Herald Outdoors Columnist
Like most everyone else, I once looked upon the much-maligned carp as a lowly “trash” fish. Catch ‘em, cuss ‘em, throw ‘em on the bank, or bury ‘em in the garden. Two occurrences changed my mind.
(1) I sampled my first carp croquets and scarfed down a dozen sesame crackers heavily laden with a to-die-for carp dip.
(2) I met a carp fisherman from, of all places, Great Britain.
Number one taught me something Europeans and Asians have known for centuries: Prepared properly, carp make excellent table fare. Number two, however, was the true mind-altering experience.
Before I met Brian, who has an aunt in Liverpool who knew John Lennon as a snot-nosed kid in knee shorts, my only exposure to Englishmen was via British cinema (they don’t say “movies”). In 99 percent of the English films I watched as a youth there was always some guy named Cedric or Basil walking around with a pipe in his mouth looking for clues and trying to figure out whether or not Mrs. Worthington-Smythe bashed in the head of the late Mr. Worthington-Smythe with an ivory-handled bumbershoot (English for “umbrella”).
Cedric or Basil also said “Quite” a lot.
As in, “This case is a bit of a bobby dazzler, eh, inspector?”
“Quite,” quipped Cedric or Basil.
“Permission, Sir, to pop into the Loo?” (English for “potty”).
“Quite,” replied C or B, “but do not tarry long, old bean.” (English for “dude”).
Of course, the movies (Oops, a slip of my colonial pen) were fraught with complicated plot twists and were difficult to follow. They were further muddled by dialogue and dialect. British actors evidently audition for their roles while mouthing a sack full of cat-eye marbles. And, at the end, it was never Mrs. Worthington-Smythe whodunit, but Ravenswood the butler, who dispatched the “mahster” not with the suspected bumbershoot, but with a heavy torch (English for “flashlight”). Cedric or Basil found the torch hidden in the back of a lorry (English for “truck”) under the spare tyre (English for …..W ell, figure that one out yourself).
English carp fishing is just that weird, but a heckuva lot more entertaining. Here’s how Brian describes it.
“The English have advanced carp fishing almost to a science,” he said. “A typical carp fishing trip in England may involve weeks of planning and preparation. The angler carefully prepares his favorite bait, a high-protein type or a boiled bait mixed with eggs, locally called ‘boiles.’ If the selected water is not far from home, he may prebait the water several times. Such chumming not only attracts more carp to the fishing area, but allows them to develop a taste for the bait that will later have hooks in it.
“Finally, the angler will drive (BK: on the wrong side of the road) to the lake, pond, or pit and carry his gear and food to the cleared fishing spot, called a swim, and set up camp. If he is a serious angler, he will have his bed chair (which tilts for sitting or sleeping), a sleeping bag, rain gear, bumbershoot for shade, and a tent called a brollywrap that fits over the bumbershoot and bed chair. Once set up, the fisherman will prebait the swim once more, bait up his two specialized rods, cast out, place his rods in their holders, attach bite indicators, and sit back and relax. While he enjoys his 1-to 3-day vigil, he hopes not to be bothered by competition from anglers fishing for small fish, called maggot mashers, or inexperienced carp anglers, called noddys.”
Now why can’t British cinema produce a cool movie like that once in awhile?
“Gee whiz, Brian,” I said. “That’s all pretty neat, but isn’t that a lot of trouble just to catch a carp?”
“Oh, no, old chap,” he replied. “Why, we often release the bigger beasts so we might one day return and subdue them once again. Many of our favorites even have names.”
“Well, kiss Aunt Nancy. And y’all like that, do you?”
“Oh, yes,” said Brian, lighting his pipe, opening his bumbershoot, crawling into his brollywrap, and looking around for noddys. “Do you think, old bean, you might have a story now?”
“Quite,” I answered. “A real bobby dazzler.”
And you thought dry-fly trout fishermen were weird, didn’t you?
Questions? Comments? E-mail Bob Kornegay at firstname.lastname@example.org