Up close with Mark Pitchers

Get to know the YouTube Challenge sensation and former England youth international

You’ve been a successful match angler. Are carpers missing out on skills by turning a blind eye to this form of the sport?

I think that depends on exactly what the angler wants from his carp fishing. When it comes to the higher-stocked venues I do believe there are skills and tactics that can be incorporated from the match circuit that will put extra fish on the bank. But, on the lower-stocked, 'big fish' waters I think the two forms of angling are quite simply poles apart and there’s very little crossover to draw upon.

What’s your greatest angling achievement?

Without a doubt that has to be representing the England youth team at international level for the very first time back in 1995. Although I had been part of the home international squad the previous year when we won the team gold, being selected for the World Championship team to fish on the River Po in Italy was, and still is, my greatest angling achievement. The following year I managed to make the squad again to fish the Rio Serra in Coruche, Portugal, where we managed to pick up the team bronze.

What’s the most important aspect of carp fishing – bait, location, rigs…or something else?

100 per cent location. Many anglers often rush into picking a swim and get the rods out as quickly as possible. I would only ever commit to a swim or area if I was absolutely certain carp were indeed in the vicinity; there’s little room for doubt in carp fishing!

 Mark and Harry Charrington have fun filming the Challenge videos

Mark and Harry Charrington have fun filming the Challenge videos

The Challenge has been a massive success. Has it improved your angling or changed your outlook at all?

I wouldn't say the Challenge has necessarily improved my angling or outlook, but the one thing I have learned, however, is to expect the unexpected because Lewis and Harry (the producers) have a nasty habit of throwing in a few twists just to make things a little more difficult for me!

You run your own fishery and fish many day-ticket waters. What are the most common mistakes you see from other anglers?

From doing my tutorial sessions this past year the main area where I have felt anglers could improve on is their casting accuracy. Repeatedly casting in an attempt to hit the desired mark is going to have negative implications on the swim and any carp in the vicinity will quickly do the off! Being able to land a rig 'on the money' first time of asking means less disturbance and more fish on the bank.

What are your views on the current carp-match scene?

It’s certainly become very popular but it’s not my cup of tea. I have fished a few carp matches in the past and they are not events I look back on fondly. As someone who's done both match fishing and carp fishing, from my perspective I see the carp matches as failing to fall into either category. Carp fishing has been my passion even before my days as a match angler, so for me carp matches simply don't encapsulate what I believe to be the true essence of carp fishing.

Do you believe there are undiscovered record-shaking carp lurking in Britain?

Many big carp in this country have achieved their size and weights partly due to anglers' intervention and the introduction of highly nutritional baits such as boilies and pellets. While I certainly believe there are very big (50lb-plus) undiscovered fish swimming around in untapped waters, I think it is highly unlikely (bordering impossible) that they could reach near record size in a totally natural environment.