CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW CARP PB – OR PHYSICAL ASSAULT?

Our angling world is full of practices that generate memorable and enjoyable moments that we experience every time we “go fishing “.

Some of what we take for granted are homegrown while others blow over here from other countries.

One that has seemingly being adopted as if it is an integral, internationally accepted part of specimen carp fishing is “congratulating” the angler who has just bettered a Personal Best (PB) by emptying a bucket of water on him or her.

 C’mon, this is not being congratulatory at all; it is the opposite, an insult to the person’s dignity if not all out physical assault and demeaning on top of it.   

 Fact of the matter is that having a bucket of water emptied on one is not pleasant at all, not in summer and certainly not in winter! If you don’t have a change of clothing, what then? The only people I have seen giggling and laughing at the hapless carper are the onlookers – who, I’ll wager, are secretly very happy that they are not the “fortunate” angler on the receiving end!

 I am told that the very latest “refinement” of what is in fact an act of nothing else but physical assault, is adding red fluoroscein to the water..! Talk about adding insult to injury..!

What prompted this column is an email received from an obviously upset mother of a 9-year old boy who now refuses to join the family on their bank angling outings. The reason, she explains, is that on landing his first ever carp over 5kg he was forced to kneel with his fish while a much older cousin emptied a bucket of cold dam water on him. What added to his anguish was that all the others in the party laughed out loud at his discomfort. In the cold winter air he had to get rid of his drenched clothes and had to spend the rest of the day in borrowed, badly fitting clothes. That he didn’t catch his death of cold or ‘flu , the mother says, was just a stroke of luck, but now her son is lost to the fishing world and wants nothing to do with it.  

The origin of this distasteful practice that is seen as a rite of passage into the inner circle of carpers who have succeeded in either a first or in improving an existing PB is shrouded in mystery.

Even recognised specimen carp anglers have no idea how this demeaning practice originated, nor do they know when or by who.

John Dearden, widely regarded as the person who introduced South Africa to the hair rig and boilies, and a highly competent carper in his own right, says: “I don’t know where it started, maybe France. I know it was popular in the warmer regions.”

A possibility, he surmises, is that the practice grew from the actions of carpers who went into the water with their fish to revive them fully before being released.

He reckons it was, or is, “a practice more common in warm climates and because the warm shallow water has low oxygen levels. Maybe the bucket of water used next to an unhooking mat is the closest to actually getting into the water?”

He agrees that “doing it to a youngster in winter is plain stupid and uncalled for. So many people think that Carp fishing is about the tackle and that you need to behave a certain way to be a “specimen” angler. I wonder how many of those people pouring the water helped him with his rig tying, feature finding or fish location?”

John’s conclusion: “I’ve never gone in for it,” says it all.

From the U.S.A. Sean Manning and Wayne Boon of the American Carp Society also have no real idea how this practice originated. “To be perfectly honest we don’t really have an opinion on the subject one way or another….we think it started in the UK perhaps?….Some people wouldn’t mind it and some would….depending on the moment and the spirit in which it was delivered!”

South African carping authority Gilbert Foxcroft admits he doesn’t know at all but surmises that it is done “all over the world”.

“I don’t know when or where it started,” he admits. “I also had a bucket or two in my day and don’t really have an issue with it.  Obviously one needs permission from a person to do it though.”

Gilbert’s comment: “one needs permission from the person to do so” is crucial. Without such permission it is bullying and nothing less than physical assault; in my opinion it certainly does not do the good image of specimen any favours. 

What, please tell me, is wrong with a handshake and photos of the happy angler with his or her fish and the fish being weighed and released? These provide lasting memories and provide the occasion with a dignity that all specimen carpers can appreciate. In addition, no one need ever be hesitant to catch his or her PB!

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