Carp Fishing – Incredible Brace – By TJ Elliot

It’s not very often I get to spend more than one night at the lake, however, due to being on half term at college, I decided to use this time to my full advantage.

The first few nights down the lake were spent staring at huge carp crashing a million miles away, knowing they were well out of my casting range.

In my head, I knew I needed to move and in hindsight I should have. I had a strange but good feeling about this one swim, a swim that did the most amount of bites last year. However, the weather was absolutely terrible and I decided to stick it out in the swim that I was currently in (bad angling to say the least). On the last evening, a good friend of mine arrived and decided to drop in the swim that I had a good feeling about. To cut a long story short, I was awoken with some news that he had a 34lb mirror in the retainer.

That day consisted of kicking myself for not moving and I actually wound myself up that much that I ended up packing up. I decided to have one last cup of tea with Dan, and before I knew it, I was taking pics of another fish, this one being a respectable 48lb mirror! I went home with a smile on my face and instead of kicking myself, learning from my mistakes.

The next few days were spent walking around the lake at every bit of free time I had and I even managed to get a quick night in on the Friday evening before work. I agreed with a friend that he could hop in behind me, and he went on to catch two from the swim. This left me buzzing for the following week, and I couldn’t wait to get down on the Monday.

I finished work around half 4 on the Sunday, and decided to go for a walk. After finding out my friend was in the swim I wanted to be in and wasn’t leaving for 2 days, I decided not to fish the Monday night, but instead to arrive early Tuesday morning.

Thankfully I was able to wake up early, drive to McDonald’s and get to the lake for about 8ish. The weather was looking prime and a nice gentle south westerly was pushing to the right of me. I was gagging to get into the swim.

Whilst waiting for my friend to pack up, I tied up a few rigs. I opted to use the same rigs I use everywhere as they never let me down. Three hinged stiff rigs were tied using 25lb Trip Wire, size 6 Covert Chod hooks, and a few size 12 ring swivels. The boom sections were around 8 inches in length and were tied using 25lb Trick-Link. I was fishing over the back of a gravel bar into quite a silty area so I needed to balance my pop ups so they sank as slow as I could get them to. A blob of the Critical Mass putty did the job nicely.

As my friend was reeling his rods in, I wrapped up my rods to just over 100 yards which was where I had fished on the Friday night. As soon as he had left, I began to put the rods out. Without trying to rush things, I got them out as quickly as I could, as I had seen a couple of fish show near to the spots. I decided to put 3 singles out for the day as I didn’t want to spook any fish that happened to be passing through.

Nothing happened throughout the day, however as the afternoon progressed, I noticed that the fish were starting to show closer and closer to me. At around 5 o’clock, I started to put some bait in. Nearly 4 kilos of CC Moore’s 15mm Pacific Tuna was spread over only two of the rods as I wanted to keep one off the baited area.

As the evening closed in, one of my friends bought me over a pint from the nearby pub, and we sat and watched a few carp showing over my rods. After he left, I laid down to read my book. I was reading it for around an hour, until I decided that it was time to go to sleep if I wanted to be up for first light. I put the book behind my bedchair, turned my head torch off, and laid there looking out at the lake, when out of nowhere, my middle rod melted. I raced out of my bed, still partly deafened from the screech of my bite alarm. As soon as I lifted into the rod, I was greeted with a really angry carp. The fish must have taken near on 60 yards of line before I could slow it down and start reeling her in. After a very hairy 20 minute battle, I pulled the net under a very large mirror.

Whilst the mirror was in the net, I called my girlfriend seeing if she would come down to give me a hand with the fish, as anybody knows an extra pair of hands is always a massive help! She arrived shortly after I had called her, and she helped me weigh the fish and put it in the retainer. With the fish going 45lb 2oz, this was a new personal best for me and another 40lb carp to add to my list.

I tied up a fresh rig and got the rod back out there as quick as I could, as there was a very good chance of me catching another one. I got back into bed, and kept slowly falling in and out of a light sleep, checking to see if the mirror was alright every time I awoke.

Around half past 3, the right hand rod was away, and I found myself bent into another very angry, big pit carp. My heart was pounding, and I needed to get the waders on. Luckily, Emily had decided to stay the night, and was there to help me get them on. Ten minutes later, there was a lovely orange looking mirror sat in my net. I honestly couldn’t believe it! I raced down to somebody I knew who was fishing a couple of swims up and asked him if I could borrow his retainer (I can assure you, it’s not every day you need to use two retainers on this place). Up on the scales it went 35lb 4oz. I was over the moon.

With a brace of just over 80lb safely sat in the retainers, there was no getting back to sleep for me. Thankfully, I called Craig, a good friend of mine, and asked him if he would take the photos for me.

