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The Special Album

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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:57 pm

There were reputed to be bigger fish as seen by Jack Hilton, Tom Mintram and his son Mike. If you look in Hilton’s Quest for Carp book there is info on these further monsters.

Only recntly Mike Mintram wrote this in the BCSG magazine, ‘The Carp’.
It was the following day that John and I spotted a very big fish swimming off the far bank towards the shallow end of the pool. John said to me, "Look there's two fish one behind the other," but as he said that we both realised that it was not two fish, but one very big one. We both looked at each other in amazement as it disappeared into the weed. After breakfast in our hut, I walked back across the causeway. Looking out across the pool, I saw a large tail emerge from the water in front of the island that we had made in the winter. I hurried around to my swim, where I had a stalking rod made-up with float tackle. I grabbed the landing net and a tin of redworms and waded out to the island. What I saw as I peered out through the reeds will stay with me forever - for there in the water, not more than a few yards from me, were three carp. One of which was enormous. I watched them for several minutes then they moved off into the weed. As they did so, I lowered my float-fished bait into the clearing. Immediately, one of the smaller fish turned, came back and took the bait.

That fish was 21¾lb (pictured below) captured in June 1966 - it was Mike’s first twenty-pounder.

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Gary Bills on Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:10 pm

Great image and info, thank you Chris. So I think we may assume that Ashlea did hold big fish that were never caught?

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Sun Apr 27, 2014 2:58 pm

Gary Bills wrote:Great image and info, thank you Chris. So I think we may assume that Ashlea did hold big fish that were never caught?
It’s quite possible...
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Re: The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed May 07, 2014 8:46 am

Hampstead Heath biggie
In the 1950s there was talk amongst members of the Hampstead Angling Club about the big carp seen in their lakes, particularly the middle pond of the three on Hampstead Heath, London. Some had tried long and hard but with little to show for their efforts... and finally announced they were simply uncatchable.

But their secretary Philip Atchison, who was influenced by the methods, tactics and tackle of Richard Walker (as many were at the time), channeled all his energies into catching one of them. As dawn broke on Monday, 14th of July 1958, he spotted several movements on the surface and suspected carp were responsible. Quickly sorting out his tackle he soon cast a floating crust in the vicinity. A tremendous swirl signaled he’d hooked a carp and after a grand struggle Philip successfully netted what was clearly a big fish. On the bank the mirror weighed an impressive 25½lb and turned out to be the third largest carp recorded that year.

Philip decided to offer the fish to the Regent’s Park Zoo aquarium and soon it was sharing a tank with Clarissa, Richard Walker’s record 44-pounder from Redmire Pool.

In January 1971 I saw Philip Atchinson carp along with Walker’s record fish when I visited the aquarium on official business (I was conducting research for a book) and was invited above the tanks and actually got to feed and even touch Clarissa. But that’s another story.

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Clive Owden on Fri May 09, 2014 9:13 pm

Now that's wonderfull fish 'off the top' even by todays standards, and as luck would have it my old dad took me to see the record Carp, Clarrisa when I was a nipper, I'll never forget looking up at that monster, it made quite an impression on me.

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Sun May 11, 2014 11:53 am

Hello Clive - besides the ‘personal meeting’ with Clarissa I mentioned in the story, I went to the London Zoo Aquarium a number of times, once with school in the 1950s and later with my mum and dad - there’s little doubt that Walker’s fish left a strong impression on thousands of anglers and would be fishermen... why it looked almost as big as me!
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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed May 21, 2014 9:53 am

1954 babies
I noticed this the other day when looking in the ‘Leney’ fish file. Some of the fingerlings which were spawned in the spring of ’54 and imported by The Surrey Trout Farm and sold to fisheries in late 1954 grew into a shape not normally associated with the lengthy type of Galician carp.

The shipment of 400 king carp destined for the Woking pits at Send and the 500 king carp delivered to Jim Eggett for his then new fishery, Eggett’s Lake at Hemingford Grey, are but 16 invoice numbers apart.

