072215001My first REAL fishing experience was over sixty years ago . We had moved into a new house and our next door neighbor, a guy called Jeff, just out of the army after the second world war, asked me if I would like to go fishing with him and his mate Joe who worked in the local colliery. The only “fishing” I had done till then was catching newts and tadpoles in a nearby pond, I did not even own a fishing rod. I had noticed Jeff loading his tackle onto his bike most evenings in that summer and could not wait to go with him.

We went to what was known locally as a Marl Hole, all I know is that it was a small lake that I think had been formed when some sort of disused quarry had filled with water. I watched as Jeff and his pal sorted out all their tackle and throwing lots of mashed up stale bread into the water. It was not long before they were catching fish which I was told were a variety of roach, rudd and bream, nothing big but quite a few of them. Jeff let me hold his rod and sure enough I got a bite, hooked and landed a small roach. From that moment I was hooked on fishing, Jeff said if I could persuade my dad to buy me some tackle I could go with them regularly. Fortunately I had a birthday coming up fairly soon and I made it clear to my parents that the only thing I wanted was some fishing tackle. Sure enough on my birthday there it was, a two piece split cane rod, a very basic wooden reel and a small selection of hooks , floats and a line


My first trip with my new tackle Jeff told me was going to be to the local canal, the Trent and Mersey, where we were going to try and catch some carp. By now it was winter and as it was dark by 4.30pm and not light till 8.30am most of the fishing was done at the week end. This Sunday morning we were leaving just before dawn and it was a real winters morning, thick frost with temperature below zero.

We arrived at the canal as it was getting light and I was surprised to see steam rising from the water. Jeff explained that hot water from the nearby colliery was pumped into the canal at this point, locally known as “The Warm Hole”, which made it an excellent spot to fish plus we could sit on the towpath with our wellington booted feet in the water which was great. The main London -Manchester railway line ran alongside the canal and Jeff and his pal had collected some coal from the tracks, all steam trains then, and with plenty of wood available they soon had a good sized fire going on the bank behind us so with our feet in the warm water and a fire behind us we were very comfortable even in the freezing temperature.

Jeff explained that as we were trying to catch carp we would be fishing on the bottom so set my float up for me so that it was just half cocked. As usual we were using bread paste as bait but Jeff also had a few maggots that he had got by leaving some meat in his garden hut, you could buy them if you were lucky enough to go to the local tackle shop when they had some in stock. It was not long before Jeff’s pal had a fish but it was not a carp just a small Gudgeon which I soon learned were a bit of a menace as there were so many of them. My eyes were glued on my float which I was willing to move which it eventually did but not by a fish taking the bait but because the lock gate not far from where we were fishing had opened and a barge was on its way.

In those days the canals were still used extensively for moving mostly coal but also many other products. Sure enough it soon came in sight and we had to withdraw our lines to avoid losing them. I can still picture the guy sitting at the back puffing on his pipe and shouting a greeting to us as he passed no doubt with a long day ahead of him even on a Sunday. Luckily it was one of the engine driven ones because had it been the horse drawn type we would have had to take our feet out of the water and move out of the way while it passed.

This was just one of many trips to the “Warm Hole” but the one that really sticks in my mind came much later. It was still winter and it must have been during the Christmas school holidays because I went on my own as Jeff was working. As usual it was a bitterly cold morning everywhere white with frost and ice on the canal not far from where I was fishing as usual at the warm hole. I had caught a few gudgeon and small roach and was watching my float intently as it lay half cocked when it suddenly lay flat on the surface before slowly moving back to its half cocked position and gradually sank below the surface. I struck and my rod was nearly pulled from my grasp and line began running from my reel at an alarming rate, no sophisticated clutch on that reel I just had to control it by pressure of my hand.

By now I was rapidly running out of line so had to start moving along the towpath to keep up with the fish which took me close to another couple of anglers. It suddenly dawned on me that I did not have a landing net having always used Jeff’s, not that I remember catching anything that really needed one, but for sure I was not going to land this fish without one. I explained this to the guys fishing and they were only too pleased to help as they also could not wait to see what I was hooked into although they assured me it must be a carp.

I have no idea how long it was before I eventually got the fish close enough for it to be netted but I remember in spite of the cold I was perspiring heavily, a combination of excitement and running up and down the towpath. Sure enough it was a carp and to me a monster, lucky for me the guys who helped me had a spring scale and it weighed just over 5lbs only a tiddler really as carp go but on my lightweight two piece rod gave me a thrill I have never forgotten. I did not own a camera so had no proof of my monster carp and to this day I am not sure that Jeff believed I had caught one that big.

