by: Tim Paisley
I have been friendly with Rod Hutchinson since the late 1970s, a period when there were rumblings about Peter Mohan's dictatorial approach to running the CAA and BCSG. When you start carp fishing in the shadow of people like Rod, and Chris Yates, you are an eternal beginner, and I certainly was back then with just seven or eight years carping under my belt. I mention that because it came as a complete surprise when, out of the blue, Rod suggested that perhaps I should start another carp organisation. It was a 'Who, me?' moment. I slept on it for a year or two. Rumblings of discontent weren't really the basis for the founding of a new organisation.
The world of angling was run by the National Federation of Anglers (NFA) at that time, although there was a National Anglers' Council, whose role I never fully understood. I mention that because the actual trigger for the start of the Society was political. Carp and specialist anglers tended not to join the NFA, or be represented on the NFA board, so we were all (including the NASG) taken completely unawares when a motion was passed at national level banning live-baiting (for pike). The law was quickly rescinded when it was pointed out that maggots and worms are 'live bait', but the ban was a warning shot, emphasising what was possible if you ignored angling politics. Now we did have a reason to start another organisation because Peter Mohan was avowedly apolitical, personally and on behalf of his organisations.
There was still a 'Who, me?' element to taking it further, but the longer I live the more my actions tend to be guided by the principle that 'someone's got to do it' – if I feel it needs doing. I bounced it around for a while, and decided it needed doing. At that time the only other carp person I knew well enough to involve in the start of such an organisation was Greg Fletcher, who didn't hesitate when I asked him if he was willing to be the treasurer of a new carp organisation. I went to see fellow Sheffielder George Sharman and explained what was happening. As it happened there was some unrest in the North East region of the BCSG at the time, and George agreed to be chairman, although he was later rapidly elevated to president for reasons I'll explain.
I was writing for Coarse Angler at the time, and was friendly with Editor Colin Dyson. It was a close-knit community, with the Coarse Angler offices quarter of a mile away in one direction, and Fletch quarter of a mile in the other. Colin was a regular contributor to the weeklies, so when we organised an inaugural meeting for Saturday 25th May 1981 Colin was able to publicise it for us, which helped. We were on a wing and a prayer and had no idea what to expect.
What I didn't know was that the disaffection with Peter Mohan was more widespread than we could have guessed, and as a result the attendance at that first meeting in Sheffield read like a 'Who's Who?' of carp fishing, although as I didn't know who was who in carp fishing that was actually lost on me at the time. Hutchy gave his maiden public talk that day (he was terrified) and had previously enlisted his friend Chris Yates as his fellow launcher of the Society, and fellow speaker, which was an awesome coup. The attendance was of the order of 120, and we were up and running.
We had a meeting at lunch time to discuss the Society outline I had drawn up in advance, the bare bones of which included open membership, accountability, democratic elections, regional meetings, magazines, conferences, political representation, and the objective of eventually owning our own waters. Bob Davis sat in on that meeting, and impressed me with his presence. He was leader of the Savay syndicate, a friend of Kevin Maddocks – who was Peter Mohan's right-hand man at the time – and was willing to be chairman of the Carp Society. I can be big on expediency when it makes sense, and it made so much sense that George Sharman was instantly elevated to President, with Bob as Chairman. I was confirmed as Secretary, and Greg as Treasurer. Among those present at that first meeting were Del Romang, Derek Stritton, Micky Sly, Mike Wilson, Clive Diedrich, Malcolm Winkworth, the late Barry Griffiths (Fletch re-christened him 'Baz' later), Mark Summers and Bill Walford, in addition to the aforementioned Rod Hutchinson and Chris Yates, and many more.
The reaction to the start of the Society was remarkable. Bob Davis and Mike Wilson in particular were very influential in southern carping circles, and it was Mike's friendship with Dave Watson which led to the design and publication of the first half-yearly issue of Carp Fisher, launched at the Society's first conference in Luton in November 1981. The magazine had a massive impact, not just on carp anglers, but on magazine publishers, too!
By then the first Society regional meeting had already been held, organised by Roger Vanstone in Gloucestershire in late October 81. The speaker was the late Eddie Price, who displayed his Redmire tackle at the meeting. That first meeting was the start of a Society regional meeting crusade. If there was a regional meeting anywhere in the country you just had to be there! Four stand out in my mind.
Derek Stritton organised one in Essex. I think I had car problems on the way down, and by the time Greg and I arrived Derek was standing on a table in the middle of the bar holding forth about the merits of the new organisation, and encouraging people to join. ('Telling people to join' would probably be a more accurate description of his approach.)