By chance I also have pictures of carp (in The Special Album) from these batches from both the lakes in 1962. The 16-pounder held by John Brough June 1962 and caught from the smaller of the two lakes (Sandersons) at Send and the super brace which Bill Keal banked in August 1962 at Eggett’s display small heads, high backs and deep bodies... attributes, as mentioned, not often seen in ‘Leney’ carp. Mind you all three fish display lovely mirror scaling patterns.

The Eggett’s fish appear to have grown better than the Send fish, but there could have been other bigger carp (from the same stocking) in the water at the time of the John Brough capture.

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Gary Bills on Thu May 29, 2014 4:49 pm

 Very Happy Cracking images, Chris. Bill Keal seems to have been quite a figure in the carp world those days, and clearly an excellent angler.

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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:14 am

Copse lake biggie

When I first looked at the Yateley complex in 1979 having been alerted to its carp potential by Len Arbery, I bumped into two anglers who I vaguely knew, Tim Norman and the late Terry Lampard. I saw them again a few weeks later while creeping around the Match Lake. Over a cup of tea Terry told me of a big fish in the little lake at the back of the Match - Copse Lake.

During the summer of 1979 Tim Norman had hooked this fish but lost it in weed. Terry mentioned that it appeared now to have a gash in the left hand side of its mouth thought to have been a consequence of Tim losing it.

A friend, Bob Burchett, was an angler who was already aware of Yateley’s virtually untouched carp possibilities and, it didn’t take long for him to spot the big Copse lake mirror. Bob baited with particles and in early September 1980 he banked the beauty at 32lb 6oz - quite possibly it’s first recorded capture.

The following year the late Terry Glebioska also caught it at 35¼lb (the fifth largest carp reported that year) and a little later after it had spawned Kevin Maddocks (who would walk past me while I sat fishing for the Match lake carp) netted it too at 32¼lb. A grand carp for sure and one that picked up the name of the Parrot.

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Bob Burchett with his 32lb 6oz mirror from Yateley’s Copse lake landed in September 1980.
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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:37 am

Mike Oyez
This character burst on the carp fishing scene around 1974, no one had heard of him at the time but he was pushed to the fore by no less an individual than British Carp Study Group founder Peter Mohan. I remember meeting Mike Oyez at one of the big AGM meetings of the BCSG around that period. He could ‘talk the talk’ without doubt, though the way he glibly talked of 2lb roach, 10lb bream, 6lb chub and 30lb carp did make me somewhat wary - remember this was 40-years ago.

Now one thing he did ‘sell’ to a number of us keenies was this lake he had near Heathrow Airport called Stockley Road. It had big’us in it for sure, and his selling pitch of, “I just want to get some of you boy’s on there because I want see how big they are myself,” was liken to ‘a red rag to a bull.’ Those that took the bait included Mike Starkey, Chris Yates, Chris Seager and myself.

Stockley Road was a scruffy place and in parts weedy. This was a period when maggots for carp was the big thing and it certainly produced plenty of bites - from gudgeon, at first mistakenly thought to be baby stillwater barbel. And carp were caught too, lovely 6lb-8lb mirrors, but of the monsters there was no sign. Then Mike Starkey caught a twenty which Mike Oyez claimed was one of the small ones. It was not until many, many years later that bigger carp started to appear, this was after the lake was taken back by Boyer Leisure (it transpired that Mike had no control of the fishing anyway - squatters rights is what he later claimed.)

Anyway, that said at times you couldn’t but help like the bloke and many warmed to the often amusing features he wrote for the BCSG mags. Within the last ten years my friend, John Richards, supplied me with some pictures of Mike Oyez actually fishing. Here is a never before published picture of Mike stuck into a carp at Stockley Road around the time I fished there.

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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:46 am

Novice gets a taste for big carp
This coming October marks 60-years since a friend of Richard Walker and Pete Thomas accepted an invitation to fish at the famous Redmire Pool.