A couple of hours later, and he was down, camera in hand and a huge smile on his face. “Are you ready matey?” he said, as I stood there looking dazed, staring at the numerous amount of carp still crashing over my rods. Plenty of quality photos were taken, and both fish were returned back safely to their 60+ acre home.

The next night was very quiet, and it seemed as if the fish had moved away. Never mind, I still went home with a huge grin on my face and a couple of slimy hoodies. Nobody was ruining my mood that day, that’s for sure!

Roll on next time!

Carp Fishing – A Week at Lake Serene – Jack Funnell

Lake serene is a stunning 16 acre gravel pit set in the heart of the Champaign region of France. It holds a large stock of big carp, mirrors to over 65lb and commons to over 85lb. It’s not considered a run’s water but if you time your session right and you fish effectively then some good results can be had.

Before leaving the country our group had already decided on which areas we were going to fish for the week. I was in a swim known as the beeches, which fishes into a tree lined bay of around 2-3 acres in size. I hadn’t fished the swim before so for the first couple of days it would be trial and error to see what would work. For the first 24 hours I fished two rods on hard gravel in depths of between 3-4 foot and 1onerod in the silt slightly deeper at around 6 foot. That night I managed a couple of fish, both of which were caught off the shallower harder gravel spots, so it was a no brainer and I found another hard spot to put the third rod on.

I kept the rigs simple, Covert Sinking Rig Tube and lead clip setup with of 5oz lead as I could drop the rig from the boat. A simple knotless knot rig using 25lb brown Ultra Skin a size 4 Continental Mugga and one of Stickys 16mm Signature Wafters, with washed out pink being the most effective. The bait was crumbed Sticky Manila in 12, 16 & 20mm, which was heavily gluged in Manila liquid. I fed enough small particles to attract the fish in and keep them there until one of them found the hookbait.

Using a boat to drop rigs and bait inch perfect proved a real edge and it helped keep the bites coming. Some people think that using a boat would cause too much disturbance and cause the fish to spook, however this was not the case. There was one occasion when I dropped the rig onto a spot underneath an overhanging tree and before I could row the boat back to the swim the rod was away. An explanation could be that the fish associate the boat with food so they are drawn to it, just like the sound of a Spomb on a busy day ticket water.

Even though I didn’t have any of the real monsters the lake holds, I did manage at least a 40lb+ fish every day sometimes two and there aren’t many places that you can do that! At the end of the week I was drained and ready for a good night’s sleep. That week I caught 23 fish of which 11 were over 40lb with the biggest being 48lb. A great week’s fishing and much better than being at work.

Winter on The Park Lake – Observation is Key by Brandon Butler

After being unable to get out on the bank for a few weeks it really was time for a trip out, and with a week’s break from college coming up it was a great time to do just that. The only concern I had was the weather, which was certainly against me as minus temperatures were due the evening before the fishing trip. It’s true what they say you can choose when you want to go but you can’t choose the weather.

I decided to fish one of my favourite winter venues, Tri Lakes in Yateley. There are several very attractive lakes, each with many different features and lovely looking fish – which is what I look for especially through the winter.

I was looking to do a 48 hr session so I decided to get down early on the Monday morning to hopefully find some fish and grab myself a quick bite before I set up for the night. As planned I arrived there at 7am, about half an hour before the front gates open to make certain I would be the first in line and the first to the lakes.

By 8.30 no one else had arrived so it looked like I had the whole complex to myself; probably due to the weather the night before as most areas of the lakes had a thin sheet of ice on them. I walked around the complex for an hour or so and saw no signs of any fish so I had to come up with a plan.

My idea was to set up in a swim known as ‘The willow’ as this particular swim covers a lot of water and was a very popular swim on the complex, I just had to spend about a hour smashing through the ice and the Weed Rake was perfect for this task.

I decided to put one of my rods on a very well known spot, and use the other one as a roaming rod to see if I could pick up a quick bite off any fish. It got to midday day and it was still very quiet. The ice had finally melted away and I still hadn’t seen any signs of any fish around where I was so I decided to reel my rods in and have another stroll about in the hope of seeing some signs of fish and to get rough idea where they were.

After spending at least another hour walking about I saw absolutely nothing, so I went back to my swim to get my rods back out. Within an hour of getting back in the swim the right hand rod was away and after a short battle the fish was in the net and I was pleased to see that it was a lovely clean common. A lovely way to start the session off and what with it being the first fish of the year for me I was buzzing.

As I slipped the common back I thought that there was probably more fish in the area so I took a gamble and spread about 100 baits in a mixture of 10 to 15mm sizes to get the carp grubbing around as the sun was now beaming down on this particular area of the lake. Knowing it was shallow (approx 2-3 ft) I was confident a few fish would be actively mooching around.