There was a meeting Sheffield, and an aftermath in Greg's flat which was attended by numerous leading lights, including Hutchy at his most outrageous. He suggested that Jim Fielding's eyes were just made for make-up, and finished the evening crawling round in his underpants, and sleeping in the bath. Wilson, Davis, Fielding et al were in attendance, and the evening had quite an impact on all those present – and many who weren't, as the details leaked out. God knows where we all slept, if at all.
Martin Simmonds volunteered to be regional organiser for Norfolk, and there was a meeting at Waveney that winter, brimming with celebrities from that part of the world, and beyond. Ritchie MacDonald was part of the travelling circus by that time, and after we had all retired to our caravan quarters for the night he had a friendly altercation with Hutchy, or Bob Davis, which finished up with the main caravan window being smashed. It was a bitterly cold night and we froze the long night through, as a result.
The first Kent meeting was an occasion, with a whole host of new faces joining the crusade. My main memory is of Bob Davis getting hot under the collar because Colin Swaden had been 'talking down to him', having recently caught the Longfield forty. The Kent meeting was a watershed in Society affairs because Lee Jackson became one of the regional organisers, and was in the middle of the BCSG/Carp Society 'rivalry'. Peter Mohan hadn't taken kindly to the formation of the new organisation and an 'us or them' directive had gone out, which was largely ignored. That it was ignored by as high profile a figure as Lee, and then by his mate Alan Smith, was the icing on the cake as far as establishing the Society in the South East was concerned.
By the end of 1982 the membership stood at 580, and by the end of 83 at 883. The support for the new organisation was massive, and no praise can be too high for those who, by example, made that support happen. To check out where the Society went from there have a look at the two documents, 'The First Ten Momentous Years', compiled by me in the early 90s, and the 'The Next 10 Momentous Years', compiled by John Seal more recently when we were in the early stages of the legal battle with the deposed directors.
The one regret about those early days is that carp-fishing photography was in its infancy, and there are no photographic records of the inaugural meeting, or those auspicious early regional meetings. They were special occasions with an influence on affairs that extends to this day, largely because of the progress the Society has made in the intervening years, and partly because of the appointment of life members from those who furthered the cause of the Society. That those life-member appointments would later have such significance in terms of the rebirth of the Society – as explained elsewhere – certainly never occurred to us when the life memberships were created. The life members have become special people in the history of the development of the Carp Society twice over!
Tim Paisley, February 2017.
The Carp Society was founded by Tim Paisley and Greg Fletcher in Sheffield.
First Conference - Luton
Carp Fisher Magazine launched
First Regional Meeting held - Bucks/ Herts
First Newsletter published
Conference - Birmingham (May)
Conference - Dunstable (November)
Publicity Material starts
Dunstable (Queensway Hall) - Summer and Winter confrences
Carp Fisher Growing in reputation
First Cyprynews published
Membership put on a computer
Agency membership system introduced
Junior membership introduced
Publicity Booklet, improving publications and agency stsyem responsible for upsurge in membership to 3,260.
Redmire Pool acquired
Dick Walker Rememberance confrence
Publication of book 'For The Love of Carp'
Appointment ofr full time administrator
Winter conference at Doncaster
Membership up to 4,150
BB accepts presidency and address May confrence
Four Juniot Fish-Ins organised
Membership upto 4,500
Successful Winter confrence at the NEC
French Carp Society introduced
Junior book in production
10th aniversary celebration planned
10th Anniversary and Winter/AGM Conferences both attended by 1700+. 37 regions and 97 agencies operational inc Scotland, Ireland, France, Holland, Germany and Denmark. Fishing acquired on Marsh, Yew Tree, Waveney D, and Horseshoe Lakes. Launch of innovative fund-raising scheme to purchase Horseshoe. Carp Match, Fish with the Stars events held there to raise funds.CAA members and remaining assets absorbed on collapse of that organisation. John Seal appointed Gen Sec. Membership 5000+ and growing.
Terms agreed to purchase Horseshoe through the purchase 10 (later extended to 11) year permits. Transfer deed signed in presence of 2000+ at Spring Conference with 1323 members receiving permits and c200 going onto waiting list. Fishing acquired for members at Etange de Rouge. First junior fish-in held at a foreign venue. First Junior Conference held. First Inter-Regional Charity Carp Match held at Horseshoe attracting 28 teams, including one from Germany. At the Society’s instigation SACG formed. Paul Selman becomes political organiser and editor of quarterly Cyprinews. Society represented carp anglers in Whitehall meeting with civil servants about importation of foreign carp. Tony Keoghane appointed Chairman. Membership at new high with £56,000 subscription income.
Mike Kavanagh appointed Commercial Manager. Spring Conference held at Wembley with record attendance and largest-ever trade. Equally successful Winter Conference/AGM at Dunstable. Fishing at The Chimneys and Heartsmere Pool obtained. Bavarian Junior fish-in. Swindon meeting of Horseshoe permit holders. Discounted fishing at Linch Hill, Boyers and Leisure Sports.
