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 ~ My Spring on Hollybush ~ Brandon Butler

My first ‘proper’ session of the year on Hollybush wasn’t till the back end of April, as I had been working a lot and just doing the odd day session as and when I could. It got to a point where I really wanted a longer session so I decided to take some time off work and get back out on the bank for a few nights.

I arrived at the lake midweek, and it was (surprisingly) quite busy; but after having a good walk round and having a chat with most of the other anglers it transpired that the majority where leaving in the morning and just doing an ‘overnighter’. Consequently, I decided to set up in the shallowest corner of the lake, as I had seen a few fish mooching around and nobody else was fishing this area of the lake.

With fish in the area I really didn’t want to make too make much disturbance, so I flicked out three stiff hinges, each on a helicopter rig to where I had seen fish showing and followed them up with a light scattering of 12 and 15mm boilies over the top of each rod. After that I got everything else set up in double quick time as the daylight was fading away.

I felt confident of a bite during the night or early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the night was uneventful and I reeled in about 9 as I could see that by now most of the anglers had left and there were only a couple left on, so I went on the search to go and find some fish.

After having a good mooch I found a few fish right on the back of the cold NE wind and I quickly got back to the swim and wasted no time packing up, just in case someone else had seen the fish and were thinking the same thing. Luckily, I got in the peg and quickly found a nice silty gully at about 30 yards out. I also found a nice clear spot down the right hand margin.

I was presenting 2 rods in the silty gully with a scattering of a 15mm custom bait from Active Bait Solutions. I was using Hinged Stiff Rigs over the top, tied with 20lb Tripwire, silt coloured Ultra Skin Stiff 25lb booms (which matches the lake bed perfectly that I was fishing on) and a razor sharp size 6 Covert Dark Incizor. The helicopter rig was tied with the Camflex Leadfree in muddy silt.

The rod down the margin was on bottom bait rig, again tied with 25lb Stiff Ultra Skin, but this time in the brown version and coupled with a Covert Dark Incizor. The lead presentation I chose on this rod was an inline lead and I was crushing up and throwing whole 12 and 15mm boilies.

Within 10 minutes the middle rod was away with the first fish! After the fish had found every weed bed in the swim I finally had an upper double mirror in the net. I was well happy to catch one in such a short time and after getting all the pictures done I slipped the fish back and got the rod straight back out on the spot.

As time went by I hadn’t seen anything in the time since I caught that mirror earlier in the day, but I was still confident that I was in the right place. It was quiet throughout the night and not much was happening around the lake so there wasn’t a lot to move on anyway. I woke up at around 6AM and saw a few fish jumping out and there were fish fizzing on the spot. With all the activity I was sure something was going to happen…

After watching the fish for another hour or so ripping up the spot, the bobbin on the middle rod finally hit the blank and I was into my second fish of the session. The fish was staying deep and certainly didn’t want to be in my net, as it was burying itself into any weed bed it could find. Finally after an extremely intense battle I had a lovely looking mirror in the net, and it didn’t look a bad size either. The beauty went over 28lb on the scales and I was really pleased with my result.

After getting everything sorted out I got the rod back on the spot and put another scattering of boilies out over the top. I ended up with 4 fish up to just over 29lb, all hooked from the same spot.

The next couple of times I was down at Hollybush were just quick overnight sessions, and unfortunately nothing happened. I planned to get home from work early one Friday, and get down the lake for a Friday and Saturday night. When I turned up at the lake I could see it was rammed and were only a couple of free pegs to fish in for the night.

Once again I spoke to a few anglers and once again it seemed like most were pulling off on the Saturday morning. I set up where I felt most confident for a bite, even though I had not seen anything, but the way I figured it was that I was going to be up early doors to move pegs. In fact I was going to try and get back in the swim where I’d caught the 4 fish from during my session in late April.

I woke up at the crack of dawn and watched the water for a while, before deciding to pack the gear away and move pegs. Luckily, I managed to get in the swim that I wanted to be in and there were a couple of fish about and I elected to fish the same spots and with the same rig presentation as the previous trip.