Richard and Pete’s friend Pat Russell was somewhat of a novice at carp fishing which was nothing unusual in the 1950s, for so few people deliberately tried to catch a carp that many of the notable captures recorded at the time were taken by accident. Anything over 10lb in weight was considered to be a real feather in your carp, let alone a carp of over twenty pounds. But things were changing fast through Richard Walker and his friends who were turning carp fishing on its head. Of course a vital ingredient in capturing a big carp was places where you fished

Pat Russell until 1950 I had no particular interest in fishing, but one of his greatest friends was the noted angler Peter Thomas. Pat told me once that he and Peter were nodding acquaintances in their prams! So I suppose it was inevitable that he should take up fishing at some stage. For two or three years he fished and reached the stage where he had tried quite a few different methods after several species, his best fish being a carp of around 9lb.

Then in 1954 came a chance of something really special, a visit to Redmire Pool was offered through friend Peter. Consequently, it was as a pupil rather than as an expert that he approached a weekend’s fishing with xxxx Walker and Peter Thomas at Redmire - a place that had spectacularly burst on the scene with two record carp just a few years before.

The preparations that Richard and Pete made meant nothing was left to chance. xxxx had decided to fish from the east bank, while Peter and Pat erected small bivouac tents by the willows and Pat then carefully tackled up with two Mark IV carp rods, fixed-spool reels and 11lb lines.

About 5.30am a breeze sprang up and the alarms sounded, but floating scum was the culprit. Half an hour later Pat’s alarm sounded with a regular intermittent ring.... this time he knew it was a bite. Raising the rod, engaged the pick-up, he struck. The fish was on!

It turned and headed for the dam, and soon he was able to recover line before the fight really began. Later the power of the runs diminished and Pat worked the fish nearer the bank and into the open strip of water between the weedbeds. At last it rolled over on the surface and was drawn over the waiting net. Pete soon lifted the fish onto the bank - 25lb of fine leather carp and the third largest carp recorded that year. The dominance of Redmire Pool at the time meant that it occupied four out of the top five carp of 1954.

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Richard Walker took this picture as the 25lb leather carp was unhooked by captor Pat Russell as Pete Thomas looks on.
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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:27 pm

The carp of Tooting Bec
Over many years young London anglers have cut their teeth at fishing at the two ponds on Tooting Bec which these days resides in the London Borough of Wandsworth. As with other ponds and lakes within the London parks they contained fish which included (of course) carp.

Back in the 1950s there were two islands in the largest lake (there’s one now) and besides angling, visitors to the ‘Bec’ could pay for rowing boats. Tracing the original carp stocks of the pond is not an easy task, but one or two informants tell me that carp were moved from other lakes and placed in the ‘Bec’. However, finding photographic evidence of this is virtually none existent, so delving into the carp fishing archives I found a early picture of Colin Webb, then realised I had another similar shot of Colin with the same fish in The Special Album.

When I first met him in the early 1970s through the British Carp Study Group he was a keen and successful carp angler who lived in the London area. He fish all over the greater city boundaries for carp at the time and it has to be said he was very much in the minority, as few fished for carp.

The picture shown here was taken on 23rd February 1975 and shows Colin with a chunky 15½lb mirror, a rare Tooting Bec capture as it was a ‘winter double.’ Bob James was another who tasted success early on at Tooting Bec. Since those days much has changed to the Tooting commons, the ponds and their occupants. This website has featured threads in the past about the carp in latter years.

Now does someone have an earlier picture than Colin Webb’s Tooting Bec capture from 1975? Let me know as The Special Album would benefit from it.

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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:30 am

‘Shaky Del’ strikes gold

Back in the early 1990s the grip Wraysbury No 1 had on a number of anglers was intense. At this stage the celebrated ‘Mary’ was still a growing fish and perhaps not the largest fish present. Though the stock of carp was low in relation to the size of the lake there were a number of highly prized and hotly pursued carp swimming around. But it was difficult fishing and though the vandals seemed not so much a problem at the time, the whereabouts of the carp in a vast stretch of water could drive a carp angler mad - some did succumb to a form of madness as the Perseverance public house was to witness on occasions.

