IFD: Tim Paisley is a man who needs no introduction and Tim’s contribution to the world of carping has been immense. He was one of the founders of the Carp Society, and Tim launched the world’s first magazine dedicated to carp, “Carpworld” in 1988. He has written several wonderful books and his latest book the much anticipated “Bivvy Three” will be out in March this year.
He has won the Carp World Cup not once but astonishingly twice. He continues to be at the forefront of carping and also I must mention his charity work which he is very actively involved in. Tim has also been very kind to Irish anglers and made several visits to speak in Dublin for the Society.Tim’s father was born in Dublin and he often spent childhood holidays with relations in Antrim. So we are delighted to have some of Tim’s time now so here is his interview…
What was your earliest memory of fishing?
It’s very distant, and very vague, going back to the village of New Longton, near Preston, where I was brought up. A friend of my elder brother, Colin, by the name of Eddie Tipping, had a garden pond. I have a memory of Eddie catching roach from his pond, and the magic of those lovely fish appearing from nowhere awoke something in me.
How did you catch your first carp and where did you fish in those early days?
My early fishing was around New Longton. My friend, Stuart Riding, introduced me to fishing. I was never a hunter, as many anglers are. It was that magic of scenic stillwaters and those lovely creatures emerging from nowhere that was my inspiration, and still is, I guess. When I moved to Sheffield I was still just a dabbler, an escaper to isolation we find by the water, still just trying to catch anything which swims. I joined what was then the Robin Hood Inn pond in Loxley Valley, and was moved by the beauty of the tench it held. It was while I was fishing for those tench that I caught my first carp. It was a mirror of about 6lb, which looked huge, and it struck me very strongly as being an individual, rather than just another fish. At that time I didn’t know that carp are identifiable, but it wasn’t like another tench or another roach, it was that carp; very individual, and very special
You were a founding member of the Carp society, how did that come about?
I caught the Robin Hood carp at the start of the ’70s, and for a while the Robin Hood water kept me happy. Then it suffered some pollution and I had to look further afield. At that time the Carp Anglers’ Association, the kid brother of the BCSG, was starting up. I joined and attended the inaugural meeting at Billing Aquadrome in 1974. My first writing on carp was for the CAA Newsletter. The start of the Society in May 1981 was triggered by two different themes. One was that the BCSG and CAA supremo Peter Mohan tended to be a tad dictatorial, and his attitude attracted a degree of criticism. On top of this, he didn’t want to be involved in angling politics. Carp fishing was growing. At the end of the ’70s the NFA passed a resolution banning live-baiting (for pike). Specialist angling and carp fishing had no voice in the corridors of powers, and the unforeseen live-bait ban made it clear that they needed one. So, The Carp Society was created to be democratic, accountable and political. The Society struggled politically until the SACG – which later became the SAA – was formed at the start of the ’90s. The SAA was later swallowed up through the formation of the Angling Trust, and for many of us, the representation of carp anglers is currently far from satisfactory.
After launching Carp Fisher for the Carp Society in 1981, you followed up by creating the world’s first dedicated carp magazine “Carpworld” in 1988, can you tell us about setting up “Carpworld”?
For me, the years 1980 and ’81 were a defining point in the growth of carp fishing. The Society was formed, Carp Fisher was launched, KM’s Carp Fever and Rod Hutchinson’s Carp Book were published, and the Hair became increasingly well known. More carp waters were being created, and carp were becoming increasingly catchable. The growth of carp fishing accelerated through the’80s and I felt there was a growing demand for a newsstand carp magazine. In fact, I felt sure Peter Mohan and Kevin Maddocks would tread that path, but they didn’t. Convincing the news trade that a single-species angling magazine was viable took time, but the professionalism of Carp Fisher helped convince a distributor that a carp magazine would have enough appeal to make it work. Carpworld started as a quarterly, soon became bi-monthly, and then went monthly when Rob Maylin launched his bi-monthly magazine, Big Carp. My late wife, Mary, came to look after the accounting side, and it was her understanding of business and experience of dealing with finances which helped make the business what it became, and has become. Mary’s daughters, Pip and Jemima, came on board at different times in the ’90s, and they now handle the day-to-day running of Angling Publications. We have the two newsstand titles, Carpworld and Crafty Carper, our trade magazine, Carp-Trade, and we publish books and have a thriving mail order business through our Carp Store.
You have won the World Carp Cup not just once but twice, how did it make you feel when you won?
I didn’t really know Steve Briggs well when we entered the first of our World Cups at Fishabil in 2000. John Lilley was my usual fishing partner, but he wasn’t welcome at Fishabil, the venue for the event, for reasons I can’t recall. Steve and I entered the 2000 event; we got a good draw, and won it with almost double the weight of the second-placed team. Winning was a thrill, as was standing up on the podium as winners while our national anthem was played. When the 2005 event was being organised on the St. Lawrence, we were asked if we would enter as ‘reigning world champions’. There were of the order of 110 entries, and the event was spread along 35 miles of the St. Lawrence. In all honesty, it never entered our heads that we might win, on the ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice’ basis. For the first 24 hours we felt we were nowhere, but somehow we crept into the lead 30 hours in. Through Tuesday we amassed an additional weight of 1,000lb and were off and running. In retrospect, we never looked like being caught, although it didn’t feel like that at the time. I guess the final fifth day of that match was the highlight of my carp-fishing life. It was euphoric. By the end we just wanted it so much that it couldn’t really happen. You can’t have a better partner than Briggsy, and we fish well as a team because we learn from each other, and certainly don’t try to compete with each other. Target fish and personal bests tend to come along eventually, but you get one shot at a big match, and there is some euphoria to coming first in a high-profile event which can never be matched by the capture of a fish.
What have been your favourite UK waters over the years and why?