The day was quiet and not much was happening around the lake, but I was still confident as I have caught all my fish from this swim early morning, apart from one which was mid-day.

As I was watching the sun set I saw a few fish showing around the area, so I was sure of a bite before I left. I woke up first light and could see I had fish over my bait as there was fizzing all over the spot. The middle rod ripped off and I was finally into a fish! It didn’t feel very big and was a very energetic fish and I could tell it was one of the smaller fish. After another eventful fight I finally slipped my net under a mid-double mirror.

After that I decided to reel the rod in down the margin and cast it out to where I just caught the fish from, and then I scattered 20 or so baits over the top. I was getting a couple of things ready to take pictures and then the rod I had only just put out went into meltdown and I was in to my second fish.

Luckily someone was walking by and they were able to give me a hand with netting the fish as I already had the other one in the net as well. This one felt like a better fish. As the fish came to the surface I could tell it was one I was after. ‘The Woodcarving’ was finally in my net, and whilst it’s far from the biggest fish it maybe the best looking one in the lake.

We got all the pictures done and I was buzzing that I had captured one of my targets. This is where my spring fishing ended as the next week they started spawning. Roll on summer…

Carp Fishing ~ Back on Cloud 9 ~ Tommy De Cleen

My last catch report detailed a few months of very tough fishing on the hard waters over here in Belgium, along with a UK trip which turned out to be hard going as well! It must seem like I love hard angling ‘therapy’ as my next trip, which I had looked forward to for some time, was again not on a runs water but on a hard 4000 acre lake in Holland, where many anglers struggle for a few bites per season.

This water has some real gems and my good friend and Gardner Tackle Benelux team member, Peter, has been having a silly season on this water fishing from his boat. This is certainly the best way to fish this lake as there are only a few bank side spots to fish due to restricted access. So this was another adventure, and I was really looking forward to it.

On Friday the 19th May I set off to fish this awesome lake. When I arrived Peter was already at his boat loading his stuff onboard, so I did the same. I only look the bare minimum of gear, as when you’re on a boat there is a limit on space to put stuff. So all I had with me was a bed chair, 2 carryalls plus 2 rods.

Peter had enough food, drink and bait with him for the weekend and as we fish with the same baits from Mainline there was no problem with me not bringing any of my own. Right after loading the gear we set off towards a spot where Peter had seen fish during the week, and he had baited the area with 5Kg of a mix of Cell and Activ8 boilies.

The first night was quiet and uneventful, so at 7 on the Saturday morning we reeled in and moved to another spot on the lake where Peter baits regularly.

It was an easy move with a boat as at 8AM all of the rods where set up again in this other swim. Within half an hour Peter was in, and it turned out to be a very small mirror of around 4kg, one of the smallest fish he had caught from this massive lake. Things were looking good and before we knew it I had a funny bite/take, but on picking up the rod and feeling resistance it fell off… damn!

I chucked that Hybrid Rig away and tied up a new simple blow back rig and attached a Cell wafter on the hair. I then boated (with zodiac and electric motor) the bait back out and dropped it back next to the edge of the lily bed.

It must have been at around noon when Peter’s rod was off again (that is Peter´s story to tell in his monthly blog on the GT site, so check that out soon). It ended in another good fish and he was buzzing as things looked promising for the second night. It slowed down after around one in the afternoon so Peter decided to take me on a tour of the lake, remember 4000 acres is very big. After a few hours on the boat we had a stop for some food/pizza plus a few beers, refuelling for the night ahead and had another stop to have something to eat before heading back to the swim for the night.

It was around 5PM that the rods were back on the spots and the waiting game was back on. Not for long though, as Peter was first in with another good fish!! Things obviously looked really good for the night ahead.

I tied up two new blow back rigs using the Stiff Ultra Skin in the silty grey and using my all time favorite size 6 Continental Mugga hooks. My confidence in my tackle was 100% and I was eager to do battle, but it remained very quiet on the fishing front and Peter did not understand as normally this is the time he gets his bites!

Early Sunday morning, after a few liners in the night, my left hand rod was away! After a frightening fight (because of being snagged up in some lily roots, which Peter sorted out for me) I did battle with what turned out to be one hell of an awesome mirror!