One such angler was Del Poulter who carried the nickname ‘Shaky’, he fished long and hard for many years at the lake and began to understand the movements of its carpy occupants. Then in one spectacular session at the start of the season he landed two of Wraysbury’s prizes in quick succession. Both were mid thirties, the Pug and the Fat Linear.

I saw him on the eve of the season as he was preparing an evening meal complete with small dining table laid out complete with a bottle of red wine.

In his mind’s eye he just knew his time was coming and as you view this page you can see he wasn’t wrong.

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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:43 am

Summerleaze stunners
In my time as a reporter/journalist at Carp-Talk I got called out numerous times to witness notable (and record-breaking catches) over a long period of time. I photographed Mary from Wraysbury a number of times, some of Ritchie McDonald’s catches, Derek Rance etc. I also made a number of significant trips to Summerleaze, that wonderful pit near Maidenhead, to photograph and get the story on some big carp catches.

Perhaps the most inspiring was the time I got a call and witnessed Colin ‘Gaylord’ Nash with a totally superb 40-pounder, but the exciting bit was when the fish had gone back and I sat with Colin and Steve Briggs sipping tea as we watched the sun sink in the west. As we looked out transfixed on this fabulous lake with not a hint of breeze anywhere, suddenly without warning a great shape reared up some 40 yards out. Momentarily silhouetted jet black against the illuminated sky this great carp made hardly a ripple on entry or exit. Colin turned to me and almost in a whisper said, “They’re still here...” his voiced trailed away as the three of us sat in silence.  

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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:00 am

Winter approaches
The deliberate pursuit of trying to catch carp in the harshness of winter is something that has happened in my lifetime. The revelations (and they really were at the time) have there main roots in the mid 1960s when the likes of specimen hunters in the south, in particular Kent and Essex, (though there were other isolated pockets in the Northampton, Yorkshire and Devon way) didn’t want to give up carp fishing in October never to see a carp again until the following June.

The excellent carp stocks of Kent around this time, thanks to a massive stocking program in the 1950s undertaken by the old Mid Kent River Board to stock with tens of thousands of carp into their fisheries, meant that many gravel pits around the Medway and Darenth Valley areas were packed with worthwhile carp.

At first people just stared, then blinked when the likes of Fred Wilton, Jim Gibbinson and Gerry Savage proudly held true winter caught carp. The Essex Specimen Group along with South-East London and Kent Specimen groups during the 1966/7 winter really showed what was possible.

So many heads were turned (including mine) when pictures and articles started to appear which showed that without doubt carp could be caught in winter at waters that were unaffected in any way by warm-water outlets.

Many tried their hand including master carper the late Bruce Ashby. Winter carp fishing in the early 1970s at waters which included East Peckham and Townsend Hook he too enjoyed winter carp success. This rare picture shows Bruce with a nice mirror caught over 40-years ago during the colder months.

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Gary Bills on Mon Oct 20, 2014 4:49 pm

Brilliant image, Chris, many thanks. It's funny though, isn't it, how some waters offer decent sport in the winter, and others are hard work? For instance, while I have caught my share of winter carp, I've never had one from a canal in the winter; but I did once find a clutch of canal carp, just lying on the bottom like spent autumn leaves, unmoving. The water was gin clean, almost freezing, and the fish were at least semi-comatose. Do you think it's feed going in that get 'em going when it's cold?

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:06 pm

Gary,
Feed going in is going to make some sort of difference, the various campaigns in winter I’ve tried over the years showed me that. However, I have caught a couple of genuine cold water canal carp.

