Tom Maker explains how keeping it simple but effective with his go-to mix will keep the bites coming in the colder months
Reflections - Behind the Scenes - Text Only
Total Carp talk to Dan Wildbore to find out more about the simply magical and awe-inspiring edit, Reflections.
Q: For a while now, there have been whispers and the odd hint that you guys were releasing a big film drop this year. When did the idea begin?
A: We have talked about releasing a free film for a long time now, but have never really had the resources or experience to do it to the standard that we would have liked. For years we have ventured to Cassien, in the hope of producing something special, but each time we ended up fishing hard and the filming was always brushed aside.
We got some material, but over the years the quality of the filming has improved drastically, to the point where the clips we have are almost unusable. This is why it was important that for this film we went back to the banks of Cassien and finished what we started.
Last year we took Richard Stewart on to help us out with the filming. Not only has this been a huge help for the company, but on a personal level Rich has taught me a lot. He is brilliant at what he does, loves carp fishing and producing films portraying the spirit and beauty of it too. To have him has been invaluable, for everything really. We had the ideas, but Rich has been the one to help those ideas come to light.
Q: It isn’t like other DVDs or free films in that there is virtually no product pushing or promotion; why have you gone down this route?
A: I think everybody has done in the past and for obvious reasons. It will make us money, without a doubt. Producing something this big costs a lot of money and the only way to claw it back is to promote products within the film. We didn’t want to do this and set aside a budget, that would allow us to produce something that will appeal to anglers, not just fans of Sticky Baits.
I guess the aim is to get anglers to pick up their rods, not their wallets. We wanted to create something beautiful, a film that would make you want to go fishing. We have been very careful and ambitious too, picking venues that would always be a challenge, but if they came off would be a huge success.
While we haven’t filmed too much in terms of technical information, we are aware that a lot of anglers out there do like to see it too. For this reason, there will be separate sections online, where will revisit the anglers and they will talk about their approaches. This will be an add-on to the film, so unless you want to see it, you won’t.
Q: You mentioned a big line-up of anglers; do you think this is important?
A: I think so, yeah. For me, if I was watching a football training camp, I would want to be watching the best players in the world. It is like anything that you follow, for me you want to see the best. I am proud to say that we have a very strong team of consultants, with a variety of styles, mannerisms and aims.
The anglers that we have chosen each have huge followings and years of experience. The list is pretty impressive and all completely different anglers, such as Oz Holness and Martin Bowler. While we wanted to include as many of our consultants as we could, we had to draw the line somewhere and a few have missed out.
We understand that a lot of people do have anglers that they look up to, aspire to be in some cases and follow their fishing on the social media platforms. The guys we have included vary, from familiar faces to anglers that you may well recognise but have not seen appear on film before.
Q: You have talked about Cassien a couple of times; why go there instead of the many other lakes across Europe?
A: For many anglers, including us, Cassien is perhaps the Mecca of the carp scene, not only in Europe but the world too. It has a close place in the owner of Sticky Baits’ heart, so it was somewhere that we felt had to be included. As I mentioned before, we have been every year for the past four years, so it was only right that we went back.
It is always a test when we are there, more demanding than any other fishing that we have experienced, in fact. Fishing days on a lake of over 1,300 acres is never going to be easy, but tasked with the challenge was Adam Penning, who was fishing with me. We had both fished the place together a couple of times of the years, but never so late on. Our trip was planned for early December, so it was always going to be a tough one.
Over the years though, we have stripped it all back and worked out how to tempt a bite or two. If anyone can describe and paint the picture to perfection it’s Adam, and he does it brilliantly well – it really is a special section, this one.
Q: So there are a number of sections?
A: Yes, we have five sections. It will all be one film, but broken up into different segments.
As I have mentioned, we have Adam Penning on Cassien, which is a grueller, but in the end he catches something rather special.
Then we have Oz Holness and Ben Hamilton fishing Christchurch Lake on the Linch Hill complex. Anyone who has followed Sticky from the start will know that Linch Hill has been the base for a lot of our anglers, as the fish are some of the best looking in the country. For our first film, it would have been rude not to do something on there.
The obvious choice would be to use the lads that fish it regularly, but we wanted to throw a couple in the deep end. Neither are used to fishing day-ticket lakes, preferring the syndicate waters – particularly Oz, who has spent a lot of his angling on the quiet, larger pits, so to be fishing a small, pressured lake is a new thing for him.
For any angler, fishing Christchurch is special in the autumn. The nocturnal activities of the carp keep you awake all night at times, such is their intensity. It doesn’t always mean that they suddenly become easier to catch, but the guys thrived on the electrifying atmosphere.
We also have another duo in Marcus Howarth and Gareth Fareham. Their long-term friendship has taken them across Europe fishing together. That camaraderie and joy of each other’s company shines through when they tackle a special, undisclosed little pit. The gin-clear, shallow and weedy waters are home to some wonderful old carp and the guys enjoyed a summer trip, filled with barbecues and big scaly carp.
Totally different from any of the other sections is Martin Bowler’s – a truly inspirational angler in all disciplines, but deeply into his carp fishing. Martin wanted his own unique slant on his section, which is why he chose to float fish for big carp. It is something that doesn’t get shown often and was always going to be tough, especially when fishing for bigger carp.
The picturesque and frankly beautiful Milton Abbas was the venue and we spent a couple of days with Martin, capturing an art form of angling that has been forgotten by most. Some of the shots will take you back to those childhood memories of the float waving around above the dusty smoke of the carp ripping up the bottom. Martin captures it all brilliantly, but a rather special narration will leave the hairs standing up on the back of your neck – this is one not to miss.
Finally, we have followed the angling exploits of perhaps one of the most consistent big-carp catchers in recent years, Myles Gibson, tackling the tricky Black Swan, where he has had a few phenomenal seasons, as I am sure a lot of you reading this are aware. Well fortunately for us all, we can watch the 2017 season back, as most of it was captured on film.
We wanted to show the progress of a season in the life of a big-fish angler and along the way we filmed three fish over 40lb and countless 30lb and 20lb fish too. The Dinton carp are all unique, often, mind-blowingly beautiful and to have captured some of these fish on camera will be a joy to watch.
It isn’t all plain sailing though, and we capture the highs and lows of what it takes to fish such a large and busy pit. If you are looking for inspiration to take on to your syndicate water this year, you cannot fail to be inspired by Myles, whose drive and passion shine through.
Q: How long has the project taken?
A: Other than capturing some of Myles’ start last spring, we didn’t really get going until the summer. We were incredibly fortunate looking back, as each of the guys featured in the film caught carp. These projects cost a lot of money and time on both parts, from both ourselves and the anglers. This is why many play it safe in terms of venue choice.
We felt confident in each section that they would catch carp, but not only do you want them to do this, ideally you want something special to turn up. This is always a gamble and of course, never a certainty. We picked lakes that would offer great rewards, but they would have to be hard earned in order to achieve that.
It felt like we spent a lot of the summer filming and I suppose both Rich and I did. After the Cassien trip, Rich has been hard at it editing it all. This is a huge task and has taken the best part of four months to get it to how we want it.
Q: How long is the film and where can people watch it?
A: At this very moment in time, it is around two hours and 35 minutes or so. It may end up being slightly more or a little less. We toyed with the idea of making an actual DVD, but the costs of producing the numbers we would need are staggering, which added to the cost of producing the DVD, as well as it not being product driven. We just couldn’t justify it.
It will be available on our YouTube channel, as both the whole film in its entirety, as well as separate sections. Leading up to the launch we will be promoting it across our social media platforms, to help people navigate to it.