IFD: Simon Stuart’s love for carp fishing began at home in a family of fishermen. Simon’s Great grandfather was the British record holder for carp for a fish caught in 1930 and stood for many years until Dick Walker’s next took the record, and and his Grandfather and Father were also keen anglers. Simon now lives in France with his family where he offers guided trips to wild carp waters. Here is Simon’s interview….
Can you tell us about your great Grandfather and his fishing?
My Great-Grandad was Albert Buckley. Unfortunately I never met him as he passed away before I was born.
However, I do remember us having two pike in a glass case which we had hanging on the wall in the dining room, which Albert and his dad had caught.
My Grandfather had Albert’s record carp on the wall in his bungalow and as a child I spent many hours looking at it and thinking ‘what a monster’. Unfortunately, this record carp was sold to someone in Wales many years ago, so unfortunately we no longer have it in the family. I do however own the gaff (no nets in those days!) and the rod which Albert was given for publishing his story. My grandfather told me that the publicity which Albert received after catching the fish made him shy away from sharing any of his other captures with the press and told me that Albert caught a bigger carp from Mapperley Reservoir which he kept quiet about.
Your Grandfather and Father also loved their fishing, can you remember any stories of their fishing?
My Grandfather and father were also anglers. I remember my father taking me and my brother fishing from a very young age. He was a very good angler, both sea and fresh waters and he spent a lot of time making his own rods, pike plugs, rigs etc. I remember a time when my mum had cooked a chicken which she put in the fridge after cooling. That evening, my dad came back with a pint of maggots which he put in the fridge. The next morning all I could hear was mum screaming – the maggots had tipped over and were happily munching on the chicken….he never put maggots in the house fridge again.
My Grandfather was a keen trout angler and fly-fished for them. I remember that he paid for me to have a fly-fishing lesson at Walkers of Trowell, after which he would take me fly-fishing with him. He was great character and always wore a Trilby hat. On our second trip to Oxton Reservoir, I remember him saying to me ‘no Simon, you cast like this’, as I looked around he had hooked his Trilby hat and it went flying out into the lake. It made my fishing trip with him as I couldn’t stop laughing!
What were your own first memories of fishing?
My own first memories of fishing were of going down the local cut (canal) with a friend. All we had for tackle was a wooden clothes peg with some black cotton wrapped around it and a bent safety pin for a hook. I know it felt like a lifetime ago and yes, we did catch – mainly gudgeon if memory serves me right. I also remember one summer catching sun-stroke as I had been out in the sun too long. I felt so ill that my dad asked me if I wanted a proper fishing rod to make me feel better. He promptly went into the garden, took a suitable bean-cane from the greenhouse and made what I thought was a fantastic fishing rod with eyes and a handle. I was four years old! For the next year or so, many happy hours were spent fishing with it and a wooden centre pin reel. HAPPY DAYS…
What were your favourite waters in the UK?
I loved fishing the Erewash Canal in my early years, for any type of fish. At the age of ten, I remember getting a new reel and other gear for Christmas and spending Boxing Day down the canal trying to catch in the snow. I also loved fishing at Mapperley Reservoir and from my earliest recollections to the age of 40, I fished there on a regular basis. In the later years I fished it mainly for carp.
What was your first French trip like?
My first French trip – well it was a bit of a disaster……
We drove through the night and in the early hours of the morning managed to get very lost trying to navigate through Paris. We eventually arrived at the lake at lunch time and I promptly chose the best peg on the lake. The weather was very hot and it looked like all the fish were down in the shallows where I would be fishing. The first day fishing and I had just two small carp about 10lb. The second day however, the weather changed and became very cold, all the fish moved out of ‘my’ swim and moved into deeper water. I caught nothing else that trip and froze my proverbials off. Needless to say, the other two lads that came with me caught lots of fish including two PB’s.
Moral of the story – take your time choosing a swim, or at least let the other anglers have a chance of picking the wrong swim!
You have also fished for carp in Australia what was that like?
