Carping Allegedly | Bill Cottam

Discovering Eternal Youth

I take great pride from the fact that regular readers of Carping Allegedly tell me that their lives have been made considerably richer by my literary efforts, and many lessons have been learned by my ongoing myriad of thoughts, comments and recommendations. I understand from chatting to some of you, for example, that having seen the error of your ways, quite a few have indeed ceased using Zigs. You have realised that such tactics are reserved for anglers who can’t catch off the bottom, and hordes of you have thrown your surface-fishing gear in the bin, based on the fact that it is cheating. 

Apparently, quite a few of you have taken the plunge and requested that the local steamroller driver run over your rod pod, having come to the inevitable conclusion that it is better to choose a swim that is totally devoid of carp – where you can push the banksticks in with ease and look carpy – than to fish a swim stuffed with fish but requires 6cwt. of scaffolding before you can get the battery of the matching carbon out!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, check this out for yet another absolute barnstormer of a revelation. In common with Cliff Richard (76), Ken Barlow (84) and Tim Paisley (137), I have discovered the secret to eternal youth…

My story starts at the mighty Zwolle Carp Show in the Netherlands, an exhibition which, if the organiser is correct, I have attended for 18 or 19 out of the last 20 years. This time around, due to the insane amount of gear we had to take over, I was blessed with the job of dropping off my motor in Essex, picking up a hire van, and then making my way over to northern Holland the long way around.

The consequence of it all was that my route home took me from the hall on the Sunday night, through the Eurotunnel, back to Essex for the car, and then up home to Rotherham. The stand-dismantling and heavy rain ensured that I didn’t manage to reach Calais until 10.30 in the evening on the way home, and feeling a little worse for wear, I booked myself into the Holiday Inn and the world’s most luxurious bed. The plan was to get a good night’s sleep and an early train back to the UK the following morning.

I thought it was a decent plan, and one that was made even better when I spotted the fact that due to the 1-hour time difference between mainland Europe and the UK, and because the Eurotunnel crossing only takes 40 minutes, I would actually arrive home 20 minutes before I had left… 

Now I’m not daft, so I immediately booked 10 return crossings each day for the following week, thus ensuring that a mere 7 days later, I would be 23 hours younger than I was when I started. Indeed, if I packed up work and fishing altogether, and spent a year of my life travelling to and from Calais with comparable regularity, I would be 171 hours – or just over a week – younger at the end of it!

There you go. As I have told you before, there is much more to this magazine than yet another 11-year-old carp tiger showing you his top 10 step-by-step guides for putting pellets into a PVA bag in the freezing fog, while being attacked by a rampaging bunk-up-hungry mute swan which hasn’t eaten for a month!

New Toys and Inherent Carpiness

Thankfully, and as some would say, incredibly, at the time of writing, I have never been through a divorce. I can only imagine the heartache and stress that such things bring, and I sincerely hope I never have to feel the pain myself. I have been married for almost 27 years, and although life is rarely perfect and, like the vast majority of other couples, we do have our moments, it’s hard to imagine life without Mrs C being around. 

We have gone through great times and tough times together, and undoubtedly we’ve had our ups and downs, but we are still here and still together – a team (yuk)!

I have always believed that the old adage: the grass is always greener on the other side, must be the cause of many marital separations, and many fleeing husbands and wives will have lived to regret their decisions.

Late last year, I made a potentially life-changing decision that I hope I don’t live to regret. After many great years together, I have cast the Daiwa Infinitys aside in favour of the newer and considerably sexier Shimano Ultegra 1400 XTDs. It was a difficult decision because my trusty Daiwas and I have travelled thousands of miles together, but in common with many a fleeing husband, I simply couldn’t resist the beautiful body and incomparable good looks. In truth, a couple of waters I am fishing necessitate that I use reels with a greater line capacity and better line lay, and the Shimanos undoubtedly bring that to the table.

I think I came to the conclusion that I needed to upgrade my reels during a trip to Pascale Lake with my mates Bernard Sisson and Colin McNeil last year. We were boating baits out into tiny holes in the weed during that particular session, and having assisted Bernard with his rods on a number of occasions during the trip, it was an inescapable fact that his reels were much smoother than mine in every respect.

I took delivery of my new toys right at the end of November, in readiness for a 2-week early-December trip that I had planned on my Jack Jones. I got as far as loading the van and setting the alarm for a silly-early start, but my trip ended up being postponed at the last minute, due to mum falling ill and being rushed into hospital. The upshot of that is the fact that mum wasn’t released from hospital until mid-January, and the start of the exhibition season means that although the Ultegras have been immaculately spooled up with shiny new line, I am yet to use them in anger.

Although they appear to be pretty impressive already, I am told by a few folks who understand stuff of this nature that a set of Ice self-lubricating washers, from Future Fishing in Newark, will improve the XTD clutches even further, and I guess this means I will not be able to resist. After all, if it adds to my overall inherent carpiness and bank cred, it’s got to be good. My only problem is that having watched the relevant YouTube clip, and discovered that fitting them necessitates the partial dismantling of the front of the spools, I will have to find somebody who can do the job for me. If I attempt it, I will never be able to put the damn things back together again! 

Before I leave the subject of reels, spooling and line, I have to tell you that my head is in something of a mess at the moment. I have never been one to swap my gear unnecessarily, but news has reached me that my beloved 15lb Shimano Catana is no longer available and I must find an alternative. Gutted doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. I had total confidence in Catana, and I can honestly say I can’t ever recall it letting me down. Now I find myself being forced to put my faith in something new. The search for a comparable line is currently ongoing!

