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.