Carp Fishing ~ A Gift From a (Carp) God ~ by Lewis Read

I consider myself to be very lucky being a member at Welly, as it is a VERY friendly syndicate, in which there is virtually no jealousy or sniping; it’s part of what makes angling at Welly so enjoyable. The syndicate is populated by a great bunch of rapscallions; a real mixture of larger than life personalities and carpy characters.

Amongst them is an absolute living legend. An angler of such diverse angling skill, casting prowess and guile that he literally amazed many syndicate members on his debut last summer, when he caught an extraordinary number of fish from the 2 swims nearest the car park. He certainly isn’t 1 dimensional – after all he fishes exactly twice as many swims as David Akr1Dman!

Anyway, the chipper chappy in question is none other than ‘Cheeky Chubby Chops Charlie Hayes’ and he is getting a super special mention today as he was kind enough to share the fact that he saw a fish top over in Bramble Bay on the end of a nice fresh Southerly on Sunday afternoon; and whilst the lake was horrendously busy the bay was pretty devoid of anglers. With 10 anglers scattered around the rest of the lake I decided to take this great ‘intelligence’ on board and have a good look in the bay.

The lake has been blowing hot and cold in terms of consistent results, and the fish seem to be clustering up every few days, whereupon one angler would get lucky and nab a couple of bites before either the conditions went tits up again or the group/concentration dispersed and everything went quiet again.

Geographically, the lake at Welly is slightly elevated, and combined with a relatively shallow average depth the combination means that it is really affected by the wind – but not always as you might expect. Rarely have I ever fished a venue where they actively move off anything but the warmest blow. Sunday was very much on the edge in terms of the temperature/relative humidity. It certainly wasn’t warm stood there in ‘The Up and Over’, but in the shelter of my silly little brolly, out of the breeze, it felt good enough and I hoped any fish present would stay overnight.

In fact, as I sat sheltering and working out where to put the rods a sizeable chunk hurled itself out of the water right around where 4C hero lad had said he’d seen one. It’s amazing how a sighting energizes an otherwise slow and methodical setup – and in about 30 seconds I had un-sleeved the old Centuries and set about checking hook points and putting fresh rigs and baits on.

One rod was immediately flicked out to the zone that the fish showed in; the ever faithful little pink pop up (a la Gaskins) on a Ronnie tied onto 15lb Subterfuge Soft boom section. It felt like it landed in about 4ft of water and it was a ‘that’ll do’ moment (these fish hate leads going in near them).

The next rod went up to the deep corner to my right – an awkward cast, especially with a small stringer slowing the rig down in flight, so I punched it low and feathered it hard to straighten the line and stop it being blown into the trees. It went in sweet too and that was number 2 done.

I tried something a little different rig wise on this rod, thinking (knowing) that the rig would work but with a tiny bit of a niggle that the hooking arrangement could cause a hook pull. I purposely buried that negative thought down deep down as without a little experimentation now and again our rigs wouldn’t ‘evolve’ and the fish would end up with a big advantage – dealing with the same old presentations on a regular day to day basis.

The third rod went out a couple of rod lengths to the left of the jump spot with a ‘Turbo Tweaked’ German Rig baited with a trimmed down Carp Company Caviar and Cranberry 14mm wafter (with a slither of pink pop up on to improve rig balance and add a hint of colour) and this was primed with a stringer/bag with one whole and one dusted boilie.

I slid a little 1/2ounce Drop-Out Back leads onto each line and dropped them to the bottom of the marginal shelf and let the line settle slack before clipping on the Lazy Bugs on short chains. The wind was really blustery – pumping in at me now – and setting the indicators up like this would hopefully save me suffering relentless wind bleeps from the test TLB+ alarms I was using.

The rods had only been in position a couple of hours at the most when I had a couple of bleeps on the right hand rod and I scrambled down the steps to see the locked up rod arched round. Lovely! It seemed like an age since I had snared one and I was really eager to cash in on my recent efforts at the venue.

As I picked up the rod I was greeted by one of those slow and heavy ‘sand bagging’ ponderous fish that screams MONSTER and I was gently leading her back out of the corner when I felt a bump and the rod sprang straight and I reeled in the fishless rig. I was flipping furious for taking a chance on a ‘different’ presentation, especially in such a precarious position – but without trying stuff there is no basis for progression. The mechanics worked (I got the bite!) but I think that I just need to adjust one little facet of the finished rig to keep it in. Work in progress…

Anyway, disconsolately I snipped the offending rig off and tied on a MkII German and lobbed it down to the corner into the blackness (a bloody dark night) and went and rang TLSW (Tracy) to moan about my ineptitude. I was just on my 5th whinge when the left had rod bleeped twice and was away! I hastily said ‘I’m in’ whilst dropping the phone and off I ran down the steps just as the line started peeling off a relatively tight clutch. As the rod arched over a big fish surged away and yard after yard of line was dragged off the spool. By ‘eck! This one was certainly hanging on some.

