An interview with Spencer Wright, sponsored angler and CC Moore consultant. Matthew Fleet from Carp Marathon asks the questions…
Before I begin this interview I would like to say a big thank you to Spencer for finding the time to do this interview, it really is appreciated, right then let’s begin… So then Spencer, when did it all begin? Where did your first ever angling experience take place?
Well Matt, from a very early age I was fascinated with the outdoors, especially water, wildlife and fishing. This was probably dating as far back as I can remember, being a young child of probably only three or four years of age.
I loved being outside and in the elements, my uncle Charlie was a fishing fanatic and my father and brother used to go occasionally too, so as a result, I always wanted to accompany them if I was allowed to. They just fished for fun, for whatever came along.
I can remember on my first outing to my local River Yar with my father. Another angler on the far bank caught a huge fish, I was told it was a carp at the time, which probably weighed in the region of 6-7lb, the angler in question probably had no idea at the time what effect that capture would have on the rest of my life.
The river held an abundance of small fish which would keep us entertained for hours on end. As I got a little older I would count down the days with my friends until June 16th when we could start fishing again, and we would make a list of the fish we would catch, mainly roach, perch and eels were caught.
Living on an island meant that we also had the sea nearby, so we ventured to the local pier at Sandown quite regularly. Sea fishing was just another part of the fascination with water. Whether at the local harbour for flatties or the beach, we just enjoyed fishing and catching whatever came along. I can also recollect a small ballen wrasse at a local rock pool and being totally captivated by its colours and beauty.
I can also still remember my first rod, which to all intents and purposes was a purple coloured boat rod of about 7ft in length, it wasn’t the most delicate piece of equipment but I was happy, which at the time is all that mattered.
When did the drug of carp fishing grab hold of you? And when was the decision was made to target big carp?
As we got older we started to broaden our horizons, visiting little ponds spread across the island. The first one we visited was called Briddlesford which held a legendary mirror called Fred. Rumour had it that Fred weighed in at over 20lb. Old Fred apparently snapped lines, pulled rods in and ate children. But in reality the biggest fish the pool was home to was a wild common of only 6-7lb.
It was when I visited another collection of ponds called Whitwell that my life changed forever. I can vividly remember walking down to a little corner on the third pond, I lowered my float fished luncheon meat and spread a few handfuls of a fishmeal ground bait around it. My float dipped and after a sporadic fight I landed a chunky little mirror carp that weighed 2lb 2oz. I was shaking like a leaf and I was on cloud nine.
At the time I was probably only ten or eleven years of age and I was really into my sea fishing, especially boat fishing with a local club. My parents had brought a small boat that we used to venture out on each week catching rays and congers. I’d also been fortunate enough to help out on one of the charter boats from the club, which specialised in shark fishing and had caught some big fish whilst out afloat. Yet this little mirror meant more to me than anything else I’d ever caught before.
By now my life had changed forever and I went at every opportunity to the ponds at Whitwell, riding the fifteen miles there on my bike every weekend, such was the desire to be there. Sometimes I’d be lucky and get a lift. With each fish I caught the obsession grew stronger and stronger, by now my life was starting to revolve around chasing big carp.
I then started to look closer to home, and in particular my local River Yar. The carp in the river were far and few between and catching them was going to take some effort. Even the seasoned IOW carp anglers tended to avoid the river due to its hard reputation. Whilst I was blanking away, a couple of gents took pity on me, they could see how keen I was to succeed and they kindly took me under their wing. The gentlemen in question were Dave Bulpit and Tony Chaffey.
I really got to know Tony well and I soon found out what a special person and talented angler he was. He’d been fishing his whole life all over the country, venues such as Yateley, Wraysbury and even Cassien in France.
He had a wealth of knowledge that knew no boundaries and as a young and very keen angler I soaked up his advice. Some of the stories he told me of his big carp fishing adventures and captures were fantastic.
