Some of my angling pals... for anyone I've missed, please let me know!!!
My good mate Dave has fished the canal since he was a young lad, & in much the same circumstances as myself – catching Bream, Tench & some monster Roach. He was one of the original anglers (if not ‘the’ original) to pioneer carp fishing on the Wyley & Essington canal in the West Midlands. Back then it was all about using ledger rods, big floats, 8lb line & sweetcorn or cheese as bait. Dave was my biggest influence during my carp fishing ‘apprenticeship’, & most of what I learned can be attributed to him. Dave is a devout family man, & as such does not spend much time pursuing the fish in the canal these days, but in all fairness… he’s probably caught them all many times before!
I first met Royst at my secondary school, where I discovered that he was fishing the local canal circuit for carp. I hadn’t started carp fishing at that point, but I was preparing to have a go. Whenever I discovered that he was fishing, I would endeavour to pay him a visit, & see how it was done. During this time I met his mates that were also fishing for carp – namely Dave Edwards, Dave Williams & Les Bowd. As we all moved on to other things in later years, Royst continued to fish for carp & after a chance meeting with Dave Edwards, I managed to get back in touch with him. He has spent the last few years targeting the residents of the Great Linford complex in Milton Keynes, with some excellent results. A self confessed ‘tackle tart’, Royst has also designed & had manufactured his very own angling products. He also runs his own carp angling website - the very popular www.blackcountrycarpers.co.uk, home of the BCC forum.
‘Evo’ was first introduced to me by Dave Edwards, who explained to me that he was a really talented carp angler with an eye for detail. He, like Dave Edwards & myself went on to catch both of the canal biggies (the ‘leather’ & ‘sid’ both at 20lb+). He progressed to fish venues such as Hawkstone, Little Aston, Blackroot & Salford park with Wayne Dunn & learned much of his trade from him. I guess Lee’s most enviable trait was that he could conjure up a fish whilst everyone else was blanking! It has now been many years since I’ve seen him as he moved to Newquay to set up a successful surfing business.
Affectionately nicknamed ‘Gypo’, Dave Williams was one of the first guys fishing the canal circuit to move carp fishing forward from floats & sweetcorn to big leads & boilies. He was a forward thinking angler, having already had a successful match fishing background & was a great source of information on all things new. During the period (late eighties), carp fishing was undergoing a mini revolution & Dave was quick to catch on. Whilst most of us were using glass rods & Mitchell 300’s, he was using carbon rods & the first generation of baitrunner reels. His passion for catching big fish did not rest at just targeting carp - he’s caught magnificent Perch, Roach, Crucian carp, Barbel, Chub & Pike. Noticeably, he was a ‘Drennan weekly cup winner’ (Angling Times publication) some years ago with a huge Zander, & he’s had Nile Perch to 100lb+ from lake Nasser, Egypt. A keen traveller & outdoor person, Dave now spends his free time travelling the world & is a qualified outdoor activity instructor.
I cannot honestly remember the first time I met Wayne, although I can still remember the day when I was looking for carp down ‘the arm’ at Brownhills on the canal as a young lad when I stopped to ‘pass water’. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard a voice from within the trees on the opposite side of the arm saying: “put it away!” There was Wayne, typically dressed in olive green & hidden away watching a group of carp under a tree! A man not overwhelmed by his success, but still completely approachable. Originally, not many people knew of Waynes early achievements in carp fishing, but he continued to build an enviable reputation as the guy who was taking lakes apart. With his list of big fish from West Midland venues, he continued to venture further afield to catch some historic fish, including some of the most sought after fish in the land – the now demised Basil from the North lake & Heather from the Car Park lake at Yateley. If there are some huge fish to be caught, you can guarantee Wayne will be on to them!
I met Ben whilst fishing the canal circuit sometime around 1994. He was a very young kid, but was eager to learn & he quickly applied his knowledge to a variety of different venues. We fished Salford Park together during the summer & autumn of 1994 & subsequently moved onto the Packington winter syndicate (Molands Mere), where we both had personal best fish. Having lost touch with him for around thirteen years or so, we have recently been reacquainted. He’s had some big fish from some very difficult venues & has also been over to Europe to bag himself some foreign lumps. Ben is a consultant & field tester for FIVE STAR BAITS as well as the Midlands Regional Organiser for E.C.H.O.
During my two & a half years spent on Blackroot Pool, I’ve made some good friends & I bumped into Matt for the first time in July 2008. Although he hadn’t been carp fishing for long, he was not afraid to come over for a chat & was as keen as anyone I’ve ever known to extract whatever information he could. Like me, Matt has a hugely successful match fishing background & has done his time on some tough Midlands circuit waters. Never short of conversation, he has brightened up many of my dour Blackroot sessions!
