An angler interview with Nick Burrage, talking about everything from his time on the Mangrove to fishing in France. Matthew Fleet from the Carp Marathon asks the questions…
So then Nick when did your passion for angling begin?
Well my passion for angling started a long time ago, sometime in the 1970’s when I was 7 years of age. At that moment in time there were not many cars about at all, so if we wanted to fish we had to walk, so a trip to a local pool or down the river seven at Bridgnorth was the route we found ourselves forced down!
With it being a different time altogether, with eels in the bath at home and gaffing pike, which seemed to be the norm; a little barbaric really by today’s standards I must say! So as time went by and Christmas presents appeared, in the shape of fishing rods, my trips started with minnows down by the bridge to scary eels at night in the cold with my dad. All this was off putting really in the early days, well until I went maggot fishing and after two proper chub out of the fast flow of the river… I was hooked!
Getting down to the river at any point I could was my goal, and after getting attached to a small barbel it was only ever going to go one way for me; bigger and bigger. The river was kind in those early years, with my watercraft improving at a huge rate of knots. I was soon trotting floats and bouncing meat down the river, catching many newly introduced barbel at any chance I could get!
As for carp, well, we had a small pool we could fish near the town, the carp could be seen in twos and threes with large light and dark backs rocking the water up the shallow end of the lake. We lost more than we caught on the floating crust but the excitement was unbelievable, with a slurp, slurp and another slurp… the pads exploded with a hooked carp running for cover, many were lost on our light fibreglass rods and light line; but as time went on we soon learnt and tamed the monsters of the deep and a new passion was born.
After my eldest brother learnt to drive, we were able to fish out of town as it were; Worfield bog and striking at bow waves in the margins, but that’s another story altogether!
All this went on before the hair rig and boilies came about, having this start in my angling gave me more than enough fuel to keep my passion alive for all those years and many more years to come !
When did you begin to target big carp and start carp fishing?
Big carp??? I’ve always had a bug for big carp really, ok big carp, pike, barbel, chub, roach all sorts really. The carp days started early for me really, all mixed into and around all the other species.
It’s funny how things have changed over the years even with in my own angling, I had fished for carp in the summer off the top as a rule, barbel in the autumn leaving roach, chub, pike for the winter! Not forgetting tench early summer after a close season of eel fishing and fluff chucking for trout!
So going back to the question of when did I start properly carping?? Your guess is as good as mine really. But carping in the public eye, it must of been just before I started fishing Patshull Parks Church Pool at Ashton near Leominster. Having a big thrust for learning, this was where my carping turned right round for me, and the road began to where I’m at now.
Learning more about fish behaviour on that little pool in one year in turn made getting bites easier, then the more bites I had, the more I learnt and so on!!
So I would say that was the point my carping really started for me, with my years of watercraft under my belt, from fishing elsewhere and catching other species, I soon found I had tricks and approaches that worked in my carping that I had learnt from, well, everything I had ever caught really!
Where’s your favourite venue / water?
My favourite venue must be the mangrove every time. The fishing is different to any lake I have fished before, being able to use the boats to bait up with and go out to the secluded pegs with my gear is a treat everyone should try at least once in there carping life. With the pads and overhanging trees hidden away in the depths of Shropshire, it’s a place I find so relaxing, until a monster comes along anyway! Haha!
But on the flip side of the question, if you said lake I would have to say Patshull’s Church Pool, if a pool had everything that would be the place. Overhanging trees, deep margins, gravel spots, silt, bars, pads, reeds, small channels and the list really goes on. I remember setting up on the boards swim, and it was a case of what feature do I want to fish on? I found it a joy to fish years ago; I’m sure many still do!
What’s your most memorable capture?
Memorable capture? Well this one is easy for me really; I’m going back to a cold winter session at Bomere.
I had been baiting the deep water in an un-fished peg for a couple of months or so, the peg was called little grassy.
Turning up and seeing a guy fishing another peg I’d caught from the week before, I made the long walk up the lake to a small un-fished peg, un-fished because it was about a mile up the lake.
On the very cold winter’s day, I walked into the peg really quietly; only to see a carp blowing straight up through the middle of the peg, after nearly wetting myself with excitement! I tried calmly to get my gear from the van!