After a powerful and dogged battle I finally teased a nice looking lump into the waiting net and rang the Gaskinator back to see if he could pop round and do a couple of pictures for me and some general gillie assistance (it’s obviously always safer for these fish with an extra set of hands to help).

When the Goose Point Impregnator got round we hoisted her out, popped the Covert Dark Mugga out, that was in dead centre of her bottom lip (an awesome hook hold) and carefully weighed her at 44lb on the nose. Sweet revenge!

She was in absolutely mint condition and the cluster of scales down by the tail on its left flank indicated this fish was a new one for me (always a Brucie bonus!) and I got the rod back out sharpish with another 30 boilies scattered around the area.

Despite hearing a couple more fish show nearby shortly after recasting the rest of the night went by without further interruption to my much needed beauty sleep and soon the alarm was making its heinous noise and it was time to get up come to work…

I think I had timed it just right and with fish being seen out in the main lake for the first time in a few days and I suspect the main group has now left Bramble and gone off to quieter pastures to sift some invertebrates from the silt.

Good god! I can’t wait to get back…

Carp Fishing ~ A Proper Brace! ~ by David Gaskin

I was as keen as ever to get back the lake after a short absence, especially after my previous successful session, as I wanted to keep the momentum going! This enthusiasm meant that I arrived at the lake in good time for the gate to open at 6AM.

The lake had seen an awful lot of pressure over the weekend but thankfully most of the anglers that were on were all due off, so I had plenty of time to decide on a swim. Pushing the barrow round the lake it wasn’t long before the sight of one of the big ghosties leaping out tight to the island greeted me – in fact she came out no less than five times in about ten seconds! Without hesitation I put my barrow in the Bush swim, as it was being vacated at midday.

I’m not sure if it was a coincidence, but I was more than happy to be fishing in the same swim on the same spots as I was a few weeks previous, when I had enjoyed a session of a lifetime, understandably my confidence was sky high. I got the rods out to the island as well as they could be and sticked out around a kilo of CC Moore Odyssey XXX over the two spots. Feeling ever so confident I felt a bit dejected with the night time conditions because the temperatures dropped down to 2 or 3 degrees and even threatened a slight frost. Yuk!

With the daytime temperatures set to soar I remained confident and decided on a re-chuck after lunch. I armed the two long island rods with NS pop ups with Ultra Skin Stiff ‘Munnie Rigs’ and blasted them out on a helicopter setup. It was evident one or two fish were enjoying the islands shallow margin and as the temperatures peaked I received a bite. The fish stripped line immediately and just as I managed to turn it at all of about 160 yards my other island rod registered an absolute ripper! Now a double take on Welly is as rare as rocking horse….. and I found myself in a very tricky situation.

Fortunately, the legendary and handsome Dr Dave was on hand to take control of the second fish whilst I took care of the first. Eventually I steered the first one into the net and grabbed the second rod whilst the Doc grabbed another net from his plot next door.

This fish felt a lot heavier; almost too heavy. The remainder of the battle felt weird and the cause for this was revealed when the tips of a large branch that the fish must have picked up broke the water’s surface. It was a heart in mouth moment because as the branch rose up out of the water I thought it was all over. A moment later and the flank of a colossal carp appeared wallowing underneath the woodwork, still held firm with the size 6 Mugga! In an almost comedic way me and the doc bundled the beast, branch and tangled line into the net and gave each other a wry smile knowing it was a good’un! Thank goodness I had the ever reliable GT80+ on!!

We got everything ready to do the honours and with a mirror of 43lb 4oz and the ‘Little Two Tone’ 50lb 8oz it was a mighty brace of 93lb. With the light fading I needed to get the rods back out there and in hindsight I was shot to bits and I don’t think I got them back out as far as they needed to go. I got some more 18mm XXX out there with the Pro-Pela stick and I went to bed a happy bunny.

The following day passed by with fish activity showing elsewhere, I found myself in another predicament, should I stay or should I move?

In the end I decided to move onto the showing fish. I’m not going to lie, this decision was slightly influenced by the thought of being close to the car park for the early morning pack up the following morning when I would be off early to go work!