As a friend of Ben Woodhouse’s for some years, I became acquainted with Chris sometime around 2007, although we may have met before some years earlier via another mutual friend. I soon learned that he was a very competent angler & was not afraid to put in the time & effort to achieve the results he craved. Having fished in his company a few times, I find his best attribute is his ability to work hard to conjure up a bite when many would just be prepared to sit on their chosen method or tactic. With some big fish to his credit & a good grounding on some tough venues, Chris is a certainly a ‘thinking angler’.
As a good mate of Ben Woodhouse's, I met Wayne for the first time as he joined us on a trip to Lac Des Lesmont in 2010, where I was introduced to him & his lovely partner Liz (also a very competent carp angler in her own right) for the first time. Through general conversation & looking through lots of his pictures I was genuinely surprised at his passion for carp fishing. In truth, having caught some simply awesome fish, the guy with the difficult to pronounce surname (& even more difficult to spell...) proved to be very down to earth & I couldn't have wished to spend a week in France with a nicer bloke. Despite having a severe tea (& lager...) drinking habit, he showed us the way with some very good & innovative angling. Whilst the rest of us were content to go down the route of heaving copious amounts of boilies into the lake, Wayne's approach was much more structured & measured - born out of many years of experience fishing some high-profile waters. It was obvious to see why Wayne is such a class carp angler - his ability to work hard, his attention to detail & his mental attitude keeps him one step ahead of the game.
When I began my 'carp fishing apprenticeship' on the Wyrley & Essington canal in the late eighties, I was aware of another band of anglers that were also targeting the canal at the same time. My acquaintance with a young Ben Woodhouse was the first of this group of anglers that I came into contact with. Through Ben I met Andy 'Piggy' Harris for the first time - an angler that had been catching his fair share from the canal & some other local waters with a difficult reputation - including Patshull's famous Church Pool & Stowe pool in Lichfield when they were a much more difficult proposition in years gone by. Although he doesn't get many opportunities to get out onto the bankside these days, he can still be found plying his trade from time to time on the local canal & at Cuttle Mill. Andy's finest attribute is his ability to keep a smile on his face, even when the going is tough & he's always got plenty of words of encouragement for others. Labeling him a 'thinking angler' does him justice & if there's a beer or two to be had, he'll certainly be round to your swim to lighten the mood!
My meeting with ‘Jake’ came about in 2009, when we met by chance one wet afternoon in August on the banks of Oakwood. As a good friend of Rich Kane’s, my first impressions of him were formed by his attention to detail & his passion for the sport of fishing & outdoor life in general. As much as he is a very accomplished catcher of carp, Jake likes nothing more to be quiver-tipping for big chub on his favourite stretches of river & has had some simply awesome big fish captures to his name. When many anglers appear to be snuggled up in a bivvy & sleeping behind three rods, Jake is more likely to be found with a stalking rod & a piece of freelined breadflake trying to snare a biggun that he’s found close in the margins. He’s a credit to the sport of angling & a nicer, more honest person you will rarely ever meet.
I can remember my first introduction with Rich very vividly. He was dressed in jeans, trainers & a white t-shirt with a medium-length ‘floppy’ haircut… nothing like I expected a ‘carp angler’ to look like on a notoriously difficult water such as Oakwood. As we discussed carp fishing over further meetings, I realised that he had an almost unbreakable enthusiasm for catching carp. A very genuine guy & a privelage to know him as well as I do, he’s got a motorised carp angling brain – constantly discussing location, bait, rigs, tackle & during the time when he’s on the bank, his constant strive for perfection would have many believe he is obsessed – something that couldn’t be further from the truth. One of his best attributes is that he knows how to tear himself away & doesn’t let failure ‘beat him up’. Being there when he landed a 58lb+ mirror in France was an awesome sight & pleasure to see him fish to a game plan that worked extremely well. A good angler & a genuine friend.
I had been aware of Greg’s successes during my time spent fishing at Blackroot & I already knew that he had a good reputation in carp angling circles in the West Midlands. As a good friend of Matt Green’s, we were eventually introduced & I soon realised that he was a very accomplished angler, having served his time on a number of difficult local venues. In many ways, Greg reminds me very much of myself - always searching for that quiet venue that has probably been overlooked by the masses that might just hold a special fish or two. He is at home on big pits & canals alike & works very hard at his fishing – constantly searching for fish & working on ways to conjure up a bite when all else seem to be struggling. One thing is for sure, Greg & Matt together are a lethal combination – if there’s a drink or two to be had, it’ll be a long night!