Adam Penning Q&A

Adam Penning Q&A

One of carp angling's deepest thinkers, Adam Penning is the brains behind a number of popular products from carp fishing's top manufacturers.

In this interview we explore his life in carp fishing. 

A classic Oxfordshire mirror for Adam 

A classic Oxfordshire mirror for Adam 

Q When did you start fishing for carp, and who was your biggest inspiration?

"I caught my first carp in July 1985 and have done it ever since.

"Through the 1980s, iconography was supplied principally by Maddocks and Hutchinson.

"I eagerly devoured all angling literature but The Carp Strikes Back by Hutchy was the one I empathised with most, simply because it reflected my own fishing in terms of not being too serious, shared with friends and full of laughter. 

"Maddocks was a terminator and, although an incredible angler, he always seemed a bit too serious for my liking!" 

Weighing a fish at Cassien. Adam likes to smile when he's fishing

Weighing a fish at Cassien. Adam likes to smile when he's fishing

Quickfire questions

  • Age: 47
  • Lives: Essex
  • Occupation: Angling tutor, writer, presenter and consultant
  • UK PBs: Common 42lb 4oz, mirror 47lb 6oz
  • Hobbies outside fishing? Boxing, films
  • Music to accompany your perfect session?
  • Arcade Fire
  • Pot Noodle or toastie? Neither. I’ll have a chicken salad wrap, please...

Q What is your favourite venue of all time (one that you’ve fished)?

"The original Wraysbury. Although I missed the golden era of Mary, I did fish it when there were 40 fish in 120 acres. 

"Doing weekends only, it was a real struggle, but one that I loved every second of.

"The Wraysbury of today shares only a postcode in terms of similarity to the original – sorry to all the young slayers eager to catch a Wraysbury carp and parade it like it’s something from the old days, but it’s the truth (notwithstanding that RK Leisure seems to have done a top job in turning it into something new, fresh and accessible for the masses who require easier fishing)." 

Q If you could go back in time and fish for one carp, in one venue, which fish and where?

"Possibly the Thick Head Fish, Savay, circa 1982. Or maybe the Black Mirror in the Mere.

"Having visited the carpy tranquility of the North Lake, Bazil in 1984 would also have to be on the list."

Q What’s your idea of the perfect session, in terms of time of year, style of fishing etc?

"May is unquestionably my favourite month. Everything is in bloom, verdant and fresh with the whole summer lying ahead.

"It’s still too early for mosquitoes and the carp are fat and easy to find. I’d be on a big pit, watching them close in on the sandy shelf at the end of a warm new wind…"

Adam with a clonking 47-pounder

Adam with a clonking 47-pounder

Q Aside from boilies, if you had to use just one bait to target carp, what would it be?

"Tiger nuts, no question about it!

"It should go without saying that these would be self-prepped – none of those rubbishy pruned, dry and unattractive things we find in jars.

"A ‘proper’ tiger should be plump and emit a milky fizz when needled – there’s nothing better!"

Q You’ve fished abroad many times, but is there any foreign venue that interests you that perhaps you haven’t yet fished?

"What I have heard about Maddocks’ Labyrinth really appeals – massive fish in weedy little bays that you can get up close to.

"Some of the big French river systems also clutch at my imagination."

Q Who’s the best carp angler you’ve ever fished with? 

"I have been fortunate enough to fish with an enormous number of brilliant anglers known and unknown.

"My best mate Mark Cole is phenomenal – alas, he no longer carp fishes. Maybe he found it too easy! 

"For fishing close, stalking, boat work and understanding carp it would have to be Simon Scott.

"Finally, I couldn’t omit mentioning Terry Hearn, so much have I borrowed from him. Thanks to you all, mentioned and unmentioned, you’ve all helped me along the way."  

Q Do you have any regrets in carp fishing? 

"I try not to have regrets about anything. However, I would like to have fished the Car Park Lake (in Yateley) in its prime – I think it would have suited me and my style of fishing.

"Another mini regret would have to be simply not doing enough fishing in my life.

Offering tutorials has given Adam a better work-life balance

Offering tutorials has given Adam a better work-life balance

"Working in an office helping to line the pockets of other people seemed fine at the time, but now that I am self-employed and a master of my own destiny I really wish I’d done it decades ago.

"The best advice I would like to give to my younger self would be ‘work for yourself and not somebody else – you’ll be a lot happier’." 

Q Are there any trends in carp fishing that you’d like to see eradicated?

"I’ve written recently on the over-use and the over-acceptability of retainer slings.

"Anglers have a responsibility to the carp to learn how to do self-takes at night. If you are not willing to do this then you should either wind in when it gets dark or just slip the fish back without a photo. 

"Too many anglers think nothing of retaining a carp all night just so they can get a daylight shot – this is totally unacceptable ego-massaging. Long periods of retention cause undue stress and, as we all know, stress will kill eventually. Sort it out, lads!" 

Q Do you think that there’s an uncaught British record swimming around out there somewhere? 

"I’m a romantic at heart so I’d have to reply in the affirmative. However, this would require a naturally grown fish in the region of 70lb - not impossible but not too likely either.

"There are certainly massive fish (60lb-plus) out there and who knows? Maybe a big reservoir could harbour something even bigger. 

"I like to think it could happen."