I swapped the leads over to lighter, more discreet 2oz distance pears and flicked out some Northern Specials on Munnie rigs once again. I was certainly on fish and within minutes the move had been justified as I was attached to another angry carp. In typical fashion it went through one of my other lines, but the carp gods shined on me again and I had an absolute belter in the net.

Wayne the happy bailiff timed his rounds on the lake to perfection, and was able to help me weigh this one in and take some snaps. At 48lb the wondrous ‘Shoulders’ topped off an already perfect fishing session. 3 carp for over 141lb, Welly never ceases to amaze me!

Carp Fishing ~ Kicking Up A Storm ~ David Gaskin

I had been persevering down the lake for a few weeks previously doing work nights, and to be honest I was getting a bit fed up of how poor the weather had been and as a result the lack of fish activity. I’m more governed by my work schedule these days, so I hadn’t really paid much attention to the weather forecast coming in. So much so, that I didn’t even know there was a storm due. It’s not the first time I’ve gone fishing under-prepared for a tussle with Mother Nature!

I got to the lake in good time after work and was greeted by the sweet smell of a slimy sling and the legendary Doc grinning ear to ear. The crafty old boy had snared one (only the second fish the lake had done this year). I quickly got the low down off him and it appeared that the brewing storm was causing a subsurface response in the shallow lake.

I was beginning to get a sense of déjà-vu because these conditions had the same characteristics of a wonderful session I had nearly a year ago. Surely it couldn’t happen again! With this in the back of my mind and going on the info of where a couple of fish had been seen, I went round to the bush swim. A usually productive swim that had been pretty poor in terms of captures this season, so poor in fact that I can’t even remember the last time a fish had been caught from there!

With the wind increasing, I had to get the rods out sharpish because I wanted to try and hit some long spots in the swim and the crosswind was far from kind. I chose a short helicopter setup with a 12mm pink pop up attached to a size 6 Covert Dark Mugga mounted on a Munnie rig (a variation of the Ronnie rig). Once the rods were out, I sticked out approximately a kilo of 18mm Live System boilies in the zone. It was the first time in weeks that I believed I had a genuine chance of a bite as the conditions were just getting better and better. At 11pm I had a bleep on the rod and was convinced the bobbin had moved. At that very moment a one toner got me scrambling out of the bivvy into the gizzards of Doris and I was battling my first carp of the year. Thankfully the scrap was straight forward and a 30lb+ carp was in the net. With a lack of anglers and a grizzly Lewis on the other side of the lake, I was instructed to only wake him up if it was one of the A team because of a “hard day at the office”. I decided to let the princess sleep and did a few self takes.

I woke up at first light looking across the windswept lake thinking these conditions couldn’t be any better. With the chance of a daytime bite I patiently waited until the wind had died down enough to get the rods and a bit more bait back out on the spot. Another kilo of Live System was dispatched with the Pro-Pela stick and the pop-ups were back on the spots. I kept my eyes peeled through a letterbox view keen to see if any more fish decided to let me know if they were present. I was fortunate to see a small ghostie show no more than 20 yards from the spot, so my decision to stay put was looking like the right move. At around 4pm the middle rod on the island was away. This time I had a more powerful creature attached but the Mugga held firm as usual and I coaxed one of the most splendid looking commons I have ever seen over the cord. By now the long cold nights of the previous weeks were a distant memory and all was worthwhile, the glorious common weighed in at 42lb 08oz.

With the light levels fading I was just hoping for one more favour off the carp gods to give me an opportunity to get the rod back out to the spot. I stood in the water, rod at the ready with 4oz of lead cocked until the wind dropped enough to pull the trigger. Thankfully after a few minutes of waiting an opportunity arose and the pop-up was back on the spot with one cast and the lull in the wind even gave me a chance to get a few more handfuls of Live System out there.

After dark the island rod was away and it felt like an eternity to get in. A little pink pop up on the Munnie rig was never in doubt to land this beast and eventually the huge frame of a mirror carp broke the surface in front of me. I immediately swooped with the net and the leviathan was sitting safely in the folds on the mesh. In the wind and spray it was hard to identify which fish it was, so I got everything prepped and tried to weigh it. It was at this point things got real and my poor little arms were wobbling all over the place with the needle frantically swaying around the 60lb mark. She was going to be a two man job, so I safely secured the fish and made a phone call to Lewis who was already on his way down to politely “hurry up” to help weigh and do the photos of this creature. A few of the other lads on the lake came round and helped to do the honours, which was handy because I was shaking and feeling sick with nerves at the sheer size of this carp. The final weigh-in revealed 59lb 8oz of February carp! An afternoon brace of over 100lb of phenomenal fish from an equally phenomenal venue.