Tony became more than a friend to me, he became my mentor. I always referred to him as the master and I was his apprentice. He treated me like his son and was always there for me, helping me in which ever way he could. I spent a lot of time at his house sat around the kitchen table talking fishing. When I was about sixteen or seventeen he took me to Yateley on a visit, we met Derek Rance, a well known specimen angler, who has caught a lot of big fish from a lot of big lakes.
We moved on later in the day to a tackle shop in Fleet, and it was here were I witnessed a very large carp of gargantuan properties. There was a fish in the shop of 39lb which was mounted in a case by a taxidermist, I stood there open mouthed, mumbling under my breath at the size of the creature. Up until then the biggest carp I had seen was 15lb, so to see something this big blew my mind away.
I visited Yateley with Tony again a few years later. I sat in amazement in the lake car park overlooking the swim of a certain Rob Maylin. He made me a cuppa and I was white as a sheet knowing I was sat in the presence of greatness. An angler I had looked up to and admired, with so many big carp captures to his name. I was absolutely mesmerised by the whole occasion as you can imagine at such a young age.
Home for you is the Isle of Wight, can you tell me about the big carp scene over there?
The Isle of Wight has gone through somewhat of a culture change, to say the least, over the past twenty years. For years the fish here have been relatively small along with the ponds that they live in, but a handful of anglers started to introduce new fish to the island, legitimately of course! There were at the time three main syndicates and the river, and all comfortably produced fished to mid doubles.
The members were like three completely different groups of people, we all kept ourselves to ourselves, no one was really allowed to fish the other anglers’ lake. Everyone protecting their own piece of heaven so to speak. As there were too few waters about, all were striving to improve their own lake and gain the island record at the time, which was around 20lb with the influx of younger fish.
Every year that passed more and more waters were being acquired and new fish were being introduced. We were beginning to understand biomasses, reducing stocks and new strains as well as feeding through the close season and as a result the carp scene on the island was gaining from this. The members on the island were starting to integrate with each other and the carp scene looked healthy, alive and buzzing.
Suddenly the fish were getting bigger and bigger and the hard work was starting to pay dividends. The turning point was when friends, Tim and Lee, got hold of Monks Pool. Monks Pool is a five hundred year old lake that had been a monks stew pond in the surrounding areas of a monastery. It had been left fallow for years and was being reinstated to its former glory by a local farmer. The fish in there were stocked at low weights, the biggest being just 11lb. The fish were left alone for twelve months to acclimatise and fed, to let the fish benefit from the new biomass, to our delight the fish packed on the weight.
It was already a very rich lake and was fed by a stream, our modern day Redmire. Along with Monks, Tim also started the Blackwater syndicate and the Rookley day ticket venue. Other people soon followed the trend and Steve Dorman created the Forest Road syndicate, which currently holds the island record with a 50lb+ common.
Do you have a venue that is close to your heart? Perhaps because of a special capture or memorable moment?
I have been very fortunate to have angled on many special lakes around the country at certain times of my life. I have fished at Yateley and Horton, to lakes down south like Roach Pit which I have fished on and off now for around fifteen years. There is one place though, which to me is my spiritual home, and that is Monks Pool.
This venue is special to me in so many ways, there are only a very small group of members who contributed together to buy the fish, and in the outcome they have produced a little piece of heaven. It does not get bust or see much pressure, situated in a wooded valley and littered with old English oak trees, the wildlife is superb with regular sightings of red squirrels and birdlife.
I have fished there from time to time but not exclusively, just at certain times of the year. My results have been staggering, I have put a tremendous amount of groundwork in beforehand though which has stood me in good stead, one session that sticks out by a country mile was back in the autumn of 2004.
I had a phenomenal year on there and, with my son due to be born in a couple of months time, I had one session available before I’d be busy and needed at home. I had been pre-baiting spots hard that had been producing all year. It was November and I was not expecting fireworks by any means (no pun intended) but I was confident of bagging at least one fish.
The session planned was to be a three day stint but the day before I planned to go angling my nan was taken ill. My nan was a leading figure in my life and helped with my upbringing and I was very close to her. Sadly that evening, as I sat by her bedside, she lost her fight for life which knocked the stuffing out of me.
