Ian Russell, who made a name for himself with Heathrow Bait Services, is a carp stalwart and is now one of Avid's key consultants
What are your carp-fishing strengths and weaknesses?
My biggest strength has got to be my ability to swap and change between tactics to suit the venue I’m fishing. Throughout my time in various publications, I’ve fished all manner of different venues, from syndicate lakes to pressured day-ticket venues, and I’ve regularly been tasked with bagging a fish live for the camera.
Whether it’s out-and-out boilie fishing, maggot fishing, casting at range or stalking them in the edge, there’s no doubt I’ve had plenty of practice over the years. Being involved in the magazines for all these years has certainly improved my angling and I still learn things every time I’m out on the bank.
Weaknesses? Hmmm, it’s always quite difficult to do this, but I think the answer has got to be how hyperactive I am. If I’m blanking, I’m constantly tweaking, changing, moving and almost trying to force a take, if that makes sense. More often than not, it works, especially if on well-stocked, but sometimes it doesn’t and I think I’d be better sat on my hands patiently.
What drives you to keep fishing week in, week out?
Passion. I can’t get enough of it. I know some anglers turn their noses up at fishing for smaller carp or certain strains of fish, but I just love catching anything. I don’t care how big they are, what they look like or where they are from. The sound of that buzzer still gets my heart racing, even after all these years.
You ran Heathrow Bait Services for a long time – do you have a strong interest in bait and how important a piece of the jigsaw is it?
I still have a huge interest in bait and had a huge part in the development and testing of the Sonubaits Code Red and 24/7 boilies.
Bait is an absolutely massive part of the jigsaw and there are now so many good baits available on the market. You only have to look at the weight gains of fish over the last decade to understand that baits have improved dramatically.
Bait is the main part of the jigsaw for me, because if they don’t want to eat your bait you won’t catch them. If you can find them, use a sound rig and put a good-quality bait in front of them, you will catch them. It really is that simple.
You seem to relish tackling busy day-ticket waters. What do you say to people who turn their nose up at them?
I can understand why anglers don’t want to face busy day-ticket venues week in, week out. They can be slightly frustrating at times, but they don’t half hone your skills as an angler. Most anglers can walk around an empty lake, find the fish and catch them. To do this on a busy venue is much more difficult, but the rewards are absolutely fantastic when you do catch, especially if you’ve really had to work for it.
Are we living in a golden generation of carp fishing or do you miss a certain era?
I see lots of anglers on social media questioning what carp angling has become and being quite negative about the modern-day sport. I find this quite surprisingly really, because I don’t think we’ve ever had it so good. There are lots of companies producing great tackle and bait, as well as well-stocked big-fish venues up and down the country that give anglers the chance to catch some very, very special carp. We are in a golden age, for sure!
What’s the most common mistake you see from anglers on your tutorials?
There really isn’t one specific aspect of the sport that anglers get wrong. In most cases it is just a general case of working on people’s tactics and trying to pass on some confidence to the client. Most know the basics and fish very effectively. The level of the modern-day carp angler is very high these days.
What’s the biggest threat to modern carp fishing?
I think the biggest threat comes from within our sport. We have no uniform governing body and there seems to be a recent influx from elitist groups, with some anglers thinking they are better than others, because of where they fish and what strain of carp they catch. We all go fishing for different reasons, some go to seriously single out big fish, while other just go to kick back and relax. Live and let live, that’s what I say.
Where do you see your own fishing in 10 years’ time?
In 10 years I’d like to think I’d still be rushing round lakes like a mad man trying to catch loads of carp. I sincerely hope I’ll still be doing regular filming and magazine work, as well as heavily involved with Avid Carp. Avid is great company to be involved with and I get to work with a team of great friends, week in week out.
Hobbies outside fishing? None really, I just love angling
Number of tattoos? About 50 I think
Any pets? I have two Jack Russells – Charlie and Jack.