Eric Smith needs no introduction, Eric was fishing the UK waters many moons ago and now spends a lot of his fishing time at Rainbow in France, where he has even caught a world record carp at 91lb! That fish was actually named ‘Eric’s fish’ a few years earlier after Eric, so what a fish to break the record with. You can also read about it in Tim Paisley’s Monster Carp, a fantastic book that went on sale in February. A genuine nice guy, I asked Eric to give us an interview and he was only too happy to help so over to Eric….
Me: What are your earliest fishing memories?
ES: Your going back some years now, 45 in fact when I was 10 years old. It was in the summer of 68 and my mum’s younger sister was given the task to baby sit me during the school holidays.Her husband my uncle Chris was a young metropolitan police officer who was a fisherman and after two weeks of me terrorising all the other kids in the newly built police flats he decided to take me fishing to get me away and hopefully a new interest. Fishers green in Cheshunt Herts was the complex, next to the River Lea Navigation and the North met Lake.
The met police had a fishing club and their own section of private river and lakes in and around this complex. As a met police officer we could fish these prime waters that only really got fished at weekends. At first I wasn’t really interested especially getting up and being at the lake by first light.
I found it boring sitting there all day so I would go off a be mischievous likes boys do.My uncle persivevered with me and still took me at weekends. I got my own fishing rod and reel for Christmas and I started to enjoy it. Come the following summer I was looking forward to going fishing with him. Next to the flats was a large allotment where we would go at night with our torches and dig for worms and collect slugs for bait, this was great fun has we wasn’t meant to be there.
Me: How did you move onto carp?
ES: My first carp experience was when I was 14 and we fished the private side of Brookfield Lake in Broxbourne. It was where the Water board had water management works and a private fishing club with a little changing room and toilet. It had a floating boom to stop the boats coming up towards the works end but also stopped anglers casting under the trees too.
The private bank was all grassed and kept in good order with one half tree lined on the water’s edge with gaps to get in, this is where we would fish under the tree canopy. With my 10ft fibre glass three piece rod, 300 Mitchell reel 6lb main line with 3lb size 10 hooks to nylon hook link. We would either use a cut down piece of quill that lay just cocked above the surface with a swan shot or a ½ ounce running Arseley bomb with a small bead and a stop knot.I remember when my uncle brought an Antenna bite alarm and getting all excited when it went off. This is when we started fishing with the back wind on so we got really fast churners that would whack your knuckles if you weren’t careful. The rest of Brookfield Lake was day ticket water and boating lake with a golf course but had some good double figure carp to be had but my first was an 8lb mirror.
I liked fishing for carp but also fishing the new river at fishers green for Chub, Tench and Barbel.
Me: Tell me about fishing those lakes in the UK back in the old days?
ES: I had a spell when I started work and earning some money where I didn’t fish because at the weekends I would be going to pubs and clubs and coming home in the early hours of the morning.
It was around 1978/79 I joined a fishing club that would meet once a week in a pub and we would go of at weekends fishing lakes a sections of rivers all over the southern and eastern counties.
Some of the venues contained carp which I would always target and it was when I fished for carp I realised this is how I want to spend my time fishing.
So I went out and brought all the weekly fishing papers to find out where to carp fish.
I joined the CAA run by Peter Mohan and got my first carp book, Carp Fever by Kevin Maddocks.
I was keen to fish everywhere I read about but not realistic, so I fished the day ticket waters.
Walthamstow Reservoirs was close by, so I fished the complex mainly in the week and evenings after work. Withy pool in the early days was a day ticket venue. I rember fishing there and Kevin coming round asking our I’m getting on. I put my name down on the syndicate list, it took over ten years before I was contacted to join the syndicate, I never did join.
I fished Savay Lake, Farlows and even got a membership to fish Harefield Lake around 1984/85 fishing alongside some of the fishing greats past and present. Something sticks to mind watching Martin Clarke fishing on the surface on the colne bank end of Harefield catching five 20’s in a matter of hours.
I joined the Linear Complex near Milton Keens run by Len Gurd, I think the CAA members could join.
But my fondest memories are at Milton pool farm fishery which is still going today.
