This is something that can be tricky to understand, when you get injured physically, depending on the wound, you can be left with a scar. This can act as a constant reminded of the event, every time you look at it you find yourself revisiting the injury. This works in the exact same way with mental illness but you don't have a physical scar, you have a mental one. The more traumatic the experience the deeper the wound, anything can reopen it. It can be as simple as a thought or a feeling, a location, a memory, a specific time of the year, or maybe even anxiety about a relapse occurring. For me it comes in the form of anxiety and extreme sadness. I find these bouts can last up to 48 hours, dealing with them can be tricky, they seem to come at any time. I can literally feel my 'cell' slam down around me and I have to apply everything that I've learnt and been taught through my experiences to shatter its foundations before its had a chance to lock me in. I understand that this is just the minds natural response to a traumatic situation. However, this doesn't make it any easier to live with. 

Fear Of Relapse

I believe many many people that have suffered an 'episode' in their life can go on to make a full recovery. However I also understand that many will have to manage their condition for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately I fall into the second category, things were left for far too long with me, I had no idea what to do and the system that was supposed to help me actually contributed to nearly killing me. If my human spirit and personal resilience was weak, I wouldn't be here now, I wouldn't be writing these words. "Life Is As Life Does" - what I mean by this is simple, in this life you can't predict what's going to happen to you or the people you love. The most important element within it all is your ability to deal with whatever comes your way. Everyone can be a decent person when life is going smoothly, the real test is when the shit hits the fan, how you handle it is the measure of the man. If you've made it this far I'd like to genuinely thank you for taking the time to read what I've had to say. I hope that this post reaches far and wide and it might just help a few people to make the right moves at the right time. "Believe me when I tell you that you have the strength to break the walls of any 'cell', believe me when I tell you that you can and will get well". 


                

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Cants Mere 'Finding Your Frequency'

There is no death of matter, for throughout the infinite universe, all has to move, to vibrate, that is, to live.
~ Nikola Tesla

A few days ago I decided to pay a visit to a water that I hadn't fished for quite sometime. The temperatures were way up in the low 30's, I knew it was going to be a slow day. However, I managed to get an early bite which resulted in a lovely mirror just shy of 18IB. Nothing else came along but I can honestly say that it was one of the most enjoyable and profound days I'd spent out on the water for quite some time. Looking back through the years and the hundreds, if not thousands of sessions I've been on. There's always a handful that seem to be far more memorable than others, strangely, these aren't always the ones where I catch a fish. I've spoken before about being "in sync"  or "aligning" yourself  with the waters, this isn't something you can't teach someone or really even explain, periodically it just happens. I personally think it has a lot to do with how you translate the world around you. Simply put, it's those moments in time when every single aspect, both inside and outside of your environment, appears completely perfect. I'm not strictly talking about just fishing, it can be at any time and in any location. Being one to regularly tie myself in the knots of my thoughts, I wanted to try to suss out why and when these moments of perfect harmony happen. I believe it has a lot to do with vibration, frequency and resonance, that might sound rather ridiculous but I'll try to explain it the best I can. 

Constant Motion

Every single solitary thing in existence is vibrating at varying levels, and as still as everything may seem, nothing is truly resting. This also includes us as humans, I believe that, just like our DNA which is unique to us, we also have a unique frequency that we operate at. Depending on both your health and some external factors, these frequencies can fluctuate from time to time. When this happens I think that we're much more susceptible to illness, both mental and physical, we all have moments where we just don't feel in tune with ourselves. Lets take a look at color, each individual color vibrates differently to the next. Red has the lowest frequency whilst violet has the highest, why do we all have favorite colors?. Is this because our own personal resonance is very similar to that of the color we are attracted to?. Why do we get on well with certain people, and not so well with others?. Maybe the people we connect to straight away have a very similar vibratory rate to our own. The people we tend to dislike or clash with might be existing at a resonance that may well clash with our own, thus creating a 'discord' in the way we relate to each other. 

