Carp Fishing ~ Water Park Hauling ~ Ash Bailey

Every year I get to enjoy a nice relaxed week of angling in France, but this year would be different as my girlfriend was pregnant and the baby’s due date fell on the date of the planned trip to France. I had no choice but to give my spot up. Unsurprisingly I was both kind of gutted and glad at the same time. With that trip out the window I elected to book a week off work and planned a trip down my local syndicate lake to coincide with the full moon phase on the Wednesday and Thursday night.

I got down the lake early that Saturday morning and with a couple of nights ahead of me and the lake nearly empty, I did a few slow laps round the lake trying to locate a few fish. On the second lap after seeing nothing I was stood in a swim that fishes into a bay as well as the main body of water in the lake and 3 fish decided to stick their heads out over a weedy patch in the water. This had made my choice of swim pretty easy for the night. I ran back to the van and bombed around to the swim!

I found a clear silty area as close as I could to the weed bed where the fish had been showing. A little hinge stiff rig tied with a size 6 Covert Chod hook on 25lb TripWire, and a 25lb Trick-link boom section that was baited with a Live System cork ball hook baits was cast to the spot. I catapulted four pouch loads of 15mm CC Moore Live System boilies over the op that that I had been soaking in Chorizo Extract for 3 days prior the trip.

With that rod out I decided to set up camp and watch the water for any further shows for my other 2 rods. About half an hour into setting up the bobbin on the single rod slowly lifted up bleep my bleep and I was in already! With which felt like a tench bite at first, before I knew it the fish was swimming towards me at some speed. A massive common flanked up under my rod tips and then went made some big powerful runs straight back to the middle of the lake! I was straight in the waders and out in the water at full depth scooping A huge common in the net.

I’m always one to unhook the fish and get the rod back out on the spot as soon as possible as they have short feeding spells in this lake.

Then it was time to weigh and photo this massive common, with a further look into the net we noticed it was the football common which I new was going to be a PB common. We hoisted her out and she weighed in at a massive 42lb 6oz a new PB common and first UK forty pound common. With a few lovely shots taken by my mate Alex she was back in the water and I was over the moon with not even a night done and a whole further week’s worth of fishing.

Later that evening I found a further two spots. I got all three rods out on different spots with a nice bit of bait over them on the first night of the trip, I like to get a good bed out on a long trip and feel I can just top it up each day if I’m catching. I decided to bait with hemp corn and Live System boilies soaked in Hot Chorizo extract.

With everything done for the night we sat back and had a nice evening social watching the light fade away and fish topping. Before I knew it I was awake the next morning with no more fish to show for my efforts. I always worry a little when I wake up and I’ve had no bites all night. So, straight away I was up looking for signs of fish in case I needed to make a move around the lake. However, before I had a chance the right hand tip swung round this time with the bobbin smashing the rod and peeling the line from the spool. After a steady fight I had a lovely 24lb mirror in the net, before I unhooked the fish straight away and got the rod back out to the spot. By the end of the day I had 2 rods on the spot and had landed six fish with another lovely 34lb common and a lovely scaly mirror which was on the target list, called Crinkle Tail and it was a right gem of a fish.

After all the photos and laughs it was soon the evening and baiting up time again. With 2 rods going out on the spot that had received the bulk of the action out in the main body of the lake, I decided to give the spot a good half a bucket of bait again and keep my left rod round in the bay which did the 42lb common on the first day. I topped this spot up with just 4 Spombs as I had no more bites from this rod yet.

I awoke to another bite less night, but a felt confident it was going to kick off again in the next couple of hours. I sat watching the lake tying some rigs ready in case the carnage was about to kick off again. I got as far as tying the chod section of a hinged stiff rig and the right hand bobbin slowly lifted and I struck into what felt like another big fish. The smaller male fish tended go on massive runs from the off, however the bigger fish plodded around slowly after the initial take. Straight away the fish hit the surface and moved some much water with its powerful lunges. As the fish got closer Ross could see it was a fair size and that it had a v in the dorsal fin, which could be a good sign! By this point I had already slipped the waders and was up to my chest in the water, before I sunk the net under another massive common! Ross knew straight away I had the ‘Immaculate Common’ in the net, which was right up there on the target list. With the rod back out on the spot, I was keen to get the photos of the ‘Immaculate’ done as soon as possible before the sun was up. Ross had no waders, so I kindly lent him mine and decided to go in the lake in shorts and a coat as I wasn’t missing out on water shots! I’m glad I did as they came out spot on, so thanks Ross!

