An Interview with… Frank Warwick

by Mr Crabtree on December 4, 2012

59.6 lbs Common caught for the cameras while making Warwick’s Way with Carp DVD

There are some people who you only ever hear good things about and Frank Warwick falls very much into that category. If you’re a carper Frank’s reputation definitely precedes him, but though he freely admits he’s an out-and-out carper, he’s also very much the all-rounder and holds dear the passion and magic that brings every angler to the bankside.

Big thanks to Frank for sparing the time to be interviewed – here’s what we found out…Most anglers would love to be able to call themselves ‘professional’. How did you manage it?  

Despite having done all manner of jobs throughout my life and having a number of skills that would have provided a nice lifestyle I never felt happy being stuck inside offices.You have to remember that when I started to consider becoming a professional angler it was virtually unheard of.  I am fairly sure you could count them on one hand or less.  Let’s remember that there are so many anglers out there that probably call themselves professional anglers that in reality don’t  really earn anything like enough to support a family and provide a comfortable living, many are single men who live a frugal spartan existence.

 

>So I knew if I did indeed go for it i must do it properly and maximise my potential. I wrote my first magazine article in 1986 for a magazine called Big Fish this was a piece detailing how I had caught a number of carp on a very historical water called Redsmere in Cheshire.  I did in fact give away an awful lot of my personal secrets in that article and I received a letter from the editor David Phillips saying that he had never had such a massive response to an article ever.   He said it was something very special. As a direct consequence I was asked to do talks all over the UK and abroad at fishing meetings and shows,this seemed to snowball rapidly as people realised what makes me tick at these talks. I then wrote for Carpworld and various other publications on a regular basis, but importantly I only wrote when I felt I had something interesting to say.

 

Equally as important was the fact that I was also out catching plenty of good fish showcasing that I practice what I preach.Most of my captures were as a direct result of me using my own original ideas and experiments,this made it far more interesting and noteworthy.Of course I also had the added disadvantage of living up North where there are far less waters and certainly big fish waters at my disposal.I am a specialist long range caster amongst other things so I came to the notice of Century who are certainly one of the worlds premier rod manufacturers; they offered me a consultancy working on  rod design and development and I had quite a lot of input into many models within their range which has been over more than 15 years.

 

The same happened with other big companies such as Korda, Dynamite, Trakker, PB, Delkim, Enterprise, Mainline, Fox, Ultima and Shimano, all of which I have worked with over the years.
I have made a good number of DVDs and appeared on TV shows all over Europe and the USA.  At the end of the day companies will only pay somebody if it’s tangible in sales and input.  You can be the best angler in the world but if you cannot write, inspire, teach or communicate,  its not going to work for long.  By the way I can take a very good photograph also which is vitally important.
My Segre 203lb and 187lb Catfish
How often do you fish and what do you fish for?
I don’t fish anything like as much as i would like!  Perhaps 2 or 3 nights a fortnight,but I do a few quality trips abroad each year which are usually for a week at a time.  I have work commitments and travel abroad to big shows and competitions etc very frequently which seems to impact on my time so much.

I also have three children that I adore so we like to spend quality time together and we do go fishing but we also go to football, camping, watch motorcycle racing etc.

My first love is Carp,but over the years I have targeted Tench, Bream, Eels, Roach, Perch, Rudd, Pike, Catfish and Chub.  I love all forms of fishing including sea fishing.

What do you think are the most pressing issues in angling today?
I have very little doubt that each progressive government in order to court votes and appear more politically correct than the rest put angling on a set of scales and weigh up “are we with them or against them?”  They appear to want to quietly subdue angling being aired on national TV.  The Otter and Cormorant problems indicate to me by the way they are being handled by successive governments that us anglers should be seen and not heard.  They don’t give a damn about fish.  They seem to have a who-apart-from-anglers-cares-about-fish kind of attitude.