 
Sonically discords can be beautiful things, a discord in the right place can make a song sound fantastic. It can change the whole feel of a tune especially when it's followed by more straightforward 'standard' chord changes. However discords you can't necessarily see, in a spiritual sense, can be very damaging, maybe the origins of mental illness and other 'invisible' ailments are simply a discord/dis-ease within our own unique 'vibratory' rate or system. A perfect example of a discord or 'frequency clash' that we can all witness is the opera singer with a glass. Trained opera singers can sing a note so high with so much power that the frequency they reach clashes with that of the glass resulting in it to crack. That's a perfect example of how damaging certain vibrations that are not compatible with one another can be. However, taking the the term 'opposites attract' into account, every so often two people or frequencies with opposing resonance can connect in some strange disjointed way resulting in the perfect fit. I can equate this to a standard chord progression in a song where you overdub and mix the corresponding discords in. In theory this shouldn't really work but 'sonically' it sounds and feels great.

When you look at music and musical instruments as a whole, it's all built up on resonance, vibrations and frequency. Music is, and will always be a universal language, it connects people all over the world. It bypasses language, reaches around the globe a million and one times - why is this?. Because it makes people feel something deep inside, something that they can't explain. This makes me realize that there are moments in life where it's far more important how something makes you feel as oppose to what it makes you think. Next time you listen to a certain song that makes your hairs stand up, focus on that feeling, there's a reason why that's happening, it's all got to do with a connection being made that doesn't need to be understood. One example I'd like to use is the song 'Comfortably Numb' by Pink Floyd, here's a tune that has connected, and continues to connect with millions of people everywhere. Not only that but it spans across generations and will continue to do so, now in 2018 it's still one of the most played songs on both the radio and streaming services. When it was written, you can almost guarantee that the band would've had absolutely no idea just how far that song was going to fly. They hit on something at a random moment in time where the stars aligned and something magic happened. Music is simply a variety of vibrations and frequencies that we can actively hear and feel, it must work the other way around, there must be frequencies and vibrations that have an equal effect that we can't actively hear or feel.



So what has all of this got to do with carp fishing? When I'm on the bank, profound things can happen, not only is there the constant possibility of landing a potential monster, you've got the dawn, the sunset and many possible 'poignant' moments that come in so many different forms. But for me, the most important thing of all is the connection, the 'aligning' of oneself to the environment and really feeling it. I believe this happens when your own personal resonance connects perfectly with the world around you. As mentioned earlier, this doesn't happen all the time, it's on the odd occasion and I put this down to the fact that, on the occasions when the frequencies in all the living things fluctuate and become closer to yours, you connect to them in a way you've never felt before. Your connection to the environment around you isn't something you achieve by thinking about it, just like music, it's something that you feel first and then from that feeling your thoughts will follow. Next time you're out on the bank and you hit a peak moment of complete peace and 'oneness' hold onto that moment, something profound is happening. 

So moving onto the session, this blog is going to account for another short trip up to Cant's mere. Due to work I was having to make the most of the time I had available, taking into consideration that on my last two visits, all bites had a habit of coming later on in the day. I didn't feel I was missing out on a great deal not turning up at the crack of dawn. After a quick job in the morning that saw me wrestling my way through the city streets of London. It was around 11:45am when I attempted to make my escape, as expected, it felt like whole world was doing it's best to stop me reaching the water. There was grid lock, road closures, road works, pretty much every obstacle imaginable. I sat tight, gritted my teeth and painfully limped towards the outer reaches of the city. Eventually the signs for the M25 came into view, I was getting closer, it was just a matter of propelling myself onward and up onto the A12. Once on the motorway the knot in stomach started to loosen, the concrete surroundings started to exchange themselves for lush green fields and meadows. I was starting to feel somewhat human again, just.

