Many fishing writers, including Chris Yates, have spoken of the distinctive scent that established carp ponds are said to exhale, - that certain carpy smell which reaches the nostrils of
an angler like a promise, speaking of battles to come and the chance of a monster at dawn.
The problem is, until fairly recently, I had no idea what these writers could mean.
I discussed it with fishing friends, and they too seemed baffled by the claims. Some suggested that Yates and others were perhaps confusing the smell of water plants with the presence of carp. It is easy to see how such a sensory association might arise; -
an angler catches a memorable carp when a certain type of weed is at its most pungent, and an enduring subconscious link is thus formed in the angler’s mind.
sure this was indeed the case, until one late summer day at Clay Farm Pond. I arrived to see the water clear and the carp very active indeed; - and a fleeting fear grew in me that someone had stocked the pool with ghost carp overnight. You see, the carp
had been pothering in the silts and those pale silts were on their noses and heads, and even on their backs, giving the distinct impression of “two tone” fish!
was watching and enjoying this unusual spectacle when the unmistakable odour of carp reached my nostrils, - you know, the kind of “wet net” smell we are all familiar with, and adore.
I looked over the water and a common carp rolled on the surface, about twenty yards out, and the scent reached me once again.
light wind was in my face and I realised that the breeze was actually carrying the scent of the rolling carp, - it was skimming a carpy odour from the flanks of the fish, as those brassy flanks turned in air.
Now, I can’t pretend that this is only solution to the mystery as to why some anglers say they can stand by a water and actually smell the presence of carp; but it is at least one solution, even if it does depend on the direction
of the wind, and rolling fish.