Frank Warwick Interview Dec 2013
Iain Sorrell talks to Frank Warwick for Big Carp News.
IS : Hi Frank thanks for joining us on the BCN Interview. I know you’ve fished over here in the USA once before. What were your impressions?
FW: Well it was a little bit as I expected. I knew there were not many mirror carp in the venues or certainly not most of the river systems. The hospitality was very good and the people were very friendly. I didn’t know anything about the pack baits until I bumped into Tom Brooks and Colin Peters, so that was a bit of an eye opener. I first fished at Massena at Jerry Laramy’s place where we were just catching loads of fish between 10 – 15lbs. I would like to come back and do some exploring to chase some bigger fish and perhaps some of the mirrors you’re catching.
IS: It would be great to get you back over and while mirrors are certainly few and far between over here we are beginning to find a few places that hold a few bigger mirrors and some nice fully scaled fish.
FW: Well yeah but then again if you live where there are a lot of mirrors it’s the other way round isn’t it and people go crazy to catch commons.
IS: Of course the other fish that is getting folk excited are the big buffalo.
FW: Yeah they look nice and I’ve never caught one so I’d like to have a go. I understand they feed a bit differently to carp and wonder if it might be better to fish running rigs for them?
IS: I’m no expert on buffalo but I’ve often preferred running rigs even for carp. I like to know what’s going on in the swim and I feel I’m able to detect more bites on a running rig. What’s your thoughts?
FW: It really depends on the bottom strata. If it’s convenient and not too weedy then I really like running rigs. Especially if every man and his dog are using semi-fixed leads then I like to use running rigs and you do get better results. It’s a bit like a trap that always does the same thing. If you alter the trap so they are not expecting it then it’s much more effective.
IS: Certainly in areas where the fish tend to come towards you rather than running away a running set up will make a significant difference in detecting those bites.
FW: Absolutely. At least a third or more bites the fish are coming towards you. We know a fixed lead with a drop back is very clumsy and you can easily miss drop backs like that but with a running lead when they come toward you get good indication and the indicator will even lift up as well as drop back so you’ll have a better chance to pick them up.
IS: The only thing with running leads is having to be a lot more conscious of staying on top of the rods rather than hanging out in the bivvy and waiting for a screamer.
FW: Yeah, yeah well that’s how it should be really. You should be fishing. It’s getting ridiculous in England where many people are more worried about which DVD they are going to watch or computer game they are going to be playing.
IS: Last time I was back walking around a public water I was amazed at the cases of Stella outside the bivvy with 3 days worth of empty Chinese take away boxes which they’d even had delivered to the swim.
FW: Was this in your swim again Iain? (Lots of laughter….)
IS: I think people assume the carp here in the USA are ‘easy’ and in some cases they are as they’ve often never even seen a baited hook or rigs like they have in the UK and Europe but I think the bigger fish are a lot more cunning than we would give them credit.
FW: Just the way fish behave even when they’ve been shocked. They are so tactile with their mouths that they can just shake their heads and just slam it out the mouth quite easily. You just have to watch some of the Korda underwater DVD’s to see that initial flick the carp do to get rid of the rig.
IS: It’s a humbling experience to see carp eject even the best rigs with ease and mostly without us even realizing.
FW: Well here’s a thought on it. Even with barbed hooks how many fish have you caught over the years that are trailing a rig around? It’s not so many. They get rid of them. Carp can screw their mouth up and manipulate the hook so that it eventually gets pushed out. They struggle more with tiny hooks as they bury more like a splinter than the regular ones used for carp fishing.
FW: Well my thoughts are in a state of flux really. I started using pop ups around the same time as I got on the hair rig and the buoyancy aspect caught the carp totally off guard and it was spectacular! Prior to boiled baits the fish were used to sucking in paste baits with the hook buried inside, there wasn’t any kind of buoyant element. They kind of got used to handling that so when you suddenly presented a pop-up and fished it against a bottom bait on the hair then the pop up would out fish it ten to one. Then I progressed to fishing with the bait popped up as much as 10 inches off the bottom which looks strange but worked far better than your now standard 1 or 2 inches off the bottom.
I think that was more the visual aspect that the fish could see it easier especially in silty waters. Remember I wasn’t fishing gravel bottom waters in those early days. In my part of the North of England there are no gravel pits.
I was always banned from driving because I was always charging around on motorcycles and picked up too many speeding tickets so couldn’t really travel to go down south to the gravel pits. So I was used to fishing old silty meres (which were left over from the ice age) so the pop-ups were more effective in those situations.