From The Capital To Countryside
For people out there that don't understand the slightly 'unhinged' mind of a carp angler, this may come across as an awful lot of effort to go through just to catch as fish. They may well be right but I don't have any waters local to me and I'll travel anywhere if I know the conditions are right and there's a chance of a bite.  Today the weather was fresh, nicely overcast with the occasional spot of drizzle, it screamed 'carp' so I had to go and get my fix, whatever obstacles stood in my way, denying myself the chance to cast a line just wasn't an option. By the time I arrived at the water it was early afternoon, I planned to fish until 7pm. I got all my tackle together quickly and made my way around to peg 8. I walked a lap of the lake just to see if I could see any obvious signs of fish. It all appeared quiet, due to the time constraint I decided I'd fish peg 8 again and approach it in the exact same way I had over the previous sessions, at this point "if it ain't broke, then there's no point in trying to fix it".

A few casts with a bare lead on braided line saw me locate both the bars that run from both points of the island. The right hand spot was still nice and clear, the left spot locked up slightly on the retrieve, that told me the weed was still there. If anything it actually felt like it had thickened up a little more since my last visit. I didn't want to fish a pop up so instead of messing around trying to find a slightly clearer patch I though I'd make own. I got my trusty 5oz Fox 'Grappling' lead out and gave it a few casts thinning out a nice little area to place my bait. The lead brought back some hefty clumps of weed, it was fresh and smelt good, no wonder I was getting a lot of bites from that specific spot. I had a very strong feeling, that if I was going to get a bite today it would be from the rig fished within the weed. 

Fox Grappling Lead 5oz

Bait wise, I was sticking with the Tiger-Fish, this has been producing the 'goods' for me lately so it was a 'no-brainer', to add something a little different. Both baits would be topped off with a single white 6mm 'Coconut Cream' pop up. This would add a nice little fleck visually, I like the idea of topping off slightly darker baits with a little bit of color. My rigs we're going to be the usual semi-fixed inlines, this session I'd upped the lead to 3.5oz. Both hook links were combi rigs using the 'Trigga-Link' in 30IB and Sufix 'Magician' in 25IB. These two specific materials blend really well together, I'm finding myself using more of the Sufix range since it all went a bit strange with Kryston. Once my old Kryston stock has been used I think I'll be using Sufix exclusively. I've been more than impressed with what they've got on offer, I'll be writing about some of the other materials they produce in future blogs. As most know, none of my rigs and presentations are complicated, however I find myself getting rather anal in regards to the end tackle that I'm prepared to use.

6mm Pop Ups

I don't want to be using something that isn't tried and tested, I'm not sure if the 'newly packaged' Kryston range is the same as the original. The original range was outstanding and it didn't need changing, it had years of reliability behind it. To be honest I'm becoming more and more disillusioned with what's coming out on the market for carp anglers, prices seem to be going up and quality is definitely going down. We're pummeled with 'gimmicks', 'fashions' and 'buzz items' that don't usually stand up to the job they're supposedly designed for, in my mind a lot of it is just cheaply made shit. That's why I've been finding myself looking at some of the 'lesser known' brands, it's these guys that have something to prove. Unlike the mainstream brands that appear to be resting on their laurels.

The Perfect Combination
  Separation

Both rods were clipped up and ready to deploy, I flicked the left one out first, the rig sailed through the air, kissed the clip and disappeared into the void. I waited, a few seconds later I received the 'DONK' I was looking for. The same procedure was repeated with the right rod, the rig sailed, kissed the clip, disappeared and delivered another perfect 'DONK'. Back leads were slid down both lines, I tightened up, hung the bobbins and proceeded to position myself for the inevitable wait. On all my previous sessions I'd got a little 'trigga-happy' with the throwing stick. Today I was going to adopt some constraint and opted for two heaped handfuls over each rod, I didn't have a great deal of time so I wanted just enough bait out there to pull them in. To be honest when Cants starts to receive a lot of angling pressure, which due to the fish it contains, is inevitable, I can see myself cutting right down on the amount of bait that I use. This has already started to happen on a few of my other waters. So much goes in all the time and I think it's starting to have a reverse effect, I personally think it makes the fishing a lot harder than it needs to be. When the carp have so much bait to chose from and get through, it's logic that the fishing will slow right down. I'm finding that a mouthful in the right location is proving far more productive nowadays, than shoveling it in.

