An absolute carp-catching machine, Tom Maker tell us what makes him tick in this revealing interview…
When did you start fishing for carp and who inspired you?
I first went what you’d call proper carp fishing at the age of nine and caught my first carp on April 7 2000, which weighed 9lb 10oz.
I know this because I’ve always kept extensive records. I used to fish a public lake at a place called the Eurolite Factory, which was in fact a load of industrial railway sidings.
I then moved on to places like Mercers, Walthamstow and Chillham Mill in search of bigger fish.
My biggest inspiration has to be my dad, Andy, no question. We fished together so much in the early days, once doing 48 weekends every year for three years, in fact!
We don’t get the chance to do so as much these days but when we do they’re special times.
What is your favourite venue of all time?
Mercers Country Park. What a place and what a ridiculous stock of big carp!
I learned to hone my long-range skills there, which still serve me well today.
When I was 15 I had left school and was a bit of a bank tramp – I had 86 30s and four 40s in one season down there!
Lives: Acorn Fishery, Somerset
UK PBs: Mirror 54lb, Common 35lb 10oz
Hobbies: Eating (especially McDonald’s)
Toastie or Pot Noodle? Pot Noodle
What’s your most memorable carp?
I don’t consider myself a big-carp angler as I enjoy fishing for all sizes of fish. My most memorable would be my first 40-pounder, a fish from Mercers known as the Leney.
It’s still in there, even though the venue is now closed to anglers.
If you could go back in time and fish for one carp?
The big common from Walthamstow 2 & 3. It eluded my dad and I for the years we fished it, despite us catching nearly all of the other carp in there.
I could actually go back as it’s still there, but a 400-mile round trip for a day session is a bit of a stretch, even for me.
What’s your idea of the perfect carp fishing session?
It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but being in the face of a big southwesterly at Linear, spodding out and catching as many carp as I can.
I genuinely love that sort of stuff and have never tired of it.
Who is the best carp angler you’ve ever seen?
Lewis Porter. We’ve only fished about three times but he never ceases to amaze me with his talent for netting my carp!
Have you ever fished abroad for carp?
I’ve done quite a bit in France and elsewhere in Europe.
Each venue is a new adventure and I wouldn’t want to really go anywhere more than once for this reason.
I did have lots of trips to Abbey Lakes in my early years, but living in Kent it was as easy as going to many UK venues.
There are two other definite venues but I’ll come back to those shortly.
Other than boilies, if you had to use one bait what would it be?
Sweetcorn. Lots of sweetcorn.
Do you have any ambitions left in fishing?
Yes, I’d love to go to Texas and fish for big buffalo carp.
The trip, the country and the fish look amazing and I think it would be such good fun.
I’ve also set a target of visiting Euro Aqua and targeting the biggest carp in the world. Who wouldn’t?
Do you think there’s an uncaught British record out there?
I don’t honestly think there’s an unknown one, but some current known fish have the potential to hit the mark soon.
I’m not talking the natural venues that the ‘Keep It Real’ brigade fish, as the effects of old age and otter predation has meant this is highly unlikely.
However, some of the venues that are less readily accepted by the same anglers will doubtless throw something up.
I make no bones about the fact that I fish places like the Monument, despite a lot of traditionalists bemoaning such venues.
As far as I’m concerned I’ll fish for anything as I am an angler and I enjoy catching carp. If you can’t say that catching big carp excites you then there’s something wrong.
For instance, how many people say, ‘oh, I caught a carp today that was really scaly and dark’ compared to how many say, ‘I caught a 30-pounder today?’
Carp fishing has moved on and so too have the venues. The so-called traditionalists would do well to remember it.
That is in no way a criticism, we all have the right to fish where we want and for what we want, provided it’s legal, and the carp have been stocked or reared legally.
At what point does a stockie become an original? It’s only ever a matter of time, and also you’ll get a different answer to that question according to the venue and the leaning of the person being questioned.
Sometimes the origins of a carp are overlooked on certain venues, as it suits the anglers that fish there and often fill the angling press.
If I had a big-fish venue of my own, as a business, then I wouldn’t think twice about stocking it with Simmos as well as Israeli strains, for example, as the modern carp angler is driven far more by size than a fish’s history.