Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but
of balance, order, rhythm and harmony
– Thomas Merton.
Life. It’s a four-letter word with so many meanings. It’s as subjective as happiness or sadness, and as emotive as sex, love and money. My life is very different to your life, because how we choose to live is what truly makes us human. Humanity is blessed with great freedom for those who seek it. In my spare time I play golf, I write stories, I cook for my wife and daughter. My ambitions are very simple and my priorities even more so.
In life, as you grow, you will discover yourself. What you’re good at. What you enjoy. And what you don’t. You will also realize your limitations, and probably spend your whole life hiding them, or fighting against them.
It has been my dream since I could pick up a pencil and write my own name to have a book on the shelf. I’ve been published in more places than most could ever possibly dream of, but a hardback book gathering dust in the library of someone who has decided their life needs your input? You can’t compete with that. Though appearing in the raddest cult carp magazine of all time comes pretty close, you know.
My own collection of books includes writers old, new, classic and off-the-wall. From the sublime, to the ridiculous and everything in-between, it’s a celebration of all that is right and good in English literature – a case-history of the language I adore. Nestled alongside that furniture-filling collection are memorable magazines filled with those stories you want to read over and over again. That bureau full of paper is a window to who I am, how I write, and who I want to be.
I find freedom in writing and forged a career with ‘golden fingers that could slay any silver tongue’ as a former employer once described them. But I also recognize there are other things required to produce literature that will be celebrated long after I have gone. Namely, the great stories that are the cornerstone to any great read. I have penned enough of those to pad the walls of the Vedansky, bringing even the limpest of angling stories to life. It’s not about me, though. It’s not about my journey or anybody else’s. It’s about Carp Fishing. That thing that connects all of you reading this – the part of your life that you cannot control, and cannot live without.
Fishing breeds great tales. From the spiritually deep, to unadulterated divine comedy, there are angling stories more profound, exciting and captivating than you’ll find even in the most illustrated pages of folklore, myth or legend. Because fishing isn’t a way of life. It’s no way to lead one. But when it makes up such a huge part of what makes your life great and good, it’s worth celebrating, documenting, and immortalizing.
See when I explain to my non-angling family and friends why I go carp fishing, I like to think I make a great case. I am so animated and excited by regaling stories – a raconteur with a megaphone promoting the cause like a politician! I know other anglers who couldn’t really tell you why they fished, but when they write about their ‘greatest hits’, as it were, the stories and the characters come to life, presenting carp fishing positively, extolling its virtues by making you want to be there.
Inspiration comes in many forms. For some it’s a series of words, assembled in such a way that they stir emotions. For others it’s beautiful images – the type that make you want to load the car and take some more of your own. Whilst for most, it’s actually being out there fishing, enjoying nature and all of its greatest offerings that truly stirs the soul.
Take the anglers with an unerring wanderlust – the travelers, the explorers. They need the freedom. It’s almost like they need to escape escapism itself. There are contributors in this book that have traveled more miles to fish for one week than most of us will travel in our entire lives. They have itchy feet, and once kissed by that adventure, the craving for another taste does not leave them. Indeed, it often drives them mad.
Others have fallen deeper into the Venus Fly Trap that is carp fishing, sacrificing a life for the sake of a fish.
When I hear stories about relationships, marriages, jobs and friendships being ruined by angling, it doesn’t impress me. It makes me sad. I nearly lost my job once because the desire to fish was so strong that I put the carp before my livelihood. That’s absolutely insane, a fool’s game, at best.
Carp fishing should be an enhancement of your life – something that improves it – that gives you stories to tell your children, and moments to cherish forever.
It’s those unforgettable stories that you’ll hear along the way that will nurture your love of fishing. Moments, immortalized in words and pictures, that are now there for the world to see for years to come – a part of carp angling history.
So read everything. Watch everything. Indulge what fires your soul and keep that candle burning. Keep searching. Keep living. Keep the faith.
It's fair to say that Mat is a fairly talented sort of chap. He's been an accomplished writer outside the angling industry, a magazine editor within it, subsequently the media manager for Korum Tackle and is now the Brand Manager of Avid Carp. That shows a determination to succeed, and an endeavour to improve. In other words: hunger and effort - two perfect traits to have as a carp angler.