LOCKDOWN LOW-DOWN – PERRY ALABASTER
1) If your life depended on somebody catching a carp for you, who would you pick and why?
It’d have to be our very own Mark Bartlett. From the moment he burst on to the carp scene as a youngster, Bart has proved his all-round fish-catching capabilities over and over again. When I used to fish BCAC matches, the likes of Bart would always send me home wondering why I even bothered getting out of bed to compete. The least he could do for me is catch a carp to save my life!
2) If you could change one thing about carp fishing, what would it be?
Although it’s not something I’ve ever seen whilst out fishing, the negativity of people tapping away on their keyboards about how bad carp fishing is these days really drives me nuts, so if I could change one thing, that would be it. If you’ve fallen out of love with the sport, then move on and let the rest of us keep enjoying it. Simples!
3) What’s your biggest regret in carp fishing?
Although I own a bait boat and will happily use it in France, I’m still not a massive fan of technology, such as boats with echo sounders, fish finders, cameras, etc., to help catch fish. I’d sooner we all started on a level playing field, but admittedly, I sometimes think my stubbornness to not move with the times will be something I live to regret. I hope not.
4) What’s your idea of an angling paradise and what’s the closest you’ve come to fishing one?
A picturesque, peaceful, well-run, well-maintained venue in safe, secure surroundings, with sensible rules, easy access, huge, non-controversial carp and not many other anglers is my idea of an angling paradise. I’ve yet to find it, but Etang du Bois and Rosemere came close.
5) If you could bottle one emotion/memory you’ve felt whilst carp fishing and keep it with you forever, what would that be?
That feeling of achieving one of your lifelong targets, like your first twenty, thirty or forty. Unforgettable, magical memories that last forever.
6) Have you ever experienced an epiphany-like moment when something just clicked and your results escalated as a consequence?
Twenty or so years ago, I joined my third syndicate water, Darenth, where there were a few ‘big name’ carpers. I remember turning up for one particular session when there were six or seven anglers present, all fishing the north end of the lake, fishing into an open expanse of water and it was obvious why. The fish were lunking out all over the place – it was like a dolphin show! After chatting to one or two people, I almost felt stupid ignoring their advice, telling me to slot into one of the vacant swims up that end, but as much as the fish were showing, nothing much was being caught. I decided to plot up down the far end of the lake away from any other anglers and angling pressure, and managed to catch a few good fish, including my first-ever fifty. From that moment I promised myself I would always do my own thing and not be pressured into fishing where someone else thinks I should go. As a result, a lot of my biggest fish since have come from those quiet areas well away from the masses.
7) What is the most significant, thought-provoking thing you’ve ever seen whilst watching carp and how did it affect your angling?
I’d often look over the fence at Monks Pit and watch the carp in the back of the reeds. The water was shallow and the swans used to nest close to where the carp often laid up. It was interesting to see what affect the fish had on the swans and vice versa, and from what I observed, the swans usually seemed more wary of the big carp than the fish were of the swans.
Fast forward one year and I was fishing on Rosemere when a swan was pecking away at some weed in shallow water near to the corner of an island in a swim I was fishing. The swan looked very hesitant as it paddled around and kept looking down at the water, but not always immersing its head. As it backed up nervously time and time again, it reminded me of the Monks Pit swans’ behaviour in the reeds, and I figured something must be spooking it. I chanced my luck and cast a pop-up to the area close to the swan and a short while later landed the biggest fish in the lake from that spot. Watching the actions of birdlife can give you a massive edge!
8) Is there a product on the market that you initially dismissed as a gimmick, only to change your mind over time? If so, what was it and why did you change your mind?
I used to think liquids were a gimmick, especially when it comes to targeting big carp, but since I started using the liquids in the DNA range, I can honestly say I’d never leave home without one type of liquid or another now. I got into the Betastim liquid at first, just coating hemp and pellets with it, which brought some big hits my way. Then I used the Liquid Food, mainly as a bait glug, and more recently I moved onto the Hydro Spod Syrups to use over boilie crumb, pellets, maggots, etc. I could go on forever about how good ALL these are. Just try them!
9) What’s the most inspirational piece of carp-fishing literature you’ve ever read and why?
I found Dave Lane’s second book, A Flick of The Tail, very inspirational. I’ve seen first-hand the effort this man puts in just to catch carp, and once you read that book and learn what lengths he goes to in pursuit of his quarry, you cannot fail to be inspired.
10) If you were to describe your perfect carp, what would it look like?
A perfect carp to me would be of a dark, chestnut-brown colour with some big perfectly uniform scales by its jet-black tail. It would have huge apple-slice scales scattered along both its flanks and it would have a torpedo-shaped body with a wide but fairly flat back. It would have a perfectly formed, undamaged mouth and it would weigh somewhere in the region of 50lb. Most importantly, it would be surrounded by the mesh of a 42 inch landing net. My landing net!