Wednesday, 18 January 2017 10:51
French carping ace VIRGIL BAYLE documents his time on a low-stock big pit in the wilds of France targeting its seldom-caught monster commons.
Bright Ones -Bright baits on a chod rig have been the ideal hook bait over the top of a large spread of bait. The visual attraction ensures quicker bites when fishing over such a heavily baited area.
As I told you in the September issue, fishing on wild waters like rivers where angling pressure is low is important to me. The quest for immaculate big carp is a huge motivator. Discovering unknown fish is the most beautiful reward for my eyes, and if the fish is a specimen then it’s even better.
However, it’s not only rivers that offer me that, gravel pits and wild lakes are also good, whatever the size. Research of these waters is hard because finding a place with low or non-existent angling pressure is almost impossible. Nevertheless, there are still forgotten venues, with difficult access that are difficult to fish, where there stock do not need humans to grow. This makes the task harder because natural food is present a lot and the difficulties put most anglers off. It is hard work, with high motivation needed, but when the time comes, efforts are rewarded.
Virgil's friend Lilian with a big-pit monster
I don’t set myself weight targets. I respect those for whom it has its importance but it’s not for me.
I aim to find areas with no angling pressure. The fish are in great condition and have seldom been caught, if ever.
I had some truly awesome times fishing these lakes, but I was keen to seek out a new challenge and I soon found a lake that would fit the bill. I got over there as soon as possible to see what I could spot and to bask in the atmosphere. The next step was to spend time at the lake with my boat and echo sounder to collect as much information as possible. I scrutinise the bottom with an aquascope when it is possible and I also use a GoPro mounted on a long net handle to film borders under submerged trees. This information is important and the underwater video sequences possibly allow me to observe some fish but also informed me about the substrates of certain areas and whether there was any natural food present. Until I had fully mapped the lake, I was reluctant to put a hook in the water. By gaining all this information I will be able to exploit any sightings while fishing.
By targeting known haunts and prebaiting, it kept the fish feeding
My initial GoPro exploration put me one step ahead and I soon had awesome footage of fish holding up near a submerged tree. Many of them are common carp of huge proportions; they are also immaculate. Coincidentally, the area where I see the most fish was where the substrate is firmer than the surrounding area. There was also an abundance of natural food like mussels. I found a similar make-up in a few areas and on each of these I would see groups of fish. I figured it would be a challenge to get the fish away from these natural larders and onto my nearby baited areas.
With the recce trips done I was buzzing to get started on the fishing. I started in an area where I had seen fish the previous day. I had spread 2kg of bait over the rig spread over a 30m-wide area to try and bring fish in to the bait.
On my first trip a friend accompanied me. With three rods each at our disposal there was plenty of baits in the area and we were optimistic.
The first session started well with a small common taking a hook bait on the prebaited area. The lake is deemed tricky by anglers who fish it, so a bite was always a real buzz.
Leaving nothing to chance; hook sharpening is key.
The following 24 hours passed without action. The difficulty of the lake keeps many people away but I was relishing the lack of anglers. It allowed me to do my thing.
I came back three times after that first trip but without success. I decided to work another area where I had seen a carp jumped a few days earlier, which is quite rare on this lake.
I prebaited the new areas twice with Equinox from CC Moore prior to fishing. This other part of the lake allows me to fish thinner lines without the need for shockleaders. It is free of any underwater areas that would prove dangerous for thinner mono lines.
My rig was the chod with a sharpened hook. This proved successful the first time so I saw no reason to change. The night was productive, with three fish to show for my efforts, one of which was an immaculate common carp. I was overjoyed.
A warrior lays in wait to make its return to windswept pit.
My morning coffee tasted all the sweeter with a big carp sat in the retainer sling. I had learnt yet more about the fish on that session, namely their hugely mobile nature. They could pass from one side of the lake to the other in less than two hours and they were very sensitive to wind. This particular region of France is well known for its windy nature. It seems that the naturals can often hold fish in certain areas for long periods and it takes a real quality bait to get the fish interested.
Having pooled information with fellow anglers, we realised that the bigger fish were territorial and preferred certain parts of the lake on account of their food stores.
Fishing the winter was gruelling, but Virgil kept vigilant
While looking for fish I would find the same groups and they would move around the lake. All the larger residents would stick together, making them easier to target.
The food is plentiful so I think that competition is not necessary for their survival. This instinct seems to be less prevalent on a lake with lots of naturals.
I write all of my findings down to ensure that when similar conditions occur I can be in the right location for the best chance of a bite.
I arrived for a one-week session with my friend Lilian. A few days before I checked out the areas that I felt would shelter fish and I found them. I saw fabulous specimens.
I prebaited three zones, one for Lilian, one for me and another large area that we planned to fish as a pair. I baited with the Odyssey XXX from CC Moore, an awesome fishmeal bait for these big, wild carp.
In this moment all the intense effort is forgotten
The week proved hugely successful with more than 14 bites, a real achievement because capturing one fish a week is a success on this lake. Lilian caught two beautiful commons, with several of the smaller residents also falling to his rods. It was the same for me with the capture of a beautiful old mirror, the biggest one I had caught from the venue and a rare visitor to the bank on account of the 90 per cent stock of commons. I was unlucky to lose three, one of which was a real monster. This session allowed me to learn yet more about this spellbinding lake. I know that in certain conditions I can exploit particular feeding areas to catch carp.
I was back for the first time in 2016 on January 6th, a trip I will not forget. The weather was perfect, the temperature not really cold and a southerly wind slightly beating the banks warmed by a little winter sun. In the middle of the night I captured a fantastic seldom-caught common, a fish of my dreams. She had the size to match her beauty, a true big-pit monster, perfect to my eyes.
In the morning I captured another beautiful common, smaller but equally wild.
I know there are other beautiful fish in the lake because I watched them during the spawning period last year and this motivated me to get back on.
There is still lots and plenty of awesome fish to catch and all this makes me want to get back as soon as I can.
While I am writing winter is on its way and I know where I will spend a big part of this season, on this lake, tracking down large commons and wild mirrors, alone on a forgotten and difficult lake. That gives me a huge buzz.
I will perhaps be disappointed, perhaps even live intense moments on the banks of this magical lake, but I will be happy because I will be alone in the world this winter, with maybe the visit of an unknown fish.
Advanced Carp Fishing is aimed at the aspirational carper. If you've caught your first twenty, or if you simply want to catch much bigger fish, this is the magazine for you. It's packed full of easy-reading features, eye-pleasing photos and loads of top tips from the best carp anglers in England. In our view, it's the carp magazine that sets the standards others aspire to.
Here's what you'll find in the February 2017 issue...
WHAT'S OCCURRING The latest news and competitions from the social media side of carp fishing.
Tie & Try
Marc Cavaciuti's Maggot Combi Rig
Marc Cavaciuti walks us through his ultimate maggot rig that has caught him a number of forties!
"Maggots can be devastating in the right circumstances, particularly in the colder months; they often seem to induce a feeding response when other baits have failed."
A Change Of Plan
With the carp not playing ball to his tiger nut tactics, Elliott Gray pulls out all the stops to keep on catching.
"Last month I wrote about my love affair with tiger nuts and something that might be a little controversial - using them in large quantities"
48 Hours On The Clock
With just 48 hours to fish, can Luke Vallory catch a carp from Kingsmead 1 on Horton complex!
"Having been able to take the day off work I decided to meet early on the Friday Morning. We were due to be let onto the complex at 7am but having arrived a little earlier we stood up on the bridge that spans the channel between Kingsmead 1 and the bigger, more mysterious Island Lake."
Scarred and wrinkled skin without a scale in sight, her fins small and withered as if they'd melted away over time, Toadless had all of the iconic characteristics of a 'true' leather. Her lair complemented her character completely; a labyrinth of bays, channels and snags. There was perhaps one weakness, A chink in the armour. After a winter spent lying up, come spring she would be ready to feed with new-found gusto and like clockwork this habit would be her downfall...
