As I have written about many times before, fishing for me is about family, fishing with friends and having fun. For some it’s a weekly card game at their house, for others, a game of pool down the local pub. Whatever the chosen medium, it is often the just excuse to spend some quality time together.
My brother Peter and I were always close as children, he being the older by a couple of years. When my fishing addiction started I was but 9 years old. Fishing was something Peter never was interested in. He accompanied me on trips to Stanborough Lakes, our local day ticket water. Though he did not fish himself he would keep a watchful eye out, to make sure I did not fall off the bank into the water and made it home on time.
As we grew older, as with many siblings, our interests and circles of friends diversified and I did no longer needed a chaperone. The years passed, we finished school, acquired jobs, bought houses and both got married. The mayhem of our busy lives took over and our work was all consuming. Though we lived but a few blocks apart we rarely spent any time together except for a quick night down the pub, a meal out at the local Chinese or dinner at our mums. I moved to the USA and we now live on two continents, almost 5000 miles apart.
With modern technology, telephone, internet, video conferencing, social media, my brother and I have been able to stay in touch on a regular basis. Ironically we perhaps talk more now than we did when we lived together. We have seen each other a few times over the last decade and a half, a couple of trips back home to the UK for me and for Peter out here to Colorado. However the trips are always a stress filled chaotic jumble of travel, trying to fit in seeing all the family and friends, a few meals out together, perhaps a movie. We never really had any quiet time just for the two of us.
It had been over three years since my brother and I had last seen each other. This May we were presented with a rare opportunity. My brother was coming out to Denver for a business meeting. He managed to schedule arriving early so we could spend some time together. Peter has been a huge supporter of my CarpQuest endeavors, he even produced the title sequences you see on all the videos. Knowing how much I would enjoy his company on the bank side he offered to come out on a session with me, to be a part of CarpQuest in person.
Now as Peter had never fished before in his life the pressure was really on – not only to get some carp landed but to help my own brother catch his first ever fish! A few days before his trip our conversation was rampant, as was the obvious excitement for both of us. Once Peter arrived in the USA, and after but a day of rest from his travel, we had the SUV overloaded with all the fishing gear and were to depart.
We got up at an ungodly 3am for the long drive north to Adams County Fairgrounds. I had chosen this lake for a variety of reasons. The venue was not usually crowded on a weekday and we were hoping to film some content for a CarpQuest episode. The Fairgrounds, whilst I would not call it a runs water, can really produce the fish on a good day. The carp have a reasonable average size for Colorado, in the mid-teens with the potential for a 20 lb’er. With a short walk to the swim the Fairgrounds would be a good place for Peter to get his first experience of fishing for carp.
We arrived just before dawn to give us the best chance to see a few fish showing early, highlighting the areas to target. Our efforts were rewarded, along with a stunning view of the sun rising from the east, we saw a few fish jumping and rolling off to the left of a peninsula. We unloaded the SUV and hauled it around to a suitable spot. Peter had asked to fish with all the entry level NGT tackle I had for guests so I got him setup with a couple of rods and we got them cast out to where we saw the showing fish.
For this session I had decided to go with particles and sweetcorn as bait, simple but previously effective at this venue. With Peter perched eagerly in his chair I got my rods out to the right of his spot and we both sat back to enjoy the morning.
The hours drifted by. There was only a light wind with the sun making rare appearances from behind the clouds above. The earlier signs of carp activity did not translate into any action. We spent the quiet time chatting but I knew, what we were needed, was a run and a carp on the bank. After a couple hours, with no signs of action, I decided to move us down the peninsula.
Adams was more an afternoon bite water and I wanted to get us setup at the new spot, in position, ready for prime bite time. It was not a long walk and we had everything relocated, lines cast out again within 30 minutes. Peter was quickly realizing that fishing for carp is not as easy as it looked on the videos. There is a lot of time spent waiting, and waiting, and waiting! Noon passed us by and we had a snack on some sandwiches.
Soon after lunch the weather turned with dark storm clouds moving in to our north and south. This was actually good as this venue also fishes a lot better in poor weather. With a few drops or rain striking the umbrella we started to see fish showing out in the lake, right on top of our spot. I had high hopes it would only be a matter of time before we had fish-on!
Just before 1:45 pm my left hand rod had a screaming run. Picking up the rod the strong fighting fish peeled off line against the drag, 20 yards, 30 yards, 50 yards, before it finally stopped. I could tell it was a big strong fish. Given this was our first carp of the session the pressure to get it on the bank was high.
Slowly I worked it in towards the bank with a few big swirls visible on the surface. Peter went to get the net as we entered the final phase of the fight. With the prized fish 20 yards out from the bank the rod snapped back and the fish was off – the hook pulled. I was gutted. Hours of waiting, finally a run, a carp on and it was gone.
