in the RAF by jennyyingdi


									     You have to be prepared to fish through all weathers. Snow, rain or
     shine, if the big ones are biting, you need to be there!

     Competitive Carp Angling

     in the RAF
     By FS Carl Hoyle

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The sport (and it is a sport) of angling,                                                            competition (this can be very frustrating
conjures up deckchairs, sitting under                                                                at times).
umbrellas in the rain, drinking stewed                                                                  The top 6 carp anglers each year
mugs of tea and pulling out the occasional                                                           represent the RAF in the British Carp
shopping trolley from stagnant canals. The                                                           Angling Championships; a nationally
reality however, could not be more different,                                                        recognised event, which includes some of
particularly the competitive element. The                                                            the best carp anglers in the country. Last
RAF Competitive Angling Association has                                                              year, the team finished a very respectable
rapidly developed over the past decade                                                               8th, beating both our sponsors teams and
and along with its Sports Council approved                                                           more importantly the Army teams.
national governing body, is a highly dynamic                                                            When you get it right, the sport can
and extremely disciplined pursuit.                 The current RAF record stands just short of       be excellent, with several large fish being
    The RAF Representative Teams come              52lb, an amazing fish and a much sought           caught by those who have sussed out
from each of the 3 elements, coarse, game          after specimen caught by Sgt Jason Verney         a particular venue. While the RAF has
and sea; compete at the highest national           from RAF Halton.                                  its fair share of extremely capable carp
levels, routinely win the Inter-Services and                                                         anglers, able to compete at the highest
boast more than a handful of international                                                           level, it is still a developing sport within
anglers. The latest iteration of the sport,                                                          the RAF and has accordingly attracted
that of competitive carp angling, is no less                                                         some much appreciated funding from
high profile and is the most rapidly growing                                                         the RAF Sports Board. Much appreciated
element, boasting a core of over 50 anglers                                                          because carp angling is an extremely
of ranks ranging from SAC to Gp Capt,                                                                expensive sport. Venue hire can be up to
ageing from 18 to 55 and from the full                                                               £3000, and it is not uncommon to get
geographical reach of the RAF, including                                                             through £80 worth of bait per person for
SHAPE (Belgium), Gibraltar and Cyprus.                                                               a 2 day event. We are though, fortunate
    What is a ‘carp’ (Cyprinus carpio)?                                                              to have a very generous sponsorship deal
                                                      So what is it about carp angling that          with one of the UK’s top fishing tackle
Originally introduced into the UK as a
                                                   makes it so compulsive? Well, firstly it is       companies, Fox International, to help
food source by monks in the 1300s, the
                                                   the sheer size of the fish. The current RAF       us pay for all the specialist equipment
carp is one of the most adaptable fish in
                                                   record stands just short of 52lb, an amazing      required and award prizes. The RAF Carp
the country. With a long life span, distinct
                                                   fish and a much sought after specimen from        Squad reciprocate by helping out at
appearance, extremely hard fighting and a
                                                   the lake in Berkshire where it resides. Caught    angling trade shows, providing feedback
reputation as being un-catchable. However,
                                                   by Sgt Jason Verney from RAF Halton this          on tackle and promoting Fox within the
to catch the ancient, wily characters, which
                                                   autumn, his picture featured on the front         angling press. The development money
are usually the largest specimens in the
                                                   cover of one of the most popular national         is invested in an annual 4 day festival.
lake, carp anglers have refined specialized
                                                   fishing magazines.                                Technical and practical instruction is
techniques. Generally, night-time is the
                                                      Fish do not get to that size without being     provided in addition to slide shows
preferred feeding time for carp, therefore,
                                                   extremely wary and cautious and they              and seminars delivered by some of the
night fishing is both hugely popular and
                                                   routinely go months or even years without         country’s top anglers. There is also a
                                                   being caught. A previous record holder, Cpl       competitive edge, with both individual
    Carp in the UK come in 3 distinct varieties:
                                                   James Vaughan from RAF Wittering, pursued         and team championships.
the ‘common’ (totally scaled), ‘mirror’
                                                   his former record capture for over 3 years,          There is an angling proverb, ‘there is
(sparsely scaled) and ‘leather’ (no scales).
                                                   only ever seeing fleeting glimpses of the         more to fishing than catching fish’ and
Large individuals are normally unique in
                                                   fish before he eventually banked the huge         this has never been so apt where carp
scale pattern and body shape making them
                                                   specimen at 45lb, again earning the dubious       angling is concerned. Invariably, good
easily identifiable. Individual fish may get
                                                   notoriety of featuring on the front cover of      carp lakes are secreted down winding
caught a number of times during their long
                                                   Carpworld magazine (we never heard the            tracks, deep in the English countryside.
life spans and become recognisable and even
                                                   last of that one).                                Couple this with a restricted membership
given nicknames by anglers. The current
                                                      Angling in all its forms is as much an         on the best waters, you can find yourself
British record stands at 67lb.
                                                   exercise in problem solving, persistence          with only the kingfishers, woodpeckers
                                                   and stamina as anything else, as the              and waterfowl for company, making the
                                                   potential record catcher has to weigh up an       long wait for the ‘Big-un’ very relaxing
                                                   infinite number of variables such as water        and enjoyable indeed. However, this
                                                   temperature, air pressure, weather, time          doesn’t come cheap, as the best waters
                                                   of year and natural food supplies, before         with restricted syndicate numbers average
                                                   deciding how and where to present a suitable      £500 per season and in some cases as
                                                   bait to tempt his quarry. The demands of          much as £1200; most would say it’s worth
                                                   carp fishing, therefore, mean that matches        every penny!
                                                   are typically 48 hours long; the RAF Festival        For more details on Carp Angling in the
                                                   of Carp runs for 72 hours, requiring overnight    RAF, contact the Team Manager, FS Carl
                                                   camping kit, night lights and a whole range                                                      55
                                                                                                     Hoyle on 95712 7293 or Team Captain, CT
                                                   of extremely heavy equipment to be lugged         Mark Jarvis on 95261 6733. Alternatively,
                                                   long distances before settling down for the       log on to the RAF Competitive Coarse
                                                   wait. A mobile approach can also be applied       Angling website www.raf-coaresangling.
                                                   during regular day to day carp angling but        info
                                                   during competitive matches, the area you                          Edited by Flt Lt Dave Hirst
                                                   choose to fish is yours for the duration of the

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