Beginners to the hobby of Carp fishing may have heard the expression ‘keep it real’ a few times and wondered what it means. In an opinion-based article Mark Holmes expands on what he believes is more important…keeping it for yourself.
I have said many, many times that carp fishing is a broad church and there will always be, varied opinions and preferences within it. With the seemingly endless growth of the hobby, it seems more relevant than ever to make this point again.
Recently I was asked to comment by one of the weekly Carp magazines about the import of Carp from abroad. I stated that as long as it is done legally then we couldn’t stop it. In fact some Carp anglers have very selective memories and if it were not for legal imports, Carp fishing, as we know it today in the UK, would not exist. Perhaps some may be a little taken aback with that statement but you shouldn’t be. It has only been since the mid-seventies that you could actually buy Carp from UK fish farms. Indeed even then the source of these Carp was, let’s say, not of UK origin.
A lot of Carp were brought to the UK shores from the flat lands of Europe (Benelux) and held in ponds to breed and sold on. Of course everybody will have heard of Donald Leney and how he brought a strain of Carp from abroad that have a cult following. Indeed, Leney’s as they are referred to still exist today, Otters willing and if you are lucky, catching them is a very treasured moment. It has been likened to holding history in your hands and with Carp living to be over 50 years old; it is hard not to disagree with this point of view. I myself have been very fortunate to be Chairman of Bradford No1 AA, the 4th largest club in the country with thousands of members, and have access to their stocking details. That privilege, and being Fisheries Officer for 10 years, meant I have seen the order for Leney Carp, delivered, stocked and paid for. A very rare thing for a northern-based club I can tell you. So unbeknown to many, I do have an affinity for history Carp. However, this passion for true blue Carp has led to divisions in Carp fishing where certain individuals see fit to devalue someone else’s captures. They often use the phrase keep it real to express this. I hate this and say again, how dare anyone tell someone what is worthy.
In Carp fishing as most things in life, what you do and the results you achieve are down to your own values. It is of no interest to me to fish instant-big fish waters that stock large Carp. Similarly it is of no interest to me to fish over-stocked, over-priced and over-fished day-ticket waters. However, I will defend the right of anyone to makes their own choices. It is the inverted snobbery surrounding the capture of Carp that I abhor and I would ask all beginners to stay clear of.
Recently, there seems to be a shift against the ‘keep it real’ philosophy of fishing for, lets say, what some deem to be more meritous Carp. I applaud this and long may it continue. Indeed this is the reason why I am writing this piece to keep the momentum of mutual acceptance of the differences in Carp fishing. This was triggered by a recent incident that took place on a well-fished reservoir near Daventry in Northamptonshire.
I had somewhere to go and passed the very popular venue swearing on my way back, I would call in to see how people were catching. It’s a well-known venue where everybody catches, young, old, experienced and inexperienced.
With my business done, I stopped back at the water on the way back home. As I walked around the lake I got talking to a father and son fishing. Very soon the son had a take and played and landed a Carp of 12lb.
As his father took the pictures I asked him if he would like me to take one of him and his son. He said that would be great but he was a little bit embarrassed. When I asked what he was embarrassed about he said the fact that a 12 lb Carp excited him and his son. “I mean it’s only a tiddler to you isn’t it?” I told him quite clearly that I have never lost sight of the fact that Carp fishing is a personal journey to be enjoyed and sometimes when fishing for the larger specimens it can feel like you’re enduring it. This has prompted me to write this article.
Yes I have been lucky and caught some very large Carp but in all of those times I have never forgot my start in Carp fishing and have never lost that ‘boyish’ love for the hobby. A love that isn’t measured in simply pounds and ounces but in memories. Memories of places, people and fish…not just the big one either.
So to all of you out there I say, enjoy reading The Session and the Greys and Chub Academy member’s blogs, magazines, DVD’s and other Carpy media. However never lose sight that reality is what happens to you and how you enjoy it. Never mind about keeping it real…keep it for yourself. (Don’t forget to send photos of your PB’s or most memorable catches and have them published on The Session!)
See you on the bank
Check out some live footage of Mark’s recent catches here.