As I was soaked right through, I quickly headed back to the van to get dried and change into a fresh set of clothes. I was half way through getting changed and my receiver sounded. I was soon running back to swim (half dry and half soaking wet) where I was clearly into a double take as both middle and the right rods were away! I picked the right hand rod up first, hoping the fish that was attached to the left hand rod would find the sanctuary of the nearest weed bed. However, things didn’t go to plan and the fish decided to cross lines which left me with a mirror on the surface that I couldn’t get in any closer due to the second fish being stuck in some weed. As I was already soaked, I grabbed the nearest life buoy and unhooking mat and swam out and netted the weeded fish. It was really turning into some trip!

The disturbance signalled the end of bite time and I had landed four fish during a hectic morning and a total of 11 fish over 3 days. It was time to head back home to the wife, puppy and baby knowing that I would be back down for a further 2 nights on the full moon on Thursday.

Upon arriving Thursday morning the lake was a lot busier, however the swim I had been in just a few days before was remarkably free. I decided to drop straight back in as there was going to be a full moon that evening combined with a mega pressure drop and I knew that these conditions would suit this area of deeper water.

I knew I had made the right decision when not long after getting the rods out one of them was away, which resulted in a nice twenty, which fell to a single Citrus Z pop up chucked over the baited spots on arrival.

Apart from losing one, the next twenty four hours everything went a bit quiet, so I decided to take a stroll around the lake where I came across half the stock swimming around the shallows. With my luck the way it had been in recent weeks, I quickly grabbed the floater gear and promptly bagged my first thirty off the top!

Time was getting on, so I was soon heading back to the main plot get the rods out for the night! The rods went back out to the same spots I have fished just a few days earlier. I decided not to Spomb as I had been baiting them all week, so I decided to catapult all my left over boilies out around the zones for the last night!

I was woken at 12:30am with the first bite of the night and off the left hand rod, which hadn’t done a fish since the 42lb common on the first morning. I had a sneaky feeling it could be a lump off of this spot and from the way it was flat rodding me. I really wanted this one in the net to finish the trip off and I was relieved when I slipped the net under a lovely 38lb mirror.

I was convinced this was it for the trip and with photos done at first light in the morning, I was just about to take the bivvy down, with just the rods to reel in and the unhooking Matt to dry off when the rod tip on the middle rod bounced and I was into my 15th fish of the trip. This was by far the craziest battle of the trip and the fish stayed really deep in the water and was such a heavy lump to move. It really didn’t help that it was taking me from weed bed to weed bed and after a half hour battle, I soon had an enormous hard fighting mirror in the net. After having a quick glance into the net, I noticed that the fish was very long and it was one of the three mirrors that swam around in this immense lake. It was a fish that hadn’t been out in ages, well over a year called The Nutsey Mirror at 40lb 4oz! It was my third forty of the trip in just 5 nights fishing. I even managed to get my mate Josh a guest and smash his pb twice from 32lb right up to this first ever 40lb carp! It was a trip of a life time and the perfect timing for my week off.

Carp Fishing ~ Napoleonic Adventure ~ Mike Lyddon

I recently had a trip to France with some of the guys from work and some mutual friends, for a friends 50th birthday. The venue in question was Napoleon Lakes, just south of Reims. At 9 acres in size, it’s an intimate venue and ideal for the group of six anglers. As the swims were large enough for two anglers, we paired up and picked our plots from a hat. Carl and Ray (the birthday boy) decided to fish the house bank (where the food was), Adam and Sam chose the far end of the lake where lots of fish could be seen in the snags, and Ian and myself picked the middle, where we hoped to pick off any fish moving from one end of the lake to the other.

I walked the lake and found some nice clean areas tight to the far bank. The average depth was around five to six feet, so much shallower than the average of 15 feet which could be found in the areas of open water. Once back in my swim, I set up my rods and readied the bait boat (boo hiss I hear you cry). My rigs were the standard presentations that I use for all my carping if I can get away with it. 16lb Mirage Fluorocarbon main line, a 5oz drop off inline lead, to a short 5 inch hooklink tied with 25lb Silt Ultra Skin. This was finished off with either a size 4 Ronnie Rig and a Sticky Baits Signature pop up, or a size 4 Mugga with a long hair direct off the bend of the hook and a 16mm Manilla bottom bait straight out of the bag.