An old eccentric couple by the name of John & June Rust owned and managed the lake, they also lived on site in a mobile home. Me and my old mate Norman fished it all through the year joining the week syndicate first then onto the weekend syndicate. We met other local anglers who fished Milton and Orchid Lake run then by the Amy Road stone group, a great bunch of guys.
And not forgetting a little carp Lake at fishers green where I fished many a day experimenting with rigs and bait called Hollyfield carp lake around 3-4 acres.
Me: How did you end up in Spain and do you fish there much?
ES: Spain started out as a holiday home idea in 2001 which after 5 years lead to my wife and me agreeing to up root and go, with me travelling back to work in the UK a couple of times a month to run the company.
It all seemed a good idea but after 4 years of flying back and forth I’d had enough, the construction industry was fading fast and started to decline. The financial crises was starting so I got out with plans to have some time off not knowing how bad it would all get.
So now I’m starting a company to sell my white tigernuts and Brazil nuts from here in Spain to customers around Europe. My website will be up and running soon but for now people can email me @ email@example.com if you’re interested.
I don’t fish in Spain but have met a group of Spanish carp anglers who do and keep inviting me to fish with them and that will happen someday soon.
Me: You have been going to France for a long long time, can you tell us about that?
I fell in love with France when I first fished Lac Cassien in June 1987 when I went with seven guys in a twin wheeled Ford Transit, one of which was Kevin Ellis who’d caught his iconic 76lb mirror carp the year before.
I remember sitting in Pierre’s cafe eating omelette and chips drinking a Kronenbourg looking on the wall at all these big fish. God it was exiting even now thinking about.
This was the beginning of my French adventure and every year since I have fished lakes and rivers all over France. We called it our pioneering years. The river Lot in the late 80’s and early 90’s was a good venue. I never blanked there. Also around the early 90’s fishing at Lac du Der, Lac Salagou the river Seine and Yonne. To name but a few.
Me: How did your love affair with Rainbow start?
ES: Rainbow started for me purely by chance 13 years ago. I was to fish Lac Leon in the south west of France below the big lake of Bisscarross which I spent two years fishing around 95/96 season.
On arrival at Lac Leon with my mate Pete we headed off to a spot we fished the year before only to find a French couple bivvied up with their friends all plotted around the bay which contained a large area of lily pads. We were gutted, what now!!!!
Plan B was to have a look at another lake that some friends of mine had fished that was close by called Mimizan. On arrival the lake looked good but had rules now strictly enforced, night fishing was only allowed on one stretch of bank around 500mtrs long.
We drove round to find a busy car park area full of French cars and anglers bivvied up everywhere.
Ok time for plan C, Didn’t have a plan C but remembered seeing in the Carpworld Magazine an advert about a commercial lake called Rainbow Lake near Bisscarosse. We had the magazine with us so decided to call the number.
A Frenchman answered the phone and in my limited French vocabulary managed to get directions to the little village of Hostens which is near to the lake. We arrived at Hostens that afternoon and spent 2 hours driving around looking for this lake. After a few phone calls the lake owner agreed to come and meet us by the village post office. His name was Pascal.
We followed him to the lake, first impressions it didn’t look that big but when we walked round its 2.1 miles of track we thought let’s give it a go.
It was whilst I was fishing there I realised how relaxing it was to fish without the worry of any Garde de Peche or Gendarmerie paying you a visit in the middle of the night asking for permits or for fishing no night fishing areas, where you run the risk of big fines and losing your fishing gear.
I booked swims for the following year and my love for Rainbow began.
Me: You have caught some monster carp including a world record, can you tell us about that particular catch?
ES: Yes I’ve caught some big carp which is in Tim Paisleys new book Monster Carp which was released this February at the Zwolle show, believe me if you’ve never been to Zwolle put it in your dairy.
The world record common carp capture of Eric’s Common a fish named after me was a dream come true.
A phone call from a mate who had three swims booked from the 4-18 November had been let down and said to me do you fancy peg 1&2, well it might be a bit cold for me I replied, now I live in Spain, he laughed yeah true. I said leave it with me for a day or so and I’ll get back to you.