View From The Swim
The afternoon crept along, the skies above were changing fast from gloomy heavy clouds with drizzle, separated by the occasional sunbeam piercing down on the surface of the water. It was one of those days where everything felt fresh and clean, it's hard to believe that only a few hours ago I was clawing my way through the rather unforgiving streets of London, this was literally a world away and it's a world that I feel very thankful for. It's impossible to feel grounded living in the city, everything around you creates friction, there's endless souls clashing into one another. Every where you turn people are racing around within an inch of their life chasing after 'the wage', 'the promotion', that one leg up that might just get them out the rut of it all, many though are working all the hours under the sun and still don't have another money to forge some kind of meaningful existence. When I witness this going on around me, very little of it makes sense and I find myself questioning exactly why we are put here. I'm positive it certainly isn't to work yourself into an early grave. Just as I started to sink into an abyss of contemplation, my right rod was away. 

The bite alarm was screaming, the clutch, equally as loud, the rod was bending round so tight, I could literally hear it moaning, all the bites from Cants go the same way, from nothing to chaos in three seconds flat. As I lifted the rod up I had no other choice than to just let the fish take line. It whizzed off to the left kiting tight towards the nearside margin, it was gunning for all the marginal snags. I sunk the rod to keep the line low and started to apply as much pressure as I thought I could get away with. I was slowly gaining a bit of ground but it wasn't really having any of it. Bolting out to the open water, it was darting all over the place, every time I thought I was starting to win, it would tear off, striping line as it went. Closer it came, I lowered the net into 'scooping' position and teased the carp towards me. This was a bad move, the second it spotted it, it fired off back out into the open. I was starting to get a little impatience but, from experience, the worst thing you can do is try to rush the situation. I held on, applied some more steady pressure and eventually eased a bloody lovely looking mirror over my net.

My First Cants Mirror

I was totally blown away with this fish, its lovely chocolate color complimented its majestic scale pattern perfectly, not only that, it put up one hell of a fight, one of the hardest I'd experienced from any previous Cants fish. A few pictures were taken, a 'thank you' was exchanged, and back she went. It was a really good call to clear a bit of the weed away to create a clearer spot to put my rig. I clipped up and pinged the bait back out, followed by another couple of handfuls of freebies. An hour or so past and with that came multiple shows very close to both my rods. It was clear that a few fish had made their way down, I sat quietly watching, poised on the edge of my seat. These situations can be both magical and tense all at the same time, you can't make those fish take your bait. You can only hope you've done enough right to help produce the desired end result. As the minutes continued to tick by the fish action increased, the wind picked up and the skies started to darken. Two things were going to happen, I was going to get another bite and leave victorious, or this magic moment would pass and I was going to get a drenching of a life time. Peering behind me, the clouds creeping ever closer in the distance were looking rather threatening.

Possible Armageddon
As I was sitting there visualizing the possibility of a Tsunami washing me down the proverbial drain, my left rod fired away .. result!. I was on it like lightening and another immense battle commenced, this fish pretty much mimicked the one that came before. The initial take was nuts, you couldn't really do anything, then it shot tight down to the left towards the snags. Just like before, I lowered the rod down into the water and applied side strain, holding my breath as I went. This fish was so close to getting under the branches, if I allowed that to happen I may as well kiss it goodbye. It was so tense, I felt a bit of grating on my line, I prayed that everything would stay intact. Gently it was coming closer, now out of the danger zone I lowered the net down and as the fish surfaced just out in front of me, I performed the penultimate 'scoop', in she went. The relief I felt was marginally indescribable, with the heavy weather moving ever closer I peaked down into the net to lay my eyes on the prize. It was an immaculate common carp, a fair sized one at that.