The rig was loaded into the boat and a handful of chopped and whole 16mm Krill and Manilla boilies, a bit of corn and some 4mm pellet were sprinkled into the hopper, before running the boat over until it was tight under the overhanging bushes opposite. I repeated the process with the other two rods. I know a lot of people will hoof a load of bait in in France, but with the weather being so hot (pushing 30 degrees every day) I thought the carp would just be picking at bits rather than getting their heads down properly and I baited for individual bites, rather than a big hit of fish.

I was hopeful of a quick bite as I had seen fish in the area, but unfortunately I had to wait around 36 hours before I had any action. At around midnight on the second night, I had a slow twitchy drop back, which was promptly struck. As soon as I hooked it, my first thought was it was only a small fish and it felt like a low double all the way in, until it suddenly woke up under the rod tip and decided to pull back a bit and turn into a heavy plodding lump. After a further 10 minutes of lumbering about under the rod tip, I finally slipped the net under a lovely chunky new PB common, which tipped the scales at 45lb. After the obligatory pics, she was soon back in her home. It was then about another 36 hour wait before I had my second fish, this time a lovely plump 32lb 12oz mirror that actually felt like a 30lber during the fight. This was soon followed by another mirror of 27lb.

I had been fishing two rods on Ronnie Rigs, but as all three fish had come to bottom baits, so I switched over to bottom baits on all three rods. However, my bobbins then proceeded to stay still for another two nights, whilst the others picked up a couple of fish on pop ups (including a lovely 49lb and 50lb brace of commons for Ray), so I decided to put a couple of the rods back onto the Ronnies. Within a few hours, I had had a two more fish, a long lean grass carp of 24lb, which as per normal did its best to beat me up on the mat and a mirror of 36lb 8oz. Would I have caught more if I hadn’t swapped them all onto bottom baits? Who knows, but at least I was catching again.

Over the next day or so, I picked up a couple of smaller fish, a 15lb mirror and a 22lb 8oz common, before my swim seemed to totally die. With absolutely nothing happening, I thought I would try and fulfil a long term ambition, and see if I could catch a carp off the surface in France. French carp often seem reluctant to take surface baits, so it would be quite some feat. I made my way round to the far bank and after around 30 minutes of quietly creeping about, I finally found some fish cruising around. I fired a small pouch full of mixers over the back of them and I sat back and waited for the wind to drift them over their heads. After what seemed like an eternity (in reality around 2 hours), a grass carp of around 30lb or so very tentatively sucked one in, around 3 feet from the bank. It took another few hours before I eventually had a group of fish confidently taking the mixers (5 grassies, a couple of commons and a mirror, all around the 25-30lb range).

Strangely the grassies seemed completely uninterested in any little bits of crust I had dropped in and only wanted to feed on the mixers. During this time, I could have dropped the hookbait onto one of the feeding fish, however there was a hoofing great mirror of certainly high 50’s, if not a 60lb+ cruising around a couple of feet below them. Despite patiently waiting and baiting for ages, the big fish just seemed totally reluctant to come up and feed, so eventually I decided to try for one of the grassies.

I lowered the hookbait straight down onto ones nose just feet from the bank as it slowly cruised by and it instantly tilted up and sucked in the hookbait and all hell broke loose. Grass carp always scrap well and they never fail to surprise me just how powerful they are when you hook them under the rod tip. After about 30 minutes and one of the most powerful battles I’ve had from a fish in years, I finally managed (at about the sixth attempt) to net her. Letting the fish rest in the net to get her breath back (and mine) I called Carl who kindly nipped round for the weighing and photographing. It wasn’t quite the 30lb I had estimated, but I was pleased with a weight of 29lb. After slipping her back, I returned to my swim and put the main rods back out again for the night.

I managed to winkle out a couple more commons of 20lb and 22lb 12oz on the pop ups again to round off the trip. We had planned to fish the full week and leave Saturday morning, however Carl’s wife went into labour early, so we all decided to leave on the Friday. By this time we had all caught PB’s and the weather was just getting hotter and hotter. Overall it was a very enjoyable if frustratingly challenging week.

Carp Fishing ~ Flitting About (Part 2) ~ Rick Golder

Continued from part 1

I was back the following week, this time for a single night. I went up the other end setting up in a small swim again by a big bank of snags. This swim only needed two underarm flicks with little 1.5oz Bolt Bombs, and again I was rewarded the following morning just before packing up with a bionic 25lb common that really went berserk in the confines of this tight swim.

The next trip was with my youngest son, who was off school as they had a teacher training day and was desperate to do a night out with me. I had thought about where to take him, as although he only wanted to camp out, I knew it would be nice to have some action on the rods too. A friend told me about a lake that fitted the bill, but although I had the ticket for I’d never actually fished. So the following day after I eventually worked out how to get in, I went for a look. It was far better than I had imagined it would be, a decent size of around 15 acres, with snags and plenty of carpy looking areas, as well as being child friendly and safe.