Graham Hood appointed conference organiser when Mike Kavanagh leaves for personal reasons. Spectacular German slide show at Wembley Conference. Fishing acquired at Farmwood Pool and syndicate formed. Fox Pool fishing obtained with PAC. Second book “Carp Hunters” published. Second Junior Conference held. Paul Selman and Julian Cundiff take over from Tim Paisley after he finally ended his long stint as editor of Carp Fisher. Charity fund-raising included £3500 from the Inter-Regional Match and £2650 to the Warrington Bomb Victims Appeal from the North-West region. 5500+ members.
Steering Committee reconstituted following Tony Keoghane standing down, with Les Bamford becoming acting-Chairman, Derek Stritton Treasurer, and stalwarts Tim Paisley and Paul Selman re-joining the committee. 5 The old guard are backyear plan agreed to address need for more rigorous financial controls. Fishing obtained at Tutton Pool. After successful Wembley conference decision made to hold future conferences at Dunstable in view of spiralling costs of hiring Wembley. Membership stable with subscription income of £73,000. At AGM Les Bamford appointed Chairman; Tim Paisley Gen Sec; and Derek Stritton Vice-Chair.
Horseshoe Committee, chaired by Fisheries Manager, Brian Sefton, to establish fish-rearing facilities. Plans agreed for further improvements at the lake. Scheme outlined for creation of islands. Horseshoe mini conference of permit holders and launch of Project 2000 to fund acquisition of a barren lake for development as a fishery. Later acquired and named Carp Lake Diawa. Carp Fisher becomes quarterly. Regional Roadshow launched. Northern Conference held in addition to those held in the spring and winter. Richard Stangroom appointed Conference Organiser and late in the year employed as Commercial Manager to take over from Vic Cranfield. Society trading profitably.
Society office re-located to Horseshoe. Office Manage Daphne Davis appointed. Carp Lake Daiwa stocked and opened for fishing. New constitution and structural organisation approved at AGM with new slate of governors appointed to hold office, all of them longstanding Society members. Horseshoe registered as a fish farm. Inauguration of Junior Carp Schools. Record attendance at Winter Conference at which Terry Hearn gave his first ever slide-show. Carp Fisher becomes bi-monthly incorporating Cyprinews.
Society on an even keel and trading profitably with full range of activities and conferences. Regional structure re-invigorated with 34 regions operating. Shop opened at Horseshoe. 12th year on Horseshoe permits available. Membership on a 3 year high.
Pike fish-in at Horseshoe. Philip Gray appointed Fishery Manager on retirement of Brian Sefton, who returned to post later in the year. Roadshow to Ireland. Fish with the Stars raised £7,500 to kick-start new HQ project. Closure of Dunstable venue forced move to Luton for winter conference, but this proved a disappointment. Membership at all-time high scraping just over 6,000. New fishery in Lincolnshire located.
Following the resignation of Richard Stangroom, Marsh Pratley was appointed as Chairman and a new administrative structure was put in place including: Mitch Smith, Andy Murray and Paul Boichat. Carp Fisher re-vamped under editorial team of Julian Cundiff and Kevin Clifford. Spring conference cancelled with alternative venue unable to offer suitable date and impossible to arrange in time available. Lincolnshire water acquired, later stocked and named Langholme Lake. Winter Conference at Sandown Park a success.
Over the next 16 years the carp society went through one of the most stable periods of its existence. During this time, with the long term Horseshoe permits now expired the Society was finally able to start making money from its main asset, as well as from the other fisheries and other commercial ventures. This new income allowed a long term plan to become reality when the lodge was finally built on Horseshoe Lake, providing a permanent building to run the office from for the first time since moving out of Ilford in 1998.
However, as the focus changed, regions started holding less meetings resulting in fewer members. The two annual conferences became just one and other shows set up and moved in the void left. Carp Fisher, the then bi-monthly magazine was scrapped. Fishing rights on lakes such as the famous Redmire Pool and the French fishery 'Etang de Rouge' were lost, and as the benefits of becoming a Carp Society member reduced, so did the membership.
Back for the third time in a rescue mission, the old guard of Tim Paisley and Derek Stritton have teamed up once again to steer the Society back from the brink.The rehashed committee also sees founder member Greg Fletcher, long term Vice President Bill Ward, Marsh Prately and Brian Sefton, join Fishery Manager Miles Carter , Langholme Head Bailiff Steve Hall and Paul Boichat.
Tim Paisley reports that “It's good news week… The Carp Society have announced that the four deposed directors – Malcolm Coller, David Mannall, Derek Buxton and Shane Thompson – have finally conceded defeat in the 'boardroom battle' and will play no further part in Society affairs, as directors or members.”
The Society is once again a democracy, accountable to its re-growing membership, as it was when it was created in May 1981.