"Every spring, around late March or early April, she'd make her appearance. However, I wasn't the only one to now this and the lake would receive a huge amount of pressure as everyone anticipated the first capture."
Go With The Flow
In this new series, Nick Helleur looks to unconventional methods for catching big carp.
"It's 9.45am and not only have I already been out angling this morning, but I've also been to the local cafe for coffee and breakfast and I'm now home to write up this feature"
ACF's top tips for keeping comfortable during the colder months.
Base Layers 101
We analyse six sets of base layers to test their insulation and wicking properties.
Gear Guide Tackle
The tackle that's hit the shops this month is reviewed.
Gear Guide Special
Aqua cool bags, Delkim indicators and the new Fortis FJ6 jacket go under the microscope.
Gear Guide Bait
If you want to try a new bait, then check these out.
The final instalment of Adam's fishing on Cleverley Mere.
Tolpits Lake - a real ballbreaker of a lake despite its tiny size
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 14:13
I set off to the lake at first light in the hope of seeing a few fish. After an initial lap around the lake I had not seen any signs but when I walked into the bay I'd fished on my previous trip one showed straight away. Im not normally one for fishing the same peg in consecutive sessions but at this time of year when the fish are grouping together location is important.
With having caught fish on my previous session finding the spots was pretty easy and after setting up my Tempest Composite the rods were in position within half an hour. I’d written down in my phone the exact wraps for each spot and the tree line markers I was aiming at. Three single high viz pop ups were casted out and I put just two spomb fulls of bait over the top of each rod.
The fish continued to show throughout the morning but so far I'd had no success. When lunchtime approached I noticed more and more fish were showing tight to the far reed line and I moved one of my rods close to where the fish were clearly moving. Almost instantly the rod was away which resulted in a low double figure common, ok it wasn't massive but a fish is a fish at this time of year. After I'd got the rod back in position things started to take a turn for the worse. Not only had a pair of cootes found one of my baited spots but a group of tufted birds had found the other! Within 10 minutes both rods had been picked up and to top it off a swan had flew into my lines which consequently led to it pulling my pod over as all three rods had wrapped around its body.
After sorting the mess out the swan had left and the rods were repositioned for the night, but there was no further action. I had noticed a pattern that most of my fish were coming on the second morning with very little happening in the hours of darkness. At 10:00am the following morning a friend of mine happened to have a few fish from one of the other lakes on the complex and said they were really active at the moment. Although this particular lake has a much lower stock then my winter water I decided to take the risk and move lakes.
My approach was exactly the same although this time all three rods were cast onto the same area 88 yards out into open water. I started with six spomb fulls of bait onto the spot with a plan of putting three more out just before sunset. Nothing happened during daylight but at 17:00pm my right hand rod was away after seeing a couple of fish show over it 20 minutes before.
Instantly I believed the fish was one of the babies that had been stocked this year but that theory soon changed as the fish came under the rod tip. I eventually slipped the net under what looked like a decent common, but before I did anything else the fish was put in the retention sling and three spomb fulls of bait were put back over the area and a new rig was casted onto the spot. The fish weighed in at 30lb 14oz which, I was really pleased with as it was my 18th Northern thirty plus fish in four months.
The rest of the afternoon/evening was quite but at midnight I had a double take, which both fish turned out to be single figure stockies which, I put straight back. I decided to reposition all three rods at this point with fresh pop ups and put five spomb fulls of bait back out. At 04:30am I received another take and this time it turned out to be a 24lb mirror.
By this time I was really tired and once I'd put the fish back I jumped straight into my sleeping bag. I shut my eyes for a second when the same rod was away again! If I lost this particular fish I would of said it was one of the big ones but it turned out to be another nice mirror around the 23lb mark.
I finished off the session with a small stockie just before it got light and six fish in just under 24 hours was more than enough for me.
Buoyed by the sight of Tyson on his previous trip, ED BETTERIDGE went straight to the spot where he’d seen him and the area he’d baited before he left.
The bait had gone, the area was cleared slightly, but not too much, so I wasn't sure if the feathered occupants of the lake were responsible or whether it was the carp. Either way, the bay looked dead and devoid of fish. I climbed three trees just to make sure; after all, my focus was solely on one fish and not a group, but I saw nothing carpy.
I did a lap of the lake and I came across a number of fish in a corner swim, just milling around in the weed. At 30 yards they didn't look too big, but I got up the tree to watch them and the closer they got the bigger they looked. I didn't see Tyson, but I did see enough of the bigger residents to make me think that Tyson may not be too far away. I’d had a few fish from the swim previously, so I knew a couple of areas that they were likely to be in during the night and following morning.
They weren't spots as such; in fact, they were quite weedy and no different from most areas in the swim as far as I could tell by leading about. However, I had seen them regularly in these zones and caught well from them. So I winged three chods out on the clips to the marks on the horizon and followed that up with a bit of bait.
I like to bait in two ways, one with a Spomb clipped up directly over the area and then with a throwing stick to scatter the bait about. This gives a great baited zone and really gets the fish searching, yet concentrating mainly over my hook baits.
Bites at night had been very few and far between for me on the lake this year, so it was no surprise when I woke up to see the dawn light faintly colouring the eastern horizon in front of me, and the bobbins in exactly the same position. I lay there blinking in bed trying to wake up and see if the fish were showing but not wanting to move from the warmth of my sleeping bag.
As I half watched, half dozed, the middle bobbin lifted to the rod butt, held there and the rod crippled over. I shot out of my sleeping bag, half expecting a startled, half-asleep Terrier to follow me, but then I realised that Paddy Ratdog was now banned from fishing due to picking up half a dozen ticks on the last session! This was mainly due to spending most of his time with his head in a rabbit hole!
Anyway, I had a fish on. It was hard to gauge its size because it went from weed bed to weed bed, but eventually, I slipped a big ball of weed over the net with a 21lb common inside.
A 21lb common followed by...
... a fish know as Single Scale. The month got off to a good start in Northants!
I quickly clipped the rod back up and pinged it back out to the spot.
I only had to wait an hour and a half before the same rod was away again. I had more fun and games with this one because it got completely stuck in weed, and I had to leave the rod slack for a while before the fish eventually came out and I netted a rare mirror. In fact, it is one of the biggest mirrors in the lake that has done 35lb plus in the past. However, like all the others, it was down in weight at 33lb 3oz. It's a fish called Single Scale and it's fair to say it isn't the prettiest fish in the lake, with a big Bubba-esque bottom lip, fat belly and pale coloration, but was a new fish for me and another thirty, so I was happy enough.
As the morning wore on it became warmer and warmer, with the heat of the sun bringing the fish to the surface and they were drifting right in close by lunch time. I watched several groups of fish drift around the swim, each betrayed by a pale ghostie, giving the location away. One group contained a number of big fish. I couldn't see which were present but I hoped Tyson was one of them. I waited for each group to drift off slightly before bringing my rods in and dropping them in close. I then stood at the top of the bank well back from the water, watching the fish and trying to get a few snaps with my new lens.
Young Ollie turned up and we stood at the top of the bank under the canopy of a tree watching the fish. I pointed out the group of larger carp as they came through; they took the exact same route as the previous two occasions and I had positioned one of my rods right on this path. It was a chod fished in the high Canadian weed. I'm guessing the water is about five feet deep in the area and weed was about three feet deep, which perfectly positioned the bait about two feet under. It was only about three rod lengths out, so from the top bank where we were standing we were about 25 yards away. Ollie didn't think the fish looked that big but I had made the same mistake the day before, so I knew they were bigger than they appeared.
They swam down my left margin, turned in the corner and swam parallel to my bank. I was giving commentary like an excited kid as to where the fish were in relation to my hook baits. Just as I said: “They are right over the middle rod now,” the bobbin hit the top and the rod crippled over! I jumped down and picked it up and felt the fish on before it all locked up in weed. It didn't take me long to get it moving and I soon had it under control. The strange thing was, another group of fish moved through as I played it and one swam right under the net, oblivious to what was happening!