Snowberry Lake was hugely influential. I loved the place, and that was where I got a glimpse of a timeless side to carp fishing I didn’t know existed. It was contact with the wider world of carp fishing which resulted in me being invited by the-then little-known Dave Preston to fish the Mangrove in 1983. At that time I was trying to combine a real life with a carp life, but fishing the Mangrove changed me. I had to find some way of having a greater involvement with carp fishing. Bill Cottam and I started Nutrabaits in the mid-’80s, but then I started to make some progress with my writing ambitions. My first two books, Carp Fishing and Carp Season were published in 1988, and Carpworld was launched in the August/September of that year. I was on the breadline and without a car for 3 years leading up to the launch of Carpworld, but gradually things got turned round, thanks to Mary and her business acumen. Bear in mind there were no paid consultancies in those days, and carp fishing was only just starting to attract enough anglers to make it possible to earn a living from the pursuit. Looking back, I was incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and have the conviction to see how big carp fishing was likely to become.
You have fished widely abroad, what have been you favourite waters outside the UK and why?
Raduta was daunting, but unusually kind to me. My 73lb 13oz common from there was the biggest carp caught in the world in 2001. I had four other 25-kilo+ fish from there in the 3 years I fished there (six sessions), which were still very big carp in the early century. Apart from my results, I loved the place. It could be ferocious and made you work for your results. Rainbow is daunting in a different sort of way, and hasn’t been particularly kind to me, but it has a unique atmosphere, and I love the place. Cassien was very good to me, but I didn’t have the same feeling for it that I have had for Raduta and Rainbow. I went to Les Teillatts for the first time in 2014. I love the place, and it has been very kind to me, as I explain in the next answer.
Can you tell us about the session where you caught your PB carp?
Since 2001, one of my ambitions has been to catch a 70lb+ carp from a second water, which is why I’ve been fishing Rainbow whenever I have had the chance to get on there. I’ve had 10 or 11x 60lb+ fish from Rainbow, biggest 67½lb for both common and mirror carp, but, frustratingly, it won’t let a 70 come my way. We included a chapter on Les Teillatts in our Monster Carp book, and the fact that, like Rainbow, it has become a big-carp water by accident intrigued me. I went there in April last year for a week to check it out, and loved it, so I booked a fortnight’s session in July, which proved to be memorable beyond description. I caught the long-awaited second 70, a mirror of 72lb, and then topped that with a new personal best of 75lb 12oz. The session included some other memorable fish, including two of 60lb+. In addition, I managed a picture of a nightingale on the rods, and almost got a picture of a bittern. I was fishing a swim among the dense reedbeds, which reminded me very much of the Mangrove. The session is one of the highlights of my 2015 book Bivvy Three, which, at the time of this interview, is in production for a Five Lakes Carpin’ On launch in March. The following is an entry from towards the end of the Teillatts’ session, written at 4.30 in the morning late in the session, which expresses my feelings about the place itself, and that memorable session: For a few brief minutes just now, I stood out in the dark and was spellbound by the totally unexpected magic of this place, and the moment. You read about waters in print and think it is all about the fish, but both Rainbow and Teillatts have unique atmospheres which add to their aura.
If you could relive any session over the years what would it be?
I have three absolutely standout sessions, but two were so uncomfortable that the one at Teillats described above would be the one to relive, even though it rained in my face for most of the first week. The first ‘most memorable’ was on the Mangrove for 2 nights in December 1994. On the night of December 19th, and totally unexpectedly, I had a five-fish catch, recorded in Memories of Carp, including the personal best Scaley at 38lb 8oz, which equalled a lake record which has stood until the last couple of years.
The second ‘most memorable’ was the ‘Hunt for Red October’ session in World Record Bay at Raduta, also recorded in Memories of Carp. For a number of reasons, I have to look on that as my most successful session ever, because of the effort involved, the sense of danger, the unique atmosphere, and the outcome. (I should add that the St. Lawrence World Cup was uncomfortable, and memorable, but no one in their right mind would want to relive that mosquito-plagued, exhausting 5 days and nights.) Les Teillatts in July would be the one to relive, although there is an anxiety to all big-carp sessions which tinge them with an element of ‘I’m glad that’s over…’. I think that is true of all my most memorable sessions.
What are your fishing ambitions for the future?
I’ve had so many frustrating sessions at Rainbow that I would like to catch a 70 from the place, although I’ve no plans to fish it after this year. I have a vague wish to catch a carp of over 80lb, but I wouldn’t describe that as an ambition. If one comes along, then great, although picking it up for a trophy shot is a hurdle I’ll have to try to climb if the eventuality arises! That may sound odd, but for so long the second 70 was my driving force; now I’ve caught that target fish, further targets are no longer a real ambition. Late in the day I’ve become re-involved in politics as chairman of the very-necessary Predation Action Group, and I’m proudly supportive of Stoney & Friends Macmillan Cancer Support, as president, and Len and Fran Gurd’s Motor Neurone Disease fund-raiser at Linear Fisheries. I find it remarkable that many people still seem to be able to relate to me at my age, so if I can use any influence I may still have as a force for the good, then I perceive that as having more significance than anything I may or may not catch in the future. I hope that anything I’m able to give back will encourage other ‘elder statesmen’ to remain involved, because carp fishing in this country is under-represented and needs high-profile figures fighting for its future on a number of fronts.
I’d like to say hello to my many friends in Ireland. We travelled over to a number of meetings when the cross-border Irish region of The Carp Society was active, and fished with a couple of your guys in France. We remain friends with Mark Kelly, Gerry Heapes, and a number of others who come across to our Carpin’ On show each year. We have happy memories of our visits to Dublin, back in the day – around the turn of the century, I guess.
Tim it has been a pleasure to have some of your time and hope to see you back in Ireland someday