Carp Fishing ~ Taking Chances As They Come… ~ Lewis Read

It has been a little while since I have had the opportunity (or reason) to write for the website. Like many in the trade this is mainly because of the dual evils of the weather and show season that have inevitably impaired my time on the bank. But finally, after an extremely enjoyable trip to Poland last weekend I was going to get a couple of nights in good conditions, and I’ll be honest and say that I was ABSOLUTELY GAGGING to get out!

Habitual weather watching somehow becomes a way of life for us all year carpers, and this latest weather window couldn’t have come at a better time. Early/mid February always sees the longer daylight hours kicking in which has a dramatic affect on everything in and around the lakes we frequent. It’s my favourite time of the year, having been fortunate to land a few memorable carp in February over the years, and it is the tipping point when you finally feel like the spring could finally be ’just around the corner’.

The mild weather had been with us a few days before water temperatures started creeping up, so an overnight ‘quick work night’ trip was lined up with ‘she who must be obeyed’ and I got down the lake at about 7:30PM to find a carp had been caught by the wonderful Dr Dave (I’m glad he wasn’t my GP). As I stood congratulating him, a couple of fish sloshed out in the darkness over the other side of the bay in short succession!

Sweet ‘Jesus! One of them sounded substantial enough to cause a proper stir, and I quickly hugged the goodly Dr and ran back to the fisherman’s shed to get signed in and collect the carp care kit. I was bordering on hyperventilating I was so excited. I stomped round there in the dark, pushing the barrow as quickly as my chubby little legs would take me!

The fish had shown about 50 yards apart and not far off the far bank, so I dropped into a rarely fished little swim that would give me access to both areas and set the gear up behind the bushes, sheltering form the ‘lively’ breeze that was pumping across at me.

Each rod was simple to sort out, a Ronnie tied with the usual 25lb Ultra Skin and size 4 Cover Dark Mugga combination. Hook bait was a pink 12mm Carp Company Caviar and Cranberry pop up on fished on Covert lead clips coupled with 1 ½ ounce Bolt Bombs. Each rig was balanced to gently settle over and was primed with a two bait stringer in a way to protect the hook point of the rig should land on anything scruffy like old leaves (being on the end of the wind it is likely there would still be a few leaves about).

The Welly fish really hate leads going in, so I only wanted to do one cast per rod keeping it just stringers and hookbaits to avoid the noise of freebie boilies going in too. I was happy with the drops on the rods as I flicked them out and fanned widely across the front of the swim at about 25 yards range perpendicular to the bank.

The wind was getting up all evening, and as I lay under the stars being buffeted I was constantly getting single and double bleeps, some of which coincided with gusts and some that didn’t so I was sure there were fish in the area still. I drifted into a very strange semi-dream state whilst trying to get my head down.

At 2:30am the bleeps were punctuated by a toner on one rod and I jumped up and picked up the offending rod desperately trying to shake the shroud of sleep from my consciousness. As I did the usual silly stumbling ‘dance of the chest wader’ the fish plodded about in front occasionally taking line until I was out in the water with the net in position shaking like a leaf. These moments are deliriously exciting, and the calibre of fish that swim in the park is so immense that every bite has the potential of being the fish of a lifetime. It reminds me of the Car Park days…

I soon had the fish in close and duly netted it and pulled her back into shallower water and nipped up the bank to get my head torch. It was chunk and at first l thought it was a recapture of the Chinese Common. The Mugga was solidly implanted in her lip about an inch back and hadn’t moved a millimetre (like normal) and she was literally mint. Not a mark or blemish on her, which is always lovely to see.

Once I got my mate Disco Dave Gaskin (aka The Goose Point Impregnator) round to help, we identified her as the Long Ghostie. I think the bulked up shape confused us both for a little while as she looked far chunkier on the bank than normal; and when I hoisted her up on the scales to find the needle settle on 53lb I was left in a state of shock! Once again I rightfully got ribbed by Dave as I really should know this one as this was my third capture of the mega looking beast (the best Ghostie in the lake in my eyes).

With the photos done, and the hook mark treated with a quick squirt of Intensive Care, we released her just down the bank and watched in awe as she lazily trundled off glowing in the torch light.

With an early pack up to get in to the office it was a match sticks job the following day, and then it was back to the park for another work night in amazing conditions. This time, as I was setting off from home my phone went and it was Dave hysterically jabbering that I ‘HAD TO GET THERE’ as he had a monster in the net. I tell you what, he wasn’t kidding either but that’s his story to tell, suffice to say the photo’s had to be right or I would never have been forgiven.

The ‘stars had aligned’ and the fish had fed. God I love February…

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