I served my apprenticeship through my local Shropshire match circuit and progressed to bigger and better things starting firstly with chub and barbel and eventually on to carp. Since then I have looked at very little else in the fishy world as carp are definitely "where it's at". I am a governor of The Carp Society, the worldwide governing body of carp fishing, and am also a consultant for a number of tackle companies including the high profile Hutchinson Dream Team. Don't worry though, I shan't be thrusting tackle plugs down your throats at every opportunity. Whilst I believe in promoting products that I use or believe in, I most certainly will not be filing the column with gratuitous plugs. There is a lot of good kit out there, and I shall be taking a look at some of it, giving it ratings and test reports, and you can rest assured that the results will be a warts and all view of the tackle scene.

In addition to the tackle consultancies I also write for a number of the countries top carp magazines including Carp World, Carp Talk, Crafty Carper and The Angling Times where I am a member of The Carp Crew. With all of the information around these days on carp there has never been a better time to get on board and have a go. Anyway, that's enough about me. Let's take a look at the format of the column.

Every month I shall be reporting the comings and goings of the carp world both in the UK and abroad. Of course the majority of the information will cover UK carping, but interesting foreign snippets will be included from time to time. In addition I will let you know a little about my fishing, and we shall also run the odd competition and tackle test. Waters will be reviewed, and the up to the minute tactics and strategies of the experts will be included so you can be first to use the Secrets of the Stars at your venue. Finally we will look at a featured star angler every now and again and have interviews and head to heads with some of the worlds top carp guys. Remember this column is for you, and if there is anything that you want to specifically ask, be it a tip for the weekend, or directions to a venue. All you need to do is call.

Big Fish News Now is the time to get out and about if it's a big fish that you are after. A number of thirties and forties have been caught over the last few weeks as the weather warms up and the fish start to show. That man Terry Hearn has been at it again and has knocked a couple of cracking thirties out of a couple of waters that he has been fishing recently. One of them, Manor Farm near Oxfordshire (tel 0585 327708), is a day ticket venue that is open to all at 18 for a three rod 24hr ticket. Right next door to Manor is another ticket water called St. Johns. Also run by Linear Fisheries this lake is a good bit easier than Manor and the fish are a little smaller. Pool record currently stands at 28lbs, a common caught by young Ben O Connor, and there are plenty of fish to be caught in the upper double and low twenty bracket. This is one of the venues of the British Carp Angling Championships which I will be covering in the column, and it certainly looks like being a good one. Also in Oxfordshire another day ticket water, Orchid Lake (01865 341810) at Dorchester upon Thames is producing plenty of big fish. There have been five different fish out over the magical 30lb weight over the last couple of weeks, and at the time of writing Bob Draper is on the water slaying them with 7 fish to 30.06 already under his belt. Oxfordshire certainly seems the pace to be at the moment, but London's Walthamstow Reservoirs are also pretty hot for the biggies. News is just arriving of a 42lb common from The Upper Maynard reservoir, and by all accounts the waters at Walthamstow all hold fish in excess of 30lbs with a good few of them nudging over 40. Being a Site of Special Scientific Interest there is a closed season in operation on a number of the lakes, but the Upper and Lower Maynards are open, as is the enormous King George next door. Day fishing only but well worth a try if you are in the area.

Tip of the Month Spring is without question the best time of the year to find out exactly what a lake holds as far as fish are concerned as many of the carp are now starting to think about grouping up for spawning. They are starting to show themselves in the upper layers of the water column and also in the shallower margins where they love to feed at this time of year. This months tip is to equip yourself with a good pair of polarising sunglasses, get up a tree (being careful of course) and look into the margins for signs of fish. Don't take any kit down to the water with you, just spend the time walking around the pool looking for signs of feeding or moving carp. Ideally sprinkle a few baits into a few select spots in the margins and see whether anything comes along to mop them up. If the bait has gone, make sure that there are no tufties or coots on the water as they may be the culprits, and if all goes to plan it will be carp that have found your food source, and they will no doubt return for another snack later when you will be waiting for them.

Competition News A Competition Carping Craze is sweeping the nation at the moment with big money prizes and some of the top names in the country entering the first ever British Carp Angling Championships. There have been a couple of rounds already and what has become apparent is that there is no substitute for local knowledge. A number of very high profile anglers have been knocked out of the championships by regulars to a water, and with it they have secured a place in the 10,000 grand final which will be fished at The Carp Societies Horseshoe Lake in Gloucestershire. The format of the competition is simple. Up to 20 pairs enter the eliminator rounds which are fished at 12 of the countries top day ticket waters. For every five entries into the eliminators, 1 pair win through to the finals where they will compete for the big cash prize, a fantastic crystal trophy, and the title of British Carp Angling Champions. Here are a number of rounds left, and spaces are available. The organisers of the tournament are Worldwide Leisure Marketing who can be contacted on 01705 571668. Details of the remaining events are available upon request.

My Movements My fishing over the last few months has been restricted to say the least. My last decent fish was a 35lb common from Shropshire's Birch Grove Pool in the winter and soon after that I had a nasty accident whilst skiing which entailed a hospital stay, an operation and a leg in plaster for 8 weeks. I'm just back to walking again now and christened my new leg with a trip to Kingsbury Water Park in the midlands. The weather was dire to say the least but one or two fish were biting and I managed a 13lb mirror for my troubles. I'm hoping to have a look at some of the Oxfordshire waters this year so I'll keep you in touch with developments as and when they happen. Until next time, be lucky.