As I eased the hooked fish closer, "I could see it was a chunk and it wasn't long before I notice the stocky frame, dark colour and big eyes". It was one of the bigger fish that had recently done 40lb, a fish called Swing Swang. I soon had her safely in the net and turned to Ollie, who had filmed it on my camera, and pronounced it was a forty!
Swing Swang at the plump summer weight of 39lb
It fell short by 1lb and it had inexplicably dropped nearly 11/2lb since its last capture a few days previous! But I wasn't complaining with a 39lb dark common!
Over the next couple of weeks, I banked a couple more fish from the water, including a 33lb 6oz pale common and then a black mid-twenty mirror. The mirror was a cracking fish, but it was the fourth time I had caught it, which really cemented that I needed to catch Tyson and move to pastures new. I felt I was getting close and I knew he would slip up soon, but the problem was I couldn't be there on the days I really wanted to be. Tyson had been out in the same two or three day period on the previous two or three years. Because it hadn't been out this year yet, I felt that there was a very strong chance of him coming out over the bank holiday weekend.
This 33-pounder has some ghost carp in his blood...
A complete contrast to the fish before; black as your hat!
The weather was also prime, as was the moon phase, but I was at an open day for the new Erics shop at Farlows. I was representing Greys & Chub and fishing the lake with Matt Eaton. We had a good session, taking a number of fish off the top, and we met some nice people who came down to see the shop and have a walk round the lake.
I like fishing with Matt, we always have a laugh (and a glass of wine) and he loves cooking on the bank and I was treated to duck breast in a home-made (well bank made) red currant jus. It was spot-on and a good session, until I had a phone call Sunday afternoon from Ollie. I knew what it was about before I answered – Tyson had been out. My heart sank! It turned out that, like the other fish, it was right down in weight at 44lb, which is a big drop from 50lb, for what I think is a male fish.
This left me completely stuck for somewhere to angle, because a few days prior I had been told that my other target fish, Kitch from Northey Park, had died. So I was left in the all too familiar position of not having a real target to chase in the next few weeks and needing somewhere new to angle!
I gave my situation quite a lot of thought on my 21/2-hour journey home and made some calls. I managed to secure a ticket on Monks Pit in Cambridgeshire. I had driven past it loads of times and never really fancied it for one reason or another and I wasn't really expecting to like it that much if I'm completely honest.
However, after turning up for the first time my opinion started to change. It's a stunning looking place, and quieter than I expected, despite the A14 running nearby. I had fished Pingewood and I hated the road noise from the M4 to the point where I dropped my ticket, but this was nowhere near as bad and I could actually hear when a fish crashed! The fish are all UK born and bred and had darkened up nicely over the years, with a number of mixed strains.
My first session was 24 hours just to get my head around the place. The weather was terrible, with strong northerly winds and persistent rain, but the fish were on the end of it, showing in numbers. So that's where I set up.
Rods out now it's just a waiting game...
I had a good lead about but I couldn't find a spot as such, just small gaps in the weed. There really is a mixture, with areas of blanket weed, big beds of Canadian and other forms of oxygen weed and then there is the kelp. I hadn't really fished in kelp before, well not of this magnitude. It was a bit of an eye-opener and I knew I had to play the fish pretty hard to get them out.
I managed to get three goodish drops, one near the kelp, one near the Canadian and one in close. The evening passed without action but I opened my account with two 27lb mirrors either side of dawn; one was spawned out and the other was still full. I then lost one and had a 16lb common. "The icing on the cake was a cracking 36lb mirror!" It had come from the kelp spot and I really had to lean into it to keep it moving but it eventually went in the net with a good portion of kelp. It really was a nice fish and I felt happy about my new water.
First session on Monks Pit and Ed made a great start with this scarred-up 36lb mirror.
Autumn Tip -
Watch out for big weed beds dying off and drifting off into the lake. They can often expose areas of silt or, more importantly, expose bloodworm beds that the carp can now get to easily. This suddenly creates a big natural larder where a weed bed used to be. Well worth positioning a bait on!
Reliving fond memories, Rick Hurley talks about the most unique venue he’s ever fished: a river-like lake in the grounds of a palace, where he banked a haul of thirties.
I began my quest on a water close to the Thames a couple of years ago, knowing it held a stock of large carp. Somewhat different to the norm and far from the usual deep gravel pits I usually fish, this lake is set in the grounds of a royal palace and is just 20 yards wide but a third of a mile in length – almost like a river, but perfectly straight. It was one of Henry VIII’s first palaces and it’s remarkable that there’s fishing on there at all, albeit confined to daytime sessions and the area is well policed and locked at night.
Rick opened his account with this 22lb common
Fed at one end by the river, at the other, is a set of fountains surrounded by lily pads. It’s probably the most unique venue I’ve ever seen, let alone fished. The water clarity is excellent, and weed growth is abundant. Even when fish were stocked from West Drayton around 10 years ago it didn’t take long for them to adapt to their environment, darken up and become much cleaner, healthier looking fish.
"The lake’s cross section is very much like a canal, with shallow ledges on each side with a deeper bowl-shaped channel down the middle – and incredibly uniform along its length."
I actually chose to fish this particular water due to the security – as you can imagine, fishing a park lake in London can be incredibly ‘lively’, but with this lake being on royal grounds it was managed and bailiffed not only by the rangers but the police too. There’s a private golf course on site and it’s surrounded by well-manicured grounds, but with that comes a strict opening and closing time. I’ve nearly been caught out many times due to the fishing being really good the later it got – the man locking the gate was never impressed with the procession of anglers driving out as late as possible, sometimes slightly past the closing time due to fish captures.
A big old 36lb mirror. Evenings after work proved fruitful for Rick.
I actually chose to fish this particular water due to the security – as you can imagine, fishing a park lake in London can be incredibly ‘lively’, but with this lake being on royal grounds it was managed and bailiffed not only by the rangers but the police too. There’s a private golf course on site and it’s surrounded by well-manicured grounds, but with that comes a strict opening and closing time. I’ve nearly been caught out many times due to the fishing being really good the later it got – the man locking the gate was never impressed with the procession of anglers driving out as late as possible, sometimes slightly past the closing time due to fish captures.
I decided after a few years of dropping on for the odd session to dedicate some proper time to the venue and get a quantity of bait going in regularly. There was an area of reed beds in the centre, which was popular because the fish were often nearby. Choosing to bait with a nice Robin Red fishmeal-based bait, I began feeding an area just away from the reed beds where the fish would almost certainly pass regularly. The June 16th start came round before I knew it and I’d been putting 4kg in every other day for a couple of weeks. Due to the shallow, clear nature of the lake, it was very obvious where I’d been baiting, as the two holes were visible in the weed and notably clear where the fish had been hammering the bait.
At the start of the season, I stayed away, knowing it would be busy. After three months of no anglers, the first few nights were always productive, but I didn’t want the hassle and knew I’d not get near the area I’d baited. Quite a few came out, and some from where I’d been baiting, but that’s the nature of park lakes and something you’ve got to accept.
In July, when I eventually began fishing, the banks were noticeably quieter. I’d get there at 6am and soon discovered that first and last thing were the times to have rods in the water. The gardens became busy with the public in the day and it was almost pointless being there, so I’d fish the evenings until closing. I’d arrive in the afternoon after work and have a good look around. If my rods were in by 6pm I stood a good chance. Bearing in mind that the gates usually closed at 8.30pm, bite times were very localised, and those two-and-a-half hours were all that was needed. The carp seemed very cute too when there were lines in the water but you could take a couple of fish in an evening if you were quiet enough.
Rick's target fish, a 40lb chunk, caught through persistent baiting... and the fish kept coming and coming!