Another memorable occasion was in the summer, I was with Jeff and his pal and we went to the canal as usual. Before we started fishing Jeff said we were going to get some wasp grubs which he reckoned were the ultimate bait. We walked along the tow path until we noticed a load of wasps buzzing around a hole in the grassy bank. Jeff had a small fold up trenching tool and his pal produced a length of fuse wire, no doubt borrowed from his work at the colliery. This they pushed down the hole and ignited which created plenty of smoke and sparks, whether or not it stunned the wasps I don’t know but I was keeping well out of the way. Once the fuse was burnt out Jeff began digging furiously to get to the nest inside of which was a honeycomb full of big fat wasp grubs, once he had this we all beat a hasty retreat.

I cannot remember if we caught any more fish than usual with the grubs but as normal with fishing one is always searching for that very special bait.

I have never lost my enthusiasm for fishing and have caught every species of coarse fish in UK but for some reason carp fishing has always been my favorite. I was in France a few years ago with some of my family on a caravan holiday and we were staying on a site which had a small lake on which I noticed many people fishing. I stood watching and to my surprise could see many carp lazing around just below the surface. My grand daughter immediately wanted to try her hand at fishing, having no tackle with me I went to the local super market and bought a couple of telescopic type rods that come with reel and line attached for just a few francs. I explained to her that it would be a waste of time trying to catch anything during the day when many people were running around the edge of the water, better to wait till evening.

This we did and sure enough only a few guys were still fishing so nice and quiet and plenty of room to choose our spot. For bait I had some left over baguettes and I baited up with the crust of these and just cast out a few yards. It was not long before I noticed a swirl in the water near my floating crust and the next thing this open mouth appeared and sucked in the bait. I struck and hooked a decent fish which gave a good fight on the light tackle we were using. Once again I did not have a landing net but help was at hand and I landed a carp of just over 7lbs. This continued and fortunately even my grand daughter caught fish which gave here a huge thrill.

Naturally we were back again the next night which was our last night of the holiday. We again caught carp all good size fish and I noticed that some other guys were ledgering way out and were set up with bait alarms. I could here the alarms going off regularly so it seemed they were catching plenty of fish. We were still using floating crust but as it was now dark had to fish close to the bank to see the bait. I had dropped my crust just over the back of some high grass and could not actually see it when all of a sudden my rod was nearly pulled from my hand and the line screamed out. I realized I was nearly out of line so tightened the clutch to check the run when Bang the rod snapped in half. There I was with half a rod in my hand and a big fish on the line. It must have taken fifteen minutes or more before I could get the fish to the net, once again provided by one of the other anglers. When he weighed the fish it was just over 15lbs the biggest carp I had ever caught.

I went back to that site a few years later, this time with all my tackle determined to improve on my previous best. As before there were a number of other anglers there and we were all catching carp but all small stuff around four or five pounds. I got talking to one of the guys who was from UK and told him about my previous experience and my 15lbs fish and he told I would not catch any carp much above 7lbs as the “Bloody Frogs” had netted the lake and transferred all the big stuff to their own private lake just down the road. I have not been back since!!

I regularly read fishing magazines and have bought a number of angling books so have been aware of the great carp fishing to be had in Canada on the St. Lawrence river. My two sons, one of whom was living in the US, both carp fishing enthusiasts were keen to go so we eventually arranged a trip in August 2006, not the best time of year but the only time we could all get together. I did some research on the internet and came across a site called , “Canadian Carp Fishing”, run by a guy called Jeff Vaughan. The rates seemed very reasonable so we booked for five days first week in August. I was traveling from the Philippines and my other son from UK so we decided we would hire all our tackle from Jeff. My son in US drove us from his house in New Jersey to Jeff’s site in Cornwall on the St. Lawrence which took about seven hours.

On arrival we were pleased to find that all the tackle was excellent as was the self catering accommodation which was situated only a few minutes drive from the nearest fishing spot of which there were many to choose from. Jeff came with us the next morning to show us various spots to fish from and explained best methods to use. During our five days we all caught fish on every day and all were powerful fish in excellent condition the smallest being just under 10lbs and the largest, not caught by me, was 27lbs, however, I swear that the one my son failed to net for me was well over 30lbs.

Although we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and caught plenty of fish, Jeff reckoned we had been unlucky as he expected us to catch more even in August which is not the best time of year, May or September being the top months.

During my searching on the internet I came across a couple of books on fishing which I think are well worth reading. They include articles from some of the leading carp fishing experts in the UK and many tips and advice on how to improve your chances of catching the big one we all dream about. You can get free previews if you go to my site below which also contains links to a load of sites for fishing enthusiasts.

All the best with your carp fishing!

If you fancy a great carp fishing holiday check out the site on the internet at; http://www.canadiancarpclub.on.ca/photos.htm where you can also see many photos of the biggest fish caught. You can also email him at; jeffvaughan3025@msn.com


Check out this site for information,advice, and many tips from the top uk carp fishing pro’s. Sites include carp fishing in France, carp fishing in Canada and carp fishing holidays and UK records. FREE downloads available.