Nothing comes close to that moment in your life when you find the angler in you, I came across it by chance, that moment you look down into the deep murky waters that stretch out in front of you, it's like a spiritual awakening, a calling. I don't believe you can ever replicate those initials feelings.
When I started, a stretch of water to me was a place that held hidden mystery and more times than not, a very daunting prospect. Now every lake I fish is a series of possibilities, a puzzle to unlock. The beauty of carping is that everyday is different, every session you learn something new, you can never have a total understanding of it but you can do your best to try.
Over the years I have been a member of a fair few different fishing clubs and regular day ticket waters. The first was Crowborough Angling Club, it was here that I really started to learn how to fish, not only for carp but other species as well. I started on the float and naturally progressed to carp fishing, it was such a rush when my rod would go screaming off, I was hooked straight away, I hadn't experienced anything like it before.
After a lot of time and effort I managed to break the club record of 21IB 5oz which I caught on a 5IB line, floating crust at dusk. Back then a 20Iber was the magic number, and your first twenty is a moment that will live with you forever. I eventually ended up having all the big fish out of their waters, I learnt a great deal in these early days and Crowborough Angling Club will always have a place in my angling memories.
From there I moved on to Tonbridge and District Angling, this was a pretty big jump because they had huge waters, Barden, Haysden, The Ballist Pit, I put a lot of time into fishing these venues, I really had to refocus my approach. It took me ages but I managed to wangle a few decent 20's out of Barden, this was back in the day when you could barely get a bait in because of the heavy weed, it was almost impossible to cast to a clear spot. I learnt a huge amount about rigs and presentation on these waters and it felt like a natural progression in my fishing.
Cranbrook Angling Club was my next move which again was a step up, they had a few challenging waters different to the type I had fished before, once again I refocused and learnt a great deal more, every water that I approached was a huge learning curve. One of their venues, Park Farm, was known for major blanking sessions, I was determined to get some of the carp out, they went up to about 36IB, they were clued up and very 'riggy' fish. After a lot of sessions with no joy I scaled down my rigs and baits, dropping to 10ml boilies, fluro-carbon hook links and 1/2oz running rigs, I managed to bank fish up to 26IB which at the time was very rewarding, this period was crucial in my development of watercraft.
In conjunction with fishing Cranbrook I was also focusing on the specimen carp at Tanyards, I caught my PB at 32IB out of specimen 1 and had some real lumps out of specimen 2 to 28IB. These waters were very pressured, 'even back then', so I had to rethink my baiting methods and generally focus on fishing the waters in a subtle way. I find that day tickets tend to fish differently to clubs and syndicates, unlocking them can be challenging but very rewarding when you do.
I am currently a member of Kingfisher Angling/Gravesend and Chelmsford Angling Association. Between both these clubs I have waters available to me that cover all aspects and skill levels, I find this important because it always keeps you thinking and moving forward. Focusing on a series of lakes at the same time can continually shift your perspective on how to approach each individual water. The more you experience as an angler the more weapons you have to add to your armoury. Through time and perseverance you can start to read your waters like a book, to angle is to learn, adapt and develop, not only on the bank but off it as well. I am looking forward to the different challenges ahead and I feel excited with the prospect of sharing my experiences with you.