Time and again we were ushered out by security trying to lock the gate, but that late evening window always produced. I wonder how many more we’d have caught if we could have fished on until 10pm. The fish were right on the bait, loving the fishmeal, and it was a tough choice between getting a hit of bait out or packing down in time to leave the car park.
Hooking a fish at 8.15pm was a nightmare – you’d hope not to get locked in as that meant the police coming to ask why you were still there and they were never impressed with your excuses.
I remember one night having a 34lb carp followed by a 33-pounder within 45 minutes. The first one was landed, unhooked in the net, reclipped with a PVA bag attached and back onto the spot. No sooner had the photos been taken than the same rod was off again, resulting in the second fish – it really could be carnage at times.
My pal was 30 yards up the bank sharing much the same success; we’d bait up together quickly, parking between the two spots, split up and rush back to the car to be gone again as soon as possible before getting told off for where we’d parked.
Bait For Success
Consistent baiting after every session established Rick's bait quickly; as the fish got used to the feed the captures continued to increase.
Small mesh bags with little-overweighted pop-ups did the damage for me; as I watched the ferocious feeding of the carp I knew the baits would be lifting and drifting around the swim, I just wanted the pop-up pinned down to make it easier for the fish to locate it. I think the suction power of a carp when it pulls that pop-up in far outweighs the extra weight in the rig. A small gap between the hook and the putty accounted for the slack that allowed the hook to flip and turn inside the carp’s mouth to get better hook-holds.
A 3oz lead set the razor sharp size 8 hook every time and I enjoyed two seasons of very good angling on the lake. In reality, the first season started in July and by the end of October, we’d called it a day. The second season we waited until September and October, knowing that was when it kicked off, but it was a little harder as the lake became much busier, which we hadn’t anticipated. One chap came down with a printed photograph of me holding a fish, and lined it up on the far bank, counting the trees – it was unbelievable, and he even asked my mate if he’d got the right swim and to point the left and right rod spots out.
By the end of the two seasons, I’d banked 18 or 19 different thirties from the lake, which being so close to my home at the time and able to visit for short evening sessions was great. September was definitely the most productive; it really kicked off when they got on the bait and was a very enjoyable place to spend my evenings.
"The Carp seemed very cute to when there were lines in the water but you could take a couple of fish in an evening if you were quiet enough"
I went on to catch the one I wanted in the second spell, a long, lean 40lb 7oz fish right at the end of my time on there. I did a further few nights banking a few high twenties but called it a day after that. The stockies have all pushed through the ranks now and I’m sure there’d be a lot of big fish in there. The lake opposite, which was always much rougher, less policed and often ‘guested’ overnight, was netted shortly after and plenty of 20lb commons were moved to the long lake in an attempt to stop the illegal fishing over the road, so I can only imagine how good the water is now. Some of the older big, black commons even topped the 30lb mark.
With the nine or 10 originals left, the stockies that adapted to their surroundings and the lovely dark commons from over the road you’re really spoilt for choice and there are three clear stocks of fish to target.
I’d have to say, though, that the highlight of my time on there was that my partner Theresa would sometimes fish with me too. She knows what she’s doing after fishing with me for 10 years, so it was nice to spend time doing what I love with her. She had a couple of the originals out of the venue too, which was great to share with her. We even had a double take once and landed 36lb and 33lb mirrors together. You just can’t buy that.
To account for the heavy feeding and slight flow on the lake, Rick overweighted his hook baits with additional putty to ensure that they stayed stationary, making them much easier to pick up by the fish
Advanced Carp Fishing is aimed at the aspirational carper. If you've caught your first twenty, or if you simply want to catch much bigger fish, this is the magazine for you. It's packed full of easy-reading features, eye-pleasing photos and loads of top tips from the best carp anglers in England. In our view it's the carp magazine that sets the standards others aspire to.
We look at how observation yet again proved to be the most important factor when targeting big fish, resulting in the biggest fish in the country for MATT JACKSON.
The Parrot was Matt’s 17th fish from Cranwells, although he plans to stay on for a few of its other prized residents.
DID YOU KNOW
Matt is just 28 and has landed two fish over 55lb in the UK.
ACF: What drew you to fish Wasing?
MJ: Wasing has been on the big-carp anglers’ radar for the last eight years or so on account of its biggest resident, The Parrot, putting on weight every year. It shook British carp angling in January 2016 when Dean Fletcher caught it at over 68lb.
Two seasons ago I managed to get my Cranwells ticket. The lure of fishing for the biggest carp in Britain is enough to stir the enthusiasm of any angler.
ACF: Is Cranwells it your average lake?
MJ: It’s unique. Unlike a gravel pit that is dug deep, Cranwells is only three to four feet on average. Around the island and all round the margins there is a deep trough. From what I am led to believe, the pond is meant for ducks and other wildfowl. The deep trough keeps them safe from predators but is shallow enough in the middle for the ducks to take advantage of the natural food on the lake bed. It makes the fish visible a lot of the time, but no easier to catch.
My initial plan was to try and get up as many trees and figure out their patrol routes. I did take into account some rough areas of last captures but I like to work out lakes for myself. I used my eyes to fill the rest in.
ACF: Cranwells is well known for anglers using bait boats. Did you use one and what do you think when people shun them?
MJ: Many anglers on Cranwells use bait boats. Some say you are a lesser angler for using them, but to me, that is complete nonsense. They can elevate your fishing hugely.
For peace of mind, I started the season by casting my rigs and caught fish spodding bait out to spots. The first autumn I spent casting I found an area at close range and landed seven fish to over 31lb before Christmas. Winter didn’t kick in until February, so I was able to take advantage of this and fish the deeper areas on the warm southwesterly wind throughout the late part of 2015. This leant itself to my spodding because the fish weren’t as spooky in the deeper water. I also targeted areas between 60 to 80 yards and caught well. I felt that by baiting with the Spomb I was changing the baiting pattern to something the fish weren’t used to. As the weather changed and the fish moved into the shallows, though, I didn’t want to feel restricted by having to cast and bait up with the spod. By casting rigs I would often spook fish from the area and they wouldn’t return for a long time.
ACF: What opportunities did using the boat open up for you?
MJ: Silent bait placement. It also gave me access to the nice long-range spots. With the help of the echo sounder, it also allows you to find subtle depth changes that would never be found with a marker float. The depths on Cranwells are so changeable that they are near impossible to find with a lead. I didn’t want to miss out because I was being stubborn. Most of the regulars use boats so I wanted to be on the same par. After a while, the combination of the echo sounder and leading rod really helped to find the subtle spots. If I found a spot on an overnighter, I would take the next available opportunity to clip up and cast around it with a lead. I soon had a strong archive of great spots with exact distances. The boat became an extension of my angling rather than dominating it.
ACF: What was the main rig approach?
MJ: I would adopt three. If I were fishing to showing carp and was unsure of the lake bed I would use PVA bags. If I knew the area was clear then I would use a hinged stiff rig. It has served me so well in my big fish angling and I knew it would do the same here. In the shallow water, I liked to use a bottom-bait presentation that I had become fond of. My long-shank bottom bait rig is something I have immense faith in and it seems to pick out the more rare, riggier carp on account of its quicker turning ability than a standard wide-gape-style hook.
Loading the boat
Step 1 - Matt places his rig in, being sure to keep the lead at the back of the boat. This ensures it keeps his hook link straight.
Step 2 - He puts in a small handful of bait ensuring it is put in the boat on the hook-bait side first.
ACF: Did you find any patterns to The Parrot’s captures?
MJ: It's second capture was the first time that I saw The Parrot. It was starting to look like the half of the lake where Dean Fletcher caught the record from was its preferred area, the shallower side. It gets caught twice in May and twice in June as a rule, so I wanted to be fishing as much as possible at that time.
ACF: Did you target the shallows for all of your fishing?
MJ: This area got a lot of attention in spring on account of the fish activity. The biggest fish in the country brings out the best anglers so you always have to be on the ball.