Minutes Before The Downpour
This carp was long, lean and as clean as you could get, a few pictures were taken and she was gently slipped back home. It was now my turn to slip back home, I had a sense that if I wasn't quick I'd be sailing. I got all my gear together and packed away in a very undignified fashion. I was half way between the lake and the van when the sky fractured and the heavens started dumping all its unwanted sins on my head. I slipped and slid back to the car park, threw everything in the back of the wagon and leapt into the driving seat. The rain drops were like bullets on the windscreen, I got another good soaking opening and closing the gate. The drive back to London was pretty treacherous, I had the fan going full blast to keep my windscreen clear, I was literally surfing along the surface of the A12. It had been a busy day, there I was in the teeth of the city, I escaped deep into the country, caught two pristine pieces of the wild and I'd literally sailed home. If anyone ever tells you that fishing is boring ....... don't listen to them.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Cants Mere 'The Perfect Sky'

So here we are in the middle of a heatwave, the world outside my window is burning up in more ways than one. There's discontent, a distinctive sense of unease as the perpetual propaganda machine insists on keeping the population fighting amongst itself. London town feels more like a concrete desert rather than a buzzing metropolitan city. It's during these periods where I usually grab my rods and get the hell out of town, but with the severe heat continually pounding down on the waters. I'm finding the carp are literally fixed in a docile trance - 'which in turn puts me in one as well'. I need adrenaline in my life, something to get the blood flowing and the heart pounding. Angling provides all these things for me and without it I really don't feel right at all. However, part of angling is to understand when you're using your time wisely and when you aren't. I've said it before, but you've got to go when you know the fish are up for it - whatever the weather. Summer can be a very misleading part of the season, it might be nice out on the banks, you can get a nice tan and sunbathe, but the long and short of it is, it really isn't the best conditions, especially when carp are involved.

On the whole, it has been really tough, I've managed to pick a few off but, for the most it, I feel I've been 'flogging a dead horse'. This can have a few downsides, from an angling point of view, you can burn yourself out easily when it's clear that it just isn't happening. Secondly, and on a more personal level, with no means of escape, I'm subjected to the painfully ordinary 'everyday' that I've spent my life trying so hard to avoid. The days just seem to drift on by, I work and try to write but if you're not stimulated then there's nothing to really write about, all in all it's a very frustrating time. So to ease my slightly 'shackled' feelings I'd like to take you back to a 'short' afternoon session that I did up on Cants mere. This blog harks back to the start of summer in 2016, it's hard to believe that so much time has passed me by but when you're in a perpetual state of 'pursuit', time just doesn't come into it, you're forever focused on the next water, the next cast and the next potential piece of the wild being eased over the landing net cords. Factor in the constant search for words, both poetically and for the blogs, you really don't have much mental space for anything else.

Escape The Monotony

My past sessions on Cants had been successful and I knew there were some more good fish to be had, word still hadn't really got out about the size of the carp that now resided there. I was sticking to my original plan, I'd focus on the water hard and when the crowds started to arrive I'd simply ghost off and start fishing somewhere else. Over the last year or so I've started to choose my waters carefully. When the banks are heaving and everyone is chasing the same prize, it sucks every ounce of enjoyment out of it for me. Hence why I don't just jump on the day ticket circuit, the idea of turning up to Linear or Farlows and hemming myself in between hundreds of other lines is my idea of hell. I value isolation and peace far more than the chance of a 30/40IB fish. There's part of me that feels if I did fish these types of places I may well have a few bigger carp underneath my belt, but I've got to stay true to myself. Part of my own fishing is the continuous search for the perfect space. That destination between the 'here and now', that feels like the perfect home, it's a location you can't really describe in words, but you know in your heart when you've found it.

