An angler interview with Steve Whitby, Carpology contributor and the man behind ‘The Carp Catcher’ Youtube channel. Matthew Fleet from the Carp Marathon asks the questions…
So then Steve, when did your passion for angling begin?
When I was about 5. Mum would buy my elder brother Andy and myself ‘nets’. This was a 6 inch mesh net on the end of a 4-5 foot cane and we would ‘fish’ for whatever we could catch, mostly minnows.
My brother Andy only went fishing when mum bought us the nets, but I spent all my time time going. I must have been around eight when I was allowed off on my own, that’d be 1961. Anyhow, by then I had my grandad’s split cane & green-heart float rod and a second hand black Prince reel!
Around my village there were big roach and dace in beautifully secluded rivers and backwaters, I was totally spoilt! I played truant a lot to go fishing….tut eh!
When did your quest for big carp and carp fishing begin?
June 16th 1980 is when I caught my first carp, but my first thoughts and reccy of potential waters started in the late summer of 1979. As it happens I have just written about it for my series of articles in Carpology 107 (Jan 2013).
Where’s your favourite venue?
The River Cam, it’s on my doorstep, holds 30lb+ carp and they’re all gems. Downstream it has even more to offer and I have yet to fish it.
What’s your most memorable capture?
A fully scaled mirror from a local water of mine in 2008 which as it happens I have just written about! It was the real deal for me, a fish over thirty years old that’s lived in a wild overgrown, low stock gravel pit and caught only a handful of times.
I think I might have caught it in 1986 when I was fishing it back then but I have no pic so cannot be sure, however there has only ever been two fullys (originally) in the lake.
I caught the bigger of the two at 23lb 8oz and it was my fifth fish from the water in about two weeks, which was unheard of. I waded into the reeds and out to the bars to get this one, in camo gear! It was all a bit hush hush.
Bait, a subject I know is dear to your heart, where do you begin when creating a new bait?
Depends on what I want it for and where. Mostly I will go for a really good fishmeal during spring and summer but switch around depending on time of year, venue and how I feel. I like to test baits all the time and I keep trying to find “the one”, which I have at times, I’m sure. I still have much to learn and plenty of things to try. But everything changes the next time you’re out, paying attention to the details outside of your knowledge of carp and the environment is important I think.
Sure you can get success out of a bag, but when it’s bait you have devised, you have rolled and toiled over, and toil it is to produce 100 kg I can tell you, well? That’s more satisfying than just popping a bag of the latest craze surely?
To be honest I don’t think I will ever use anyone else’s bait not unless I had something to do with it of course. Put it this way if I do use a bait other than mine it’ll be to catch carp and no other.
The other important thing is my hookers. I make them specifically to do what I want. I use cork ball pop-ups and hard hookers that are well and truly glugged but still tough so they don’t taint. I can balance them precisely and the cork ball never absorbs enough water to change the setting, important for self-setting rigs.
You mean “Who are your angling heroes”? Lenny Middleton, Rod Hutchinson and Chris Yates. To me they encapsulate what carp fishing should really be about.
But if it has to be one, Richard Walker, because it was a forth edition of his book Still Water Angling (I still have it and read it) that got me fired to get started back in 1979-1980. Then all those wonderful writers back in the 80’s. All legends and far too many to name here.
Who is your biggest inspiration outside of angling?
My Dad, he is now 83 and knows more about computers than I do and I have a Computer Science honours degree! He used to build them back in the 70’s and he has travelled the world building radio communications systems.
He has had some real adventures in his life too. Spent eight years out in Iraq before all the wars, lived in Kuwait for 5 years or more. I could never equal him.
He used to get really pissed with me sometimes when I skived school to go fishing. But I knew he also understood.
You spent some time on the famous Woolpack complex, can you tell me more about your time on there and what you caught?
I had the time of my life on the Woolpack and loved every precious second of it. I fished mostly three short day sessions in the week and worked the rest of the time. Much as I do now.
I used to move around the lake all the time with little kit and a pod with three rods and a landing net I could just pick up and walk with. I caught a lot of the carp in there and most importantly learned a hell of a lot.
I was fortunate enough to spend time sitting talking and drinking endless cups of tea with the great Lenny Middleton. I am proud to think he liked me enough to give up so much of his time and answer so many of my questions too. Not to mention all his tea I used to drink!
YouTube and blogging; myself and many others have had the pleasure of watching many of your bankside experiences via your YouTube channel, The Carp Catcher, and now you’re becoming somewhat of a household name. When did you decide to start filming your sessions and did you think your filming / blogging would become such a hit?
I started in May 2007 just for fun really and to be honest I still do. Obviously I never expected to become as popular but I guess you get out what you put in sometimes so all the support I get is really appreciated.
Do you set targets in your fishing, or is the thought of being bank side when you get the chance enough to feed the drug of carp fishing?
I have never set any targets as far as size or a particular fish is concerned as I don’t see it has any relevance to my fishing, however I do try to be by the bank as much as I can.
That’s your lot folks. All that’s left to say is once again a big thank you to Steve for finding the time to do a very interesting questions and answers for my blog, Carp Marathon.
Happy angling and tight lines!
Matt, Carp Marathon Blog