The intention of ‘The 50lb Carp – Let’s Hear from the Doubters’ (Fishing Magic Oct. 2019) was to let Eddie Benham wrap things up having painstakingly provided viewers over a 4 year period with copious evidence of Paul Selman’s and the Carp Society’s sophistry in stitching-up one of the country’s most able and trustworthy freshwater fishermen. Martin sought no medals, certificates or the title of carp record-holder: he merely wanted to be believed – and that’s all. After the initial defamation campaign of 1989 when the big one was caught, he made a special point of logging and reporting times, dates and even the weather conditions which pertained to his 1990 catches and these can be verified through the Meteorological Office.
For our part, Eddie Benham and I have provided copious good, fact-based evidence and have, frankly, revealed the utter stupidity of those frustrated, jealous individuals who sought to destroy his good name. You are invited to enter ‘Martin Gay’ in the search-box on the FM site in order to re-visit our work. Crucially, you are invited to consider the infamous ’25 Year Miracle’ that saw Selman cynically attempting to blur and confuse the whole issue by introducing a totally different and even more ridiculous story for the angling world to ponder: clearly, he was successful in this.
In the same way that public opinion cannot be based on the supportive comments from Twitter-users whose ‘feed’ is, necessarily biased, we cannot assume that the angling fraternity and FM viewers in particular are tiring of this issue on the strength of a few posts expressing MG Carp Fatigue. However, the battle for hearts and minds cannot go on forever, largely because even the most compelling evidence fails to register in the minds of too many! This is not to say that opposition or disagreement is frowned-upon or verboten but it is to highlight the widespread ignorance of crystal-clear, unassailable facts, figures and other evidence too compelling to merely brush-over.
Eddie and I are now confident that the complete silence from the Carp Society and their obvious reluctance to support their former Steering Committee Chairman, Paul Selman, is indicative of both their embarrassment and their culpability in this sorry case.
We are also confident that Robin Monday’s and Peter Gibbinson’s ‘proof’ of the carp’s provenance is either bogus or mistaken because they have puzzlingly failed to provide any!
In addition to this, we are sure that our many articles containing so much well-documented and accurate information have been thorough enough to convince the majority of reasonable, fair-minded viewers of our case. Naturally, there will be objections to this assumption but we believe it is sound: who could possibly fail to see the absurdity of the ‘25 Year conversion’ and what it did to Selman’s already-farcical story?
So, it will end here.
By way of closure, I will remind or inform readers and viewers that Martin Gay, who died suddenly in 2001, was one of Britain’s finest anglers who cared passionately about ethics and truth in angling. Almost single-handedly, he changed the popular perception of the pike as a fearsome beast to be maligned and mistreated; he explained and illustrated handling and humane unhooking techniques, going on to produce ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Pike Fishing’ (possibly the best book on pike-fishing ever written) ‘The Pike Angler’s Manual’ (Rickards & Gay) and ‘Pike’ (Rickards & Gay) He was also a proven tench-specialist who contributed to ‘Fishing for Big Tench’ (Rickards, Webb & Gay) and whose catches from the pits at New Hythe, Kent, were truly astonishing.
As a regular contributor to Coarse Angler and other magazines, Martin established himself as an educator rather than a story-teller for he was, like Richard Walker, a pragmatic type interested mainly in methodology and its efficacy. Nonetheless, he possessed a mischievous sense of humour and could be relied-upon for good bank-side conversation. Localized comments about his grumpiness were not without foundation and at times I found myself in tune with the aggrieved party, but we’re all human and we should all, perhaps, be judged ‘in the round’. The fact is, he was very professional in his career as a university bursar and an outstandingly good fisherman with values and standards he would not compromise. For him – rightly or wrongly – fishing was defined by ‘the capture of a fish by using a baited-hook’; he would not, then, use a hair-rig or a bolt-rig which obviated the need for an angler’s judgement. When Martin caught a fish, he did so by presenting his bait correctly and then waiting to execute a strike at the moment he decided was right. Believe me, it was an education to watch and, very often, extremely frustrating for all the listless, fish-less, sunny Sunday afternoon anglers who could only gaze across the lake in wonder.
It was his reputation as something special in the angling world and his undisguised disdain for modern carp-fishing techniques and their adherents that ruffled the feathers of the carp-fishing establishment but those who knew him saw a principled, truthful angler who would never betray the wholesomeness of the sport he loved by being less than honest.