The Perfect Sky
On the day of the session I was pretty eager to get going, for two main reasons. Firstly the conditions felt spot on, it was really overcast with rain showers and a lovely strong wind. As I stepped foot outside, hung right above my head, was the perfect sky. I've fished under this type of sky before and I've always had a good result. Secondly, after the best part of 25 years of searching, I'd finally managed to get hold of a mint set of the original Tony Fordham, Sportex Kevlar carp rods. I'd always dreamt of having a set of these from the moment I'd laid my eyes on them, harking way back to the days of Crowborough tackle. I managed to pick up a set of three for an amazing price, they've got a super thick blank, they're as light as hell and they have the classic purple whipping that was the first thing that caught my eye. I think it's safe to say that another part of my angling life is very much complete owning a set of these rods. I was itching to use them and I thought that Cants would be the perfect place to give them a good go. If they could withstand the crazy thrusts from some of those long commons then they could survive anything. The tackle was packed and I was soon 'zig zagging' up the A12, the rain was beating down the windscreen and, every so often, a gust of wind would catch the van, it was pretty treacherous but when the water is calling you, you've got to listen.

The Dream

As expected, when I arrived at the venue the car park was empty, the rain had eased and the wind had dropped, this gave me enough time to do a quick lap of the water and get myself setup. Looking at the clouds gathering in the distance it was clear that I was going to be getting a right old soaking today. But I knew the fish were going to be feeding so I was prepared to 'take it on the chin'. After a quick scout about it was clear to me that there were some fish tucked up in the back bay. I could see at least five separate patches of fizzing, it was a 'no brainer'. I picked the swim directly opposite, this gave me a lot of options. Because carp were clearly in the vicinity, I'd give myself one cast with each rod. They'd be no clipping up or faffing about, both rigs would go straight out followed by a couple of handfuls of bait, this would be spread around the whole of the bay area. I wasn't going to feed directly over the top of each rod. The fish were there so I wanted to get them rooting about, if I was going to start piling it in I could kill the situation before I'd even started. I was going to take on the role of an 'angling sniper', get everything in position as 'covertly' as possible without alerting the carp to my presence.

View From The Swim
Bait-wise I'd opted for the 'sweet plum seed', it's super effective and one that I want to start using more. Because I wasn't familiar with this specific section of the lake I was going to ditch the bottom baits and fish low-lying pop ups. Judging by the amount of trees surrounding the bay, I suspected there was fair amount of junk on the deck. Rig-wise, as usual it was straightforward, I'd be fishing 1.5oz inline leads with a relatively short hook-link. This might sound a little odd for fishing over possible debris, but I didn't want to give the carp an inch. There have been at least two separate occasions in the past where I've witness carp ditch a pop up on a long hook-link. I wanted everything short, compact and discreet. I fish this rig on various hook-link materials, my favorite being a 'Trigga-Link' combi. Today I'd opted for the 'Rig-Morale' hydro link in 25IB, I'd cut the fluorocarbon inner core out, just short of the hook eye, this created a lovely hinge effect. Add a PVA nugget on the cast and that should ensure it lands well and sits primed ready for a carp to come along.

A Simple Pop Up Presentation

So with both rods ready I now had to gauge the correct amount of 'oomph' to put into each cast. I hadn't really helped myself opting to use a set rods I'd never fished with before, I was going to go on instinct here. Picking up the first rod and preparing for the penultimate casts, it felt slightly odd, the old Sportex blank is much thicker than any rod I've used before, and it's incredibly light. Raising the rod above my head, I really felt like I had 'history in my hands'. A short sharp jolt saw the lead fly seamlessly through the air, as the rig cut through the waters skin, I waited for a 'DONK', I didn't get one. The impact of the lead hitting the bottom kicked up a small explosion of bubbles, I was definitely in the silt. The second rod went out as poetically as the first, I was now fishing. I catapulted roughly two handfuls of bait all around the bay, I wanted the fish to start actively seeking out each individual boilie. If they started to get into a rhythm, I had no doubt that one would trip up on my hook bait.