I would love a definitive census to see how many anglers we have collectively in the UK.  I think if we had that figure and a European figure and indeed European angling body we would have them quaking in their boots, should the EEC ever get any silly ideas.

Give us some PB stats – what are you most proud of and why?
UK Common 43.14
UK Mirror 43.1
European Common 59.6
European Mirror 62.4
Eel 6.14
Catfish 203 lbs
Bream 13.14
Roach 3.1
Rudd 3.10
Chub 5.10
Tench 9.1
Male Tench 8.14
The Rudd was fantastic because I was carping on Elstow 1 in Bedford when I saw some massive Rudd so I went and targeted them and had a massive scale perfect 3.10 on light ledger gear on a bread flake and corn cocktail.  The catfish was memorable as it was my first go for them on the River Segre in Spain a tributary of the famous Ebro.  I went unguided and unassisted basically and caught it and another big one which weighed 187 in a brace on my own bait not the usual pellet used by many.

The big Common 59.6 was caught for the cameras whilst filming a DVD called Warwicks Way with Carp with my old mate Martin Bowler on a lake near Paris, that was very nice.  My biggest ever Carp was from a difficult big Belgian Lake and was a fish I dearly wanted to catch as a bonus it was the biggest Mirror in the lake.  It made more special as I was fishing with my eldest son Guy who netted the beast for me and who also had a personal best Mirror himself on the same trip.

What are your earliest fishing memories?  Who taught you?
My earliest memories of fishing are from the age of 6 when my dad took me fishing on a lake which was an off cut from when they built the Manchester Ship Canal.  My dad was no angler and had very limited idea but the spark was lit and there was no stopping me then.  I taught myself and was an avid reader of all angling books, Dick Walker was my main inspiration at the time.  Believe it or not I had a very early edition of Mr Crabtree goes fishing way back then so Bernard Venables had a direct influence on me becoming a life long angler.  My parents took me on a day trip to a Cheshire stately home called Capesthorne Hall, the hall had a chain of beautiful lakes full of character and festooned with vibrant lily pads, Rhodedendrons and massive ancient trees.  Best of all it had been stocked in 1958 and 1961 by none other than the famous Surrey fish farmer Donald Leney, the very same chap that stocked the legendary Redmire Pool in Herefordshire, even better some were over 20lbs even in 1969 the year I made the visit!  Capesthorne Hall was to become my own personal paradise over subsequent years,it had its own special atmosphere, it even smelt different.  Time often stood still for me when I was there, it was so special, my 6 weeks school holidays seemed to last for ever.

How influential has Mr Crabtree been in your angling life?
Mr Crabtree!  Well as i said previously I think that well read special book was instrumental in my formative years.  I could identify with how things should be done from the way it was shown and illustrated.  It had the magic which made me as a tiny lad want to fish and explore each species in their own special way.

Is there anything in fishing that you haven’t done?  What are your ambitions?
I have tried all aspects of fishing including big game.  I would like to catch a very big Pike, 30 plus that’s one ambition, also a big Perch, of all the fish I think a massive Perch is the most spectacular.  Martin Bowler keeps promising to take me to his special place on the Ouse when we get chance, that is where some monsters over 5lbs have been recorded, now that would be a bit special.

Do you have any angling heroes? What do you most admire about them?
Angling heros, well not heros but people I was influenced by and inspired by yes, I think Rod Hutchinson was mine.  I met him when I was 10 years old on Capesthorne Hall, where he was attending a British Carp Study Group fish in.  It was freezing early March and also present were Kevin Clifford, Duncan Kay, Chris Ball, Elliot Symak and various other luminaries from the era.  I remember all the guys descended on the lake and I had to pack up to make room for them! Haha!

Over the years I met Rod on several occasions and now we are long time friends.  I eventually invited Rod to come and fish with my group as a guest on the venue that once held the world record carp The Graviers, near Dijon in France.  He accepted and one evening as we chatted, I said to Rod, “You know you were certainly my biggest influence and favourite writer, carp angler when I was a young man!

