Carp Fishing ~ The Long Road (Part 1) by Dan Chart

It actually frightens the life out of me when I consider the duration of my association with the compact little complex of Colne valley lakes named ‘Longfield’. I was recently reminded that it has actually been over 11 years since I first opened the gates to what I consider to be a fantastic place to while away precious hours chasing the scaley inhabitants. In the intervening time, I’ve somehow managed to get married and become a devoted dad to a couple of wonderful children…

So, how can two lakes totalling no more than 15 acres have deserved so much of my attention over the years! I wonder? The only way I can answer that, is to explain that the overall Longfield package is perfect for what I do. It’s most probably a combination of the fish, the beauty of the lakes and the priceless camaraderie of the anglers who fish there.

The complex consists of the Road Lake and Fox Pool. These famous fisheries were once at the beating heart of Colne Valley carping and a ton of stuff has been written about both lakes over the years, and of course, like many of the great venues across the UK, they have suffered their highs and lows.

Fox Pool is steeped in history and was one of the premier big fish water during the 1990’s. Rob Maylin wrote a book on the place, but after the fish were moved to Horton, following a decision made by CEMEX Angling. After that it was the smaller ‘Road Lake’ that became the obsession for most anglers over the past decade or so.

CEMEX Angling took back the rights to fish on the Road Lake after the Rimini Syndicate had exclusive control of the special water for a number of years. The Rimini syndicate stocked the Road Lake with fish from Broadwater and Wellington Country Park; with a number of those being the Dinkelsbuehl strain of carp.

The head bailiff of the Road Lake was part of that old syndicate – and his passion for the venue is stronger now than ever. I’m pleased to say that the present owner of Longfield fully appreciates the heritage of the place too and shares the desire of those who care so much about it to see the stocks nurtured and the lakes tended and maintained. The future looks set to rival, and possibly exceed, the past, and that’s really saying something.

I moved onto the Road Lake after a difficult and testing couple of years on Horton. I caught a couple, but there was no way I could compete against anglers who could put in a solid week of night shifts and move swims as soon as they spotted the fish as they moved up and down the lake in shoals. It was only when I had a week off and dropped into one of the going swims that I realised it was just about being in the right place at the right time, and I went and caught a few in that session.

The Road Lake on the other hand offered some lovely fishing to the part-time angler. With a 48-hours on and 48 off rule brought in, it was perfect for me whilst I continued to juggle home and work life with getting out on the bank whenever I could.

Back then, when I visited the Road Lake for the first time, I remember looking at what is an intimate pond that was covered with floating Canadian pond weed above almost gin-clear tap water. A myriad insects flew around, with mayflies and midges everywhere. They were dancing in the air and bouncing off the mirror-like, magical, glistening water as the warm sun beat down hard on the surface. It was a Saturday afternoon and in addition to the real insects I also remember the butterflies that started fluttering in my stomach the moment I had time to look around and realised that I was going to be fishing this fantastic lake. I was full of excitement, mixed with a little apprehension (through lacking any knowledge of the lake whatsoever).

After walking around for a while I eventually opted for a swim called The Bar; purely based on the fact there were no other anglers near me in this part of the lake. After finding a couple of likely-looking clear areas with the marker rod, neither more than 20 yards in front of the feature that gave the swim its name, I baited with a handful of fishmeal boilies to each spot. I fished with bottom baits on each and started to think about what I’d do if the alarm was to signal a take. I didn’t really know what was in there and didn’t really want to know how tough or easy the lake was; I just wanted to treat it as something special and a venue that I could take my time fishing on, enjoying to the full.

Amazingly, just before it was time to retire for the night and stretch the bungees on my bedchair, the right-hand rod’s bobbin jiggled, pulled up and rested, trembling against the face of the warbling alarm before the clutch started to pay out line. With no shoes on and mayhem in my wake (as I’d kicked everything over in sheer panic) I lifted the rod that was connected to what felt like a carp. However, before I could possibly moan about the size of the one that got away, the hook flew back at me. My first close encounter with a Road Lake carp was brief, and to the point.

