As for the best times and seasons, Mr. Overbeck says in the water he fishes the last two weeks in September and the first two in October are the only weeks in the year he does any good; he has caught them at all times of the day, but perhaps prefers after daybreak and before dusk. Carp will not feed, he says, in cold weather, and towards November they retire into the mud for the winter. When small ponds containing carp get frozen over for long the carp often die; they get restless, stir about and stir up the foul gases, and get suffocated. I have had to bury splendid fellows killed in this way, when, curiously enough, bream, roach, tench, eels, and other fish were not affected.
As regards baits, carp have been taken with all kinds of paste, with gentles, wasp grub, boiled peas, boiled potatoes, cherries, worms, crust of bread, dough, etc, and recently I saw in a French angling paper, La Piche Moderney that M. Hory, a shoemaker of Tournus, who is a keen carp angler, caught six carp on 30th September 1902 in the morning, weighing over 93 lbs., two of 20 livres, one of 19, one of 15, one of 10, and one of 9. The bait he used was la five cuite, but what kind of bean and how baked I know not.
Still more recently I noticed in another French angling paper, Le PScheur, that Austrian anglers at Vienna are said to catch carp up to six or eight pounds during the winter (and it is generally pretty severe in Vienna), fishing with cooked chestnuts. I confess I cannot understand winter fishing for carp, and must write to a friend in Vienna for further particulars. But I do not see why cooked chestnuts should not be a good bait for carp. To prepare them they are to be put into a melting pot (pot en fente-a sort of fireproof earthenware pipkin, I imagine) with a little water, in which they are to cook for about an hour, when they will be soft and tender, and delicious to eat with a little cider poured over them. A few bits of nut are thrown in as ground bait and a small piece put on the hook.
I can understand big roach and chub taking their bait well in the winter, but carp! Why, they are then too sleepy to feed or even move out of the mud. Mr. Overbeck gives us an account of a tremendous fight he had with a monster carp, which he hooked on his 20-foot salmon rod at 11 a.m., and which he played until 4.30 p.m., and then lost J
It was, he says, nearly eleven when my reel gave a sudden violent rush, and the line hissed madly through the water faster than I could run on dry land. I was into one, and possibly a good one, and good luck too, for he was on my 20-foot salmon rod, with which I can lift a fish far off.
But this one-oh, dear me, no ! not a bit of it 5 not a sign could I get of him, now nearly 100 yards off. Suddenly I noticed that my line was nearly all gone, and all hopes of turning him also, so I bit off the line of a neighbouring rod and my own tackle during a lull, and rapidly changing reels knotted both ends, and before the fish could guess I had another 100 yards for him. A friend holding my rod, I got into my long waders (up to my neck) and in I went through the forest of bulrushes that hid us from the fish into one foot of mud and the same of water. There was my whale seventy yards off now, with my line attached as if nailed to a steamer, with far less hopes of ever coming to a landing stage. How he tugged and sailed to and fro, no signs of his size being possible, his nearest approach within an hour being perhaps fifty yards. Twelve o'clock, ditto; by this time I admired, but no longer loved, my fish. I was now in thick, sticky, slimy, black, very foul-smelling mud up to the knees, and found it difficult to stand or change feet. I had no boots or shoes on my waders, and when I did reach the bottom of the shivering sludge I was firmly glued upon a sharp chalky bottom, with tender feet. Above this mud was two feet of water, for I was right out in the pond by this time. Excitement had given way to philosophy; wild bets were exchanged as to his weight, the boy's estimate being something over a hundredweight, but then he had to be loyal, for I was his master. Tobacco smoke cooled the fumes of excitement, and silence reigned at 1 p.m., for we (and poor me) were hungry. And, Great Scot! wasn't I tired too-I now respected my fish-and still the same monotonous to and fro went on. Perhaps when about two o'clock came, upon earnest requests to put more force on, although my rod was bent double and I dared not risk another ounce, I managed to rise him and turn him over.
I have never seen ^uch a fish in my life-his belly seemed to be nearly a foot deep-and that was the only time we saw him. Loyal sportsmen as we were, no fish no grub, and still we hungered ! At three he started to burrow down into the mud; then I blessed the fish, and down, down he went, up again, shorter runs, although still too deep to see and too heavy to lift, I then gave the rod over to a friend, and proceeded up the pond side to mend, under water, bail out, and bring over the old punt. This I managed with oilcloth, tacks, and much tact, to do, bailed it out (now wet through)-I, not the boat-and brought it down the pond. It was then nearly half-past four, and my friend shouted out that it had buried itself; then I blessed the fish more forcibly still, and resolved to " elevate " it a little more yet, when, as I came near, a sudden noise of volcanic energy resounded throughout the woods as the gut came in gently by itself, at last sawn through, and I came out!
Then we had dinner, and I masticated my food instead of biting my lips. I even then felt ready to dig for him with a spade if I had only known exactly where to dig.
The largest carp I ever heard of as being taken with rod and line in the Thames was caught in Walton Deeps on the 14th of March 1882 by that clever angler, Mr. Alfred Mackrill, who thus describes his fight with his grand fish-taken, it must be remembered, in running water, on fine tackle, which means that the slightest mistake on the part of the angler would lose the fish :-