My set up for Tri Lakes is simple but extremely effective. I was using about a foot of brown Camflex Unleaded leader as it blended in brilliantly with the bottom I was fishing on, and the mainline I was using was the new GT-HD in 12lb (0.33mm). The rigs were Hinged Stiff Hinged rigs tied up with size 5 Covert Chod hooks on very short 20lb Trip Wire pop up sections and brown 25lb Ultra Skin booms as it blends in perfectly to the bottom I was fishing on.

As the day passed I had only managed to get just one more carp under my belt. As the night drew closer in I decided to put fresh bait on both rods and put them back on the spot for the night ahead. I stayed up most of the night in the hope that I’d hear some movement but I it was all quiet and I heard nothing, so eventually I got my head down for a much needed sleep.

At around 5.30 the next morning I was woken up by a screaming run on the right hand rod. As I struck into the rod this fish felt much bigger than the first one, as it was plodding about and kited off left staying down in the depths of the lake. Eventually, as it was getting closer in it hit the surface and I realised it was a lovely looking mirror – a very rare sight on the lake as it’s predominantly commons. I slipped the fish over the net and I got the rod straight back out on the spot confident that there were more fish around that area. I had now become very confident that I would have another bite.

I left the fish to rest for a little bit, so I could get everything ready to take some pictures. After taking a few shots of the stunning mirror (which weighed 19+) I slipped her it back into its home. Only a couple of hours later after having that mirror I was in again on the right hand rod. This time it was only a short battle before I had a lovely looking Ghostie safely in the net.

As the other (left hand) rod hadn’t done a bite yet I decided to reel it in and put it straight out onto the spot which was producing all of the bites for me. Not long after making that decision the rod was away again and as I was playing the fish it became obvious that the fish were holding up in that area. Once again after a short battle there were two fish laying side by side in the net, a ghostie and a common; two stunning little fish. After taking the pictures and returning them the little flurry of action died down for the day.

As the light was running out I did the same as the night before, putting fresh ABS hook baits on the rigs and casted them back to the spots. Obviously I decided to keep the left hand rod closer to the right hand spot. During the night I had three very small commons on both of the left and right hand rod which showed me that moving the roaming rod was a good move.

At around six in the morning I was awoken by an absolute screamer on the right hand rod. As soon as I struck into the rod it buckled over and could tell, that this was a much bigger and more powerful fish than the others. After trying to get into every snag it could, it finally came closer in and hit the surface I could tell it was one of the big commons in the lake. Finally, it was in the back of the net and by far was the biggest fish of the session. I got everything ready and it was soon time to get the beauty on the mat. The fish weighed 24lb 8oz, one of the biggest carp in the lake and I was buzzing. I got my pictures with the stunner and slipped it back and that was where the session ended for me, it was time to pack up and go home on a real high.

The particular fish was actually a target of mine for this year, one of the stunners that this little lake holds. I just keep wondering what other stunners are in here that I haven’t seen yet.

Brandon Butler

Coarse Fishing – A Winter Pike Session to Remember – By Lewis Baldwin

If you’re a river predator angler, then the last few months have been pretty awful! With nothing but dirty brown floodwater filling our running waters for what has seemed like an eternity, with opportunities to do some pike fishing having been limited to say the very least. We have floods every year but I can’t remember an autumn and winter when the rivers were unfishable for such a long period of time. I usually get out regularly throughout October, November and December going after a river Esox, but other than a couple of very half- hearted short sessions way back in October my pike rods had stayed in the garage gathering dust. I’ve fished stillwaters in the past, mainly in the shape of trout reservoirs, but with funds and time tight my options were limited this year so come January I was desperate to get some time bankside, especially with the end of the river season fast approaching.

New Year came and went, yet still the rivers were full to bursting point and showing no sign of dropping and I was getting fed up and as each day off work passed with no chance of getting out I was beginning to lose the enthusiasm to even making an effort. Still, my gear was ready to go the instant an opportunity arose; let’s be honest, I’d had plenty of free time to make sure it was organised.

Finally in late January the flood water started to recede and I started to get a little excited at the prospect of fishing for some pike that in all probability hadn’t fed properly for quite some time. My day off was Sunday and during the previous 2 days the river had dropped in the region of 8 feet! Now that is a hell of a lot of water but once a spate river starts to drop it’ll be back down quicker than when it rose. Come the long awaited day to be on the river, she still had about 3 feet of extra water on but more importantly the colour was dropping out fast and the visibility was a good 3 feet. The conditions couldn’t be better; so I had no excuse if I didn’t catch.

Arriving well before first light I pulled up at the locked gate and peered through the murky darkness to see a field full of water. There was no way I would be driving into the field, so donning my boots and gear I carefully made my way across the muddy, sodden and smelly expanse before me and was soon at the river bank. It felt good to be back and I wasted no time heading towards my favoured swim for the day. With the water still being up there was only one swim I’d be able to fish that’s huge and gave me plenty of options for a full days angling.