I didn’t think it was a big fish but it did make me wonder if the lake was a lot easier than I’d thought it might be. How wrong could a carper be! As the season unfolded, I realised I’d have to adapt and learn, listen to the regulars, then use the right gear, and the right bait, in exactly the right way. That first night taught me that if something seems too good to be true – it probably is!

Over the years, the Road Lake has seen the best in terms of who’s-who in the angling world; with the likes of Terry Hearn, Nigel Sharp, Fireman Dan, Frogger, Beadle, Ben Hamilton, Sean Leverett and Dave Mag’ to name but a few notable anglers that have fished on the lake – and every one of them has a different story to tell and has nothing but fond memories of their experiences. No one came and ‘turned it over’ from the onset, and with there being seven sought after A-team fish back then, it was always going to take a while to get them all. Simply because most of them didn’t visit the bank more than a couple of times a season.

The hardest thing to get my head around was that everything I’d learned the previous year, in terms of rigs and baits, just seemed to count for nothing once the new season opened. It was almost as if the fish had organised a meeting and said, ‘we got clumped a few times on those fishmeals guys, so ignore that this year. Oh, and no bottom bait rigs, yeah!?’

A couple of years into my campaign whilst dropping onto the Road Lake, fishing maybe one night or sometimes two, I started to get some things right and caught a few, namely the Missing Starburst and the strangely named Not The Brown. Both these carp were above 33lbs, and I caught hem using methods adopted from a couple of other successful anglers. They were clearly on a winning formula with their bait and I could see a trend appearing where everyone using this bait was catching a few. But, the one thing that really worked for me at the time was a rig which consisted of a 6-inch long 30lb Amnesia stiff-type hook link tied straight to a size 6 Gardner Mugga hook – with the hair being an extension of the same material. I won’t lie, this rig looked utterly hideous! The hook almost turned back on itself, and I wondered how on earth the Mugga actually acted as the claw taking hold, but it worked unbelievably well and really nailed a number of the A-team.

I persisted with this rig, but had to ditch it after I lost a few good fish through the Amnesia cut on the pea mussels that abounded in the weedy water. The hook link had parted like cotton and the risk was just too much, so I had to try to figure out what else would work, but it felt like another season’s edge had gone. So, lacking in confidence, I was back again the following year with a new approach, yet again competing for the A-team against those scarily talented top anglers!

As with most venues, there was always one fish everyone really wanted. Of course I wanted all of them, but realistically you end up setting yourself a target of one or two particular fish. Mine was always Clover; a huge-framed, magnificent looking specimen with a big head and an amazing over-slung ‘curtain’ mouth.

It seemed that most anglers were infatuated by the Dink, which was indisputably the king of the pond and nearly always the heaviest of them all. It was predominantly caught from the Number 1 swim, a plot that I always hated because it demanded hook-and-hold tactics due to the proximity of some pretty nasty snags, but it was without doubt the most prolific swim. She was quite a characteristic fish, but not what I would call a looker! The Dink quite often broke the 40-pound mark as did Clover. Whereas the others, namely Orange Spot, Scattered Lin, Big Lin, and Three Scales averaged mid to high 30’s, but they were all so unique in their looks.

As is necessary on all fisheries, securing the long term future of the venue required the introduction of new fish to complement the existing stock. So it was that CEMEX Angling introduced a small number of Sutton strain fish each winter during the mid 2000’s, with these young fish ranging from low to mid doubles. The young fish did really well with them being hand selected from the fishery’s farm at Horton. They were to be a significant part of the future of the complex. Little did we know exactly what they would become one day, but that is for later…

Leading up to the season of 2008, I’d had my fair share of the fish including some of the A-team in the form of Orange Spot more than once at over 36lb, The Pug at 33lb, The Fully Scaled, Little Dink, Fergie, Bare Patch and a number of the newer fish too. However, I was also losing my fair share of what felt like good fish, and quite frankly I was disappointed with myself for failing to learn and being unable to rectify the problem.

With only five of the A-team fish left to catch, I really couldn’t afford to be losing anything and coming into the colder months I decided to knuckle down and really get my fishing head on. You see, it was very easy to get wrapped up in the social scene back then and quite often the fishing was an afterthought because the craic was so good! A number of beers were shared around a never-ending barbecue and solid friendships were formed for years to come. Every angler was happy for the next who’d had a result. There was no bitterness, even though we knew each capture put our own chances back for quite some time.