Carp fishing in Australia, amongst the other fishing I did, was a real eye-opener. I remember one day, parking the camper near a lake in Canberra, I wasn’t fishing seriously for carp as I just had a single rod and was using corn. As I fished, a guy about 150 meters away was catching carp of 6-8lbs, he brought them in, landing them with his hands by putting his fingers in the gills, unhooking them and just shaking the fish and leaving it to die in the grass. As you may know, carp are classed as vermin in Australia and anglers are told to kill them. As I watched that afternoon, he only caught carp and there were four of them dead on the bank. You can imagine, I was devastated but what could I do? I was in somebody else’s country. That evening as the fishing slowed down, the guy collected his gear together and walked towards me. He stopped in my swim and we started talking and of course I broached the subject of why he killed the carp. He said that all anglers were told to and he called the carp a ‘shit’ fish. I asked ‘so you didn’t enjoy catching them? Or the fight they gave?’ He replied that yes, he did enjoy the fight and catching them, so I said ‘so now you have killed the fish you will not be able to enjoy them any more’. As we talked more, he asked if he could fish with me to which I said ‘ok’ as long as he wouldn’t kill the carp. So we fished, and talked, and caught another six carp – none of which were killed. As he was leaving he told me he was not going to kill any more carp he caught and that I had made him think a little bit more about what he had been doing. This was probably one of my better days in Australia and I felt that I had really made a difference.
You now offer guided fishing trips for wild French carp, can you tell us how that started and what you offer a visiting angler?
I moved to France five years ago and it was always in the back of my mind to start up some sort of fishing venture. I looked at several lakes with the idea of starting a commercial fishery, however my heart was just not in it. I couldn’t imagine getting excited about anglers fishing my lake where the same named fish get caught time after time, it’s just not my thing.
So with that in mind, I’ve spent the last three years fishing and researching the rivers and lakes around where I live, with this information I decided to start Guided Fishing Holidays. I think a lot of UK anglers shy away from fishing public waters here in France because they are unsure of where to fish, what waters hold what stocks of fish, licences and the time to spend researching these waters. I have done all the hard work for them, I can have everything ready for them when they arrive including licences, how to fish,, where to fish, even accommodation if required. I can spend as much or as little time with the anglers as they require.
We fish some stunning waters that see very little, if any, angling pressure, the fish as you would expect are in pristine condition, being wild virgin-caught fish. We offer a choice of holidays, either carp, catfish or general coarse angling and anglers can either drive or fly out to us as we offer a free airport pick-up service. All the information can be found on our Facebook page “Guided Fishing Holidays”.
Can you tell us about the capture of your PB carp?
My PB Mirror Carp at 64lb was caught from a lake I had known for some time. It’s a very small lake which only holds a few big fish. I decided to fish it late in the season as I knew the fish would be at their top weight just before going into the winter months. I fished just two day sessions – going home at night for a warm and a good nights’ sleep.
I fished three rods into three separate areas of the lake to cover as much of it as possible.
The baits where placed over a small bed of scattered boilies. I prefer this to a tight bed of baits as I like to get the fish searching for the bait rather than bumping into a pile of freebies. The rods were out all day without a bleep or a knock, it felt like it wasn’t going to happen. When just as it was starting to get dusk and I was thinking of packing up for the evening, the right hand rod which was tucked into a bay at the far corner of the lake ripped off. Gotcha I thought to myself, but the fish had other ideas. It wanted to kite over to the back of the island. I ran across the bank to try and get a different angle on the fish and stop it, and to my surprise as soon as the line tightened to it I managed to turn her. My heart was in my mouth for the whole fight and when she finally slipped into the net I could see just how big she was. Happy Days.!
I went home that evening thinking that tomorrows short session couldn’t get any better and arrived on the bank the next day with a huge smile on my face.
Well the next days session proved to be just as good, with two fifty pound fish in the net.
I don’t think sessions like this come along very often to anglers, but it did for me and I took it with open arms.
If you could relive any other session what would it be?
Hmmm….that’s a very difficult question to answer. I have been fishing since the age of four and I am now 48, so 44 years of fishing has seen some great sessions – from catching gudgeon, roach and perch as a very young angler, to some really big carp and catfish as a seasoned angler. With so many to choose from I think I am going to say I really don’t have a favourite, just many years of enjoying my angling.
What are your fishing hopes for 2015?
My hopes for 2015 – I am not setting myself any personal fishing goals in 2015 as last year I did set myself some goals, which took some achieving. So its just about the guys coming to fish with me at GFH. I hope I can take anglers to places they would normally not fish and that they catch some stunning fish and have a great holiday.
Well thanks for your time Simon and hope you have a great 2015
It was my pleasure lads you too…