I thought 2014 had been a terrible year in my angling until I sat down to write this piece and actually reflected back over the entire year. My first trip of the year was with fellow GT anglers Alan Stagg and Calum Kletta to the famous Abbey Lakes complex in France. We had a short trip of three days and nights and it was set to be cold to say the least with some turbulent weather forecast. We chose to fish Kingfisher but after two fishless nights for all three of us we packed up and headed over to Heron for the final night of the trip. Our thinking was it only takes one bite over there for the fish of your dreams and on a quick walk around we had seen several encouraging shows in a vacant area of the lake big enough to house all three of us. Calum managed a sweet upper 20 mirror in the early hours but unfortunately that was our only action having to leave at first light for the ferry (Despite having fish showing over my spots when we had to reel in!!).
I fished unsuccessfully throughout February on my syndicate lake but I was there to notice the first few signs of the fish waking up and on the 2nd of March I had a trip full of ups and downs, losing two and banking a gorgeous 27lb 8oz half fully. I then fished a few trips on another lake but by the end of the month I was back on the syndicate for a quick night on a busy Saturday. I set up in one of the only vacant swims on the woods bank and to be honest I was more than happy with my plot for the night. My tactics had been simple so far this year just fishing for a bite at a time using a scattering of boilies over hinge rigs or 6 spombs over simple combi-rigs. My tactics were working and the following morning I managed a mid-twenty common over the lightly spombed area followed by a re-capture of one of the lake’s jewels ‘Fingers’ at 35lb 14oz on a hinge stiff rig over a scattering of Carp Company Caviar & Cranberry boilies. That would be my last trip for a few weeks as the Gardner ‘Lads’ would be going on tour once more and heading to French holiday venue Lac De Laneuville.
Myself and Calum had visited the lake the previous year under tough conditions and this trip turned out much the same with unfavourable conditions throughout our week. That said we had an amazing week away and all was not lost as we racked up around 10 fish between us and I even chipped in with a 43lb 10oz mirror on the final night, which fell to a solid bag cast towards a showing fish. I managed a quick trip back to the syndicate upon our return to England which yielded a few fish to 29lb 14oz but again it would be a while before I could return as our BCAC qualifier was the following weekend at Orchard Place Farm. We had qualified from the venue the previous year and hoped we could repeat our success on the maggot dominated venue.
After a terrible draw which we have become more than used to we fished our socks off in what can only be described as an unfavourable area of the lake where our neighbouring pegs had thrown in the towel after the first night. We managed to pick off the odd fish throughout the match and finished in a respectable 5th place for our efforts. We were now in to May and it was a busy time at work as we were getting ready for the opening of our new carp lake which also tied in with my 25th birthday on the last weekend of the month. What better way to open the lake than to fish it ourselves! We had a great giggle over the couple of nights including the usual take-away, beers and birthday cake and I even managed to bag one, not a monster at 22lb 8oz, but it capped of a truly great weekend.
Immediately after packing up the gear was sorted then loaded in the van as myself and Graham were off to Resort Du Der in France to fish in the World Carp Classic Dutch Qualifier. The qualifier had been opened up to any nationality and we had been asked to represent Carp Connections by Hans Sissingh the owner of the venue. It was great to arrive to such a welcoming atmosphere and we had a few French beers around the camp fire that first night before the draw making lots of new friends along the way. We had what we felt was an OK draw, but the problem at the start of the match was the fish were all spawning around the island around 200 yards from our peg and were not going to want to feed. It was blisteringly hot and we enjoyed the weather for the first few days letting the fish do their thing rather than cast at them constantly like some were as other pegs were much closer to the island. I did manage a 40lb+ mirror the first night on a chod rig around 180 yards out at the bottom of the island shelf in the deeper water. Not a lot happened the first few days but as soon the weather changed and became wet, windy and cooler the fish turned up on our heavily baited areas well away from the island and we steadily picked them off over the rest of the match. The average size of the fish was great at 30lb+ and I also managed two 40’s and Graham a 55! We managed to finish in 1st place and this meant we would be going to the World Carp Classic in September to fish as part of the Carp Connections team now we had earned our stripes. To say I was excited about it all was an understatement and the journey back flew by for a change.