The shallows were taken so I watched the areas on the opposite side for my session. I pictured The Parrot moving away from the pressure to the conservation zone.
Bait - Matt likes to boost his bait before applying them to a spot. A drizzle of Krill Extract and a light dusting of GLM and Krill powder futher aids attraction, which means he can use less bait for quicker bites.
ACF: What’s that?
MJ: It’s an inaccessible bay where The Parrot likes to spend a lot of time.
ACF: How did you go about getting on those patrol routes?
MJ: The swims that gave me access to this area were The Wood and End Beat. End Beat was closest but was taken, so I set up for my weekend in The Wood. I hoped the pressure would move the fish into the conservation area to my left.
To ensure the line was pinned down Matt adopted flying back leads
ACF: When was your first sighting of The Parrot?
MJ: I didn’t catch the first night but stayed vigilant. I had seen fish to the left of The Woods and had put rods over there. I saw a long black fish cruising around alone. I was pretty sure it was The Parrot due to its size. I watched as it swam around on the far side of the shallow plateau, turned and followed the gulley line, swimming over a rod that I had placed. It then disappeared into the bay. That evening I repositioned the rod and put another one 30 yards off it along that same line. I reasoned that the left-hand rod could yield a daytime bite and the rod 30 yards to the right was a night bite. The chap opposite must have saw something because he moved a rig in between my two rods in a similar area.
After an uneventful night, another angler came into the swim and notified me that the angler in End Beat had just landed The Parrot. Great news for him and it gave me chance to witness the fish on the bank for the first time.
ACF: Were you downhearted?
MJ: I was so close to catching it but I was happy all the same. Nothing fires you up like seeing your target. It confirmed that it was The Parrot I had sighted the day previous and that it liked to retreat to the conservation area when pressure was high on the lake. I added yet more information to the mix and I was sure that End Beat was the place to be.
ACF: Did you get in there on your next session?
MJ: No. The weather had changed quite a bit and the other half of the lake was beginning to do more bites. I set up in The Point and managed to catch my first big fish from the area, Veiny Belly at 42lb.
ACF: So with captures twice in May and June did you fish a lot in these months?
MJ: I booked two weeks off in May to coincide with this time. I caught a couple of smaller fish from the shallows and after a resupply and sort out at home I went down for my second week. The lake was busy and the southwesterly bank was where I needed to be. Luckily an angler was packing up in the area that gave me access to this area. He had caught four and I had even seen fish as I waited for him to pack away.
ACF: What made you choose that area?
MJ: I felt The Parrot could be on the end of this wind and with a lot of the big’uns having been caught already I thought that it was only a matter of time before it slipped up again.
ACF: Did you get the result?
MJ: I did a night in the swim, but the fish were at range in front of The Point. I had caught big fish from that small hump and thought it was as good a move as any. I put all my rods on one area, applied plenty of bait and the fish did the off. I had committed the rods so did the third night in the swim over the bait to see if the fish would come back. It was a couple of days after a full moon and had all the hallmarks of a big carp capture but they weren’t playing ball.
ACF: What was your next plan?
MJ: I watched the water intently for signs, hoping that I could get something going, and carp launched itself out of the water in the conservation area some 400 yards away. It was in the little bay controlled by the two swims.
ACF: Was it the sighting you are after?
MJ: No doubt, the whole fish came out once, before showing again moving, loads of water. Was it The Parrot? Surely a fish that size wouldn’t show like that! I watched the spot for the next two hours. It couldn’t have been anything other than The Parrot.
ACF: Was a move on the cards?
MJ: I packed up and went round to End Beat. It was occupied but the chap said I could drop in after him. I needed to charge my boat batteries and replenish supplies so I went home. I slept for a couple of hours then drove back for first light to secure my swim.
ACF: You had waited a few sessions to get into this area, right?
MJ: It was a popular swim and after seeing that fish I knew I had to be in there. I got the rods out for midday and that afternoon I caught one on the right-hand rod. I sent a rig up there to see what I could find with the echo sounder. I wanted to line up where the fish showed from The Point swim. The echo sounder read 3.9 feet on a flat area, where the fish showed it changed to 3.6. I stuck the rig on the bottom of that ledge and put one out to the left. A 14lb koi made an appearance in the evening; definitely not the fish that had showed a few days previous but a good sign.
ACF: What was the approach for the rods?
MJ: I had decided to fish minimal bait. The Parrot had to be in that conservation area anyway. I needed to get the bite not feed the fish. Any extra bait may have also got the attention of the birds, which were able to reach the lake bed in this area. I was confident that it was its patrol route. A handful of baits went in the boat along with my favourite long-shank bottom-bait rig. I put two rods up to the right in the conservation area. One on the shallow area where I saw it that morning, the second 30 yards out where it did its last capture in the hours of darkness, in four and a half feet of water.
I was still awake watching in the middle of the night. A liner had woken me. As I sat watching I heard a series of bleeps on the right-hand rod, the tip swung round and I was away. A fish shook its head and surged off in the shallow water. All of a sudden it kept going solid and stopping. I was leaning into it and it felt stuck. There was no weed out there… it suddenly dawned on me that it could be a big fish, the sheer weight of which was providing an obstruction. I managed to get the fish back 30 yards and it began to fight normally, using its weight. As I played it to within 20 yards of the bank it sent streams of water into the air as its tail beat the surface. It was clear which fish it was and I literally shook with adrenaline. I kept my nerve, got its head up and drew it over the net. It hit the spreader block with its tail sticking out of the net; a shuffle was required to get its amazing length in the net. While it sat languishing in the net, I realised I had caught a 60-pounder. It’s not a fish, it’s a creature, a true leviathan. Unbelievable, a mind-blowing highlight of my angling.
Tuesday, 27 September 2016 09:34
MARK COOKSON is an adaptable angler who has capitalised on his ability to mould to any situation. The result? Big carp from over four counties.
Mark rates PVA stringers fished over his bed of boilies. Many anglers have neglected them, but their merits for big carp and boilie fishing are clear.
Keep It Light
With Oxford containing some of the busiest waters in the UK, Mark keeps his gear light and is on the lookout for new opportunities, such as fish feeding or showing.
Traveling to Oxford Mark made hay with a rake of carp!
I got my ticket for the Cambridgeshire water a few years ago and have fished it as and when I can or fancy it. It’s only three acres or so but holds some truly special carp. I got down for my first session of 2015 and it was blowing a big westerly, but it was due to swing round to a northerly. It had a cold feel to it but I knew that the fish liked a new wind on there. I found a bar just short of 60 yards and fished on the edge of it, with a couple of stringers over the top of the firm bottom. I supplemented it with a few spodfuls of Krill and the trap was set.
That evening I received the bite and the fish actually got snagged. I had to go out in the boat, but after 10 minutes of effort I netted a lovely fish. It was the old leather, just shy of 30lb and one of the real old ones.
I did another trip but blanked and that was when I decided to have a go on Linear.
I work random shifts, working two days, two nights and then have four off. I then have to book my holidays at the start of the year. I like most of it in spring and autumn, for obvious reasons, and the first was planned to venture down to Oxford.
My friend Oaky and I were keen to get up on the shallow end and Kempy’s Point was free.
I had a quick lead about and found a nice, smooth silty area out around 30 yards. I flicked a couple of rigs on it for the day and come evening I wanted to re-do the rods for the night. I picked up the rod and saw the line picking up through the water and I felt like I was being pulled forward. I actually had a bite. It was a lovely 28lb mirror and a great start. It just got better and better and I think we had 29 fish between us, with his biggest being The Box Common at over 46lb. Mine was over 36lb, so it was a great trip.
I still fished places local, but Oxford appeals to me. The water clarity, amount of weed and stock of fish is something that is very rare in the northwest. I have always been a fan of bright hook baits and always incorporate them on the rig. I don’t leave home without Signatures hook baits; that sweet fruity smell is certainly not just for the small ones.
