Ben Carvosso is one of Ireland’s top coarse anglers. Fishing since the 1980’s Ben has fished for most things that swim in our rivers and lakes, and mostly specializing in his real love of tench and pike fishing. Ben is sponsored by Pallatrax and is helping them get set up in Ireland and we are delighted to have some of Ben’s time. You can follow Ben’s latest fishing adventures at http://www.bencarvosso.wordpress.com
So over to Ben now…
Hi Ben can you tell us your earliest memory of fishing?
I have two early memories; the first was fishing Blessington with my dad and neighbours when I was probably around four years old. I was sat with him fishing the swingtip for roach and we were catching quite a few trout. My first proper fishing trip with my dad was on the Grand Canal not far from Sallins when I was four or five, where the canal goes over the Liffey at the Leinster Aquaduct. It was here that I got to use my own rod for the first time, which was an old 1960s glass fibre 10ft ledger rod with the screw in top part you could insert your swingtip, The rod was short enough for me to handle and could double up as a float rod. That first session I caught my obligatory first perch, along with other silvers and believe it or not a brown trout of 3/4lb. In all my years fishing the canal it was the only trout I ever caught. It was also the first time I ever saw a tench, when my dad caught two in quick succession after a boat went through the swim and churned up the bottom. From that day I was obsessed with fishing and used to hassle my old man to bring me down to the canal most weekends in the summer.
Your Father was a great angler, can you tell us about his fishing?
Well my dad was originally from England and started out fishing at a young age with his brother. They used to make trips to the river Avon and Dorset Stour. He would also fish the Grand Union Canal which was local to him. Working as a journalist he moved around a bit and when he got a job in Hemel Hempstead his local waters were the Tring Reservoirs which were really making a name for themselves at the time as big fish waters. He used to have some cracking sessions on the lakes although it was far from easy fishing he had some really good bream and perch. He said he met some right characters there like Alan Wilson and Fred Taylor who went on to record some of the biggest fish of those times.
Around this time he was hearing about the amazing fishing that was being discovered in Ireland and through the tourist office made contact with a certain Hugh Gough who gave him information about fishing in the Cavan area. He went over on a holiday and instantly fell in love with the place. He decided to make an annual pilgrimage over to here for the next ten years and fished all over the country. When he met my mother and had me in 1977, he got offered a job on the Evening Herald and luckily for him (and me) she agreed to up sticks and leave London to live in Dublin. From what I remember his fishing probably took a back seat for a few years until I could walk, then once I was old enough his master plan came together when he realised I had the fishing bug too.
Over the years he was always a coarse angler and he wrote a fishing column for the Herald for 8-9 years. Through this he would get invitations to fish some amazing places all over the country and luckily I was able to tag along. As he got older he drifted away from coarse angling for some reason, and is now a full on fluff chucker. He is still as keen as ever and spends most of his time on the Liffey or down in Tipperary fishing the Suir, Nore and Annagh. He retired last year so we are planning on going on a fishing week long trip together next year visiting all our old haunts from yesteryear. He is in the process of writing a book about his fishing exploits in Ireland, and hopefully our long overdue trip away will yield some more fishy tales for it.
What early capture left the deepest impression on your fishing?
A couple I suppose. My first tench really left a mark on me as I had never felt anything like hooking into one in my life. We were fishing Digby bridge on the canal and it was bright sunshine all day and twenty yards to our left there were kids swimming at the locks, but the fish were still feeding and we were doing quite well there with skimmers and bream to 3-4lb. Just as it started to cool down in the evening I hooked a fish that scared the life out of me. My small ledger rod was hooped over with an old Mitchell 300 creaking at the strain. After a bit of coaching from my dad I managed to land my first tench and to say I was impressed was an understatement. The whole way home down the Naas dual carriageway my dad’s ears must have been burning with my incessant babbling about tench..
Another fond memory was when we fished a midlands lake which got really badly abused in later years. It was cracking water where you could expect to catch a whole variety of fish and in one sitting I think we managed 8 or 9 different species. Anyway I was fishing the swing-tip and bagging up on roach. I had a newer rod this time, a Sundridge 13ft match rod that also had the screw in attachment in the top eye, and one of the first shimano reels to use the fighting drag. Whilst bringing in a small roach the rod suddenly arched over and bent double. The fish then decided to make a surging run out into the lake and it was at this stage I enabled the fighting drag on my new real letting it take line when it wanted. Realising a pike had taken the roach my dad said don’t be too disappointed if it bites through the line. However, after a titanic battle that must have gone on for 15 minutes I finally managed to scoop the fish into my spoon match net and got the shock of my life. The pike was 15lb plus and at this stage of my life I had never seen a fish that size let alone caught one… I was just thankful I wasn’t still using my Mitchell reel at the time.
I also remember vividly my first ever carp from Galmoylestown in the mid 1980s. Me and my dad and a friend camped up for a night on the lake after we had heard rumours about carp being there. I caught a few on light gear, nothing huge, but enough to leave a lasting impression on me.
You are best known for your bream and tench fishing, what is it about these species that fires the imagination?
