Simon Bater is perhaps not a household name to many carp anglers, but his fishing CV his among the best in the business.
He caught Two Tone at a record weight and the incredible Black Mirror, among many others.
He kindly agreed to lift the lid on his angling career so far...
Who was your biggest inspiration in the early days?
I was into matchfishing and pleasure angling as a kid, and was about seven years old the very first time I went fishing, with my dad.
I think that I caught a rudd and a crucian, but what I remember most is seeing some big orange goldfish drifting about in the middle and thinking ‘I want to catch one of those’. I think that was when the big-fish bug first took hold!
I started fishing for carp aged about 13 and among my main inspirations were a Kent-based carper called Alan Smith, and also people like Lee Jackson and Paul Forward, who were slightly older than me.
Other than them it was Rod Hutchison, I suppose. He was a proper bloke; one who walloped them but still had fun along the way.
I remember him saying how it was all well and good putting the effort in and catching big fish but that "you’ve got to learn to smell the roses along the way”. I couldn’t agree more.
What is your favourite venue of all time?
That would have to be Colnemere. I loved the rawness of it, and it was an endurance test of epic proportions, from the bugs and bankside undergrowth trying to eat you, to trying not to get caught.
It was tough going, but I loved every minute of it and it was ultimately very rewarding.
- Age: 42
- From: Faversham, Kent
- Occupation: Decorator
- UK PBs: Mirror carp 65lb 14oz, common carp 42lb 6oz
- Hobbies outside fishing? Doing up my canal boat…
- Music to accompany your perfect session? Smooth FM or Talk Radio
- Pot Noodle or Toastie? Neither! Chicken fajita, please!
You’ve caught some of the most famous big carp in the country. Any standouts?
I’d have to say two fish – Two Tone and the Black Mirror. They resided in totally different venues, which were enjoyable in different ways. Both required blood, sweat and tears.
If you could fish for one carp, in one venue, which fish and where?
I’d have to say Mary. I just ran out of time and was fishing Conningbrook, which was right on my doorstep and had a British record swimming about in it.
Once Mary died Wraysbury wasn’t Wraysbury any more, to my mind. The king was dead, if you like.
I’d have loved to fish there and experience the buzz of it, plus it was a fish that just grew and grew. Every time it came out you never knew how big it was going to be.
What’s your idea of the perfect carp-fishing session?
I love both spring and autumn, because the fish are showing themselves and are getting caught, but if I had to choose just one then I’d choose spring because at that stage all your dreams are intact and there’s everything to still play for.
I don’t have a particular favourite style of fishing, as I enjoy them all and simply choose the style at the time which gives me the best chance of a fish on the bank, whether that’s going short, long, from a boat or whatever.
Being adaptable is the biggest skill in carp angling, I think
Who is the best carp angler you’ve ever seen?
Probably Tommy Banks (current owner of Savay). He’s unbelievable, and he’s caught them all – you name a big, famous fish and he’s probably caught it – Mary, the Royal 40, all the Car Park fish.
The only one that eluded him was Two Tone. Mind you, I reckon he caught every other fish in Conningbrook about four times!
Have you ever fished abroad for big carp?
I’ve fished in America, Italy, France, Gran Canaria, to name a few.
I’d love to fish in South Africa one day, simply for the wildlife you’d get to see. Laney and Paul Forward went out there once and reckoned they saw the ‘big five’ before breakfast most days!
They came back with some mega stories. Proper bandit country!
Aside from boilies, if you had to use just one other bait, what would it be?
Brazil nuts, with sweetcorn in second. The fish love both baits, they’re cheap, and you’re never far away from a shop if you run out…
Just head to the freezer section at Aldi and you’ve got 5kg of bait for about £5.
Do you have many ambitions left in fishing?
Just to keep enjoying it (and I hope the otters don’t eat them all).
Is there an uncaught British record out there?
No, not a record, but definitely uncaught 50s – I’ve seen them.
To get to record proportions however, fish need to be fattened up a bit with anglers’ bait, so I can’t see there being an unknown whacker close to 70lb swimming around out there.