I chose to go back to Linear on my next holiday and all I could think about was being in Peg 2 on the road bank. Amazingly, the lake was rammed apart from that swim. I don’t like having too much of an idea of where I want to be but with such a warm and strong southerly blowing in, it looked textbook.
I found a spot at 45 yards, which was pretty close in for that lake. Everyone wants to be in the middle, which kind of makes the close-in spots safe to the carp. I did put one off the no-fishing bank, just in case they were mooching up and down the margins.
That night I had a 31lb mirror off the no-fishing bank and a 22lb stockie closer in. From then on the no-fishing bank didn’t do another bite and the close-in spot went off. I was fishing the neat-boilie approach, using mixed-sized Krill with a bright bait over the top. I ended up with quite a few fish, including five thirties. It’s mental, a season’s worth of carp from up north in one session in Oxford.
Cambridge was next on his list, with the result being yet more epic carp!
I managed to get back down to Cambridgeshire, landing a cracking 32lb common a week before they spawned, then kept the fishing local on club waters and a bit of river fishing. There is nothing huge in the river, but there are lovely fish that give you great sport.
With no holiday booked for a while, I decided to fish a few local meres. I fished a day-only venue that is very hard to get a bite from. It is all range fishing, 130 yards plus, and requires extremely accurate casting.
It can be tiresome fishing, but that feeling when you get the bite is such a rush. I did a few days in the summer, before heading back to Cambridge in August. The fish were held in one area, close to a large weed bed. I had been told that they had been mooching to the middle during the night, so I set out to find a spot.
I managed to catch a 26lb common and 23lb mirror the following week. This one was a real special old carp. Some are over 40-years old and this one was certainly ancient looking and a pleasure to catch.
A trip to Christchurch on the Linch Hill complex was in order. It was eight acres maximum, but the stock was ridiculous.
We had a seven-night trip booked in and even though the weather was forecast high pressure, warm and still, we were itching to give it a go. We spent the whole week frustrated and helpless, watching the fish up in the water with not a single bit of floater kit on us.
It wasn’t until the Friday that the weather was coming in with low pressure and a new southerly wind. I moved first thing Friday morning to the bottom bank that received the brunt of those conditions.
Fishing bright baits over Krill boilies produced this phenomenal 37-pounder!
I flicked a couple of solid bags of crushed boilies and a small Signature pop-up tucked inside as the hook bait out close in. I had a bite around 7pm and I could tell it was big. It didn’t do a great deal and in the half-light I netted a really chunky common known as The Box at 41lb 8oz, a new PB.
The following morning I saw a lot of fish showing in front of the point swim and I’d noticed that the lad was packing up. I swiftly made my way round to the swim when he left.
I adopted the same approach and managed a scaly 31lb mirror in the morning, which ended that first trip nicely. I fell in love with the place and didn’t do much fishing until my next trip in early October.
A ST Johns 31lb Mirror - Mark couldn't do any wrong!
I had four nights and the lake was busy, as expected. I managed a 36lb mirror while I was spodding.
I was back the week after for another three nights and the weather had changed, now blowing a northerly, and it was the full moon. Nothing happened until last knockings, landing The Big Simmo at 39lb 10oz.
I had loved my time there, but with the nights drawing in and holidays all used, I decided to fish the rest of the autumn and into winter locally.
Being adaptable certainly paid off with this Oxford upper thirty.
I changed the bait side of things. I was still fishing a lot with Signatures but went onto the Manilla. I caught from the off everywhere I went, fishing overnighters when the weather fell right.
The rules make it tricky, banning spodding, and I had various time restrictions. This opened the door to fish over lots of boilies using the throwing stick and it kept the bites coming. I did five or six nights from November to December. I had one of the big mirrors at over 33lb, another known one at 28lb and a few other twenties. It was great fishing but hard work.
Come spring I wanted to fish on a special local old estate lake. It’s days only and holds stunning looking carp.
It was the last week of the season and I booked a couple of days on. I had caught quite a few from there and they really are something else. Proper old looking carp, dark and armour-plated scales littered across their deep flanks.
The first trip went very well, catching one of the biggest in the lake. I’d found a few in a corner, digging up the bottom and rooting round. I lowered a rig in, sat back and waited. Out of nowhere the rod ripped off, resulting in a clonking 33lb 2oz mirror. I dropped more bait in, trying to keep patches of Manilla and Bloodworm pellets going in on a few spots.
I was back the following week and my mate caught the biggest fish in the lake, only a few ounces bigger than the one I had but what a carp.
I walked round the lake, desperately trying to find them feeding. I stumbled across them ripping up the bottom, lowered a simple 16mm Manilla bottom bait down and sat back.
Half-hour passed and the rod was away. I don’t think the fish knew what was happening and before I knew it, she was in the net. It was a dark, stunning broken linear and a great way to end the season.
Thursday, 15 September 2016 10:50
WARREN FENN is hot on the tail of his ultimate prize from Twynersh Pit Three. Will he track down the elusive queen of the lake that has evaded capture for the whole season?
It was now late August and after such a great start to the year on Twynersh’s Pit Three my spring campaign was unfortunately put on hold. A new career in plumbing and heating was rapidly developing, which forced me to take the summer off to fully focus on the demands of this new job.
After a hectic summer working, I was eager to find out what had occurred in my absence. It was a warm Thursday evening and with work finishing on time for once I managed to get to Pit Three for an eagerly awaited walk round. I found out that the queen of her quarry, Nina, was still yet to make an appearance and had been regularly seen in the Treeline area. Being back down the lake brought the buzz back instantly. I started to feel I hadn’t missed out on much after speaking to the bailiff Kevin and it was time to pick up from where I left off – the Nina hunt was on.
It was the beginning of September and I had booked a week off work. Eager to get stuck back into Pit Three, I arrived on the Monday afternoon and saw there were only two others on, one in The Boaty and the other in the Channel swim. As I walked round I was surprised to see that the Treeline swim was free. I placed a bucket in the swim to secure it and went for a wonder down its snaggy tree-lined bank in the hope of spotting a few carp and maybe Nina.
As I crept along the bank I came to the largest snag, a tree that had grown out of the bank like a mushroom covering a large amount of water space. Peaking through the branches of this impressive snag was like being at a sea life aquarium. I must have seen around 25 carp hiding in the cool shaded branches of this monstrous snag, keeping out of arm’s reach and the blistering summer sun. I stood there like a child at Christmas watching them at close quarters, looking for detailed markings on each carp so I could make out which was which. Over half the stock must have been there, but there was no sign of Nina. However, there was one that did stick out from the rest. As I watched the carp swim under an undercut section of the bank, a rather large, clean looking linear appeared from out of the darkness, a carp I now dearly wanted. There was a carp in Pit Three called The Big Lin, which had a scattered row of scales on both sides. Others who fished Pit Three were adamant that this was the one I saw. I wasn’t so convinced; I had seen pictures of the Big Lin. Walking back to the swim for a split second I forgot all about Nina; the linear I was all I could think about. Not seeing Nina, I still opted to fish the Treeline.
I was soon set up and chose to fish two rods along the tree line, one to where I saw carp moving along the huge snag and the other in a hole a little further up the bank in another large snag. I flicked a third rod to a lovely silt spot off the corner of the island where I saw some bubbling on my arrival.
It was the original woodcarving, which would take pride of place in any Angler's album.
I kept it simple using what worked for me in spring and, of course, the ever-faithful Tuna & Garlic. Seeing the way the carp reacted to this bait through spring, I had confidence it would get me bites.
The night passed without a bleep and so did the morning but it still looked good for a bite. I decided to reel in to have a look back up the snaggy Treeline again. There was no sign of the linear or Nina but the carp were still there! I trickled broken boilies in the snag to see if they were willing to feed; they were straight on it. I decided to leave my rods out for the day to rest the swim in the hope that feeding the carp in the snags would encourage them out in the night to feed on my spots.
I got the rods back out around 7pm. Going into the night the Treeline looked far more active than the first night, with ripples coming from within the snag.