This was courtesy of John Hofgartner who in the early 1990s had some real success in the colder months on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Hungerford. He invited me to try and we both fished with a single rod stalking style with the float and worm. During the first visit I found several carp close to the bank that were moving around very, very slowly. I hooked one and John was soon alongside to net my very first canal carp. The second time I went John had already landed a mid-double before I arrived amid very frosty conditions. He was sure there with other carp in the swim and so it proved to be when I hooked and landed a carp a short while later. These sets of captures were conducted while John kept a close eye on the canal and baited lightly several times a week.

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First canal carp - a 12-pounder in December 1992. Taken on float and worm tactics
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Re: The Special Album

Post by Gary Bills on Tue Oct 21, 2014 3:06 pm

That's a real achievement, Chris - goodness knows, canals can be hard, can't they? - especially if the head of carp isn't high.
And look at the great condition of that fish as well - I bet it had never come out before.

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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:42 am

Great Ouse biggies
These days carp of over 30lb are landed from many of this countries rivers, and the number is growing along with the size. But this wasn’t always the case. By the early 1970s there had been very few reported river caught 30-pounders, the most prominent being the river Nene ‘Electricity Cut’ colony of carp plus other odd fish from the river Thames and the Great Ouse... yes the Great Ouse.

With a watercourse of 143 miles mostly flowing north and east, the Great Ouse is the fourth longest river in the UK, rising in Northamptonshire and finally entering the North Sea at the Wash, close to King’s Lynn.

A stretch of the middle Ouse around Little Paxton was an unlikely place for big carp in the mid 1970s, but keen specialist anglers such as Alan Wilkie and Jim Wells always had their ear to the ground on sightings or catches of big carp in the area. It was a mirror of 32lb 2oz by Robert Livock in the summer of 1974 that alerted Alan and Jim to the potential of the area. Make no mistake this carp at the time was a real whopper, the eighth largest recorded that year.

First it was Alan Wilkie, a carp angler of some note with a string of good fish from waters such as Maylins Pool and Arlesey Lake, who in August 1975 netted a superb 33lb 5oz mirror, then two years later Jim Wells caught a 32lb 10oz mirror from the Little Paxton area. When I scrutinised the photographs of both captures it was apparent that it was the same fish.

Here is Jim Wells with his capture from December 1977.

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The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:55 am

Little bit longer than the usual Special Album offering, but it is Christmas soon...

Chris Yates and his first 20-pounder
By the late 1960s I knew very few people personally who had landed by design a 20lb carp. Sure I’d devoured news reports in the weeklies and eagerly read stories in books about epic captures of carp over 20lb all which added fuel to an ever roaring fire. When in 1970 I started the Surrey/Middlesex region of the then newly formed British Carp Study Group, The Crooked Billet pub on the outskirts of Staines in Middlesex was the venue for the early meetings. It was then that I met a number of anglers who had caught 20lb+ carp. One was a tall lanky lad with longer than normal curly hair by the name of Chris Yates. It wasn’t Chris who told me about his first twenty but one of the well-known carp anglers of the time, Tom Mintram, who lived in the next road to Chris at Epsom who also attended the meetings at The Crooked Billet.

When I asked Chris about the fish he told me a grand tale of how in 1969 he and his brother Nick, the pair having fished for carp since 1962, suddenly had a golden chance presented to them. One of Nick’s friends, Alan Crozier invited them to fish ‘his’ lake in Radnorshire which entailed a journey of over two hundred miles. They questioned Alan about Llandrindod Wells, things like how big are the carp? Alan told them that his brother had landed a twenty-pounder and he’d had one almost as big. That did the trick and soon plans for an extended trip were made with Chris and Nick starting from London’s Victoria coach station to Llandrindod.

The trip took most of the day and by tea-time they arrived to be met by Alan Crozier. Chris Yates later wrote, “Alan led us to the lake, a large, square sheet of water with a wooded island and bordered by a narrow, tree hung road. There was a boathouse and cafe in one corner. On the eastern side, wooded hills rose steeply, lending a little beauty to this otherwise uninspiring place. It wasn’t at all like those lush secluded waters we were used to, but Nick and I were not disappointed. The idea of a monster carp lifted the lake out of its municipal park atmosphere and made it seem dramatic, almost spectacular.”

