An angler interview with Solar Tackle’s Carl Sharp, talking about his love of gravel pits, long range fishing and what keeps him going back to France. Matthew Fleet from the Carp Marathon asks the questions…
Before we begin may I start with saying a big thank you to Carl for taking the time out to do this interview for me. Carl is a great angler and I’m sure all of you reading this will enjoy the content. Like myself, Carl is from the Midlands which makes this interview extra special.
Can you give me, and everybody reading this, a few words about yourself?
My name is Carl Sharp, although my friends call me Sharpy, born and raised in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. I am 30 years old, and currently work in an office which imports merchandise for professional football/rugby clubs.
At what age did you begin angling?
I started angling when I was 5 years old. Believe it or not I first wetted a line fly fishing for rainbow trout with my dad and uncle down a local complex of ponds. It was hard work, being such a young lad, trying to thrash the water’s surface to a foam with my casting, but I loved it and caught my fair share of rainbows too!
From there I ventured onto the local canal systems targeting anything that would take my maggot on my 5 meter pole, it was great fun. In fact the first fish I hooked into was a gudgeon. Thinking I’d mastered the hooking and shipping my pole backwards down to a fine art after 2 gudgeon. I was to learn a valuable lesson on my 3rd bite as the float shot under and I was suddenly connected to a tench of around 4lb which subsequently snapped my hook length in a matter of seconds with my limited experience.
When did you make the decision to target big carp?
I pleasure fished on mixed coarse fisheries for nearly 10 years, although I must admit I was always trying to catch the carp wherever I went and with whatever method I could use. These weren’t exactly huge fish, and my pb of 11lb 4oz stood firm for years before I decided to target carp seriously.
I was around 15 years old when I thought I had what it took to sit and wait for considerably longer sessions than the day only approach that I was used to. It was around 1999 when I finally used a pod and static approach, armed with 2 x 1 3/4lb TC rods of different makes and models (although I did own 2 tiny Baitrunner reels already).
It was a great feeling of the unknown, as there were no DVDs telling you how to tie up the latest rig, or what areas of the lakebed you should be targeting. It was all very hush hush and secret squirrel stuff, and it was a case of trial and error and countless hours of stress and worry of “are my supple braided rigs tangled up in a mess on the bottom?”.
Like myself you are from the Midlands, is the majority of your angling done local or do you travel?
I must admit that since I’ve been seriously into my carp fishing (which would have been 1999 as previously stated), I have always travelled at least 80 miles from my home town. It would have been Oxford in the early days, Milton Keynes for a good amount of time, as well as Cambridgeshire for the last 3 years or so. The only exception to this was 2009 when I battled my wits with the Acton Burnell syndicate (RH Fisheries) for a season. I must admit though, I do love the gravel pits that we end up having to travel for, the silty meres do have their gorgeous surroundings but you can’t beat a windswept crystal clear gravel pit.
How did your relationship with Solar Tackle begin?
I first met Martin Locke way back in 2001 when I was on work experience working alongside Rob Hughes helping him to run Angling International as part of my fisheries studies course that I attended at Rodbaston College.
Rob was due to meet ‘Lockey’ down at the now very popular Bluebell Lakes complex near Peterborough for an Angling Times feature that they had got planned. With an invite to fish alongside them for 2 nights, I was more than up for it. It was to be Lockey’s first look at the Kingfisher Lake before his obsession with Benson was in full swing (which he went on to catch not long after).
It was years later when our paths were to cross again, when a placement was put forward on an angling website I was working alongside, and a sponsorship within the Solar team was offered. I was more than up for it and 3 years later I’m proud to say that I’m still a part of what are a great bunch of guys helping to promote quality gear and a brand new bait factory that supplies me the freshest of bait possible.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in your angling?
If I was to talk angling literature then I don’t think anyone would argue with me that when I first read Terry Hearn’s book ‘In Pursuit of the Largest’ it just made me want to drop everything and fish as much as I could. Such detail of the areas Terry fished, along with the fish’s patrol routes and feeding patterns, he gets so involved with whatever he is trying to achieve with a certain lake that you can’t fail to be inspired.
I can’t leave this question without mentioning my dad though, as the journey of my angling would have never even started without his introduction to the sport all those years ago. It’s great to say that even to this day we still go fishing together a lot of the time, and our progress from pleasure to serious carp fishing went together hand in hand, learning together as much as we can.
Is angling just a favourite past time or do you see it as a full time career?
I won’t deny that I would love to see my angling path turn into a career that I could sustain my income from, but it seems to me in this day and age that everyone has the same idea, making it that much difficult. It’s such an obsession that I can think of nothing else when I’m at work most of the time anyway, so to be sat talking carp and earning a living would be heaven.
I must admit though I’m not under the illusion that I could do this by fishing full time, and I wouldn’t really want to! What I would love to happen is to be able to work alongside one of the many leading companies within the heart of the business, either in the offices, the warehouse, even the bait rolling side of things. Hopefully one day an opportunity may arise, but for now I can only dream…
What is your all time favourite tactic and bait?
I do love long range fishing, when I was fishing Dovecote (a gravel pit covering 50+ acres of water) it was something that I was adamant on conquering. The closest range that the huge island was from any given swim was around 120 yards, and to consistently fish areas like this when I first joined was devastating. I must admit that rods and carbon technology have come a long way in such a short space of time making distance fishing so much easier, but when I first joined it was such a buzz being able to hit these sort of areas and also follow that up with a few spods of bait.
As far as bait is concerned, if you are referring to a type of boilie in particular, I would have to say the Club Mix from Solar. Although I probably haven’t caught as many fish on them at times for whatever reasons than other baits I have used, the big fish that it has singled out for me have been insane! No less than 5 UK 40’s have landed in the bottom of my net whilst using them.
Like myself you fish overseas (France) what keeps you going back?
The pull of large fish from abroad is always appealing, although I must admit that what really keeps me going back is the actual holiday element. I have never taken the overseas fishing that I’ve previously done too seriously because at the end of the day I want to enjoy my break from the monotonies of work, chill out and just relax next to the water’s edge with a chance of a carp or two.
The thing with booking French trips is that it’s always so hit and miss with having to book so far in advance. The weather could be against you, the previous party could have caught a lot of fish before you’ve even cast your first line out, all these things could create a very hard week’s angling.
I put so much effort into my UK fishing that I don’t want to be sulking over on the continent when you cannot change whatever the situation may be, and so for me it’s simply a case of what will be will be. That’s not to say I don’t put any effort in, but I know of a few lads that have spoilt their angling by venturing abroad, managing to catch a large carp or two and coming home with a view that the UK isn’t worth fishing any more. Some have even hung up their rods due to it!
If angling was to stop tomorrow what would your thoughts be? And would there be another sport that you would have as much passion for to take its place?
If angling was to stop tomorrow then there is no denying that such a big piece of my life would be missing. Angling is so much more than just a hobby, it’s an obsession that runs through the blood in my veins and keeps me going with hopes and dreams.
I don’t think anything could replace the sport in my life, football just isn’t for me. I must admit that I do enjoy going to the gym as often as I can, but the pb’s that I achieve in lifting weights could never replace the sound of that Delkim rattling off!
Like most modern carp anglers these days, Carl has his own You Tube channel which includes some excellent content from both home and abroad. So if you fancy viewing the man in action, hop over to You Tube and search Carl Sharp to find his channel.
Well all good things must come to an end. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this interview as much as I have enjoyed interviewing Carl. A big thank you to Carl again.
Tight lines and happy angling.
Matthew Fleet, Carp Marathon Blog