A question of balance

Is carp angling the most obsessive pastime?

You only have to visit any day-ticket fishery in the country to understand the popularity of carp angling today. It is by far the most popular style of fishing and it seems to just continue to grow, with more and more people getting involved by the day. Even tackle shops are starting to notice a huge shift in sales, with a massive amount of carp angling equipment sold over general coarse fishing tackle.

We asked Angling Direct Swindon’s manager, Kev Hewitt, for his thoughts on this. He said: “Carp angling is hugely popular and at Angling Direct 65-70% of our business is now orientated around carp angling. No other denomination of angling can match it for participation.”

Not only is carp angling popular, it is known to be a highly obsessive sport, and over the years it has cost many anglers their marriage, house and precious moments with their family. There is no doubt that the best anglers in the UK have sacrificed a lot in their lives in pursuit of carp. However, how much is too much? Most anglers cannot afford to be the next Terry Hearn, they might have the passion, but there are very few people out there capable of sustaining a lifestyle where their life revolves around carp angling. Most have families to support, partners to look after, and if you aren’t careful it can all come crashing down in front of you. We asked a few different anglers for their opinions on what is widely known as ‘obsessive carp disorder’.

Carp-Talk’s editor, Simon Crow, knows only too well the sour side of relentless carp angling. He stated: “Carp fishing can be obsessive so it's important to balance your life. Twenty years ago I was married with kids and everything was ticking along nicely. Then all of sudden I was hit with divorce which saw my life change drastically. I see a lot of lads with young families fishing almost every day. They go to work, then go straight to the lake, repeating it each week. Unless they take a step back, it's only a matter of time before their life will come crashing down around them. Fishing is my job, but no fish is worth losing your house or family to."

Mainline and RidgeMonkey consultant Greg Ellis is known for being a relentless angler, getting out on the bank every weekend without fail. When questioned about his pursuit, he said: “For me personally there’s never too much carp fishing. Obviously, this comes with some serious sacrifices to normal life and I’m right in the middle of destroying my life with no way out. I have an addictive personality. Carp fishing is my drug and it always has been. I honestly believe that I would have a lot more in life if I didn’t go fishing as much but that’s the sacrifice I take. I’m out every weekend. I’ve had failed relationships because of this and I’ve also missed out on a lot of family time. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something I can’t help. Living in the south, there’s far too many waters and not enough time. I even contemplated not attending my own brother’s wedding because I was on fish at Horton Church Lake at the time. I finally gave in though, but returned the following morning a bit worse for wear. I also fish overnighters before work when I can so you can imagine, most of my time is spent fishing. I understand that I need to settle down soon though, so, if there’s a girls out there who can handle me, feel free to apply. I’ve completed Tinder now; it never worked out!”

The anglers who should be on the bank the most are those that work in the trade and make a living out of it. YouTube sensation, Mark Pitchers spends many nights on the bank each week, between film work and tutorials. When asked, how much angling is too much, he revealed: “I don’t think I have a right to say how much fishing is too much really, everyone has different circumstances and situations. Back when I owned my tackle shop, work only allowed me to fish two 48-hour sessions in a month. Nowadays, I am on the bank four or five days a week, but this is for work; magazine articles, filming and tutorials take up the bulk of my time. Even when I’m away, I make sure that I FaceTime the kids every morning as I miss them massively. My missus is very understanding of my work too, and knows how busy I am on my trips away. If you feel guilty while you’re out on the bank, then I think you know you are going too much, but then again, your missus might be glad to get rid of you for the weekend!”

Whatever your opinion is, carp angling is a hobby to most because there is more to life than sitting by the side of a lake. Whether it’s an obsession, addiction or lifestyle, however, we have to choose for ourselves where it fits into our order of priorities.

Mark Pitchers believes you should fish to your own circumstances
There aren’t many anglers out there who are more relentless than Greg Ellis
Angling Direct in Swindon is more orientated towards carp angling
Tutorials make up a lot of Mark Pitchers’ bank time
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