It was around midnight when my right rod was away. I shot out of bed and bent the rod into a jerky pressure as the carp tried to throw the hook. A few moments later I had the carp in front of me and under control as I scooped her up first time – result. Switching my headtorch on and peering into the net I recognised the carp straightaway. It was Josh, one of the really old mirrors. Moving it carefully to my unhooking mat I could see it in all its glory, a cracking old wily carp. He went 28lb 13oz but the weight really was irrelevant. I took a few lovely self-takes and popped him back to his watery home.
Unable to get the rod back out to the spot due to the darkness and tricky cast to the snaggy bank, I would get it back out at first light. Nothing else occurred through the night.
I got the island rod back out first time, but as I was sinking the line a kingfisher sat halfway down my rod staring at me which was a truly magical moment.
Nothing happened for the rest of that morning and it looked like bite time had long gone. Out of nowhere I received a violent take off the kingfisher rod to the island. The fish weeded me up instantly but with slow, heavy pressure on the rod, it came free and I slowly pulled what felt like a decent fish towards me. The carp stayed on the surface throughout the rest of the fight and moments later he was mine. It was The Match Lake Mirror, which went 31lb.
Going into the evening of my last night, after losing one through the day I was hoping to redeem the session with one more. The night was uneventful but at around 4am I received another jerky take on my right rod to the snags. It was a short, lifeless battle but resulted in one of the lake’s real stunners, The Original Woodcarving, which would take pride in any angler’s album. The old warrior went 28lb; a great end to a few days’ fishing.
The scene of the majority of Warren's captures.
I managed to book another week off work in mid-October around the new moon phase. If Nina hadn’t been out before then, this would most likely be my last chance because the date coincided with her last capture a year ago.
The next few weeks would really test my angling limitations. With a busy schedule at work, working in central London I could only string together a handful of overnighters but would have to battle a three-hour traffic-filled journey to get to the lake in Chertsey before even battling with a carp, which was a task in itself. I did manage to catch some of the lake’s crackers, including The Long Common, one of the very first fish stocked into Pit Three. I did, however, lose a carp that many would call the king of the lake, Hoover, from The Double swim, which still hurts!
Little And Often With fish always resident in the snags, Warren kept his baitinglight in order to ensure the chance of a quick bite during his short sessions. He also baited with a few baits in the snags to allow the fish to gain confidence on his bait.
It was the weekend before my week off work in October and I managed to finish work on Friday at midday, so I planned to beat the weekend anglers to the lake and hopefully get into a decent swim.
As I arrived there were three on, but no-one in The Treeline. Unable to get back in there since my week off in September I was eager to have a look. One of the regulars, Glen, was in The Cave on the other side of The Treeline. Walking down The Treeline it was clear that the carp weren’t holding up here. As I got to the big mushroom-like snag, I peered in and saw nothing. Suddenly, something caught my eye. I found one, a common with a large scar down one its sides. As I focused on the detail of the common a huge shadow rose from the dark depths – it was her. I stood there like a rabbit in headlights watching Nina rise to the surface of the snags; she looked huge. Struggling to hold in my excitement I quickly walked down to Glen. He said: “You look happy.”
“Nina’s down in The Treeline snag, I’ve finally seen her,” I replied.
A night-time bite from the treeline - Josh the mirror at 28lb.
For some reason I felt it would happen. I decided to put all three rods out to the tree line, two fishing the same spots I fished previously and the third a bit of a trickier cast, but closer to where I saw Nina, which became the middle rod.
Going into the evening the lake became very busy but I really didn’t care because I had the queen of the lake at my feet.
In the middle of making a coffee the right-hand rod was away, knocking my drink everywhere. I was into battle with an angry carp, and with that it was off. My heart sank as I reeled in a parted line, which must have caught on something sharp along the snag. It left me feeling sick. My confidence disappeared and all I could think was: “Was it her?”
Fish care is pramount. Testament to a well-run syndicate
The rest of the evening was uneventful as I sulked, thinking I’d blown it, but at around midnight I received a savage take from the middle rod. I was straight on it as a heavy carp fought to get into the snag. I kept heavy pressure on the rod and walked back up the bank, slowly pulling the carp away from the snags. A few hairy moments later and I had the powerful carp in front of me and, eager to get it in the net, with one big scoop I had it. Peering in I saw it was a decent common. Not Nina, but one with a large scar on one side. I felt I was getting closer but did I lose Nina earlier?
The scarred common went 31lb and after a few night shots I slipped him back. I left the rod against my brolly, eager to get round to the snag at first light to see if Nina was still there.
Getting one last look at Nina before her return.
First light was upon me before I knew it and as soon as it was light enough to see into the snag I went round for a look. The nerves were jangling as I walked up The Treeline and peaked into the snag. I looked to my right and the biggest smile lit up my face. Nina was there, happy enough it seemed, sat on her own. I crept back round and made breakfast, thinking I would leave it a few hours before getting the rods back out.
Observe Your Quarry Warren spent much time watching how the fish entered and exited the snags. This way he knew exactly where to place his baits.
The morning passed and I got the rods out on the spots. The rest of the day, and night, went by without a bleep.
Glen phoned me at 9am to tell me the lake looked lifeless, and really didn’t know what to do next. I agreed but said Nina’s still in the snag, so I’m going to give it longer. With that, my alarm let out a series of bleeps and the phone was thrown as I locked on to what felt like a raging bull.
As I quickly walked back with the left-hand rod, an explosion erupted within of the snag. As the rod bounced violently it locked round in full battle curve; all I could do was hold on for dear life. A few moments later a huge weight pulled the rod to the left. Whatever was on the end powered towards the island. All of a sudden the rod locked up solid as a weed bed off the island slowly rose to the surface. I kept a firm pressure on the rod as the carp slowly kicked free, what a fight! Knowing at the back of my mind which fish it was, I tried to keep a cool head. As it surfaced in front of me a huge set of shoulders broke the surface. Moments later the biggest scream was let out: “Nina!” The queen was mine, what a moment.
I must quickly thank Steve, Glen, Kevin and Rob for their assistance. We carefully lifted the old girl safely onto the mat and as I unhooked her I saw her mouth was spotless. She was in prime condition. She broke my PB by 1lb at 44lb 8oz, which was an added bonus. After some quality shots by Rob I let her go and the job was done. A moment I’ll never forget.
Another one off the wishlist, the Match Lake mirror, with simply huge fins.
Thursday, 15 September 2016 10:30
Engrossed in the stunning setting of Twynersh Pit Three, WARREN FENN goes in search of a rather elusive common carp known as Nina.
It all started in spring 2015, that buzz developing within, that passion and desire of chasing that one unique creature, the one carp that would sit on the throne in any lake, the queen of her quarry. For some time I’ve had my eyes firmly fixed on a very special little pit in the Chertsey area which held unique characters and had been maturing nicely over the years, but held a rather large old common that was the queen of her lake.
The old gravel pit is surrounded by six others, which are all part of the Twynersh Fishing Complex. Nina is in Pit Three, a three to four-acre gravel pit full of snaggy tree-lined banks, gravelly plateaus, areas of thick weed, lily pads and two huge tree-lined islands – a carp’s paradise. The lake holds around 40 carp, which included a good number of upper twenties, around 14 thirties and one mid-forty – Nina.
I purchased my season ticket for Pit Three towards the back end of February, but with work and family commitments I couldn’t get my teeth stuck into the place until April.
It was then that I stumbled on what seemed like an edge and I managed to get my first bite, which allowed me to work out exactly where to start.
After recently joining good friend Terry Dempsey’s bait company Urban Baits, I was eager to give his baits a try. It was a Wednesday afternoon and after finishing work early I decided to take a wonder around Pit Three. The weather was great for the time of year with the warm sun beaming down, not a cloud in the sky, so I decided to bring some bait to see if I could find a carp or two and get them feeding.