The following week Matthew and I were down, and both fitting under my Tempest Air. I’d found a couple of decent spots in a swim that had a nice big chunk of lake in front, and although nothing had shown it seemed a good starting point. I had been told there was a few fish to go for, but saw nothing until about an hour before dark when suddenly the lake became alive, as fish after fish rolled and jumped all over the place!

Several showed on me, and it was clear we were in for some action. With the boy fast asleep, at about 10PM I had a take and soon landed a cracking mid 20 linear, which was followed up with two more low 20s as the night went on – none of which woke Matthew!

I was shattered come dawn, but a quick move to the snags that morning gave us two more takes and another two 20lb fish. It was great fun, and we had enjoyed a fantastic session.

The lake really got me thinking, it was quiet and a nice bit of fishing. In fact I quite fancied a couple more trips myself, it was exciting too, not knowing what it held. I guessed from the odd bit of information I could find out, plus the fish I’d seen, that there wasn’t anything massive, but I wasn’t worried.

I did a quick work night that week, and it followed a similar pattern to the last trip, in that come dusk it came alive, and that night I had a 23 and lost another at the net that I got all the way back from 90+ yards! It certainly seemed to be a night bites water, and while work was really busy, it suited me down to the ground with the time that I had.

The next week I had another night, but had hatched a new plan. It was clear they liked a bit of bait, and to that end I put it all in at the start, with no intention to top it up. I walked all my lines off and clipped them up, before whacking out 5 kilos in the Spomb in one hit, really in preparation for the night time productive spell to come.

It came earlier than that, and within an hour I had a 25lb mirror on the Pink Salami pop up. They really do fight on this lake, and with absolute belting one tone takes, it was exciting stuff.

Soon after that I was doing battle with a powerful fish, and one look showed it to be my first common from the lake; a stunning long one that went 31lbs! This one was absolutely mint, and looked as if it had never been caught before.

In the end I caught another 4 carp that trip, one of which was probably the fattest carp I’ve ever caught, the length of a low 20, but weighing in at a whopping 34lb 4oz!

With the fishing going so well, I managed a two-night trip soon after. I bought a fair bit of bait this time, and the first afternoon I put out 8 kilos on the two spots. One rod was fished along the margin, and the other two nice and close together out in the silt behind a small gravel bar, and all at a nice comfortable range.

The weather was perfect, dull, warm with light rain, and I was brimming with confidence after the success of the last couple of trips. My legs were covered in bites though, not mosquitos, but this place had these small black midges that bit you in the day, and which felt like you’d been cut with a razor. They bloody hurt too!

The margin rod was the most prolific in terms of takes, but the spot out in the lake behind the bar seemed to bring the better fish. This pattern continued, as I had a couple of 20s from the margin, but it was the other rod that gave me a lovely 31 mirror. The following day was quiet, and after re-tying several rigs, and loading up with another 4 kilos of B5 boilies I was looking forward to the night ahead. It was a busy again, and I had another 5 takes, catching carp up to 29lbs, before packing up in the rain for work, tired but very happy.

I knew now was the time to get back over my favourite lake, the one that I’d enjoyed so much the year before. I’d kept in touch with what was going on, and indeed several serious fish had been out. I changed all my kit over, and got the boating gear out, changing my spools to Hydro-Sink braid and charging up my outboard battery.

A few days later I was launching my little boat and heading off, full of excitement, out into 60 plus acres. I was determined not to set up until I had found fish, which after a 5am arrival took me 3 plus hours of hard looking. That morning I saw 3 show, all at similar ranges in front of a swim I had only fished once before. That was all I had to go on, and I spent the day getting everything ready for the following morning, which I hoped would bring my best chance.

I was up early again, and didn’t dare take my eyes off the water for risk of missing something. By 8AM it was clear the fish weren’t here, as I hadn’t seen anything, but soon after a text came through saying they were spawning in the shallows. I’m not one for staying when they’re doing that, and within an hour I was on the way home, but looking forward to a return.

Rick Golder.

Carp Fishing ~ Flitting About (Part 1) ~ Rick Golder

  • carp fishing flitting about rick golder

I did very little fishing last winter due to a combination of work and family commitments, but I did have a social trip arranged with some friends at the end of February, which after a long layoff was something to look forward to.