Another toy I have recently acquired is a pair of Taska ceramic scissors. I can hear the more sceptical of you screaming that I am only mentioning this due to my perceived connection with the Essex-based company, but, as anybody who knows me will tell you, I am not, and never will be, that type of person. The fact is, I like nice efficient things, and will quite happily recommend anything I come across that I rate highly – irrespective of who manufactures it. Now I understand that getting excited about a pair of scissors undoubtedly categorises me as a grade-one saddo in many people’s eyes, but these are seriously impressive cutting implements that effortlessly snip through any hooklength material I can lay my hands on with unbelievable ease.

Very impressive and very carpy indeed. Treat yourself to a pair today, and change your life!

Coming Soon…

As the Carping Allegedly fan base grows, and now arguably rivals that of Harry Styles, I am being pestered to launch a dedicated website for those of you who want more of the no-nonsense, no-bullshit approach that is part and parcel of my occasional ramblings.

Obviously, if I get the relevant funding, I will be releasing a range of Carping Allegedly clothing, and whole host of other sexy bits and pieces, to advertise the fact that you are indeed a CA disciple. It will be guaranteed to transform you into a fully-fledged carp tiger!

With this in mind, I had a stroll around both the Northern Angling Show and The Big One exhibition, in an attempt to try to ascertain what gaps are left in the market, and I assure you it was not an easy task. Seemingly, everything has been done, and done to death again, and the market is unquestionably reaching its breaking point.

And then it hit me! Everybody wants to be carpy, but not everybody can transform themselves into a stinking hobo at the drop of a floppy hat. So, I am currently in the early stages of developing a range of Carpy Transformation Kits, which will enable those of you to whom things of this nature don’t come naturally to become a stereotypical carper. Currently on test are:

The Beard to be Feared: The fledgling tiger cubs amongst you, and those of you who have jobs that ensure you have to be at least semi-presentable during working hours, need worry no more. The range of Beards to be Feared enable you to miraculously transform yourself into a vagrant in the lake car park prior to exiting your vehicle. Simply attach with the Velcro strip, and achieve the long-session unkempt look in the blink of an eye. 

Available in matted blonde, black, brown, and for the real hard core amongst you – hi-viz ginger! Each beard comes complete with easy-fit Velcro strips and a sachet of tuna oil-infused munga beard wipe, for those who prefer the full-timer stinking-like-a-hyena image. £19.99 

Tramp Hair Bucket Hat: Fear not, you can now keep her indoors happy by having a middle-of-the-road, neat and tidy barnet at home, and then – simply by donning one of our Tramp Hair Bucket Hats prior to your angling trip – instantly get the look every time-served carper worth his salt desires. 

Each hat comes with high-impact Gareth Fareham-style hair sewn into the inner rim. This has been proven to enable you to get more bites, and instantly gain acceptance into the inner circle of carpers on any given water. To get the ultimate big-fish look, we recommend that you should order a hat three sizes larger than you actually need. £9.99

Chunky Knit Crop Tops: These carefully researched Chunky Knits eliminate any worries you might have had about sweating in the searing midsummer heat. The crop top-style allows more airflow than standard-length sweaters, but is more than long enough to disappear into the top of your chest waders. We gave serious thought as to whether we should launch a full-length version for those of you who don’t spend your life in chesties, but realistically, we cannot envisage too much of a demand, and to be honest, does our brand wish to be associated with people who have such poor taste?

Available in green, green, greener, even greener than that, and for those who want to pay homage to one of the most iconic carp anglers of all time – limited edition Terry Hearn burgundy. £24.99

Cut-off Chesties: Let’s be honest, living in chest waders isn’t exactly ideal (especially if there is 30ft of water under the rod tips and you are only doing it for effect), but now your problems are over. Our Cut-off Chesties are produced from the best-quality rubber, and come complete with the obligatory hi-viz adjustable braces (or single brace, if you prefer the increasingly popular ‘I have just thrown them on’ off-the-shoulder number’).

The fact that they are cut off just below the thigh ensures better freedom of movement and less chaffing and sweating, while still ensuring all your trophy shots give the impression that you are indeed sporting a pair of Vass or Ocean’s finest. Not guaranteed waterproof due to the fact that they have no legs, but let’s be honest – who cares? They look the bollocks in the photos! £29.99

Multi-sponsorship T-shirts: I bet lots of you have got T-shirts that have been provided by old sponsors, long dumped in favour of the next company which appears on the scene in a blaze of glory and hype-ridden answers to your piscatorial prayers. Well, problem solved. No more do you need to take a trip to the charity shop to dispose of your unwanted camo garb. 

Our innovative Multi-sponsorship Shirts come complete with an alphabet full of self-adhesive letters that can be rearranged to spell out the name of whoever you are sponging off that particular week. Brilliant, even though I say so myself! Each shirt even comes complete with a guide to help you spell the names of every bait and tackle company on the planet.

If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have said that carp anglers were capable of spelling correctly, but having heard on the grapevine that Carpworld chose to spell my name wrong on the front cover of this very publication a couple of months ago, I thought we should err on the side of safety! £15.99

The Secondary Rig Module: As the name suggests, this is a backup rig wallet that our financial advisors tell us we should call a module. Apparently, that makes it sound considerably sexier, and enables us to charge twice as much for it.

This is a touch of real genius, even though we say so ourselves. It’s packed with an assortment of unbelievably complex over-the-top rigs that you would never use in a million years. These little beauties are ideal for would-be consultants, wannabe rig gurus, and those of you who just want to give the impression that you know more than you are letting on. 

Simply grab the rig of your choice each and every time you want to take a rig picture to illustrate an article or Facebook post, and then revert to rigs that you actually use once the cameraman has left the swim. The Secondary Rig Module rigs are also ideal to have lying around in the bivvy to impress any visitors to the swim. £24.99-£49.99 depending on just how ludicrous you want the rigs to be.

See you next time around. CW