My name is Mark Woodman and I have been Carp fishing for over 15 years. Due to my work commitments I only ever fish short day sessions.
Unfortunately this has led to my personal best Carp being only 17Ib 4oz from the Macclesfield Canal, a bit of an embarrassment after 15 years!
During March 2008 I decided that the best way of catching a ‘20’ was to book a weeks fishing down in Devon at Anglers paradise (owned and run by that character that we all know ‘The Beast of Bodmin’ Zyg Gregorek).
Also I had another advantage, a good friend of mine, who I have known and fished with since I started carp fishing is Frank Warwick, in fact it was Frank who suggested that I visit Anglers Paradise at the same time as he and his family were on holiday around Easter. This all bode well, a relative ‘easy’ venue, 7 days fishing and one of the countries leading carp anglers whose brain I could pick…….a ‘20’ seemed certain!
So on the Thursday I finished work in the South East of England, battled up the M6 home to Manchester where I picked mountains of Carp catching equipment, battled back down the M6 and then even worse down that road from hell the M5 to Taunton in Somerset, picked up younger brother (Carp Fishing virgin), finally arriving on Saturday at Anglers paradise. Now Zyg does his best to make you welcome by ensuring that you go to bed on your first night fairly ‘pickled’…..we didn’t disappoint!
Saturday night gave me the chance to discuss tactics with Frank……..he was very keen on his latest development from Enterprise Tackle….”The Frank Warwick immortal range”. Now these hook baits are basically a man made buoyant compound (rubbery plastic…..but I am certain that it’s more technical than that) impregnated with various smells and tastes.
This is where the title to this piece starts to make sense, Wikepedia says that:
A confidence trick or confidence game, also known as a con, scam, swindle, grift, bunko, flim flam, or scheme, is an attempt to swindle a person or people(or Carp) (known as the ‘mark’ or sometimes ‘griftee’) which involves gaining his or her confidence.
For carp fishing I read this as ‘conning’ the fish into thinking that it is eating real bait, but I believe that the concept is more subtle than this. Obviously the Carp believe that the bait is edible, but more importantly the Carp is intrigued by the flavour/texture/appearance of the bait. The most important thing about these baits is the fact that they are different…. read any Carp fishing comic or book and this keeps coming up time and again, put the bait in a place where the Carp have never seen a bait, try a difference presentation or use a different bait that nobody else is using, above all do not follow the crowd, Carp by their very nature learn what is dangerous and avoid it. Consequently something that has a different texture and appearance will bring out the Carp’s natural inquisitive nature and hopefully end in a run.
The “Trick of confidence” is for the angler to believe that his presentation and bait will catch fish. This is one of the hardest things to develop. I have fished with Frank on many occasions over the years and he has that indefinable confidence. He knows he will catch fish and I have seen him place a bait in a swim and then remark that “I’ll have one out of there in a minute”, and he always does!….Confidence is the key. How many times have I sat on the bank and after casting in my bait and waited whilst my confidence evaporated, eventually changing baits/hooks/position/presentation till in the end the inevitable occurs, I blank!
Therefore for me “Confidence Trick” means that you are not only the “grifter” but also the “griftee.”
Meanwhile back to the story. Sunday morning saw myself and my brother Matt early morning with sore heads on the main Carp lake. The weather was absolutely abysmal, rain, cold, strong wind and worse than that the only reasonable looking peg saw us fishing directly into the wind in 3 inches of cloying mud. Breakfast called and we walked back up to the chalet for the full English, afterwards we decided to change swims so that we had the wind blowing at the back of the bivvy, at least we could then blank in relative comfort…..you see confidence again!
The method we were using was a 10mm Frank Warwick immortal range, white in colour and popped up so that the bait was about 35mm above the ground (a number 6 weight is perfect and just about sinks the bait and a size 6 hook). Looking at the hook bait in the shallows we saw that it settled very gently and “wafted” with any movement of the water……. again this set up was gleaned from Frank the previous night over copious quantities of Zig’s rocket fuel wine. Attached to the rig was a golf ball size PVA bag of Halibut pellets. An hour later I’m into a fish, no big deal about a 10 pounder, another hour after that and I have a slightly bigger one of about 14Ib, another hour and another 14 pounder, where are the bigger fish? Couple of hours later and I have another fish of about the same size……. and that was that for the Sunday. Confidence on my part is extremely high, this bait catches fish, although my brother Matt would disagree as he was using exactly the same method and had nothing, but my feeling is that was due to location rather than presentation.
Monday same swim I had 3 fish all about the same 14Ib size and Matt blanked again, but confidence was still high…..I took a lot of stick in the bar that night as a young lad 3 swims away had several fish to 20Ib, coincidentally he was using exactly the same method.
Tuesday saw both myself and Matt move on to the Specimen Lake in the afternoon, the weather was improving in that the wind had dropped but it was still raining at every opportunity and there was mud everywhere. The previous day we (Frank and I) had spoken to another angler who was fishing the swim on the specimen lake that would ultimately be occupied by my brother Matt. Frank had passed on the method to him and told him exactly where to fish, but the look on his face told me that he had no confidence in artificial baits and ultimately he would not take the advice……and he blanked……confidence again!
Wednesday morning saw myself and Matt back at the 2 swims on the Specimen Lake and low and behold Matt got his first run, this resulted in a beautiful mirror of exactly 21Ib, so on his 2nd trip Carp fishing brother Matt lands the twenty, a bit later I have a fish of………you’ve guessed 14 pound something, I thought this is the way it’s going to be, I’m going to do everything right and end up not getting my 20 whilst jammy bollocks lands the biggest fish………but how wrong I was!
Frank came round for a visit and Frank being Frank topped up my confidence level, I quote “get the bait right there and sit on it, mess with the other rod if you must but leave that bait in that hole and you’ll get your twenty”. So that is what I did, 2 ½ hours later I was above my rods on a little hill watching what appeared to be a fish over my right hand rod……it very slowly then descended and I got single bleep followed by a series of bleeps….. from where I was I couldn’t actually see my alarms because of the vegetation……so I fully expected that the right hand rod had the fish……wrong it was the left hand rod in the hole in the reeds…….rod held high to lead the fish from the snags fully expecting another 14 pounder. Dogged run left followed by another run to the right……this 14 was not getting away…..3 ¼ test curve rods and 15Ib line and soft rod tip adds to the anglers confidence no end……..and then it rolled in the water in front of me……I looked at Matt and said something along the lines “bloody hell”, clutch loosened slightly and a lot more care playing the fish resulted in a successful capture in the net of a fabulous mirror ……. looking down on it I thought…..this is my 20……Frank was called over to witness it and his first remark was that it looked more like a 30 than a 20……. careful weighing eventually confirmed a weight of 30Ib 2oz….. I cannot tell you what that feels like after 15 years, but suffice to say the smile still had not left my face a week later. Frank took the pictures and couldn’t resist a “I told you so” and “there’s more in there”, but at that point I didn’t care if I didn’t catch another fish for the rest of the year!
Confidence Trick, trick the fish into thinking that the interesting article wafting in the water is something worth eating, and have the trick of confidence to believe in the bait that you are presenting.
During that week the group caught in excess of 30 fish to mid doubles plus 3 other 20’s……apart from one 20 they all fell to 10mm Frank Warwick immortal white imitation baits.
I think perhaps I should now investigate the other products that Enterprise has to offer!!
Foot note…….I still have not caught a 20!