As I got to Pit Three, I saw there was someone in a popular swim called The Treeline, which faced a snaggy tree-lined bank. There was also someone in The Channel, which faced a channel between the two islands, and another angler in No Carp Bay.
I could see the sunken boat under a maze of snags and with it sat eight large carp.
The first swim I walked into had a group of savage snags that filled a small bay to the right. The swim was called The Boaty, on account of the sunken boat at the bottom of the snags tight to the bank. This area looked like a carp’s haven. I quietly crept round to the snaggy bank and peaked inside, I could see the sunken boat underneath a maze of snags and with it sat eight large carp.
The best part of an hour went by and a few more carp turned up. Because I had all three of Terry’s baits with me I decided to use them all but place them in separate spots in the area. It would give me a rough idea how the carp would react to them and which they would prefer to feed on.
The bait was in place and I had a good viewing point. Within minutes of the bait being in place the carp were on it, dropping down onto the baited spots and feeding instantly. They seemed very interested in the baited spot to the right so I knew exactly which bait to use, the Tuna & Garlic.
It wasn’t until the week after that I was able to fish. I arrived at first light and the lake looked quite busy. I saw The Boaty was free so straightaway I went round to the snags to investigate. Sure enough, I saw four carp relaxing in the centre, perfect!
Self-takes were required for the 33lb stockie - what an awesome carp.
I decided to set up in The Boaty, feeling really confident because I knew how active the fish were last week. I cast both rods tight to the snags, one to the left-hand side in the opening and the other to the right at the back of the bay. I used my ever-faithful pop-up rig on both rods fished over a couple of handfuls of glugged, crushed boilies. Now all I could do was wait.
Consistency Is Key Once he had decided on a bait to use for his campaign, Warren kept introducing it on every session . The result was the bait becoming established and he reaped the rewards as the year past.
The day went pretty fast with no occurrences. It got to around 7pm and I decided I’d have a recast. Out of nowhere the right-hand rod ripped round violently as the bobbin cracked up against the blank.
The Match Lakes Leather, a Twynersh jewel at just over 30lb.
I was straight on it. The rod was in battle curve as I locked up to a heavy pressure that was trying to make its way inside the snags. I could feel the carp touching the branches of the snag. A couple of powerful rolls later, I managed to pull the carp away from the snags and had him in front of me. A couple more rolls and he was in the net. I looked in the net at a rather large but beaten mirror. I recognised it as one of the big stockie mirrors and on the scales he went 33lb, the first of the campaign under my belt. My camera lens wouldn’t focus trying to do self-takes but I managed to get one photo not blurred.
The rest of the night went without a bleep, but I was still chuffed. Maybe hooking that one pushed them out of the snag.
The next morning I had to be at work for 8am but before I left I baited both spots for a return trip in a couple of days.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get back down that week and the week after I was jetting off to Rome for a much-needed holiday with the missus.
After my holiday I still had a couple of days off work. It was Monday morning and as I arrived at the fishery there was a few on but The Boaty was free. Looking in the snags, I counted over 15 carp milling about so I ran to the car to get my gear and set up. A good 20 minutes later I was all set up and the rods were fishing over a bed of the Tuna & Garlic. The spot left of the snag started to bubble instantly as I sat ready to hit a take.
Forty minutes passed and crack! The bobbin hit the blank of the rod with venom. I was in, but, surprisingly, it was the right rod. It was in full battle curve instantly as I tried to steer an angry carp away but it had other plans as it rolled on the edge of the snags. I slowly pulled him towards me with each pump of the rod and before I knew it I was looking in my net at a long, lean common. As I laid him on the mat it was clear to see he wasn’t happy because his dorsal fin was fully flexed and the sound like a demented frog was being made. It was passing my bait on the mat, which is always encouraging. The angry common went 24lb and I slipped him back after a few snaps and got the rod back on the spot with a few handfuls of Tuna & Garlic.
Unlocking Pit Three With a lot of his time spent looking. Warren was able to pinpoint whereabouts of the fish on each session, rather than baiting and sitting static over one area. It was the reason he was able to keep catching consistently.
Nothing more occurred that morning but at around 2pm my left rod screamed into life, which I unfortunately lost to the snag. It’s a barbless rule on the complex so I’m pretty sure the fish knocked the hook out using a branch as I was locked up tight to a dead weight; you can’t win them all. I cast the rod back on the spot hoping for another chance but nothing happened for the rest of the day.
At 6am the right-hand rod wrapped round and I was into battle again. The carp felt heavy but never really put up much of a fight as it stayed low and just held its own. With a little side strain, I managed to steer her away from the snags and out in front of me. As she rolled on the surface I saw it was a leather. A few more rolls and she was mine. It was The Match Lake Leather, one of the rarer bank visitors. She pulled the scales round to 30lb 4oz, which would do nicely for a wake-up call. After a few she went back to her watery home.
The rest of the day passed pretty quickly without any action.
A big old Italian mirror, Warren was in his element
Around 4pm I had a quick peek in The Boaty snag. The carp were still in there but in smaller numbers. The next swim along was called The Car Park and has a set of newly grown pads close to the island on the right. The pads were brought to my attention as I saw a coot spook off them a couple of times earlier that day. I managed to climb one of the trees that overlooked them and there sat at the back of them, between the pads and the island, were three decent commons. I remember thinking one of them might be Nina, but couldn’t get a clear enough look. Watching them for a good 30 minutes, I headed back to my swim. You could fish the back of the pads perfectly from The Boaty, so I opted to put a third rod out over to the back where I saw them. It did, however, cut across The Car Park but I took a chance, hoping no-one would plot up in there.
Nothing occurred going into the night. It was 4am as I awoke to a slow take on the pads rod. It felt like a decent fish as it held the bottom and it powered towards a weed bed in open water. I managed to steer her away and pump her towards me. A few hairy moments close in and I had a rather large common in front of me. As she rolled, my legs went to jelly as my first thoughts was it’s her. I managed to net her first time with ease and pulled the net towards me to see if it was Nina.
In the net laid her smaller sister, The Star, very similar in looks but around 10lb smaller, but another one to tick off the list and another rare one to boot. She went bang on 34lb, my biggest fish from the venue so far. I made myself a coffee and sat on my bedchair with the biggest grin on my face.
It started to rain and the conditions looked perfect. The right rod to the snag ramped off, resulting in a long, lean 21lb common. My confidence was sky high at this point.
Around 10am and the rain moved on. It looked like bite time had clearly passed when, out of the blue, I received a violent take on the pad rod. I hit into a heavy pressure as the fish hit the surface. A few moments later it was off and a decent carp bow waved away from the spot and around the back of the island into No Carp Bay. I was left feeling gutted, wondering what had happened. I reeled in to what appeared to have been a clean cut on my leader. My heart sank because it felt like a good fish!
Because it was coming to the end of my session I decided to pack up with my tail between my legs but made sure I baited all three spots with Tuna & Garlic.
No Name at 36lb, an angry common caught from The Boaty swim, the scene of a lot of Warren's success
I was lucky enough to return the week after and get back into The Boaty for two nights. Feeling confident, I was eager to get the rods back out, although I was unable to get the third rod out to the pads because someone was in The Car Park.
I managed to pick up from where I left off, catching another three but losing two to the harsh snags. The biggest was a common called No Name, one of the originals; on the bank she looked like an old dinosaur. She went 36lb 8oz, which at this time was the second biggest common in the lake – result! The other two were equally impressive, with one being one of the darkest commons in the lake at 23lb and the other a hard-fighting Italian-looking mirror that went 27lb 13oz; another rare one to add to the list.
With a comfortable amount of the stock under my belt, I felt it was the perfect time to try and find the queen. Not being sure I’d seen her in the water yet, I was eager to find her and which areas she favoured. This would prove tricky because her home known to many was The Treeline, which never seemed to be free. Maybe it was a waiting game, but with that a spanner was thrown into the works.
Every fish had its own character. this common in particular was a real powerhouse