I always fish 2 rods when piking on the river, it’s a little more to carry when roving but it enables me to cover a lot more water and use different rigs and/or baits to see if the pike prefer one thing over another during the session. I chose to put a float ledgered sardine in 9 feet of water right in the margin, literally 2-3 feet from the bank. I figured that with the river still pushing through a few pike might have taken sanctuary in the gentler water of the margins looking for an easy meal. The second rod was rigged up paternoster style and baited with a joey mackerel, and this bait was positioned on the crease line in the hope of intercepting any pike that might be actively feeding out in the flow.

My baits were in place and I was finally fishing; I was confident and happy with my bait placement but would the pike oblige? I didn’t have to wait long to find out as within 5 minutes the margin rod float cocked then laid flat again twitching slightly. I was on it in a flash and struck into a powerful river pike; I’d forgotten how hard these fish fight and it was all I could do to keep her out of the main flow. Eventually I had the fish ready for the net but the pike had other ideas and went for one last run; just as I was about to draw her over the net cord the hook pulled!! At about 15lbs she was a cracking fish and would’ve been a great way to start the session. Oh well, these things happen so I rebaited the rig and put a fresh sardine back on the same spot. Just 10 minutes later the float was moving again but this was with more purpose, but once again I lost the fish as I bumped her off on the strike. To lose one fish was disheartening but two, I was gutted, they could be my only opportunities and I’d mucked them both up.

I was disappointed but also more determined to get it right and catch and was confident that with two quick bites more would be forthcoming. Over the course of the next hour my net was finally graced with two lovely river pike. First up was a low double that took a liking to my paternostered Joey out in the flow, she was a cracking fish and I gave her a big thank you as she was unhooked in the net and sent on her way. The second fish was of a much better stamp and came to my static fished margin rod. She gave one hell of a fight in the deep water and I was convinced she’d go over 20lbs when I first saw her in the water, such was the frame of the fish. However her frame belied her weight – but at 18lb 8oz I was over the moon to catch such a cracking pike. Interestingly, she had obviously been feeding heavily in the receding waters as she was very fat and I could actually feel what I suspected to be chub in her stomach so she must have been very hungry indeed.

Things went quiet after this spell of activity and with four bites already falling to my margin spot I wasn’t sure that there would be anymore pike present. I tweaked and moved the bait every now and again but the float remained motionless. I was stood looking at the swim and decided that rather than put my sardine 3 feet from the bank I’d drop it as tight to the marginal cover as possible. The water was 8 feet or so deep only inches from the edge of the bank so I had a thought that maybe a pike might just be lying up tight to the bottom of the shelf. It was a stab in the dark but worth a shot.

Not long had passed when a stream of bubbles came up and surrounded my float, now deadbaits don’t expel air or breathe so there was either an otter in residence or a pike was taking an interest. Nothing happened so I disregarded it then 5 minutes later more bubbles, hmmm this was interesting so I sat, hovering like a heron ready to strike. Without warning the float plunged under and was away. I struck into a heavy fish and my 3lb test curve rod just folded over then it was almost flattened as the fish headed for the main flow. After getting the rod up to prevent a hook pull I slowly gained control and soon had the fish doing circles in front of me and after a few minutes the lunges became shorter and she was almost mine. As the pike neared the net I could see it was well over 20lbs, but the question was how far over? Would she be a PB for this particular venue?

Everything was ready for weighing and photographing as fishing alone I had my self-photography set up ready to make everything as quick and easy as possible. My previous river best on this venue was 22lb 6oz, so when the Reubens read 23lb 4oz I was absolutely elated and after a few quick snaps she was released to fight another day. After a pretty miserable winter just one mornings fishing had made up for all the missed time on the bank, especially after losing 2 fish early on in the session to land an upper double and a 20lb plus fish was brilliant and I was made up. My winter fishing had finally kicked off in spectacular style.

Unfortunately, as I write this the country is being battered by yet another storm and every river within a hundred miles or more is over its banks and in the fields. With only a month of the river season remaining there is the very real possibility of my carp gear being brought out of hibernation but with several big barbel and some nice pike under my belt on limited fishing time this season it’s not been a bad one.

Gardner Tackle has been manufacturing quality carp fishing and specialist fishing tackle for over 35 years. As one of the original carp tackle companies we have been at the head of carp angling innovation and design. We are still a family run business and the ethos of producing ground-breaking carp fishing tackle that is high quality and reliable has never been diluted. Every member of the company lives and breathes all things carp fishing related. From the moment we wake (and even while we sleep!) carp and their capture are at the forefront of our minds. This translates itself into the continual development and refining of our carp focused product ranges. And with a dedicated carp fishing team, that includes some of the most well respected carp anglers in the country, you can be sure that each product has been tested to the extreme and meets the exacting standards that we strive for.
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