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From the pen of Carplands newest writer comes:

In the beginning was the word and the word was Pike.

    Mike Knill, (father of Carpland's Tony - the T-man), 20 stones, 6ft 5ins, and failed carp angler is the author of a series of articles for the disillusioned amongst you. In this the first of the series, Mike will explain what you have in store and where it's coming from.

    My best carp, after 20years of trying is still 201bs 1oz - and that was my only 20! -mind you it was a beautiful mirror - a real looker. However my roots, and my nickname come from my sea angling background. I was nicknamed the Gent by the sea crew after taking a bottle of Champagne on a wrecking trip and using it to celebrate my 26lbs cod in motor racing fashion - well you have to do it properly don't you?

    Together with your own T-man and Clive (Sniffer) Nightingale, we graduated to coarse fishing and while T-man and Sniffer promptly started catching carp, I struggled and struggled - catching not carp but pike on boilies, bare hooks and even in carp lakes where "no pike existed", and hence started the expression "it ain't all over til the fat bloke catches a pike" - thanks guys you know I've got a weight complex.

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They think it's all over! Another Pike!

    Fishing trips with Sniffer and T-man were always an adventure - you didn't know when it would start or finish - Sniffer was the driver in his little white van and he has a strange concept of time. In fact Sniffer-time was a bit like space - fluid with no beginning or end - and his watch didn't ever match ours. He'd say "I'll be there at six - don't be late" and there we'd be at the gate waiting until 7 or 7.30 – bacon butties rapidly cooling, eventually the white van would screech around the corner on two wheels. T-man's Fox (Fox this and Fox that), bedchair would be braced inside the van, T-man would take his place and all the tackle would be piled in on top. The tackle is interesting, all of mine is second hand - most of it purchased (cheaply) from T-man. Sniffer and T-man always had top-of-the-range everything, my tackle was (and still is) an embarrassment to them. Perhaps to catch carp you need all this clever and expensive stuff, but for piking my hand-me-downs have served well - a pair of Brownings poorly matched by a similarly shaped but differently coloured Daiwa rod, 3 matched Shimano baitrunners, all on a Gardner rod pod, Fox banksticks, unknown buzzer bars, and three mini-microns! More of this miscellany later!

    The ride to the chosen lake was usually at Warp Factor 7 with dilithium crystals glowing, Sniffer never could drive slowly - it amazed me sometimes that we arrived alive and that the van survived. On arrival the various methods of tackle transport were demonstrated. Sniffer with a purpose-built wheelbarrow so overladen that it usually got bogged down or tipped over, the T-Man with his Fox rucksack (large economy sized), Fox bedchair, Fox Rod holder in serious danger of doing a tortoise if he fell over- he'd never be able to get off his back! And me, a Daiwa rod bag (with tubes!), a JRC carryall for the bits and a carrier bag from Quiksave for the goodies! Bankside protection was another example of the class distinction, Sniffer with a Titan, T-man with a Fox Profile, and me with an unbranded 45 inch umbrella which had already been blown inside out twice! Sniffer and T-Man wore Fox suits and Hot Foot boots, 1 wore a Sundridge suit (which was split - I'm awful big) and a pair of garden wellies (Cold Foot). Do you get the impression of second class citizen? The trudge to the lakeside was, wherever possible, made as short as we could, I recall the white van being driven - or falling down a 45 degree inclined bank just to save 300 yards. Still it seemed a good idea at the time.

    Fishing sometimes becomes secondary to the total enjoyment of the day – we excelled in the bankside preparation of brilliant curries and chillies - more often than not supplemented by a good red or white wine - lake chilled. Sniffer excelled in this element and it was reflected in his attention to detail regarding baits – he tried everything and it was unusual for him to use the same flavours two weeks running - but he always used the best, T-Man was no less fastidious in his preparation but tended to stick to one or two favourites. And me? Well I'd use anything I'd been able to a) borrow b) steal or c) buy cheaply -usually short sell by dates from the tackle shop. I guess that's  why they regularly caught and 1 regularly blanked.

    Despite not catching - apart from the odd fluked fish, yes even the fish felt sorry for me, did I get dispirited? YES and that led to a number of technical expressions - the MDR (Mike's Despondency Ratio) and the KTC (Knill Tantrum Coefficient) - all of this tempered by the enjoyment (masochistic or what) of watching T-Man and Sniffer bagging up. At least they let me net their fish, til they realised that I was deliberately knocking them off the hook!

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A couple of those 'fluked' fish!

    The retreats from the lakes were promptly followed by several pints of liquid anaesthesia in our local - "The Salmon Leap" at Totton- and supplemented recently by the construction of our own clubhouse - "The Fox Hat" - we're all going to Gent's place - where the fu**s that - get it?

    It was the lack of carp activity that really drove my fishing to the quest for the ultimate freshwater predator - Esox lucius - the Pike and what's more I'm good at it! It appears that all the things I've done wrong at carping are just perfect for piking. This series of articles will take you through tackle basics, water strategy, fish care and more. We hope you'll enjoy the stories and exploits, you'll meet old friends, Kevster (Tommy Tuckin), Johnny Boy (Student Bloke) and meet some new charactors, as we guide you through not just the fishing, but a review of watering holes (pubs), present tips on bankside culinary masterpieces (cooking), and a series of excellent excuses for being back late. We'll also have some of the best ever fishing jokes - what more could you want, blood?

Finally, and remember,

"There is no greater wealth than wisdom,

No greater poverty than ignorance,

No greater heritage than culture,

And No greater friend than consultation"

So share your skills, knowledge and experience with all, your rewards will be manifold (maybe even a pint).

See you all next time, The Gent (


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