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Big Carp Legends: Pete Springate

Big Carp Legends: Pete Springate

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Big Carp Legends: Pete Springate

236 pagine
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Feb 10, 2015


Peter Springate

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Big Carp magazine, this series of books entitled ‘Big Carp Legends’ will encompass the greatest names in carp fishing history over the past two decades.

The content of the books in this series will be a mixture of articles from the archives of Big Carp, life histories of famous anglers and original articles specially commissioned for the series and never before published. One by one these books will build into the greatest collection of modern day carp fishing history ever printed; a collection that every serious carp angler will want to own.

Pete Springate or ‘Sir Pete’ as he is fondly known is one of the godfathers of carp angling. When Noah put two of every creature on the Ark, all those years ago, Sir Pete was one of the two carp anglers. His catches have been legendary for almost forty years.

Where he hasn’t fished and what he hasn’t caught isn’t worth mentioning. We all gasped in awe at his picture with the Yeoveney brace on the back cover of Carp Fever way back in the eighties but some would argue that his most memorable brace was that of Mary and Mary’s mate. Not once but twice he has left us amazed.

This is Pete’s story of his incredible carp fishing life as told in his own words in 2008. The rest, as they say, is history!

Feb 10, 2015

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Big Carp Legends - Pete Springate


Big Carp Legends

First published in 2010

By Bountyhunter Publications

© Bountyhunter Publications 2010

All rights reserved. No part of the publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior permission of the copyright owner.

Printed in Great Britain

Big Carp Legends

Pete Springate

Foreword by Rob Maylin

I chose Pete Springate for the first in a series of books depicting the legends of big carp fishing because, in my opinion, he epitomises the essence of a truely great angler. An angler whose career has spanned almost five decades and sees him just as passionate now about his fishing as he ever has been.

Whether it be stalking a sly carp on a delicately positioned floater, something I know is a favourite of Pete as in February 2010 he proudly informed me that he had just recently caught a carp off the top, and had now accomplished this feat in every month of the calendar year, or trotting a piece of flake down his local river in search of that elusive 3lb roach he so dearly wants to catch. He is as keen now as the young man who first realised it was possible to have a lead on the line and still catch carp way back at Darenth in the sixties.

His journeys in pursuit of the largest, took him to many of the waters that we fish today, yet in Pete’s day they were unknown.

Yeoveney, Longfield, Harefield and Yateley in the seventies when Heather and Bazil were twenty pounders and most of todays big carp hadn’t even been spawned. Redmire, Wraysbury and Kingsmead before Horton or the Crayfish Pool ever existed. Sonning Eye way back before the ‘Eye’ was ever seen.

In recent years his love of the wild, unspoilt places has seen him in search of a new Wraysbury and single handedly he has tried his best to pioneer that awesome 300 acre Colne Valley pit know as Broadwater. While keeping his hand in on the BCSG water Korda, catching fish over forty pounds and fishing locally in Sussex enjoying some sport with the resident thirty pounders.

This account of Pete’s carp fishing life was relayed to me at his home in 2008. It is spoken in Pete’s own words. There is the occasional swear word and it’s perhaps not as Shakespeare would have written it, but you won’t find any apologies for that here. I have tried to encapsulate the essence and soul within the man despite the need to proof read. Please don’t criticise the English, it’s how Pete would want you to hear it, warts and all.

Now sit back and enjoy the ride as ‘Sir’ Pete relays just how it was, once upon a time...


– The Learning Curve

"It taught me a lesson that it wasn’t the gear

you’ve got that catches the fish, it’s the actual craft."

Hampton as a boy.

Well, I suppose it all started when I was a kid really. For as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated by water, and luckily enough I suppose, I had a little pond at the top of my road where I lived in Battersea. I used to go up there as a kid trying to catch the sticklebacks. I used to come home with my jam jar with sticklebacks in; I loved it, and it just progressed from there. Further across the common was a bigger lake that held some bigger fish, and at the time, I just fished for whatever I could catch. I don’t know how old I was then, probably about ten when I went over there. I used to go over there on my own with a rod, and I remember one day very, very well. I used to do a paper round; I got myself a Saturday job in a wet fish shop helping out, and I used to come home stinking of fish. My mum used to go mad at me, but I saved my pocket money because I saw a three-piece split cane float rod in this second-hand shop. I can’t remember how much it was, but it took me ages to get enough money to buy that rod. I took my uncle with me one Saturday morning, because he was a fisherman, he used to take me fishing, and I just wanted him to check it over to make sure it was ok. Anyway, we got it and I was over the moon with this rod because it was the first decent rod I had - before that I was using bamboo canes and whatever. Anyway, I went over to the common with my mate; he broke a bit of branch off and tied a bit of line to it with a hook, and I had the rod and the reel and all the gear. We fished next to each other, and he had three tench and I had nothing, and I thought that was so unfair. It was me that had the gear, but it taught me a lesson that it wasn’t the gear you’ve got that catches the fish; it’s the actual craft so to speak, the watercraft. But as I say, that was many, many years before I even started carp fishing.