Over that winter I visited the pond at least twice a week, every time watching the fish show at exactly 15.30 in an area in front of Chestnuts. I baited small silt pockets in a couple of swims with an excellent winter boilie from Essential Baits, Winterised Squid and Black Pepper. The big baiting approach was unheard of back then on the Road, with successful anglers only using seven boilies per rod. Yes, seven, and to be honest, I didn’t put much more than 20-30 baits out in total on each visit. The rig I was using was unique, too. I continued to present my bait hard on the bottom because for some reason, pop-ups just weren’t nailing them. It consisted of an 8-inch skinned hook link with the tail stripped back to allow for movement and for continuation of the hair, to which two, 12mm boilies were fixed.

The hook was still an uber reliable Gardner Mugga, only this time scaled down to a size 8. On the hook, I positioned a hard, yellow Enterprise Maggot (just as you would a mag aligner). Whether it was just coincidence or pure luck, it was the yellow that did the business, because I did try other colours. I seemed to be doing well, sneaking a few fish out of a swim called The Reeds, and while they were only the smaller, newer fish, they were all most welcome.

As we got into March, with time running out on the current season, the rest of the syndicate started to filter back onto the lake. I knew that my chance to bank what was now an infatuation was getting slimmer, so I needed to work an area away from where most of the attention was being applied. I decided that a swim called the Grassy Knoll gave me that opportunity and over the course of three weeks of a similar ‘little and often’ baiting program on a couple of close-in silt spots, it was clear to see it was working because I could feel the area hardening up with each visit. I refrained from fishing it though, deciding to completely finish what I was doing in the Reeds.

As March drew to a close on one cold Saturday afternoon, I found myself sitting extremely confidently ensconced in the Grassy Knoll, with a moderate breeze blowing directly in my face; so much so, that I couldn’t even socialise with my dear late friend, Micky. My confidence was confirmed when the left-hand rod’s line tightened up and after a spirited battle, the now large group of friends that had gathered around my swim put me out of my misery by confirming Clover was in the net! We all partied well into the early hours of the Sunday morning, but that was the Road Lake for you; everyone sharing in someone else’s celebration.

Other fish trickled out; the wonderful 3 Scales made an appearance at high 30 and my cousin Jason banked his first 40 in the form of The Dink from an area not too far away from the Grassy. All in all, it was another brilliant season for so many good anglers. Nigel Sharp returned to take care of some unfinished business at that time as well, and started doing what he does best, working an area in front of a swim called Dogleg to its maximum potential. Probably one of the best sights I’ve seen was Nige on the last week of that season, out of breath and almost dying after legging it around to my swim to help me with a fish called Split Pec. What a good man!

After Nigel caught all of his target fish, things on the Road Lake changed somewhat and it became a far cry from the place I remembered on that sunny Saturday afternoon some five years previously. The weed was almost non-existent, the water clarity was all but gone, but the fish, well, they were just huge. The majority of the stock was either nudging or over 30 pounds, which was crazy when you consider there were almost 40 fish in a small, highly-pressured circuit water.

The fish were being heavily fed by the influx of anglers, and the carp just destroyed the weed the moment it started to grow. Anglers were casting all over each other, due to the lack of weed defining areas in front of each swim. It got too much for me, and despite watching a fish I dearly wanted called 3 Scales pick up my hook bait, only for it to fall off, the prospect of another water very close to the Longfield complex became far more appealing and I decided that the Road Lake would offer a welcome return in a few years time.

Carp Fishing ~ Effort Equals Reward… by Lewis Read

  • carp fishing effort equals reward

Over the last few weeks the fishing at the Park Lake has been sketchy in the extreme. With the prevalent NE wind stream that we endured, which knocked the water temperatures back all of a sudden. Those HUGE GREAT Welly CARP stopped showing and gave few (if any) clues to their whereabouts.

I found myself stepping up mobility, moving swims way too much in an attempt to pin them down (or at least get on any small active pods of fish). This meant I had to move up to half a dozen times each weekend, reacting to any little signs noticed just trying to scratch out a bite.