Well I haven’t done as much bream fishing in the past few years as I would like as I have been concentrating on tench. They have always been my favourite fish and as I got older I enjoyed trying to catch the bigger ones. I find they look so impressive when they get to a certain size and in a way look like jumbo jets. Their awesome power and blatant disregard for your tackle is comical at times. If you fish too light to try and nick a bite when they are being testy, then they can just smash you up. On the other hand if you set yourself up in a manner that helps the odds in your favour to actually land them, they can just laugh at you and carry on feeding on your free offerings and ignore your hook bait. It’s the mind games that keep me coming back to them. I must have gone 5 or 6 session this year knowing they were in my swim but didn’t manage to land one at all. It’s times like these that they really test your patience, but when you do manage to outwit one, it makes all the effort worthwhile.
For tench fishing, when do you know to use the feeder or the float?
I don’t think there is any rule that dictates that feeder or float is the right method for a certain day. It all depends on the waters you are fishing. I fish a few waters where feeder fishing is next to useless for them. I don’t for the life of me know why, but I cannot buy a bite for them on this method. I usually fish a ledger (sleeper) rod when I am on the float to give me a different option, but on one lake in all the times I have had my rod on the alarm, not once has it gone off. I have tried every variation I can think of including method feeders, maggot feeders, groundbait feeders, inline leads etc and none have been successful, yet in the same session I could nab a few on the float. Float fishing for them would be my preference where possible because I enjoy the up close and personal nature of it. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some great fishing on the feeder for them and the method can be deadly, but the float wins for me hands down.
Can you tell us about your pike fishing?
My pike fishing usually starts around October and I think this year will be no different. 90% of my piking is from the shore these days as I don’t on a boat at the minute but it is something I am looking to sort out this winter. I don’t have a plethora a great piking on my doorstep, and I do travel some distance at times to get some good fishing. Don’t get me wrong, there is some good fishing in Sligo and some if it is quite peaceful, but some of the waters are real heartbreakers. I used to think Blessington was a hard water until I moved to Sligo, then I got to know what slow going is all about. One such water I spent a whole winter on it for nothing much in return. A lot of people would probably move on and say that the lake is devoid of pike and been hammered, but I think that one red letter day producing a massive fish would make all the blanks fade into memory. I know there are some very big fish in it, having seen one at close quarters, but is life too short to spend a lifetime on there, when there are other more productive places to go?. Well the sadist in me keeps me going back for that one big fish, but I do try and mix it up a bit more these days as constant blanks in the freezing cold can really be demoralising. Last year was by no means a great season for me but I did manage a few doubles and a 23lber. I think getting afloat will help matters a lot more and I am looking forward to trying a couple of new waters this winter that I have earmarked during my summer exploration trips.
What catch has given you the most happiness over the years?
Well just the other day, I bought my four year old daughter Pippa out for a quick evening session on a local lake. She has seen me catch a few fish, but never done it completely herself. I had just got a small 6ft drop shot rod which is just the right size for her. I rigged up a small plastic jelly worm and she expertly jigged it back through the waves and managed to snare her first ever fish a perch, which thrilled me to bits. She managed a few more during the trip and as we walked back to the car I was beaming from ear to ear. The best part was I managed to get it all on video. I don’t think she was massively impressed by the whole saga but it made me realise the full circle I had gone through from fishing on the canal at her age, to being the one showing my own daughter how to catch her first fish.
If you were to fish anywhere in the world, where would you fish and for what species?
With so much amazing fishing here in Ireland I don’t think you can even scratch the surface in a lifetime. But if I could manage it sometime I would love to fish for Tarpon and Bonefish somewhere warm. I would also love to catch a barbel. I have tried for them on the Dorset Stour and seen them caught, but I have never managed one myself. Another wish would be to fish the great western lakes if they ever get back to their prime. I did fish Corrib for pike when the gill nets were up in the 90s but never managed one of the big girls.
What would be your dream Irish catch?
I would dearly love to catch an 8lb tench. They are certainly there and quite a few have been and are being caught, but I think that would be the icing on the cake for me if I nabbed one. I would also love to catch a 4lb perch. I saw a fish not so long ago that was not far away, but having spent a number of evenings back out with the rod searching for it with no luck, I fear I may have missed my chance. I did manage to catch the smaller of the pair and it weighed 2lb13ozs however the larger fish was in a league of its own and is really haunting me at the moment. Who knows, I am come across her again one of these evenings.
And finally Ben, what are your hopes for the rest of 2014?
Well I will continue to keep an eye out for this monster perch but also plan to try a few different untapped waters for them over the coming few weeks to see if I can land on some good ones. I am also doing a bit of sea trout fishing in the sea at the moment and plan to get a few more quick trips in before the end of the season. A 6lb sea trout from the shore on light gear would really make my day and I came close enough there this week with a 4lb 8oz fish that really gave me the run around. My landing net broke and I had to head into the sea in my clothes after her. Luckily after a 10 minute battle of wits I got my hands on her. I have been getting plenty in the 2-3lb bracket and they really are great sport. Along with these I will be busy after the pike again shortly and will see if I can manage a session after the mythical Sligo carp. I am nearly sure they exist lol.
I have also been very busy with Pallatrax and helping them launch here in Ireland. Having used their products this year I have been mightily impressed with it all and caught a lot of fish using their bait and tackle. We will be making some videos over here in the coming months which will be very interesting. They have also been working on the Mr Crabtree series which has been getting great reviews, and plans are in place to record an episode over here too.
Well thanks for the interview and hope to talk soon Ben
my pleasure guys