I don’t remember the date but I do vividly remember being sat as a child staring into a gin-clear river; watching Minnow, Dace, Gudgeon, and Chublet dance in the sunshine, and being utterly transfixed. It became a regular haunt of ours as kids in the early 80’s, biking down to the bridge on the Perry. I also remember the first time I looked over the bridge and saw a monstrous Chub emerge from the weed raft trapped around the pier, it was ominously dark, torpedo-like, and almost unreal, its huge white mouth glowing and pulsating as it turned and drifted back to its lair. At the time the idea of hooking such a thing actually scared me. None the less we went on to hunt these Chub for a good few years from bridge, weir pool, willow covered holes, and various bends of our local stretch, in time becoming quite adept at finding and fooling them. But the river years is for another time as I am keen to explain my corduroy trousers.
It was the late primary years when I was first introduced by a friend, Craig, to the magical farm pond known to us as Hockenhull’s, aptly named due to the residing family of the estate whose farmhouse overlooked the pond. Craig talked of Carp, not entirely unfamiliar to me, as of course, I was by now flicking through the Angling times and had watched the likes of John Wilson search them out, but that I was yet to try for one and a plan was set for a trip and hopefully some Wilson-esque impressions would result.
As always, this trip would involve a bike ride, Mum didn’t drive so we biked everywhere and she would be in tow, providing parental concern and as ‘official carrier of sandwiches’. Usually, lemon curd but occasionally marmite. As I type this, I have realised two things; some round trips over the following years racked up over 15 miles when we ventured to the River Severn, and secondly as a man now still younger than my mum was at the time (she would have been in her early 50’s) I can only admire her even more (RIP Mum)
Rods strapped to respective crossbars, rucksack loaded and we would set off; several miles later, invariably shattered and rather hot and bothered we would arrive. A textbook childhood angling journey for us, entirely grateful if we didn’t get a puncture, which happened far too often to remain comical.
To set the scene on arrival, it was in many ways a classic farm pond with a well-established tree-covered island. The immaculately manicured lawn of the house covered around ¼ and terminated along its length to a sandstone wall, about another ¼ was fenced off orchard which left us with ½ the pool accessible. The lane side bank was reed-lined bar a few narrow strips of open water, the reeds extended maybe 5-6 feet from the margin, the name of the reed escapes me but vivid green and almost porcupine quill-like in height above the water. They faced no real obstacle to presenting a bait due to their low profile but proved fatal if hooked with a light line of course as they didn’t tear easily. The field side bank was less reeded and offered the closest access to the island treeline which was where I recall being beckoned towards by Craig who had already arrived.
I quickly got set up and my side hooked lobworm and simple running ledger was flung into the channel between the island and the orchard bank which also had a large overhanging tree at the point of no access. Rod was pointed skyward and although I don’t explicitly remember I will then have eaten my sandwiches, this was the trend, and would then lead to day-long starvation until returning home that evening. Foolish child!
Anyway, after what felt like an eternity of staring into what had become a really sunny morning and with the slow onset of starvation, the rod tip went from 11 o’clock to about 7 o’clock at roughly the speed of light, possibly sound…whichever is faster. Fortunately, my child-like reflexes allowed the rod to be grabbed before it was catapulted into space and I was attached to my first Carp. The sensation of being dragged across the muddy margin still lives with me and it was a minor miracle I managed to pick myself up and exert enough side strain to stop this thing from burying itself in the branches but somehow, I won that battle. There was quite frankly only one possible reason…. the now lucky and grippy ‘Corduroy trousers’…I wore them until the grip wore down and they saw many Carp; before puberty saw them outgrown. I bloody loved those trousers.