As I’ve diversified and moved around fishing a lot of different waters I’ve noticed that people think food hook baits should be fished on the bottom but if they want to use a pop up it is automatically and more usually a bright colored pop up. In colder months they think it has to be a bright colored pop-up on a chod rig but its absolute rubbish. I’ve found a bright or visual bait is far better if its made as a slow sinker or wafter generally speaking so it just bounces around more naturally to negate the weight of the hook and the hook length. Whether that’s the pressure of the pop-ups being over used I’m not sure. Now it might be different in the US where the fish are less pressured but I think where fish are continually exposed to more blatant set ups then they behave differently and the finer attention to detail really begins to pay off. So something that looks natural and can be sucked up into their mouths more easily is going to out fish something that is blatantly popped up all the time. Simple as that really.
IS: That’s very interesting as pop ups certainly do work over here. However they’ve almost become the norm rather than people trying a range of options to see what is more effective.
FW: Well human nature being what it is that does not surprise me. I’ve seen guys opening up their rig wallets and they are like freshly printed bank notes with every one identical. It’s got all the usual crap and paraphernalia on them and they’ve measured every single one to be exactly the same. Then of course because the rig wallets aren’t big enough so they are all like seven inches long which is the size of the rig wallet. So you are then left thinking what happens if you are fishing somewhere that is really silty then your rigs are going to be too short. So what do you do then? Do you carry on regardless or tie up some more rigs.
IS: That’s a really good point as clearly too many people think from the wrong end of their tackle. They start at the bank and then work down from there. What they should do is spend a lot more time thinking about what’s going on the bottom where the fish are.
FW: Yeah that’s right it’s the point of contact. This might be a bad analogy, but you know what I’m like Iain, its better to have your hands on a ‘bird” rather than watching one through a television screen. (Laughter and some edits here!…) Every water is different and if you have the same rig on each rod where are you going to learn anything?
The obvious thing to do, every water is different and this is the most important thing that I would say is if you have the same rig on every rod where are you going to learn anything? When nothing is happening you just think the fish aren’t feeding. If you do something different on each rod then you are more likely to reveal where it’s going right or wrong.
IS: I think that’s an interesting point and it’s where zig rigs have woken a lot of folk up to how carp feed.
FW: Yeah of course it is. It wasn’t even an option at one time or they would try it on one rod for 10 minutes and they’d think ‘Oh no I need to have a bottom bait on there’ same as everyone else. The only time people really change is when they get their arse kicked by someone else and they see it happening right in front of their eyes. So providing someone doesn’t hide what they are doing that’s the only time most people change.
IS: That’s an interesting point since we have huge expanses of water and fish that really don’t see much in terms of anglers baits. You traveled around Europe in the early days when many waters had never been fished for carp so what’s your approach to a brand new water where there are wild fish? Do you have a process you go through on where to locate the fish and so on?
FW: The most obvious thing is to go looking for them. Carp will invariably show themselves at some point, crashing and so on. Spring around spawning time they’ll be congregating around shallows and weed. Where as in the winter I’m looking for a central area where there the fish might be moving rather than one corner where I might miss any transient fish.
IS: And fish tight lines for line bites?
FW: Absolutely. If I see fish showing over very deep water, say more than 30 feet, then I don’t bother as it’s generally a waste of time. There are exceptions but for the most part carp like shallower water where the sunlight can penetrate and natural food is abundant. I tend to target weedy areas especially where there is deeper or running water nearby. I like places where the fish can get some form of shade from the bright sun, reed beds, lilly pads etc and target those areas or nearby where you can intercept them as they come in and out of those places
IS: I know you’ve mentioned in the past about walking around lakes in the middle of the night listening for fish crashing.
FW: That’s right. How many times have you been on a lake where you see no activity in the daytime but at night it sounds like there are barrels or pigs being dropped from a helicopter into the water. That’s when a lot of natural food comes out and things like crayfish move around so that’s when the fish are often most active. You’ll often see the result of an insect hatch in the early morning with larvae cases on your bivvy or on plant stems.
IS: You haven’t mentioned wind direction?
