The following is a clipping of my article which appeared in the Arts and Leisure supplement of the Wales Observer - a weekly paper produced by my classmates and I. Nice to be able to write about fishing again.
While the majority of the country are sleeping in their homes, a small but significant minority are preparing for another night under the stars.
It would be easy to miss them; most are holed up on private land, camouflaged to the untrained eye. But, increasingly members of this vague association of individuals are appearing in concreted city parks, beside urban canals and in shadows under bridges.
Indeed, such is the growth in popularity of carp angling, that you might find a furtive angler lurking anywhere there is water.
The 1990s changed the face of fishing. The pursuit of carp, one of the biggest and most widespread fish in the country, replaced the stale and outdated tradition of fishing competitively for smaller species
Heron bite alarms, Gardner monkey climbers, Tutti Frutti boilies: all part of a wave of new technology to appear in shops that made catching carp more accessible to the average angler.
A few small companies cashed in on the angler’s desire to hold up a monster for the camera by commercialising decades of know-how, hard-won by a core of pioneering carp fisherman.
Fast-forward to the present and abandon the image you may have of fishermen; tins of worms and soggy roll-ups are nowhere in sight.
Upon glistening stainless steel stands sit rods and reels worth thousands of pounds. Behind, anglers relax upon portable beds inside drab-green tents waiting for the electronic squeal that will alert them that a fish has taken the bait.
That bleep could come at any time, night or day - it might never come at all. That depends on the angler.
This encapsulates one of the most fascinating aspects of the modern carp fishing phenomenon. While the tens of thousands who participate in the sport might seem to have much in common, the opposite is often true.
Some choose to dedicate months, and even years, to catching a handful of fish from vast inland seas; relishing the accompanying solitude. Other seek a quicker catch from smaller, busier lakes where socialising is an equal part of the experience. The majority fall somewhere in the middle, balancing time and money constraints with the desire to taste success.
The carp fishing fraternity is as broad and diverse a group of people as you could hope to find. ‘Carpers’ come from all backgrounds, and beside a lake is one of the few places that a company director might speak uninhibited with factory-floor workers.
It might seem a strange goal, to carefully unhook, hold for a photo and release such large fish. But, the appeal comes from deep within, tapping into our most primeval instincts.
The sense that the ‘real world’ does not penetrate into fishing life, and that the bankside is a place to escape to, might also explain why so many spend so much time (and money) in their pursuit. In difficult times, it is hardly surprising to find that carpers end up hidden in the most unlikely of places.Stumble it!