It’s not all been totally in vain though luckily, otherwise I would be beating myself up like a masochist freak by now! The first run around weekend I moved 6 times in a couple of days, bouncing backwards and forwards before finally settling in the little lake after seeing a couple of ‘is it, isn’t it bubblers’ that could have been a Tinca for all I know.

Luckily, that night I had a pull on the Ronnie Rig that made the old ATT ‘blippa’ bleep and I tugged and cajoled a chunk of a 45lb ghostie away from the far margin. It battled like a mad MOFO until it was unceremoniously bundled into the net…

Immediately, all that effort was more than worth it for that one bite. It’s a fine line sometimes between chasing my own tail and being mobile – and there are inevitably going to be times when I move out a swim prematurely – but on balance I am 100% certain that it buys more bites than it loses (and I do get bored sitting in the same swim for longer than about 3 hours if there isn’t anything happening!).

The following weekend was once again more of the same… This time the lake was rammo’d and despite my best (pitiful) efforts I walked away with a blanket blank cheque book and pen. Whenever I had got on fish they’d evaporate (metaphorically) off after the leads and rigs had sploshed in nearby. One opportunity stood out, when fish started showing out in the middle between ‘The Wides’ and ‘Pole Position’ – but then three of us made a ‘mid-night manoeuvres’ reaction setting up on them. That was probably 2 too many anglers in the area and once again they did the off’s…

The sketchy weather was due to improve a bit last weekend – with a nice southerly wind forecast to arrive in the evening, I arrived at the lake just before 6AM eager to wander around at dawn to try and receive a ‘gift’ from the carp god. An hour later I was sat on the floor in the Reeds surveying a lovely flat lake when a fish flopped out by the island in front of the Grassy so I ran back to my barrow and quickly wrapped up the rods up. One cast with each rod and they each went out perfect and with minimal disturbance. I elected to fish singles as I didn’t want to rain in boilies if there were active fish in front – but that was it… I sat looking at nothing else happening for three hours and as the wind started to tickle the surface, gently rippling the water’s surface in the direction of bramble bay I could take no more and shifted round to the Up and Over; a swim that’s located right on the end of the expected southerly. I’d seen a bit of bubbling in the corner so set up fully expecting some carpy traffic. I sat on my hands for the whole night bored witless looking at the effing bushes, but by 8 the following morning I had frankly had enough and piled the barrow high and headed for the Little Lake. Word on the grapevine was that fish had shown there the night before (more the night before that) and I knew the anglers in there were due to go at some point so that would do. When the fish aren’t playing ball (like the last few weeks) out in the main lake they are invariably in one of the bays – the tricky bit is pinning them down.

I set my gear behind amiable Carl in The Birches, as awesome ‘Akridman’ was hanging it out after doubling up (!!) with Betty in the main swim and I was eventually setting up in there mid-afternoon. This swim offers a great angle on the mature stand of pads in the corner to the left (much nicer angle and safer than setting up right next to them in The Pads swim IMHO). In the meantime, after Betty had departed halving the number of lines in the swim Dave had caught a cracking red cheeked 31lb common, so we knew there were still carp still loitering in the little lake. Coincidence… I think not squire – and well angled by the likable bumpkin (who is a fine angler)…

I nipped round and fed some quartered boilies and a couple of pinches of ‘crunch’ and then cast out 2 rods on spots by the pads. The third rod was flicked round towards the channel that leads in and out of the Little Lake – that you know sees loads of traffic but rarely does a bite. Maybe they are a bit flighty coming in and out… All the rods had been changed over to Mirage, simply because I knew the swim had seen a fair bit of pressure since my mate Greg had caught Little Big Head, Lordie had had the Clean Fish and Jay had caught Chestnut the weekend before on consecutive nights (the only bites on the whole lake that weekend)…

After setting the traps (‘Ronnies’ of course – fished on 25lb Ultra Skin) I was getting the odd single bleep – which is a lovely ‘tell tale’ with the Fluoro and at just past midnight one of the pad’s rods wrapped round and I had a nice 26lb 4 ounce common. As it was the night of the full moon it was bright enough to get the rod back out perfectly; and after flopping it in I chucked in another pinch of the sweet delicious crunch and a few more chops.