I hadn’t fished at Rainbow in November for at least 6 years because of how cold it can get but I agreed to have the swim and invited Alan Taylor to fish with me.
I had the start of a bad cold or flu when I arrived on the Friday. A few anglers where there and we all slept in the club house.
The following day we got in our swim and I let Alan go on the right which is normally the better side, I’d already fished in peg 1 before so was happy to fish in two’s water. Alan was all set up and fishing by Sunday afternoon, where I was feeling like crap and wishing I was home.
By Sunday night my throat was on fire and I was running a temperature. Monday morning Pascal brings the anglers bread round and I asked him to get me so flu products from the Pharmacy which he kindly did. We also got an invite to dinner in the house for the following evening as a thank you to Gary the golfer who invited Pascal’s sons to Pike fish with him in Germany where he is based.
So because I was ill on the Monday and with an invitation to meet at the club house for a little drink on the Tuesday I decided not to fish.
Tuesday evening was very enjoyable and when we returned to the swim around 1.00 o’clock in the morning it was minus 2 degrees. It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon I got my rods out.
Alan had caught five fish by now which included a big mirror called Ken Dodd at 82lb, with the pictures taken a brew with a shot of Brandy or two was to be had. After 48hrs and not a bleep my first week was almost over, I decided to move the right hand rod, I just had a feeling to put it in an area where a channel runs through around 4.6mtrs deep. It was a spot I fished some years before but now looked different on the sonar, but I did find a hump 4.0mtrs deep and about a 1mtr wide so I placed the rig on this spot a few handfuls of white Tigernuts and chopped boilies .
Sitting back in the swim I felt good and more confident.
It was on the Sunday morning 12th November at 11.00 o’clock that I had the take, a drop back which I thought could be a Bream as Alan had caught a couple already, then bam this isn’t no Bream.
With Alan standing by with the net I played the fish to the bank and the fish was netted. The rest as they say is History.
Me: Where else would you like to fish in the world?
ES: I’m very happy at Rainbow Lake at the moment. I have fished Lake Raduta in Romania in 1998; ten of us went for 2 weeks in May and back again in the September. Flying out with the minimum of kit and sending bait and leads by airfreight in advance took a lot of organising, would never do that again. I also fished in the Canaries at winter time in the early 90’s but again it’s difficult to get the kit out there you need. I was just asked earlier this month if I wanted to go and fish in Hungary at Euro Aqua, but it’s not for me that style of fishing.
I will fish Spain in the winter months sometime soon with the Spanish guys I know.
Me: If not a carper what kind of fishing could you have seen yourself doing?
ES: Well I’ve tried all the different ways to fish, Course and match fishing in my early days, Pike fishing in the winter , breaking the ice with a steel bar on a piece of chain and even putting maggots in your mouth the make them wriggle when it was too cold. I get sea sick when sea fishing so I tried beach casting in Norfolk but it’s not for me.
For me sitting around a quiet Lake with all the comforts you want, listening and watching the wildlife with the chance of catching a big fat carp will always put a smile on my face.
But I have to admit in the early days fishing for Tench on the North Met at night using just a torch to see the float was great fun.
Me: whats in store for 2014?
ES: I’m hoping 2014 will be the start of a new beginning for a few reasons. First I need to get my Kidney problem sorted, I had a Kidney stone last June whilst fishing at Rainbow Lake and spent 5 nights in hospital getting it removed. It was 10.9mm in diameter and they used a Laser to break it up which was fine but the Laser caused scaring to my Ureter. (The tube that takes urine from the Kidney to the bladder and allows the Kidney to function) This is now completely closed, so for the Last 4 months whilst undergoing numerous test I’ve had a tube cut into my right side called a stent with a small bag attached to collect urine a hopefully keep the Kidney functioning. I should be going under the knife by the end of April.
The other reason is the start of me getting my website up and running to sell my White Tigernuts and other Tigernut products direct from the farm to the public. So watch this space.
I will also prepare for some of the known carp shows coming next winter around Europe.
And of course trying to catch an 80lb carp.
Me: Eric thanks a million for talking to us and I will be looking forward to hearing how you get on this year…
ES: No problem Paddy anytime……