I used to go roach fishing on the Thames with my uncle, and I remember one time we were down at Hampton Court, and I caught a couple of nice roach, probably the biggest roach I had caught at the time, so I wanted to bring them home. We had gone on our pushbike, well, he had a pushbike like a little tandem bike with a seat on the back, and anyway, I insisted that we take these fish home. We came home with like a billycan with these couple of roach in, and we were both soaking wet where it kept splashing over. I came in and I showed my mum and dad, and we put them out in the garden, but the next morning I got up to see them and they were gone. I was so upset and my dad said, Oh, probably the cat has had them, but in later years I found out that my uncle had taken them and put them in the pond up the top of the road. I don’t know really where I got involved with fishing or why, because my dad never went fishing. My uncle used to go, and my grandad used to go - in fact he used to do a lot of match fishing, and he won quite a lot of matches, but I never ever went with him. I regret it now, but I never ever went fishing with my grandad. It wasn’t until later on when I was a teenager (or later than that really, because when I was a teenager I was more into girls and drinking than fishing). But I remember that if June 16th came round and I was supposed to be at school, I would bunk off and go fishing, but it wasn’t until many years later that I was fishing for tench and what-have-you; it was like a progression, a learning curve. When I got a motor and a bit of money after working, I managed to go and do a bit more fishing further afield. I remember going up to Norfolk with a mate of mine, I had an old Wolseley 110 at the time, and we both slept in it because it had bench seats, one in the front and one in the back, and we went up there and fished up on the Norfolk Broads. I don’t know when that was now, but it was many, many years ago.

It wasn’t really until I was going out with a girl, and her dad was a fisherman that I got serious about fishing. I got on quite well with him, and he said to me, Do you fancy going fishing at the weekend? So I said, Yeah, what sort of fishing do you do? He said, I do a lot of roach fishing. So he took me to this place called Barn Elms Reservoir in South West London, near Hammersmith. Now it’s just a wildlife sanctuary; they closed it all down, but at the time there were four reservoirs there, and apparently Bill Penney caught his record roach from there many years before. Anyway, this guy Fred said to me, Oh yeah, we’ll go there, there are some nice roach and what-have-you. There was another place called the Knight and Bessborough reservoirs down near Staines that we used to go to. To me it was an eye-opener because it was so vast, and you were like 50ft up in the air because they were right up high, these London reservoirs. You were exposed to all the winds, and all the elements, and you fished there with bread on one rod and a worm on the other rod, just for the roach. You could spend all day there and you might get one bite, but it would be a 2lb roach, and that’s really I think where I learned about patience and fishing big waters. They were just like concrete bowls and there were no features as such, but there were still certain spots where you would catch fish. I can’t explain it really, but that taught me an awful lot about catching specimen fish, and I am grateful to him for taking me there.

After that, he said to me, There’s a place opening up, five guineas it is to join, and I said, What’s that? He said, It’s Hall and Co’s, by the looks of it they’ve got a big lake at Staines, and it’s got big tench in it. So I said, If you fancy it at the start of season, and he said, Yeah, we’ll go down there. And that was the first time I ever saw Wraysbury Number 1, and it was huge. I mean there were just one or two people fishing, and it was so overgrown it was unbelievable. We fished off a point, with a bay to the side; we were fishing one side and there was a bloke on the other side. I think we might have had one or two tench, nothing big, nothing special, but this bloke on the other side had half a dozen tench by this willow tree, and I made a mental note of it. I went back again and fished where this guy had been, and I had a couple of nice tench out of there myself. That was in 1967, something like that, when they opened that up, and the following year or that closed season, they decided to landscape it. They went round and they took half the trees out, and the transformation was unbelievable. Whereas before you had a job walking round, now it was just bare banks, and I fished there on and off for ages, fishing for tench and bream. It wasn’t easy even for those sorts of species because it was so big, and then they opened it up during one closed season as an experiment, and they asked that if anyone caught any fish, especially tench, they would take a scale and a measurement and send if off to this Dr Ann Powell, because they were doing research at the time. So anyway, I thought - I’ll do that.

It was all part of a learning curve at the time, and I decided to take a week off work and go down for a week. I’d never fished for a week before, and all I had was a 45in canvas brolly, a plastic bedchair, and that was it. So off I went, taking a load of lobworms with me, and a loaf of bread, and I decided to fish this area, funnily enough now known as Dredger Bay Point. But at the time there were no bushes, nothing; it was a completely bare bank, and the channel I was fishing up against, towards this little island was chocka-block with weed, the old Canadian pondweed. I fished it by free-lining bread flake with a swan shot a couple of inches behind, just so it fluttered down and settled on the top of the weed, and I caught a load of tench that week. The bloke on the dredger, because they were still working it, used to come past every morning and give me a wave, and then one day he came round to see me and he said, Do you know what, I’ve never seen anyone fish here for so long. I got chatting to him, and I said, When you’re out in the old dredger, do you ever see anything? They were using the suction then, and he said, Oh yeah, we’ve had all sorts, clogging up. He told me about these carp he had seen, and these pike, and it got me thinking. Anyway old Fred came down one day while I was fishing there that week; he fished along the bank from me, and he had his rod pulled in. We presumed it was either a tench or a carp at the time, because he was up having a chat with me, and the next thing we saw was his rod going across the water. It ended up by this island in the bushes, and I can’t swim, and he was an old boy at the time. So anyway, I got the guy in the dredger boat to come round, and he managed to get the rod back for him, but unfortunately there was no fish on the end. I think they did an experimental closed season for about three seasons, and it was a May bank holiday, I remember that, ah yes, it’s all coming back to me now.

Chapter 1

Darenth – The Early Days

"Then I saw someone using leads and I thought, you can’t use

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