At 5’ish the same rod torque’d round and a much more powerful and determined fish held against the pads, thrusting powerfully in an effort to get in the stems. I just held on for dear life (like you do) and eventually it conceded enough ground for me to play it a bit more conventionally. As I gazed down at the fish in the net, illuminated by the moon, I thought ‘Nice! A mid thirty will do…’ and it wasn’t until I went to lift her into the mat that I had one of those wonderfully delicious and all too rare ‘is the net snagged moments’… It was a true beast of a Welly Whacker!

I weighed her at a stonking great 49lb 8oz and thought it may have been a recapture of the unknown – but she was identified as a relatively rare bank side visitor called The Little Two Tone. Young Alan was due to video that morning so I got him in early and we did a nice little video; but full video day plans were scuppered by the erection of a circus style marquee behind us. Good footage captured of the fish on the bank though – and I elected to take an impromptu day’s annual leave in the hope of getting another bite – which I did, only to have a hook pull in the pads. It’s one of those things but I was still gutted as it was another big fish (the main thing was the strong tackle meant I didn’t leave any tackle in it).

The last night was a work night, and despite liners in the early hours no bites were forthcoming. The fish had definitely been set on edge and even the one man hauling machine that is Jabba Jabberson (Greg) who followed me in, as I sulked away at 7AM the next morning, failed to get another bite. Those highly pressured fish reacting to the series of captures from the swim by acting very sketchily in the zone.

The lake has been amazingly kind to me this year, with a number of unbelievable fish captures. I am not being a hero (never will be) and I am not doing anything amazing or different. I’m just fishing with baits they like and rigs that work. I’ve fished a lot this year (and I mean A LOT – so thanks to Mrs Read for being patient) and consequently my casting and baiting is tuned in – if it wasn’t by now I would deserve a thorough beating. This is essentially the only thing I can put my consistency down to; that and chasing the buggers relentlessly! It’s been flippin’ fabulous – and absolutely I’m loving it…

Till next time, may your next bite be from the fish of your dreams…

Carp Fishing ~ Dream Fishing by Ricky Knight

  • carp fishing dream fishing ricky knight

After a crazy 4 months at work, it felt great to finally get the rods out again during my long holiday.

I arrived at the lake late Monday evening, the air pressure was sky high and the sun was blazing down. Pegs 1 & 9 both allow access to the Road Bank, which is fully tree lined and provides the fish snags and cover. It’s got EPIC big fish form, so it’s always worth a go in the rubbish weather. With no wind I thought my best shot was to get the rods in tight and hope a few fish were tucked up feeling safe within the sanctuary covered by peg 9. As the weather was poor, I did not expect much to happen, truth be told.

Due to the bottom being almost uniform and silty, my rig choice does not really differ all that much from swim to swim on this venue. A 1 metre long Camflex Leadfree leader was fished helicopter style combined with a 3oz flat pear. Due to the proximity of the snags, and the fact that the fish have soft mouths and fight like crazy, I always use our ‘Drop Out Chod Clips ‘ to ensure the lead will eject if snagged.

Rig choice was a tried and tested one for me, a rig that I have used exclusively for a long time now. It’s a combi rig that is about 8 inches long in total; comprising a 6 inch section of 15lb Subterfuge Fluorocarbon connected to a couple of inches of 25lb Trickster Heavy braid. The set up was fished blow-back style, incorporating a size 8 Covert Dark Mugga and small section of Supa Shrink Tube. The hookbait of choice was a whittled down Mainline boilie, topped off with half a yellow topper.

My baiting approach was also very simple; two large handful of chopped boilie, 1/4 tin of sweetcorn and a good handful of mixed pellets (that I had boosted in various Mainline liquids).

Although the lake now holds a very good head of fish (about a dozen 30s with over 70 x 20s, which for this area is amazing). Despite the number of fish I’ve never found fishing for more than one bite at a time to be that productive on here!

I fished Monday and Tuesday nights in peg 9 for nothing at all. With a big SW wind due to arrive early Wednesday morning I was already packed up on Tuesday night ready for an early morning move into Peg 1 first thing. As it’s the closest swim to the car park, it does get fished a lot but if it’s good for a bite (the impending weather was perfect) then you have got to move.