On my return home I sat dazed and full of emotion and in complete shock. I stuck to my original plan and headed to the lake, if only to get out of the house and into the fresh air. It was a struggle to get the rods out regards the situation but that I did and what happened over the following three days was magical. The carp fed and fed and fed, I caught seven fish 2 x 20lb’s, 3 x 30lb’s, and 2 x 40’s up to 44lb. I dedicated the session to my nan, I knew she was there by my side during my stay, R.I.P nan! X
What would you say are your main strengths in carp fishing?
Without a doubt one of my main strengths is my determination, I don’t know where it comes from if I’m honest but I know I’ll do what ever it takes to bank a certain fish. If you are not willing to put the effort in somebody out there will be. I’m fortunate that I have been doing this for a long time, getting on for thirty years, and in that time I have learnt an awful lot, such as finding a good spot to present a bait and pre-baiting. In my opinion you are educating carp to feed confidently on your chosen area which makes them easier to catch. The time of year is regardless to me spring, summer, autumn or winter, day or night and I’m also prepared to travel. Percentages get banded about a lot in carp fishing but if these edges only add 5% to my angling, put them together and they make a big percentage and difference to me.
Time on the bank, are you a short session angler? Or in for the long haul?
For quite a few years I have fished overnighters, normally one a week on a Friday night, arriving after work and reeling in the following morning at breakfast time. I have a very busy life with a full time job, my wife works nights and we have a son who is registered disabled and suffers from autism, so I don’t have as much time to spend on the bank as I would like. If I am very lucky I do get the odd treat and do two nights. As mentioned in the previous question, pre-baiting helps me a lot and increases my chances of catching when I do get the chance to wet a line.
Your association with the bait company CC Moore, how did this come about?
In the late 80’s I made my own baits and I’ve always had some involvement within baits. From 2006 I had designed my own boilie and I was sourcing ingredients for it through CC Moore. I think it was around 2009 when the company were advertising for ten anglers to field test their then new N-Gage boilie. I sent my angling CV off to the owner, Ian Moore, Ian liked it and invited me on board.
On my first field test outing I bagged a 40lb common on the N-Gage. I took it to Roach Pit, the new bait had never been seen there before and I was lucky to bag one of its gems too in the way of a real dark 40lb common. I have great confidence in their products and will never use any other. I have helped moderate their website and Facebook page so the level of trust is there on both sides!
On the subject of bait, boilies and particles, do they both play a part in your angling?
This is a great subject, I feel it makes a difference to what I catch. I fish and bait with boilies, I have done for a number of years now. I think this makes a big difference to the size of fish I catch. By using boilies only I’m sure it brings the more dominant fish to the table. Particles have a track record of attracting slightly smaller fish and other species.
Don’t get me wrong, particles have a part to play, like using them to clean a spot. Once that is achieved, I switch over to boilies in preparation to place a rig on the spot when I think the time is right to angle for a carp.
Who is your biggest inspiration in angling?
I don’t think I have one Matt, it’s very easy to be put on a pedestal and banded about as a great angler. I have known a lot of great anglers, but as human beings they are very poor. I like to think I am a nice, kind, loving and happy individual and if I can help anyone out, I will!
At the end of the day the so called legendary anglers are no different to me or you. They are just lucky enough to be very good at what they do, work hard and some are just naturally gifted.
If I have to name people I admire, the following people would make my list every time:
And finally are there any targets goals set, yet to be achieved in your carp angling, or is a bend in your rod enough to feed the drug of carp fishing?
At the end of the day carp fishing is my hobby, albeit to the extent that it does rule my life, with a busy life job and family it’s a great stress reliever. Recently I was playing a very large fish in darkness all alone, words struggle to describe the buzz I got. I do worry with the limited angling available to me on the island that I may run out of options. I’m relatively young (40) and have plenty of angling years ahead of me.
I’m still waiting for the lotto numbers to come up so I can dig an 80 acre lake, stick fifty carp in it and retire on it……. if only!
Questions by Matt, Carp Marathon Blog