As I returned with my gear, I set about getting my rods out! The first rig was a simple snowman rig with a three bait stringer, this was cast to the area I first saw the blow!! Then the rod was placed in the rest, to let the line sink a little.
The second rod was set up for the deep water, a snowman again, well it was winter!! But this time a slightly brighter pop up was placed on top, to help them find it in the 34 foot deep area! As I cast it and feathered it down, just as it hit the bottom a great big plume of bubbles hit the surface!!
Ever dropped a rig straight on a fish? After the disturbance I thought I might as well pepper that rod with ten or so baits, and let it stay out for a day or so. I just set the bobbin on the first rod, and then picked up the third one to cast, and then err? Beeeeeeeeeeeeep!! I thought a pike had swum into my line? No, it was the rod going into meltdown!!
I picked up the rod a bit confused as to how and what was going on? Sure enough there was a lovely winter carp swimming about on the end of my line, making it’s best effort to escape the invisible force that was pulling it in towards the bank!!
After a few minutes she rolled a yard or two in front of the net, a couple of gulps of air later a mint winter common was safely in my net! On a day when the air seemed about the same temp as the water, she was really well behaved. I popped her on the scales and she went 20lb 8oz. I called the guy down the lake to come and have a look, and maybe take a couple of snaps, he made it up to my peg in record time; you couldn’t believe I’d had a bite so quick! A couple of pics, hand shake and a cuppa and he left me to get the rods out!
After getting the two remaining rods out, I set up home in the little grassy peg, it’s only a small peg but open, it seems to catch the frosts with no cover from the trees! (So if it got cold, it really got cold in here!)
As the day went on it got colder and colder! I ended sitting in my bivvy with the door zipped up! Every time I went out, the north wind cut through me like a knife. Keeping warm with lots of soup and good food, it was time to do the sit and wait approach; I was feeling confident though, with the odd blow rising to the surface out near my spot in the middle of the lake! Then as a frosty night drew in, the wind dropped as cold as the air and stung my face. Not a single fish broke the surface; I didn’t mind that, well it made me think they were still down in the depths, well away from the cold night!
With the long dark nights and cold frost mornings, a great deal of effort was needed, to drag myself from my bag, so I could take a look to see if anything was moving about early morning. All was quiet out in the lake, even worse not a bleep from the rods.
After a bit of a fry up I was warm inside, even though it was a good frost that night, it seemed a little warmer than the day before, without the cutting wind blowing at me. I only re did the one rod ready for the carp to have their midday feed! Being really happy with the other two in deep water about 24 hours on, I didn’t want to spook any more carp like the day before!
With it getting light about 7.30 ish it didn’t take long for midday day to come along; and so did Andy. I had a text to say he was getting on the lake for a couple of nights, get the kettle on bloke!!
Then just before he got to my peg a blow came out of the middle, only small but there was life!
Andy stayed for an hour or so chatting, watching the water and drinking tea. We saw a few blows over the way, a peg down though, so off he went for a look! By the time he got around the other side, I had a bleep on the deep water rod! I looked up and there and there was a great plume of bubbles coming up!
I stood up thinking I have just been done, then a slow beep, beep, beeeeeeeep! On picking up the rod she felt a good fish as she plodded about in the deep water, then all of a sudden she went on the run from hell!
In one go she took 50 yards of line leaving my spool hissing as she went! She was a bit upset I think? After playing her back in the deep water, it seemed to take forever to get her back in front of me, another five minutes and she rolled at the net! What a winter cracker!! I was shaking like a leaf but sweating, she did her last roll then glided into the net! Wow! Now that’s a winter carp! She weighed in at just over 30lb, a beautiful common with a swirly scale pattern on her shoulder.
By the time she was settled in the sack, Andy had just pushed his barrow up to the peg on the other side, then I text saying ”bloke would you take a pic”
”You haven’t had another” was his reply! He came round and did some great pics for me, I must say that was and still is my favourite winter carp… so far! As she swam off she gave a look of ‘I will spit your bait out next time my boy!!’ Then she was gone.
The grassy peg was very kind to me, having caught many carp from my deep spot over the winters, but that capture will always stay with me!
What is the best piece of angling you have witnessed by another angler?
I have a couple here really, the first is watching a person I didn’t know from adam stalking a carp and watching as a bread flake dropped through the water, the carp sucked it in and he ended up with a pb 20lber on the bank, that was top draw angling in my book!