FW: Well wind direction is a strange thing. Not many people use liquids in their bait and I think this is a big mistake. Liquids are a massive part of creating attraction to send a signal through the water. As you know Iain I’m in the final stages of writing a book that will be out early next year. In the book I talk about how the wind affects the current and the message it sends from your bait to the fish. So unless you are right on top of the fish, and especially if you are on a big water, then your waiting on the fish coming to you so you need all the help you can get. So just sitting with the wind in your face isn’t always enough. You need to find moving or running water. There is scientific research that shows carp are attracted to running water even more than a food signal. So a stream or river coming into a lake is like a fish magnet. It’s a bit like a chimney coming out of a bakery and you locating that smell of fresh baked bread. That underwater current brings the food smell to them and they follow it.
IS: Exactly and with wind on the water it’s creating underwater currents that we can’t see. I know a lot of people get frustrated if there is drag on their lines but for me its fantastic because I know the food message is getting delivered to the fish.
FW: Completely agree Iain. A lot of people think that when you’ve got the wind in your face that’s bring the fish in but its also creating an undertow that’s going away from you in the opposite direction to the wind. So the smell being carried to the fish from your bait is working but not necessarily how or why people think. You also have to understand the lake contours as peaks and valleys will change or channel the direction of flow.
IS: So what’s you view on when you get a significant change in the wind direction? Do you stay put or move?
FW: Well with a fresh wind I do like to move on those because it can otherwise get a bit stagnant. The fish do like to travel on those changes and explore the water that’s stirred up by the new wind. It’s a bit like cattle in a field that have grazed an area so there is nothing left and they move to a new area.
IS: Over here because the waters are not heavily stocked like the UK or Europe the wild fish in North America are typically in small groups and continually moving around looking for the next meal.
FW: Carp are naturally nomadic but I’ve also seen fish hold up in an area without traveling or feeding for quite long periods and a fresh wind revitalizes and stirs them up. There are areas where there seem to be resident carp and even though you might catch them almost anywhere over the years there’s usually a preference for a particular area. So even though they move around at different times they will always go back to an old haunt where they feel safe. The bigger carp can also be quite territorial. So I’ve had it where I’m fishing into a fresh wind and the fishing’s been incredible and I’ve also had it where it’s been terrible and I’ve blanked. But its all about percentages and a fresh wind usually means a move.
IS: I think the only time I’ve found following the wind is an issue is when the weather is really hot. Might not be the case in England but certainly in Europe and over here we can get weeks on end where the water temps get up into the 70’s and even 80’s. Then it’s a time to fish on the ‘back’ of the wind as it tends to be cooler water.
FW: That’s right as in England we don’t really get those extremes of heat like you do or in Europe. So the only times I don’t fish with the wind in my face is in winter when it might be a Northerly and is freezing cold, then it will be chilling the water down even more. The fish will be looking for calmer water which will allow the sun to penetrate the water. I’ve also never understood people saying look for the deepest water to fish in winter. I’ve never understood that logic.
IS: Agreed. I’ve always looked for old weed beds.
FW: Absolutely. Bull rushes, trees, snags or inlets where there is protection and food. The fish won’t move much in the winter and if you can find a spot where they are then it’s not likely to change from year to year.
IS: Underground springs are another good place in lakes because the water is a constant temperature especially when its coming up from deep down.
FW: Even water coming from fields and marsh areas can be a few degrees warmer and it would be worth taking temperature measurements to see if there is a few degrees difference. There was a swim on Cassein called ‘Le Grand Fili” that was 5 or 6 degrees warmer than anywhere else on the lake. It had very deep water in front of it, down to 105 ft, but it was the plateau that shelved from about knee depth down to about 30ft before it hit the abyss and dropped 70 ft. And that area fished so consistently it was incredible but actually got less sun than anywhere else on the lake.
IS: Your probably one of the most influential carp anglers of the modern era but who has inspired you in your angling career over the years?
FW: There have been loads but certainly Rod Hutchinson in the early days has to be one of them. He wasn’t a very technical angler in some respects with his tackle but it was the thought process and the reasons behind why he was doing things that I liked. He was not only a bright and articulate man but he had the ability to solve immediate problems. I liked the way he fished hemp and particles a bit like your mate Mike Wilson and the baiting pyramid on Savay. Now George Sharman is a name that won’t be familiar to many people but he’s prominent in the BCSG and wrote a couple of books like Carp and the Carp Angler. George was a perfectionist and was talking about how to sharpen hooks some 40 years ago. I don’t mean you need to fish sharp hooks but exact details on how many strokes with a file and in which order and direction to do it perfectly. He talked about the best hook patterns, best knots with comparison he’d done he really left no stone unturned. He studied fish movements, water temps all the things we’ve just been talking about. He was immaculate and he’s someone I admire. A perfectionist and a pioneer.
