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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Carp Fishing ~ Milemead Day Trip ~ Ricky Knight

Having seen loads of Milemead’s stunning fish popping up on my Facebook, it was only a matter of time before I went for a trip down there. Before my visit, I did my research by asking a few guys about the lake and how best to approach it. From the feedback, it was clear especially in the winter that a very ‘small’ amount of bait was the best approach to nick a bite.

I got down to the venue early on the Tuesday morning, but due work commitments I did not actually get the rods out until about 11am. I set up in peg 2 on the Specimen Lake as it was sheltered from the cold wind and I had been told it contained the deepest water. With no signs or shows to go by, the deeper water in the cold always seemed to be a sensible option.

The main feature in the swim was a big reed line, but the marginal shelf was quite weeded and I did not feel that it was worth trying to find a clear area on such a short session. From experience it’s apparent that on similar small venues like this (it’s 3acres) the fish really don’t like noise and especially leads going in, so casting around to find spots would likely spoil everything to start with. In hindsight, I think that leading around quietly pushed the fish out at the start of the session.

Eventually I found where the shelf ended and the weed stopped. The bottom of the shelf was silty and about 6ft deep. I fanned all three rods out and fished them all in the deeper water along the edge of the weed.

I decided to fish the same rig on all three rods; as it’s a presentation that I have a high level of confidence in as it has worked well for me many of times for me before. It’s a Fluoro combi-rig consisting of 15lb Soft Subterfuge connected Albright style to 25lb Trickster Heavy Braid. I like the fluorocarbon for the combi-rig as the lake’s very clear, so it makes sense to keep the terminal tackle hidden. This went down to a size 8 barbless Covert Dark Mugga. I fished that blowback style with a scaled snowman style hook arrangement, using a 10mm Cell bottom bait with a matching 8mm pop up. The critically balanced set-up went out with a small bag containing crushed boilie and micro pellets. Some people struggle fishing with such small baits, but for me it works wonders. With a couple of pouches of 10mm baits catapulted over each spot, I was fishing.

The day passed uneventful, however as it started to get dark, the reeds opposite started to knock showing some active fish had moved into the area. I would have liked to fish really tight to the reeds (where the fish were) but I could not get a drop. That evening ‘Top-rod Jamie’ came down and told me VERY tight to the reeds is clear and shallow but you must almost touch the reeds on the way otherwise you would be in weed. We’re talking less than a foot away! This was really valuable information that I wouldn’t have realised otherwise. Cheers for that mate, owe you one!

The rods had been out all day but to save the disturbance, I left then out into the night. At 10:30pm, and after they had been in the water over 12 hours, the first bite came on the left rod (almost in front of peg 1)… and turned out to be a pretty mirror of about 10lb.

The rest of the night after was uneventful. At first light I reeled in the left hand and middle rods and fired them up tight to the reeds in the hope the morning sun would bring the fish back up to the reeds. I also cast the rod I had caught on back out onto the same spot and added another little 10 baits.

At 9:30am the left rod was away again, this time resulting in a lovely upper double mirror. The reeds were moving all day but as I added 10 freebies over the top in the morning (massive mistake) the ducks murdered me in the shallow water. Then at about 3pm the ducks finally left me alone and I got a bite from really tight to the reeds, after re-casting numerous times. Soon enough a nice ghost common of about 10lbers was in the net. Less than 5 seconds after re-casting it back out, I had another bite! This time the culprit was a hard fighting dark coloured upper double common. As I started to pack up just before dark, I caught another small common from tight to the reeds once again. That spot had really come good.

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Carp Fishing ~ Brandon Butler’s 2016 Round Up

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At the start of 2016 I didn’t really do much fishing. I had important exams coming up at college, so I was cracking on and doing my revision for them.

Angling wise, my main target for 2016 was going to be to catch the rest of the fish I had on my target list at the Church Farm complex in Yateley. As I wasn’t doing much fishing I planned to either be going down to Church, putting bait on the spots I was going to be fishing throughout the year or fishing local waters to get a bend in the rod.

