If someone had told me thirty years ago that one day the backdrop to some people’s carp captures would feature office blocks, factories and high street retailers I would never have believed them. Surely carp angling is an escape to the countryside… to quiet meadows far away from civilisation? Yet today more and more urban carping exists. Park lakes, wharfs, rivers and canal systems within the city itself have become home to some monster and scale-perfect carp. Carp will take advantage of their surroundings; it makes no difference to them if they are enclosed by willow and oak or skyscraping tower blocks – if the water can sustain life it will be occupied. It’s much like the peregrine falcon, once facing extinction as its natural habitat disappeared due to man’s ‘progress’, but now thriving on the rooftops of London’s high-rises, introduced in many cases to extinguish the severe pigeon problem facing our capital. It’s a far cry from the pines of Scotland, but equally as incredible, beautiful and impressive as any raptor could be in its natural surroundings.
Today’s city-living carp anglers did not grow up creeping around secluded pools, and although Richard Walker may be spinning in his grave at the sights he would see nowadays, urban carping is here to stay, and more and more people will be taking advantage of it. The growth in river and canal carping has been phenomenal in the past decade, and it’s still growing – much of it done in towns and urban landscapes.
Not that this volume in our Off The Beaten Track series is all about venues of this type; it just would not be right if there wasn’t a healthy smattering of ‘guesting’ throughout! It’s been over five years since we first coined the phrase ‘OTBT’, and our philosophy has always been the same… We are not advocating that anglers poach club or syndicate venues where fishing is allowed, nor trespass across private land causing a problem to society, but nevertheless there are secluded pools containing uncaught, unnamed leviathans, and just like those who pioneered such places as Colnemere in pursuit of the fabled Black Mirror, who could really blame those who set forth in dead of night, the hunter gatherer in all men, seeking the uncatchable and steeling away before dawn has broken, unseen, unheard and without trace? It happens… not because they seek fame or recognition, not because they want a ‘bait deal’ or to be famous… in fact the opposite. Luckily for us some are willing to share their stories, but not in mainstream publications. There they would be ridiculed, but in the underground journals of the Off The Beaten Track series of books, only here will you find these secret captures.