It actually made me sort my gear out, load up the reels with new lines, order my bait etc., so it was just the kick-start I needed. Whilst I didn’t catch on that trip, my friend Wayne did, and it was fantastic to see a carp on the bank!

When I got home, with the days getting longer, I felt the desire to angle properly again and couldn’t wait to get back out.

There was one venue that is always a decent bet for some early action, even though it’s deep and weedy. For some reason it always seems to wake up that little bit before the lakes around it, so I began taking a few walks after work just to get in tune with it. Each time I had a stroll I took a marker rod and a bag of my faithful Essential B5 boilies; and once I was happy with where to start, I began to trickle a few baits in. This was pretty easy to find though, and I started off prepping a snaggy bay which was off the cold winds, and had the warm rays of sun all day.

The swim right next door also had a great long piece of far margin, which had some tree cover, and I knew from previous years was a place that the fish were always in residence.

I didn’t see anything on my first few walks, but I gambled on my experience and began to put some bait in the bay and the far margin spots. One day in March I took a walk over there, and the daylight levels were hitting 12/12 hours which I really believe is the catalyst to the fish fully waking.

I’d been there just two days earlier, but hadn’t seen anything. However, as I peered down into the snags I saw at least a dozen fish, meandering in and out of the dense snags! Several of them were covered in clay on their heads and flanks. It was strange, as if a switch had suddenly been flicked! The weather was the same as the couple of days before, but now they were certainly up and about…

I hastily booked a couple of days off work for the following week, and rushed home to sort out my kit. Over the winter I had read so much about this new Ronnie Rig and I decided to use it like a Stiff Hinged Rig, using it with a very short stiff boom section and fishing it helicopter style.

I’ve always loved the Mugga pattern of hooks, and my pop up fishing in recent years had taken me away from using it. However, with this rig I could really see its benefits, and in a big size 4 coupled with a 16mm pop up, it really looked good. I had to get my head around using a hook that big, but with the bait sitting above the hook rather than alongside it, the hook size was irrelevant, and it needed the inherent weight of the hook to achieve its outstanding hooking properties.

I’d also been told of a couple of edges for boosting baits that went far beyond just adding salt to them. I was sworn to secrecy about what it is, and when I made up my first batch I immediately recognised how significant they were. The bait was positively oozing attraction, and with my new rig changes, I was excited about giving them a good go.

I fully admit to being pretty one dimensional in my rigs and baits over the years, and my confidence has always come from simply using what works well for me, and then sticking with it.

Matt at UB Baits had made me up some of my favourite B5 Salami pop ups, in a lovely light pink colour, which looked brilliant fished over the standard red B5 free baits.

I knew the snags that this part of the lake held were fishable with the right tackle, so I spooled up with 15lb GT-HD main line, which is simply the best mono I have ever used for out and out strength and its sinking properties, especially when coupled with two rod lengths of 20lb Mirage fluorocarbon leaders.

I’ll personally never use leadcore again, as I can’t see one advantage of it over the Mirage! If in doubt compare the two under the water, as the clear Mirage is invisible, and lies flat to the lake bed, giving both strength and far more finesse and in the small bay the fluorocarbon gave me a stealthy presentation.

I arrived in the half light of dawn, and within an hour was setup and fishing with the rods cast to the spots with a few handfuls of bait around each. I saw nothing all day, but as evening came one swam in the small bay sending ripples to the bank and boosting my confidence on what is normally a water that they seldom show on.

At 2AM I was away on one of the far margin rods, the fish immediately going for the snags but I steered it away without much difficulty, and I soon had it in the net. A 23lb jet black mirror was a great start, but as dawn came the same rod was off again, and this felt better from the outset. This one really went hard, but once it was away from the far bank and I knew that it was out of danger I let it plod away in the relative safety of the deep margin in front of my swim. In the clear water I could see it was a lovely chestnut coloured mirror, and a decent one too. It was indeed, all 32lbs, and it was absolutely nailed on the Ronnie Rig.

It didn’t stop there, as I then landed a small stockie from the bay next door before the day went quiet as the morning feeding spell concluded. That afternoon I redid all the rods, not settling until all 3 hookbaits were positioned perfectly, in anticipation of the following mornings bite time.

At 6AM I was in again, and this one was really powerful, thumping the tip down trying for the snags. When that failed it kited hard left towards the bay behind. I powered on the side strain, with the rod sunk and the tip ring was hitting the bottom, until the fish was suddenly out in front. I recognised it immediately by its pale colour, and once again the new bait and rig had done well for me. This one was seriously well hooked, and at 37.8lbs another fantastic result and I packed up that morning delighted.

to be continued…

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