Another match followed this trip and this time it was the Carpin-4-Cancer event to be held at The Blue Lagoon in Arlsey. We have taken part in this event for the last three years having some luck finishing 1st, 3rd and 1st but that’s not what it’s all about at this event and everyone is there for the same reason to have fun and raise as much money as possible for charity. We had yet another late draw so opted to fish in the available peg next to our friends so we could enjoy the weather and a good social. There was no shade anywhere and the heat mixed with booze was too much at times but it was nothing a refreshing dip in the lagoon wouldn’t sort out! The water was actually well up in the lake from the floods at the start of the year so where the peg would normally be had 3ft of water on it so we decided to place a rod here for the night. We were at the deepest area of the lake with 20ft off the tips so it seemed as good as anywhere and the other rods went out in the middle on adjustable zigs. At some time during the hours of darkness we managed a 5lb 8oz mirror which meant we finished in 4th place overall!
I was glad all the matches and trips were over by the start of July as it meant I could do some fishing for myself and catch up with friends on the bank. I did a couple of trips the first few weekends and caught on each occasion with my tactics still working well and accounting for several fish up to the high 20 mark. The last weekend of the month turned out to be a blinder for me after setting up in the woods bank where I had seen several fish basking in the weed beds close in. I went with the usual approach although this time one rod was fished on a solid bag in a small gap in the weed. After my first night I awoke to an overcast morning and just as the sun was breaking through I received a belting take on the solid bag rod which resulted in ‘The Slate Grey’ at a much spawned out 30lb 2oz. I was made up and after spending the day on cloud nine pestering them with mixers I got the rods sorted again for my final night. It was again a quiet night but around 9am the hinge stiff rig was away and another good fish this time ‘Beckets’ rolled in to the net and weighed 27lb a fish that’s normally 30lb+. It was great to see they had spawned successfully and they were looking surprisingly good with very few marks on the flanks. I thought my action may be over but another take occurred on the other hinge rig and I was doing battle with another angry fish that had some weight behind it. Once landed we didn’t recognise the fish which looked easily 30lb+ and the scales confirmed this with a weight of 32lb. It turned out the fish was a rare visitor to the bank and hadn’t been out for a couple of years and rounded of a memorable session.
July and August were spent doing a few private tuitions which went very well and a family holiday for two weeks in Portugal fell in the middle. I had a great time away and was thankful of the extra cash from the tuitions but with the World Carp Classic fast approaching I knew I would get very little carp fishing done for the rest of the year. We had to ship all of our kit out to Italy with the event logistics company which meant it would be gone from the start of September. I spent the weeks before the event doing as much research as possible and we were also busy at work too with all the new courses starting.
The time finally came and I can honestly say it was one of my best carp fishing experiences ever! It’s hard to describe the atmosphere created at the event but it is truly magical. I have written about this trip to some extent once before so wont waffle on but we did manage to lose our Lake Bolsena virginity with a stunning 11.4kg common, experienced a whole host of high points and low points and managed to finish 2nd in the team event and our team-mates finished 2nd overall.
By the time my kit returned I had lost my mojo and I haven’t actually fished for carp since. I decided to take a break and just enjoy some pleasure fishing for other species for a while and if I’m honest I have been loving it! I have been enjoying a whole host of species from both still and running water and have even managed a few new p.b’s along the way. Don’t worry all is not lost I have been starting to make plans and preparing my kit for my return in the spring where I’m going to concentrate on my syndicate lake as there are still many beautiful fish I long to have in my photo album.
As far as targets for the coming year the only one I have is to enjoy my time on the bank as that’s what it’s all about and I’m sure many more memories will be made along the way. Let’s hope we all have a great year filled with the fish of our dreams…… Be Lucky.