By 9am the rods were out and on the money. The left rod was fished tight to the pads; the centre was out in open water and the right was tucked in tight under a canopy on the road bank. As expected right on queue the big SW wind came and the air pressure started to drop rapidly. As Dan (the owner) walked into the swim, my left hand pads rod was away. With him and the kids watching, I slipped the net under a mint 27lb common.

The weather continued, and just on dark I had a bite on the left rod but for some rare reason it came off. The night passed uneventfully and the next day the weather went back to high pressure and clear sky’s… I knew the chance of a bite was very slim indeed. The fish were in the area but any significant feeding was probably out the question. I watched and contemplated a move, but I knew Friday evening/Saturday was going to be the same weather as the Wednesday. I knew that if I did move out then there would be no chance of getting back in peg 1, and consequently I decided to go home on the Friday morning for a shower and wash all my clothes, then come back and get the rods out.

The lake was busy, as the weekenders had started turning up, and I think that all the leads going in pushed the fish into me while I was away. I was back by 1pm and got the rods out quickly and with minimal disturbance and just before dark, the right hand rod was away and a mint mid 20 heavily plated mirror was in the net.

The night once again passed with no action and on Saturday morning, on first light, the rods went back out for the day. I don’t normally do that, but I needed to be sure everything was perfect ready for the rain and pressure drop that was due to arrive.

The weather again landed right on time and so did the fish. At about 7am I landed a lovely mid 20 common from the pads. Then around 11am a lovely long mid 20 mirror from the road bank. Then the best of the day came at around 3pm in the afternoon; a stunning upper 20 mirror came gurgling over the net cord. The last bite of the day was around 6PM and resulted in a really mint low 20lb mirror that had not been out for almost three years.

I thought about going home on the Sunday but with that 40lb’er due out and the fact I had nothing else to do, I decided to stay on.

The weather turned rubbish again on Sunday and resulted in a blank night. I wanted to give the swim a rest so I decided to go under the stars on the opposite side of the lake for the night. As I had not had any night action, I felt the fish could be moving out during the hours of darkness, so going to another area was worth a shout. It couldn’t do any harm and with the weather again coming in big time early on Monday morning, it might encourage more fish to enter the swim without lines in the water.

Just before first light I moved back into peg 1 after yet another blank night. A short while later the light the wind turned back to a big SW and the rain started to come down. With the weather being perfect, I sat with a brew in hand and tucked into a few cheeky Ginger Nut biscuits. With no phone to keep me entertained (I’d dropped it again) I picked up a Carpology magazine and had had a good flick though while drinking yet another brew. Half way through a feature the ATT receiver went crazy! I looked through the watery haze as I jumped to my feet to see the right hand rod hooped right round, clearly connected to a fish.

I quickly lifted into a solid fish that decided to try and go up the snaggy road-bank. From the moment I hooked the fish, I knew it was a good fish, just a solid weight holding deep. I could see it looked a long fish too, but it never did it crossed my mind that I could be connected to the biggest resident in the lake. After a strong fight, he came up and I netted what looked a very good fish.

In typical Rick style, I bit the leader clean off and got another rig back on the spot in hope of another bite. It was almost like I did not want to look in the net to see what it was! I’ve dreamt about catching a Somerset 40 for 10 years, and the fact that we probably have than 5 in the whole county makes it even more rewarding.

After another brew, the moment finally came as I lifted him out. Soon as I lifted the net I knew exactly what fish it was – it was the Long Common – and the question was ‘would it go over 40lb for the very first time creating a new lake record? I called my good mate Charlie over and we quickly weighed it in and it was over 40lb!

I couldn’t stop shaking and for the first time EVER I was speechless. The phone calls went out and within an hour the lakes bailiffs and Dan was in the swim ready for the grand moment. It was a special moment that I will never forget and must say a very big thanks to Dan for making it to the lake considering how unwell he was on the day.

At 40lb 12oz, my dreams came true and I’d finally got my prize. My 21st syndicate carp of the season and it was the 40lber. Later that day, I had another bite from the same rod, this time a cracking low 30lb common. It was a dream came true that day and I even won a free ticket for next year for catching our first 40!