I don’t judge people on the size of the fish they’ve caught. It’s a guide to where they’ve travelled and where they may have fished but its not a particularly great guide or barometer of someone’s ability. Geographically you might be in a complete sh*t bag of a place where there are very few decent carp but it doesn’t mean to say you can’t be a master of your angling and the waters you fish. You might be a better and more technical angler because you are having to try harder. A bit like the street urchins in Brazil playing soccer. They don’t have all the kit or even soccer boots but they get amazing skills and can run rings around kids who’ve had everything on a plate.
IS: It’s the same whether in Europe or over here. My respect goes to the angler who can get results from developing a new water rather than turning up to a known swim for the first time and banging out a couple of big fish.
FW: That’s right. Especially with all the technology available anyone can find out the going swim and then just turn up. GPS, sonar everything makes it easy for folk to just turn up and throw the same old sh*t out without even having to think. It’s just fishing by numbers so what’s clever about that?
IS: Then it seems people can get very trapped in techniques rather than exploring new ideas or understanding why they are fishing a particular rig or bait and so on.
FW: Indeed and that’s where the pioneering spirit disappears which is really the whole essence of angling. You are just going through the motions and are becoming a collector of trophy shots. It’s not about the end result so much as how you get there which should be important. It’s like saying I did Everest in 2010 and taking photos of you stood on the top but you actually arrived there by helicopter. It’s pointless. You could train a monkey to do that.
IS: Now there’s an idea! Perhaps I can get geese or ducks to bait up my swims when I don’t have time.
We had to delete Frank’s response as it was not very PC but was funny as heck… we had to take a pause in the interview because we couldn’t stop laughing!
IS: So onto more serious stuff. You have a book coming out and I know you talk about many of the places you’ve fished over the years, but are there places you haven’t fished but are on your bucket list?
FW: There is mate. I want to fish Balaton near Budapest which is the biggest natural lake in Europe. A friend of mine has already had three carp over 90lbs from there, and all mirrors. But he’s doing two month sessions on there at a time. He’s fishing in the back yard of some millionaire’s mansion and even with all the pleasantries of fishing like that its still quite an ordeal fishing that length of time. Its very shallow for about 300 metres so he’s having to fish at extreme range with 35-40mm boilies to stop the bream from picking up the rigs. So that’s interesting but I don’t have the time to do it right now. But I’d certainly like to take a look at it as it is mind blowing to think there are carp that size in the there that have grown to that size naturally and not force fed with anglers baits. Just imagine how impressive that strain of fish must be.
IS: Any UK waters?
FW: No not really. It’s a bit sad to say that isn’t it? I find it a bit tedious with all these named fish. There’s a fish called the ‘Black mouth’ because it’s been caught so many times and looks a bit the worse for wear or ‘Charlie’s Mate’ and you know within a couple of ounces how big its going to be.
IS: So there’s no surprise or novelty.
FW: Yeah so that’s really not so interesting for me. There is a place called Rostherne Mere which is a site of scientific interest. It even has fresh water smelt in it, one of only three in the whole of the UK so very rare indeed and of course there is no fishing and its well protected. They have allowed a local police fishing club to have a go once a year for the pike and they’ve been caught up to over 40lb. In 1981 some test nettings were made by Liverpool University to see what was in there. They pulled in some carp that went over 40lb. Now in 1980 there were no more than 2 or 3 40’s reported each year so it’s incredible to think those fish had grown to that size naturally way back then. Problem is it’s an $8000 fine if you get caught! I’d love to fish there and I’ve been very tempted! Just imagine getting that first screaming run over a bed of hemp & corn on a place like that? That would be tremendous.
IS: That’s what makes fishing over here so interesting. You just don’t know what’s in there.
FW: That’s great you’re the first and its pioneering stuff. You can have a good old guess at what might be there but you don’t really know do you?
IS: That’s right and there are waters I’ve fished that I thought were just doubles waters but then turned up some big fish.
FW: My mum & dad went to Turkey about 25 years ago and met a bloke on the plane. They got chatting and he said I’m not doing the usual sunbathing holiday I’m going fishing but you probably won’t know what they are but they are carp. Obviously my dad’s ears pricked up. This bloke said you wouldn’t believe how big they get but I’ve had them up to almost 60 lb.