The next was watching an old departed friend of mine on the River Severn, as he took a match apart while waggler fishing for barbel, and went on to show all the feeder guys how to catch them on the float!!
Good on you Nick Gretton mate, RIP fella
Who is your angling hero?
This is a tricky one, I have loads of respect for all the older guys, many who still get out there and fish and enjoy it for what it is. In carp fishing Lenny Middleton, Kevin Maddocks, Richard Walker, Kevin Nash, Tim Paisley, Richie Mcdonald, Terry Hearn and big Jim Shelley also gets right in there too.
But each one for a very different reason, to be honest I think everyone has something to give, that’s what makes this sport great!
Who is your biggest inspiration outside of angling?
Well if Ii didn’t say the wife I’d get strung up!
But no, joking apart, my wife is a massive part of everything I do, and supports me in everything, even carping.
I’m an all or nothing sort of guy, so I bet that takes some living with, when I’m not lakeside anyway!
You have met Tim Paisley through your time on the Mangrove, in your own words can you tell me more about the iconic Tim?
What can I say without getting kicked off his waters? I’m only joking Tim! You wouldn’t find a nicer man who runs a lake in the UK, and has done so for many years. His waters are second to none; you never hear him say ”i’m getting that done!” It’s done already.
Don’t get me wrong he doesn’t seem the sort to take any messing around either, but if he seems to like you I’m sure he’s your friend for life. He has helped me out a few times myself, I hold him in very high regard.
As you know he does a fantastic job with the carp magazines like carpworld, but even being a busy man he still has plenty of time for a laugh and a joke when I do bump into him. To me looking on, Tim seems to be very settled into how he fishes, and who would blame him? He’s not shy of a wet net or two, even if he does say he’s camping again! Never really stopping, writing on the bank and rushing here and there; Tim’s a credit to what’s good in today’s carping and I’m sure many who know the fella will agree.
Like myself you fish overseas in France as well as in the UK, is catching the monsters over the channel as bigger reward as catching big carp in the UK?
With only just wetting my frogs legs, I’m quite new to overseas carping; only having gone a few times myself. But each time I go, I just can’t wait to get back again; effort does equal result in my book. So if someone makes the effort to go fishing for whatever who am I to say anything about their catch? A few years ago I would have said “I only fish for UK carp ” but in today’s carp scene you need to try different things and go with it a little more.
Ok a 61lb French common has never got the same credibility as a 61lb UK carp; more because they have bigger carp over there, but does it really matter? As I looked down and nearly wet myself at the sight of a 61lb common in France; I’m sure I would have done the same in the UK. As long as I or the captors enjoy their carping, should it matter if I had it in the UK or France or even if it’s 20, 30, or 40lber. I’m sure the fish don’t know they’re not 5lb bigger than their mate!
So going back to the question asked, I think we should go back to the saying “the more effort the bigger reward” so the reward should be in the angler, not what others think of their captures. Or even what lake, pool or land they’re from for that matter.
Try and enjoy it for yourself, they say a change is as good as a holiday.
I can’t wait for my next trip!
Do you set targets in your fishing, or is the thought of being bankside when you get chance enough to feed the drug of carp fishing?
Interesting question this one! No I don’t set targets as a rule. Ok, maybe the odd winter target to keep me going when it’s cold. I join waters with only a small glimpse of what’s in there if I can, that way I can catch and fish for bites without feeling “oh it’s only that one and not the big girl!”
I play the numbers game getting as many bites as I can, and soon enough the lumps turn up. Towards the end of a season I will narrow the search for some bigger fish, but that’s only by fishing the pegs where they live more! I do have a little thought in my head like… “I would love a big un” but try not to to get hung up on any fish if I can help it!
Like the question says, “being at the bankside” I do love it, but like I said further up in the questions, I have a thirst and I won’t sit idle on the bank enjoying the view when there is a dry net to get wet!
That concludes the session folks, for even more hints, tips and all things carpy from Mr Burrage why not log on to his YouTube and subscribe to his channel ‘Shropshire Carper’.
All that’s left from me is to say a big thank you again to Nick for his time, and I hope all reading this enjoy it. Happy angling and tight lines.
Matthew Fleet, Carp Marathon Blog