I always bought a mag and turned to your articles first.”  Rod said “Well I have a confession to make to you Frank! You are my favourite and I’m the same with you!”  That was a very special moment to me, I can tell you, it meant a lot.

Rod was a pioneer, an enigma almost, he didn’t conform to accepted approaches at the time.  He was, and still is, a tremendous thinker and writer who I hold in high esteem as a man and an angler.

What lessons would you pass on to today’s young anglers?
Today’s young anglers?  Well I think carp fishing is tremendous and I love it but I think all species are interesting each in their own unique way.  I think using lighter gear and fishing for other species is often great fun, especially in Winter when carp don’t always want to play ball.  Always be polite and friendly to other anglers, if you do this its amazing the snippets people will divulge if you are nice with people.  Things like fish sightings, previous captures etc, that can be the difference sometimes.

I despair sometimes when I see litter on the bank, this is my pet hate so even if you didn’t put the litter there, think about it, someone has to clear it up, it won’t just vanish, so we should all try to leave the swim looking perfect regardless of how it got there when we leave.

Describe your favourite ‘Crabtree moment’…
I was on the middle lake at Capesthorne Hall in 1973.  There was another Lake on the estate, The Top Pool, this was not on the club ticket or day ticket that was available in those days it was a private affair that was leased privately from the estate by two wealthy individuals that hardly ever fished.  One day out of curiosity I had a crafty walk around the lake, after being disturbed on the middle pool by an enormous crash from the adjacent top lake.  The surface of the lake was mostly obscured by the massive beds of lily pads, dragon flies buzzed about and it was one of those red hot mid Summer days with not a breath of wind nor a cloud in the sky.  I was looking further out into the lake when not even a rod length out right under my nose out of the corner of my eye I saw a monster fully scaled Carp appear that was most certainly the biggest fish I had ever seen by a mile at the time.  Not really being sure, in the back of my mind I just knew it was more than 35lbs.  I did a Heron like retreat and went and grabbed a net and my rod and reel and a fresh loaf of bread.  Trembling like a leaf I could hardly bait the hook with my slow sinking balanced crust.  On my knees I crept up to the waters edge and she was still there, slowly fanning her pectoral fins as she held her position.  All I could hear was my heart thumping in my chest.

I dipped the free lined hook bait into the water to add a tiny bit of casting weight then underhanded the balanced crust onto the pads beyond her.  Then with a gentle tug slid the bait off the pads right in front of her.  She much to my suprise in one swift movement opened her mouth and engulfed the lot.  For a split second I was in shock! Then instinctively I swept the rod up and in a flash, despite me having 15lb line on and the clutch almost solid on my Mitchell 410 reel, when she exploded the rod was nearly torn from my grasp and the clutch whined as she flattened the rod and ripped line off the spool.  I was powerless as the pads collapsed and parted for several yards in a massive burst of unstoppable power!  Then she was gone, the line had parted near the hook.

I didn’t stopped shaking for hours, reliving the drama in my mind over and over again, wondering what I could have done differently.  ”If only I had another chance.”

That year just to put things in perspective I think there were three, thirty pound Carp caught in the whole of the UK.  The biggest was 33lbs.I never did get my chance again, as one of the local bailiffs I related the story to dismissed my story as fantasy, but then got himself permission to fish there.  The following year the estate cut all the adjacent pine trees down in the woods, and put down some kind of weed treatment.  Sadly this substance got into the lake and killed the inhabitants.  The bailiff found her dead and she was indeed a fully scaled mirror and freshly dead she weighed 37.12.  The story appeared in the BCSG magazine some years later by the very same bailiff entitled THE PASSING OF HER MAJESTY. She was undoubtedly one of the 58 Donald Leney stockings that had gone un noticed for 15 years.

As long as I live I will never forget my meeting with her.

Big Scaley 40lb 9oz Mirror which looks like Her Majesty

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