When I did eventually get some time I went to a fishery called Westfield Fishery for a day. It was a lake I had never fished before and didn’t know much about it. After setting up in a swim only minutes later I saw a carp bosh out a few swims down so I kept an eye on the area for further activity. Only five minutes later another fished showed so that was decision made and I decided to move over straight away.

After quietly setting up in the new swim I flicked out 2 stiff hinged rigs into the area where I had seen the 2 fish and put a little scattering of 12mm ABS Maple Nut boilies out. I sat there watching the water and it was only about an hour later that the left hand rod had ripped off and I was into my first fish from a new lake! I could see that it was a big framed fish and was dressed in it’s lovely winter colours. I got the pictures done and weighed the fish and slipped it back. That fish went 22lb and it was time to get the rod back out as I felt confident of another bite. It went quiet for a while after that bite, but at about mid-day the same rod was off again. This time the fish felt bigger than the other one; it was staying deep and fighting a lot more slowly and doggedly. When I got the fish in the net I could see it was a much bigger fish. I lifted the fish on the mat and weighed her up, and the needle on the scales spun round to 27lb. I got the pictures down and slipped it back to its watery home. Nothing else happened after that, but it was not a bad inaugural session for a new lake.

My next session of 2016 was on the Blue Pool at Burghfield. I had been really looking forward to getting back down there for a long time as it’s a great venue that I have fished once or twice before. As it turned out, we arrived just as storm Katie was passing over. We had strong 30-40mph winds blowing; but luckily I got a swim on the back of the wind where it was warm and relatively sheltered.

I decided to target the margins, as they are a prolific feature on this venue. On the right of the swim there was a tree overhanging the water, so that is where I placed my right hand rod. My left hand rod was placed off the edge of a bush. I baited both spots with boilies that I had made by Active Bait Solutions that I fed in all different sizes with a good helping of crumb, to keep the fish sifting the bottom for longer. I also mixed that with pellet and corn.

Tactically, I chose to use 18lb GT-HD main line and the terminal end was set up with a 35lb muddy Silt Camflex Leadfree on an inline drop off lead arrangement. The rig was a D-rig tied with 15lb brown Ultra Skin to blend in with the hooklink that was tied to a razor sharp size 6 Covert Dark Incizor and various other covert components.

For the first 2 nights nothing of note happened, but on the third day of the trip I had my first take which was a lovely looking 23lb mirror. After that I received consistent action as every couple of hours I would have a bite. A pattern soon emerged; it would be quiet at night then in the morning the activity would pick up again as the fish drifted into the margins

The most memorable part of the session was when I had my first ever thirty – which was over 31lb. not long after that I had another 30lb fish. I ended the session with 7 fish and was very pleased with the result. It was nice to share the experience of catching my first 30lb carp with some top people.

After the Blue Pool trip I didn’t really get out much for about a month, apart from going down to Church Farm to keep an eye on the baited spots – and to keep putting the bait in of course! By now it was April and I started doing a little bit of fishing down there, but most of my time in the spring was spent down the road at Tri-Lakes as I was after the big ghostie. Luckily, I had my target fish after doing a couple of day sessions and I decided that after having the Big Ghostie all my time would now be spent at Church tracking down the Long Common.

I planned to get out on the bank for a couple of nights, but not much had been coming out so I wasn’t expecting much to happen. I found the fish at the bottom end of the lake in the bay and quietly set up everything and got the rods out onto the spots. I crashed out for the night and was sure that something was going to happen because of all the activity I had seen throughout the day.

I woke up and was surprised to see that the bobbins had not moved so a move was obviously on the cards during the day; but for the moment I decided to sit it out the morning just to be certain I wasn’t moving off the fish. After a quiet morning I packed up and moved up the other end. I put the rods out onto productive spots that have produced fish for me before and it was only a couple of hours before the right hand rod was away. The fish felt like a small carp, but as it got closer to the net I realised it was a fish called the Double Row Linear and was one of my target fish. What a result!