Tuesday morning I decided to call it a day, I cut the syndicate lawn and headed home once again. Set to return in a few days to try and catch an elusive common that could be equally as big… Terry’s common, I’m coming for you next 😉

Carp Fishing ~ A week at Abbey Lakes by Ash Bailey

  • carp fishing ash bailey abbey

With the tunnel booked for 3 in the morning it was an all-nighter for me and the 13 other lads that were heading over to France with. Either way, I don’t think a single one of us would have got a wink of sleep anyway as we were all so buzzed for the week ahead of us!

We arrived at Abbey Lakes at around 8’ish and decided to do a lap of the awesome Heron Lake. After the circuit around the lake I had 7 pegs in mind that I felt I would happily fish. We then did a draw for swims, in which I picked out number 5 from the hat so I felt like I could be in with a chance of getting a decent swim.

As it got to my pick there was only one swim left I really fancied, right in the thick of weed in the centre of the lake and so that was my choice made. With that we all headed off and everyone got on with their own thing for a while setting up.

The week started hard for me as I always like to have a good lead about on my first day – hopefully finding several good spots I would fish, which would then give me different opportunities with different depths and types of bottom. But that was the problem! After hours of leading around I had only found one spot which was nowhere near the thick weed beds that I had wanted to be close to.

After getting some bait out to this spot I decided I still really needed to find another spot. There was a slight clearing in the centre of the thickest weed bed out in front of me so I thought why not just have a lead around out there. After all I had a boat to help land the fish. The lead went down with a firm hard donk, on a lovely gravelly hard spot right in the middle of all of that weed! It felt like I had landed on gold.

As there weren’t any other swims free on the lake that I fancied, I decided to give it a good seeing to with the bait and sit on it. Two nights passed with no bites and I was really starting to worry that all the leading about and all the bait I had put out had messed my chances up.

Luckily, everything kicked off on the 3rd day when I landed a lovely personal best common of 39lb 14oz – an awesome carp with some lovely white tips to its fins. A huge sloped nose 45lb mirror followed shortly after, and before I knew it both spots where rocking!

With the fish getting right on the bait I was putting on the spots, I started putting a bucket of particle on each spot with around 5 kilos of Pacific Tuna and Live System boilies every night. I was bait-boating the particle out over the spots, but catapulting the boilies all around the hole in the weed. Normally I would Spomb the bait in, but the fish appeared to shy away from it on this lake and the catapulting was a tactical decision to make sure I had a good spread of bait over and around the spot. I also got the feeling, the noise of the boilies hitting the water was drawing them in, as I was receiving quick bites after baiting up.

I’m always a great worrier when spombing, I am very precise with my baiting and I always put the extra bites I get down to getting the bait right on top of the rig. I like to clip my spomb up on my distance sticks a little shorter than I do my rig to allow for the drop of feeling my lead down. The deeper the water the more I allow for the drop and pull my spomb back.

To get this bang on I was setting up a marker float and wrapping it up like I would my rig and feeling it down and then popping the float up from there. This method ensures that the bait ends up right on top of my rig when it comes to taking the bait boat out. With this all being bang on and the fish feeding on the spots I couldn’t keep up with them.

Over the next 4 nights I went on to land 21 carp and lost 7. I caught one of the prettiest scaley carp I’ve ever caught. I can honestly say that I had a holiday of a life time, with some crazy boat battles sharing the experience with some amazing mates. It couldn’t of gone much better for me.

Amongst the final tally I had couple on the lovely Ronnie rig fishing a Live System cork balled hookbait. The other 19 fish were all landed on a rig that has really accounted for a lot of my big fish this year. It’s a simple corn rig made up with a Covert Dark Incizor and the amazing Trick Link hooklink material! I really swear by this stuff whenever fishing to a firm silty bottom, as it kicks the rig out so perfectly and blends into the bottom, to the point you can’t even see it. If you’re fishing particles this rig is really worth giving a go. It’s a presentation I have enormous confidence in as I find when putting it out, fished against the benchmark ‘hinged stiff rig’, the corn rod rattles off a lot more often and inevitably bags me a couple of extra fish each trip.

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.