Of all the fish I have lost, over the years, this one really hurt. Not only had I lost the fish but I could see the disappointment on Peter’s face. I was pretty sure he thinking he was not going to see a carp at all before we went home for the day. I hoped this would not be the only run of the session!
I got the rod baited back up and cast back onto the spot. Thirty minutes later I had another run on the same rod. I played this one in much more carefully, slacking off the drag as the fish neared the shore. Peter grabbed the net and the carp obliged and swam in. To say we were both overjoyed, would be an understatement.
I look at look in the net and could see it a long, slender, common carp – a great first fish for Peter. The fish measured in at 33″ and 18 lb 12 oz. We were both elated at our first capture. We returned the carp to the water and got the rod cast back out again. With our first fish landed we really wanted to get Peter his first carp. It was time for some victory coffee!
As I was filming a brief coffee making segment Peter’s bite alarm let out a piercing tone and he was fish’on. He played the fish in gently, surprised when he felt the power of the fish. They don’t call carp the “World’s Greatest Sportsfish” for nothing! For his first ever fish, I must say, Peter reeled it in like a pro with a look of real determination on his face.
I grabbed up the net. As the fish came close in to the shore I got it landed. Relief, exultation, joy, we both laughed. Peter had his first carp in the net – job done! Peter got to hold his first carp with a huge smile on his face. Though not a monster fish the 28″, 14 lb 10 oz common had put up a great fight for him.
We finally got to drink that victory coffee and were now not only Brothers in Arms but Brothers in Carp!
As we were finishing up the victory coffee the session really came alive. Peter soon had his second common carp on the line and in the net. This time it was a real feisty 29″, 15 lb 8 oz common.
We had barely got Peter’s fish back in the water when my rod took off with a great run, a real screamer. A beautiful 33″, 21 lb 4 oz common was in the net without delay. The session was on fire!
All the fish in the session were falling to the same bait and a simple rig made from Ambush Tackle; #6 Wide Gape Teflon Hook, a short line aligner, 10″ hook link to the anti-tangle sleeve, safety lead clip with a 2 oz weight. I really like to keep things simple, especially when taking people out fishing for their first time.
For baits we were using sweet corn, on the hair, popped up with a single piece of plastic corn – this was paired with an oats & panko pack bait flavored with CC Moore’s Milk & Nut Crush. Effective, simple and got the job done nicely!
Peter was unstoppable, soon he had a great looking 29″, 14 lb 8 oz common in the net, what a great fish and his 3rd for the day.
The rain storm intensified and I hoped it would stay off us long enough to get a few more hours fishing in. Sadly, the Colorado weather did not cooperate. I could see a few flashes of lightning in the distance. Whilst I do not mind fishing in wind and rain, once the lightning starts it’s time to get those rods broken down and take shelter.
As the session came to end we started to pack away the gear. Peter was obviously not yet done for the day, his bite alarm sounded again. With the rain now pelting down, thunder ringing out above, Peter reeled the fish in. We quickly got it in the net. The last fish of the day, Peter’s 4th of the session, was a real surprise as well. A fully scaled mirror carp.
At 32″ she weighed in at an impressive 22 lb’s 10 oz. This was the first mirror carp I had seen come out of this venue in over 60+ captures. I strategically forgot to tell Peter at the time he had actually beaten my PB mirror, which was 18 lb’s! Not only was this a great looking mirror but it was also a Colorado Master Angler award fish for Peter !
Though the first 8 hours of our session had been uneventful the final 2 hours had certainly made up for it. Peter was beyond happy with his first ever fishing trip. He had banked 4 fish, with a PB common at 15 lb’s 8 oz and a PB mirror at 22 lb’s 10 oz. I was very proud, he had fished like a seasoned pro and put some great fish on the bank for his first time out.
As we finished packing up in the storm, Peter remarked, “Now I understand why fish for carp, why you do it!”
We spent the whole drive home chatting about the session, Peter’s excitement was still overflowing at his captures. We both agreed, in almost 50 years, this was the best day out we had both had together.
Over the past few years I have taken many anglers fishing for carp for their first time. This trip for me was the most rewarding. I not only got to spend the day fishing with my brother. We had talked more to each other than we had in decades. We also caught some beautiful carp together.
A few days later, after Peter returned home to the UK, he contacted me to ask what tackle he would need to take his daughter out carp fishing for her first time. Perhaps, in years to come, she will one day embark on a Quest for Carp of her own, with her children!
Sometimes, all it takes is the commitment to get out there, spend time with your family and get your lines in the water. If you catch a fish, that’s great, if not, you still get to spend quality time together. I would highly recommend not waiting almost half a century to do it, like we did.
Here is a link to the Special episode of CarpQuest we filmed during the session.
I hope you enjoy watching as much as we did spending this unforgettable day together.