Within two weeks of the start of the season over a dozen forty pound fish have been caught including a couple over the incredible 50lb barrier. Who would have thought that these results would be possible? It was 19 years ago that Chris Yates broke Dick Walker's long-standing 441b record with his 51.06 from Redmire, but back then such a fish was a monster. The numbers of forties that were in the whole of the country could be counted on one hand yet a forty these days, whilst still the fish of a lifetime, is quite a common occurrence in the newspapers. Who knows what the future will hold as the fish grow bigger and we improve their environment and increase the food available to them.

One of the things I would like to touch on here is that a number of the big fish that we are seeing in the papers over 401bs are foreign imports. Whilst carp are not indigenous to this country in the first instance it is some time since there have been imports into the country on a large scale, but over recent yeas the practice has reached epidemic proportions. There are a number of issues that effect the carp world as a result of these foreign fish, one of which is the spread of disease. Many of the fish are imported illegally and smuggled into the country without the appropriate documentation. They are then released into the wild, where they come into contact with our native fish that may not be accustomed to some of the natural bacteria and parasites that they are carrying. The result is often mortalities within the original fish community, and often death to the newcomers. The Environment Agency and also the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) seem powerless to do anything as a result of shortages of funding and lack of manpower, but is this good enough? Our fisheries run the risk of being wiped out by the illegal import of foreign carp and we seem powerless to stop them. However, consider this. Carp are not indigenous to this country. It was the Cistercian monks that first brought carp in to feed their brotherhood and since those early days others have followed suit. Donald Leney with his famous Leney strain of carp imported his first originals from Holland. Many of the top fisheries in the country, especially those in the Colne Valley, were stocked in the fifties and sixties by fish which were brought from fish farms that had imported the fish in the first instance. Does it really matter that we are introducing foreign fish into our environment? At the end of the day a carp is a carp and it doesn't matter where it was born. The introduction of any foreign diseases will merely pick off the sick and older fish as is normal in nature, and we will be left with a healthy race of strong fast growing carp.

I'm playing devils advocate here as I would like to see the views of the readership on this subject. Drop a line into the letters section and let's see what the general consensus is on this emotive subject and also what you all think we, or indeed the EA/MAFF should be doing regarding this practice. Should it be stamped out or legalised?

Out and About |

Phew, that was heavy going. Let's move on to something a little lighter. Ian Russell, the famous southern angler of Heathrow Bait Rolling Service is in the news a lot recently. He's been catching an incredible amount of big fish and this year alone in the space of just four weeks has banked no fewer than three different forty pound fish. His most recent catch was Shoulders from Horton's famous Church Pool and his first two were from the notoriously difficult Summerleaze lake in Berkshire. This venue is reputed to hold fish over 501bs and a number of well respected anglers have seen the fish in question so it only seems to be a matter of time before the carp shows itself and the British record may be broken again. Over at that big fish haven Elstow in Bedfordshire young Stuart McKernon landed a 41.04 mirror which meant a new pb for the youngster, and down at sunny Walthamstow a number of the biggies have been showing themselves. Brian, the big common from High Maynard has not been seen for a few weeks but is sure to put in an appearance soon, and the boys on The Lockwood have been quietly doing the business with fish to 37 lbs under their belts. On the subject of the Walthamstow complex, the King George reservoir is currently being drained down and electro fished to remove the carp and re house them. The banks have now proved too dangerous to fish so Thames water have taken the decision to move the carp into waters that are more accessible to carp anglers. This has meant that the High Maynard has received a stocking of fish between 20 and 401bs and now contains four different fish over 40 with about a dozen 30s in the lake as well. If you live in the London area then you could do a lot worse than to check Walthamstow out. Day tickets are available from the gatehouse at Ferry Lane, Tottenham.

British Championships News Keep your eyes on this column for the latest up to date news and gossip about the British Carp Angling Championships, the new competition carp craze that is sweeping the country. This months eliminators have been at Great Linford Lakes, Milton Keynes, Walthamstow reservoirs London, and the forthcoming events are at Darenth, Linear Oxford, and also Kingsbury Water Park in Warwickshire. With the weather and the spawning conditions as they are at the moment, the sport has been slow for the competitors but interestingly when the fishing is slower the competitions are fairer, as the normally hot swims do not have as much of an advantage as they normally would. Low weights have been the order of the day with 29.09 being the winning weight for Richard Whittaker at Lower Maynard, 23.03 for David Marle and Alan Viney at Linford, and 21.10 for Darren and Wayne Brannan at High Maynard. Hopes are high for the biggest fish of the championships from Darenth as a forty pound fish is well and truly on the cards. The final of the tournament takes place at The Carp Society's Horseshoe Lake in Gloucestershire in October and alongside will be a trade show ad exhibition, casting competitions and also on the last night a hog roast and beer festival. It will be without question THE event of the social carp anglers diary and if you are interested in coming along drop the organisers a line to reserve a ticket for the last night party. Tickets are limited to 400.

Top Tip Lastly this month all I have time for is the top tip slot. Occasionally I will be including a little tip or strategy that has helped me put fish on the bank. Some of the tips will be groundbreaking stuff, others will be fundamentals that are easily forgotten, but whatever they will be useful stuff. If you have any groundbreaking ideas that you want to share with us please drop us a line and enlighten us all. It would be nice to make this slot a voice box for new ideas and current issues just like in the olden days when the original carp clubs were formed. Whilst there is a wealth of information in the magazines it is columns like these that will help to encourage correspondence and idea sharing.

This months tip concerns The Method. It is only recently that I have started using this deadly method for catching carp, and on the more heavily populated waters it has worked a treat. It really is worth giving a go, but you must set it up properly. The best feeders to use are without question the Richworth ones. They hold the ground bait well, and as long as the mix is the correct consistency they will cast a good long way. 80 - 100 yds is a reasonable target if your rods are up to the job. Now lots of anglers are using The Method, especially on waters like Pool Hall and Catch 22 and most of them use ground bait for their mixes. This is a good start, but what myself and a number of friends have found is that soaked trout pellets are a brilliant alternative. Take a few kilo's of pellets and pour some very hot (not boiling) waster over the top of them. The oil within the pellets will start to thin and the pellets themselves will turn into a mush to which flavours and oils can be added. You can add some chopped boilies or nuts/seeds and the pellet "mush" can then be moulded around the feeder. It is completely different from the normal ground bait method and warms the water slightly around the hook bait thus encouraging the carp to investigate the temperature change and also the high leakage of flavour and oil that will leak off the bait. It really is a deadly method if the conditions are right, and one that not that many people use. Try it, you won't be disappointed.

Well I'm off to France for a couple of days as I write this so I'll be back next time with a report of how I got on and giving more news and views on the carp world in general.

Until then, Carpe Diem.