IS: And that’s 25 years ago!
FW: Yeah and natural fish. This bloke then got a wad of photos out and showed my mum & dad. My dad said those are impressive and I know our Frank would go mad if he saw them. So this bloke said “Oh does he do some fishing then?”. So my dad said “Yes, you might even know him he’s Frank Warwick”. My dad said the blokes face was a right picture! The bloke said he wouldn’t have said a word if I’d known. My dad said don’t worry he won’t tell anyone. And I never did… until know. Why should I ruin someone else’s fishing. If I was going I’d do it on the quiet and talk to this bloke. Why piss on someone else’s fireworks. Me dad saw some really big fish while they were on a boat trip out there.
IS: It’s certainly fascinating to read some of the articles that have come out about fishing some of the big European waters.
FW: Our trip to Raduta in Romania will be very interesting.
IS: I’m definitely looking forward to that mate.
FW: It will be a fantastic trip. It’s got lots of history plus it’s a runs water for big fish. I think you’ll really enjoy it and we’ll have some fun.
IS: I’m sure one of the things you are going to mention in your book is the use of plastics.
FW: I think for people not so familiar with artificial baits there’s a leap of faith to just use them on the rig. A lot of people will only use them to tip off a boilie or other bait. That’s ridiculous as I’ve caught fish to over 40lb in England at night and with just a single piece of plastic corn. Fish are always picking things up, they don’t have hands, so they are continually sucking things into their mouth just to see if its food. Of course they soon realize that its not and its just a piece of plastic but that’s your bite.
IS: Are you fishing plastics with any kind of method?
FW: Yeah if not method then over a bed of hemp and corn or ‘partiblend’. Method or stick mixes with pellets work well in bags or mesh. On short sessions you might not want to be putting in too much bait like maize, especially if other people have been fishing the area or you see rolling fish. So just put on one or two pieces of plastic corn and just cast it out. Perhaps pop it up an inch and see how it goes.
IS: Certainly in spring when the carp are getting more active and when there isn’t yet a wealth of natural food then they are much more willing to pick up almost anything just to try it.
FW: That’s right and if you get some sweetcorn and soak it salt then you can put it a PVA bag and cast it out with just a couple of pieces of plastic corn on the hair to any fish you might see feeding. Then you don’t have to mess around spombing in a load of bait and waiting for the fish to find it or settle down. This way you can move about looking for fish, stalking and trying lots of different swims. And you know the baits still going to be on the hair or the hook so you don’t need to worry about that. There’s no risk of it coming off, there’s some flavored varieties which have a lot of pulling power.
IS: I know you been associated with Enterprise for many years and they have several popular ready flavored versions including stimulants like Betalin.
FW: Yeah they’ve got the Tutti Frutti, Scopex versions and I did some ‘Immortal’ 10mm boilies versions for them. It just looks like a little fluoro. I went to a place called Anglers Paradise in Devon, England which has highly colored almost red water and the only thing we could catch fish on was an Immortal with Coffee Cream and Caramel flavor. We couldn’t catch on any of the hand made baits that I specialize or any food boilie. I handed out a bunch to people and my son caught his first 20 and then a 30 in consecutive days on them. Everyone who used the plastics caught fish but nothing on normal boilies or other baits. How bizarre is that?
FW: So don’t under estimate the power of plastics. One big advantage is that they don’t change in buoyancy like regular boilies so they are very consistent in their behavior.
IS: Now you’ve mentioned your book that’s coming out. When will that be available?
FW: The aim is Feb 2014 or at the latest in Mar for the Carpin On show.
IS: I’m sure it’s going to be huge seller Frank and a lot of people will be interested in reading it over here.
FW: Well I hope so mate. It’s not just a technical book but there are plenty of stories and some humor in there as well.
IS: I think anyone who knows of you will know that the stories will be well worth reading …
FW: I’ve had quite a giggle remembering some of them and there a few I’ve had to leave out otherwise some people would never be able to go fishing in Europe again!
IS: Can we hope to see you back across this side of the pond once again?
FW: Oh sure, especially with us being pals. I’d like to come over and have ago at some of the big fish you’ve been catching.
IS: It would be great fun to do some exploring and perhaps get off the beaten track. It would also be nice to introduce you to some of the great anglers over here.
It’s been great talking to you as always and thank-you for taking the time to join us on the Big Carp New interview.
FW: You’re welcome mate and speak to you soon.
Photos: Copyright Frank Warwick