As the heavy clouds started to move in overhead I just managed to get the brolly up before the heavens fractured. It happened within seconds, the sheer power and velocity of the rain was unbelievable. If I was on a ship it would of sunk, never to be seem again. I perched underneath my fibreshield clinging onto the storm poles. It's seen me through many storms before, the gusts of wind where rocking it backwards and forwards. For a second I though that 'Armageddon' might've finally arrived, coming to take back a planet that's rightly his. In all fairness I wouldn't blame it if it did, when I look at the sheer misery and destruction that the human race has inflicted on the earth, it makes perfect sense to me that 'the powers that be' would want to take back what is inherently theirs. Whilst the chaos continued I held on for dear life and tried to focus my mind elsewhere. Through the madness that was unfolding I could see clear feeding bubbles coming up all around the bay, the fish were clearly feeding heavily.

Armageddon
As I sat still clinging on as if my life depended on it, the water started to flood in underneath my brolly, within a few minutes there was a small stream running under my feet. It was all strangely exhilarating, all the colors of the trees were so vivid and the air was clear and fresh. The concrete desert of London seemed a million miles away and I couldn't help but think how lucky I was to be able to escape it every so often. Eventually everything started to ease, the rain, that minutes ago resembled bullets, was dispersing, the clouds that resembled my perfect sky started to clear, and before I knew it. The sun was shining and it felt like a completely different day, it's as if the world had cleansed itself of all the wrong doings. As I crawled out from underneath my shelter, I soaked up the atmosphere, paying close attention to the million and one rain drops dripping and 'plopping' off the trees and thumping onto the ground. I had such a profound sense of clarity, now all I needed was a carp to complete the picture. 

Cleansed
Peering out across the water it appeared that the feeding had slowed down, I really hoped that the sudden sun was going to throw them right off. I've experienced this before, everything is perfect, it's looking like a bite is on the cards. Only for the sun to start beating its heat down, thus moving the goal post considerably. A few hours past and the conditions stayed exactly the same, there was no point in me recasting or applying anymore bait. The swim was setup perfectly, patience was the key. The afternoon was swallowed up in a blink of any eye and I really started to doubt that anything was going to happen. I watch the water, the rod tips and waited, I was urging something to happen. Just when I thought that all was lost, two fish topped in the bay, they were perfectly synchronized. Directly below where they showed, streams of bubbles starting flooding to the surface. I was on edge, it all seemed too perfect.

The world fell silent .. then ... 'BOOM', my left rod was away, a huge eruption came from where I'd placed the bait. This was a big fish, I could feel it in my bones. I lifted into dead weight, the fish powered off to right with such force. I tinkered with the clutch, the 'Sportex' blank was not arched right around. Every so often it would creak - which was slightly worrying, I put this down to the fact that they really hadn't been used and the varnish/resin was expressing its disgust as they were forced out of retirement to handle such a beast on their first outing. The rod handled the carp beautifully, I was making good ground and with some careful consideration the fish was slowly coming my way. Not before too long I finally had it in netting distance, I still hadn't laid my eyes on it. All of a sudden it surfaced, it was a common and it was rather large. With my legs shaking and my arm aching I slide the net into position, 'slowly does it' ....... 'RESULT'. Peering down at the beast that laid waiting in my net, it was clear that it was a very big fish.

After The Storm, The Beast Arrives
To be honest I was totally speechless, this was a serious creature, it's as if the violence of the weather I'd experienced earlier had manifested itself into the shape of carp, and I'd gone and tamed it. The width of its back was crazy and both the color and proportions were nothing short of perfect. A few shots were taken and I slipped her back home, it was a surreal experience watching it gently glide off into the nothingness. I didn't bother casting back out, my expectations had been surpassed so I thought I'd leave on a high. It had been a short, crazy day, 'Armageddon' had arrived in the shape of a beast, a cleansing of the world through biblical rainfall had washed all the 'ills' away, and I had a chance to use a set of rods I'd been obsessing about for the best part of two decades. Who said fishing was boring?. The low evening sun accompanied me on the journey home, and as I approach London town I saw Canary Wharf looming on the skyline in the distance. I knew I was entering back into the apparent 'real world', a land of confusion, a place that offers a strange sense of isolation, the polar opposite to what angling provides. I would do my very best to survive until the next opportunity came for me to make my escape. I sensed it wouldn't be too long before the water was calling me once again.

Concrete Deserts