It was about a month till I returned again and this time the weather was spot on, with low pressure and south westerly winds. I jumped in a swim called The Reeds as the wind was howling into this area and it looked perfect. The rods were quickly dropped onto the spots and it really was looking bang on for a bite. Once again, it wasn’t long until the first fish was shuffled into the waiting net and after the photos had been done a 22lb mirror was slipped back and it was time to get the rod back out. The rest of the session was great! Every few hours I would have a bite, all the way up to when I left. I ended that trip on 12 fish, with the biggest being a cracking 27lb mirror – but still no Long Common. I was really on a mission…

I arrived at Church Farm a few week later for another crack and had a walk about looking for signs as the swim I had fished before had been smashed over the last couple of weeks. It was mid week and nobody else was on the lake at the time – and it looked absolutely perfect in there again. I placed the rods on the same spots and I saw a fish over the right hand rod just before dark. I was feeling confident of being awoken in the night by a screamer and crashed out feeling really confident. At around 3 o’clock in the morning the alarm went into melt down and as soon as I struck the rod, I knew it was a good fish. After a good steady battle the fish was ready for netting and I could see it was a big common, but didn’t know if it was the one I was after. After I netted it I quickly lifted up the mesh to get a better look and that was when I knew I finally had the Long Common in my net! I’d done it – the long common was mine! At over 31lb she was a new PB common and I was buzzing from the capture. This was definitely one of the best moments of 2016.

After having that fish I didn’t really do much fishing until someone said to me that I should visit the historic Hollybush Lakes. With the thought of a new adventure the buzz was back and I was looking forward to visiting somewhere new. I fished for 3 nights through some of the hottest conditions I have ever angled in and managed a lovely 24lb fish off the top. I started doing a bit of time down Hollybush and enjoyed catching a lot of fish off the top. One session stood out above all of them where I had 7 fish and one of them was the big commons at 32lb. A really wicked fish that looked amazing.

2016 was one of my best years for fishing and catching the target fish I had been after for 3 years was a great feeling. With carp fishing it’s definitely a case of effort really does equal rewards.

Carp Fishing ~ Wuzy’s Winter Trip

After a few phone calls to check on current water conditions after the recent cold spell, and finding out that the lakes I wanted to fish were frozen, I decided that a bit of angling on a local water was in order. Luckily, my part of the country had remained unseasonably mild and consequently the waters didn’t have ‘a lid’ on them.

Upon arrival there, I had a really long hard look, but there was no real sign of any significant carp activity other than the odd single bubble plinking up to the surface from one particular area of the lake,

At this time of the year I like to fish with tight lines, keeping the lines up a little so I’m fishing for liners. I find that this will tell me if there are any carp in the area and whether or not I should be fishing at a shorter range.

The lake I was fishing has good winter form, but like any water can be tricky at times. The rig I opted for was the ever faithful “Ronnie” rig coupled with a size 2 Mugga, and used in conjunction with the new Stiff Ultra Skin hooklink in the ‘go anywhere’ silt colour.

Considering the cold conditions and the lack of activity I really didn’t want to go piling in the bait, so fished Crafty Catcher ‘King Prawn’ washed out single pop up on each rig – and played it by ear to see whether the fish wanted some bait. Sometimes even just a few is a few to many freebies so I prefer watch other anglers on the lake and basically use them as my guinea pigs. After all, if I notice a fish or two coming out over bait, I can always trickle a little bit in and see how it goes!

During my stay there was nothing caught over bait, so I chose not to put in any myself. My tactic of fishing for liners worked, as I was getting the odd bleep and lift on all the rods regularly throughout the first day of fishing. Over the course of this time I slowly cast each of my rigs at a shorter distance till the liners stopped.

I now knew that I was in the hot zone and within a couple of hours I had my first take; which only confirmed my findings, It’s all about being proactive rather than being lazy as I’m there to catch carp and not just camp it up!

Anyway, the session went really well from that point on and after pinning down the fish I proceeded to catch eight carp in total and lost two as well. They were nothing big, mainly doubles with a couple of twenties finding their way into the net, but at this time of the year I was really happy that my rigs, bait and tactics had worked so well.

It goes to show that a bit of careful observation and watercraft can catch you carp even in the direst of conditions and ultimately I had an incredibly interesting and exciting winter trip!

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