Meet the Contributor: John Finney

John Finney

45 years old
Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Hometown: Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK

Carping CV:  PB common: 37 lb 5 oz (USA), PB mirror: 18 lb (UK)


I first became interested in carp fishing in the late 70s, as a wee lad, aged, 9. My youth was spent fishing local day ticket venues, such as Stanborough Lakes and the adjoining River Lea. I had but basic tackle and whatever baits I could raid from the pantry at home. My UK PB remains an 18 lb mirror from Stanborough, caught on a simple homemade dough ball, with a 6ft medium action rod, 4 lb test line, and basic spin cast reel – all from Woolworth’s!

In the mid 80’s I put down my rods for other pursuits and did not return to the sport until 2012, in a whole new country. Not only has the carping addiction taken hold of me again but my adventures are now video blogged in “CarpQuest” on youtube, for all to enjoy, the highs, the lows, the many cups of coffee consumed!

 I write articles on carp fishing for local fishing forums and am the CAG State Chair for Colorado.

I work hard to educate and dispel the many myths and rumors concerning carp fishing here in the USA. I enjoy taking new people to the sport out fishing and helping others realize their own carping goals. I am passionate in the advocacy that carp fishing can not only be challenging, but affordable to the entry level angler and most of all, tremendous addictive fun.

 Why carp fishing?

When I think back to my youth I can still fondly recall those warm summer days, sitting upon the bank, rod in hand, a knitting needle as a makeshift monkey climber, waiting for the bite. Those memories have stayed with me through my adult life and the passion for carp has not diminished.

Most obsessive thing you have done to catch a carp?

Fished into a constant 35mph headwind, with gusts over 50mph, our chairs flying, huge white caps, impossible casting and a constant spray of water blowing in my face. End result, a fine 28 lb common was banked. Closely followed by fishing in a dust storm, end result, broken camcorder and a blank for the session!

A nice 'Big Water' common
A nice ‘Big Water’ common

 Angler(s) you most respect?

John Wilson. I watched his show “Go Fishing” growing up as a child. A true “gentleman” in the way he educates anglers and entertains his viewers. Any angler that shares their knowledge, exudes passion for carp and takes pleasure in others success as much as their own.

Worst tackle purchase ever?

I don’t blame my tackle. I have to accept that often I have made some poor, or inappropriate choices, through a lack of knowledge or being lured in by the latest “bright” and “shiny” gizmo out there. Most of my tackle is purchased on a tight budget. I look for tackle that gets the job done, is reliable and durable at an affordable price point.

 Favorite baits?

Flavored corn/maize and particles, GLM in particular.

 What was your best ever session?

May 2013, Chatfield Reservoir.

I caught my PB common carp at 37 lb 5oz. The two friends I was with, first time at the venue for them, each caught their PB common and mirror.

5 PB’s in a day between us – what a day !

Favorite catch?

My current PB common.

For the 2013 season I had set myself the goal of catching my first ever 30. A few weeks before this memorable day I landed a new PB common from Chatfield Reservoir at 28 lb, in horrific windy conditions. Given the average carp from the venue seemed to be in the mid-doubles that fish had been a real surprise. After that capture I became obsessed with “big fish” fever and fished Chatfield at every opportunity that was available. Big carp are rare in Colorado and perhaps I had set for myself an unrealistic goal.

 A few weeks later I was back at Chatfield again, fishing with a couple friends, their first time at the venue. It was a very light hearted and fun session, lots of joking and playful banter between us. We were setup fishing in a line down the bank, perhaps 30 yards apart. I was using mussel flavored corn with a simple panko & creamed corn pack. My friends, a variety of their own hook baits, sweetcorn, dough balls, pack. They had put some nice fish on the bank already including some new PBs. The day could not get any better, or so I thought.

After spending a few hours helping in netting and weighing their prizes I finally had a good fast strong take on one of my rods. Lifting into the rod I could tell immediately she was a good fish but I had no idea just how huge she was. Carp at Chatfield are notorious for kiting right into the bank early in the tight and this fish was no different. I had previously suffered a few cut-offs against the rocks in the shallows and hoped this would not be a repeat. Thankfully, after her initial run, she swam back out fairly straight and I worked her back in. After about 10 minutes I finally got her to the shore and she was safely netted.

With the high surf I could not really see how big she was. My friend that netted her started to joke that I had caught a “River Monster”, he even made straining sounds as he tried to lift the fish from the water. Given our earlier banter I presumed he was toying with me. When he finally hauled the beast from the water, and placed her in the carp cradle, I could see it was no joke. She was huge, perfect golden scales glistening in the sun, fat belly, almost the length of the cradle. I could not believe I had caught her.

 We weighed her in at 37 lb 5 oz. This would have been a new Colorado state record capture, the previous record was 35 lbs. I knew immediately that I was going to release her – the record did not matter, I would take pleasure in seeing her swim away to be caught again another day.

We took lots of photo’s, some video and then set her free. I still cannot believe that I had caught such a specimen. It will be a day I never forget. We nicknamed her “CarpZilla”, a real monster from the depths.

 Of course, now I know there must be a 40 lb’er out there somewhere with my name on her  – the obsession continues for another year!

Current PB
Current PB

 Top tips?

Research a new venue in advance of turning up at the bankside. There is a vast array of information out there on the web at your fingertips, be it topographic maps with depth charts, weather forecast, local fishing forums and articles. Time spent researching in advance is often well rewarded. Don’t be afraid to try something new or ask questions. If you get a chance, talk to the local bailiff, park ranger, fish and game warden or another angler. Ask them what the conditions are like or for suggestions on swims and locations that are producing. Local knowledge can invaluable.  Don’t be afraid to ask !

 Favorite rig?

A simple KD bolt rig, 2oz lead, with a popped up piece of corn/maize.

 Worst ever session?

I’ve had rods snap on casting, huge captures elude me but inches from the landing net after a multi-day session. My chair has previously turned into a pair of skis, with me siting upon it, straight down a slope. There was an early spring 10 session streak without a single capture from a favorite local venue.

There are no bad sessions. Even when you fail to land a fish you are still learning, gaining knowledge, what works, what doesn’t. Keep a log book of all your trips, record everything, weather, water conditions, baits, locations, even when you fail to catch.

Fishing should be fun!
Fishing should be fun!