Their temporary home, a four-man tent was set up in the woods high in the hills above the lake. They made a rapid job of erecting it and as soon as the last peg was hammered home with rods and tackle they ran headlong down the hill. Over the next couple of weeks they all landed carp, some just into double figures. A far as Chris was concerned he would have remained in Radnorshire all summer had I not been for a promise. Like many unfortunate young anglers, he orbited two planets; the planet of the fish and the planet of the fairer sex. It grieved him just to think about leaving, but he’d promised his loved one he would be home by August. Sometime later with a heavy heart it dawned to Chris there was only enough bait for one more night. He had nothing left to eat and had run out of money, except for my return fare to London. One more night then...

At around 3.00am Chris saw a vague grey blur, like steam, as the line flew from the open spool. Picking up the rod he found it was almost torn from his grip. A titanic struggle enthused with his 7lb breaking strain line only just withstanding the initial pressure before the clutch gave. A long run ended with the carp rising to the surface and leaping, smashing the water with its tail. In the quiet of the night, the effect was like an bomb going off. The crash reverberated all round, Chris claimed he heard a clearly defined echo resound in the distant hills! “What’s this?” he said to himself. He knew the answer - a twenty-pounder!

Trouble with the landing net mesh meant a foiled first attempt at netting. He soon realised he’d never land the fish on his own. He let out a piercing whistle and shouted “Bring a net, I’ve got a monster!” On the far bank three Birmingham anglers had been listening to the commotion. Over 45-years later one of them, noted angler Mick Brown, still clearly remembers the shout from Chris.

Soon the scrabble of boots could be heard as Mick began to run. “Hold on!” he called. In the meantime further trouble was afoot as somehow the line looped behind the flyer of the reel. The handle suddenly jammed and the reel would not retrieve or give line - this is typical of Chris who somehow seems to have some kind of catastrophe waiting to happen when he hooks a big fish. He began stripping the line in with his hands, a very dodgy manoeuvre.

At last there were footsteps behind him, it was Mick with his king-sized landing net. He scrambled down the bank and stood next to Chris, peering into the dark. “Shall I go in?” he asked. He was wearing waders. “No” said Chris, “The line’s jammed if he panics now he’ll smash me.” But soon a dark wave indicted the fish was heading directly towards the landing net. Mick heaved up smoothly with the net as the bend went out of the rod. “Gaw,” he said, “I can hardly lift it!”

The fish was carried into the tree avenue behind and laid down. Mick had a lamp and he shone it on a pale, gleaming expanse of carp. Chris wrote, “Having spent most of my fishing years happily chasing fish of five pounds or less, a twenty-pound carp looked fairly impressive. It wasn’t just that it was impossibly large - it seemed supernatural.”

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Gary Bills on Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:58 pm

Great image. Chris, of a stunning looking carp - a strange mouth on that one, but natural I think - and there's no denying the carp's imposing majesty...and doesn't Chris Yates look young!?
Happy Christmas, by the way!

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:43 pm

Happy Christmas to you too. That picture was taken 45 years ago.
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Re: The Special Album

Post by Gary Bills on Mon Dec 22, 2014 12:29 pm

Chris Ball wrote:Happy Christmas to you too. That picture was taken 45 years ago.

An incredible thought....!

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Re: The Special Album

Post by Garren on Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:30 am

I've often wondered Chris, while reading Casting at the Sun, is it the Mick Brown the now well-known pike angler that Chris mentions ?
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Re: The Special Album

Post by Chris Ball on Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:44 am

Garren wrote:I've often wondered Chris, while reading Casting at the Sun, is it the Mick Brown the now well-known pike angler that Chris mentions ?

Garren, Yes, it’s the same Mick Brown, the well-known pike angler, who back in the late 1960/early 1970s a mad keen carp angler. Mick landed many carp from Llandrindod.
Here is one of them from around 1970.

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Chris Ball

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Re: The Special Album

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