We put her in the Recovery Sling to rest and Peter did the honors with my camera, Thankfully he took some great pictures of the awesome looking long dark mirror of 30lb 5oz. Size is not all important when catching lovely fish from waters like this and as I write this the day after, I am still buzzing on cloud 9.

Till next time… Tight lines Tommy

Carp Fishing ~ More Highs Than Lows (Part 2) ~ Rick Golder

Continued from part 1… The next trip came around, and the weather was still cold and dull, but my tucked away swim was protected from the wind, and once again it looked good, as I flicked the baits out with little 1.5oz leads, and I was fishing within a few minutes of my dawn arrival. I felt mega confident, a complete contrast to the previous spring when I had one of those lean periods that had me doubting I was ever going to catch again! A friend came down to see me, and whilst we sat there drinking tea, I had a screaming run on one of the other rods cast over to the far bank. This one really rucked, going hard for the far bank trees, and then kiting round almost behind me deep into the bay. I piled on the side strain and had a good ten minutes of deep runs up and down once I’d got it somewhere near my bank. I had a few looks at it twisting and turning in the clear water before Jim netted it for me, and with one look at the size of its paddle I could see why it had fought so hard. It weighed 28lb 8oz, and I was delighted – two trips and two fish was a result. Having one so early in the session looked like I was bound for more, but as is the pattern, one fish out of the bay seems to completely kill it. I wasn’t complaining and felt full of self-belief – the power of catching a couple nice and early from what is a tricky venue.

I was bought back down to earth soon after when I went back over to the Mead for a two-nighter. I found some fish in the main body of water and managed to get nicely in the zone. However, after finding a couple of silty spots behind gravel seams, it was clear that the fish were showing much further out. My carefully placed rigs surrounded by 50 or so Spombed-out free baits weren’t the ones, as the random pattern of show suggested they were just out in open water, with nothing much feature wise to target. I stripped off my stiff rigs and put on a naked chods with a 4 oz distance leads and fired out singles 90-plus yards out into the general area. This was far removed from my normal style of angling, my confidence lying in fishing over bait and on actual features, but needs must, as fish after fish showed out there, so it had to be done. The fish continued to show on me repeatedly, and I never had a bleep, but my neighbour had two, so somehow I’d clearly got it wrong! What that was I don’t know, but I was disappointed, as it was a bit of a knock back.

The following trip was with my boys to a club lake that is always good for a bite, shall we say. This really was an FA Cup style banana skin, as failure here in front of the kids could be a nightmare. My older boy and I had caught a fair few the previous year, but my eight-year-old, Matthew, had never before caught a carp, and more than anything I wanted him to catch one to get an understanding of what his dad was so infatuated with.

It was another cold one, and after two hours all huddled beneath the Tempest brolly, I hadn’t even seen a fish. Bear in mind this was a place you sometimes see three roll at once, so I was certainly getting concerned. I had a quick look at the other end, where the lake goes into a no-fishing duck feeding corner, and sure enough I immediately spotted a number of dark shapes drifting in and out. It all made sense, as it was flat calm, out of the biting cold NE wind, and within five minutes of casting out Matthew was into his first ever carp, a cracking 16lb common, and hopefully a love affair with a sport that has bought me the most wonderful of times. We all added a few more, and I left happy, with a feeling that I’d had another result, both for my confidence and my two boys.

I had a new challenge lined up for this year, and I was busy building up to it all winter. It’s funny how things work out, but after catching my target fish the previous autumn, I was left with no plans for the following year. However, one of my best friends had been fishing this lake, and after hearing of his success and the inspiring stories he had told, I was more than up for it. I didn’t completely think it through though, and precisely the amount of bits I had to get to fish it effectively. I was able to use a boat on this lake, which I had, but not much else. I sat down and put a list together of leisure batteries, outboard, gas, better inflation life jacket, markers, battery charger etc… It went on and on, so I spent the winter slowly acquiring it all with a view to being ready to start come the spring. It took a fair amount of time, but eventually the list was ticked off, and my boat was down at the lake and all ready to go. After carp fishing for 30-odd years I thought I had most things, but to get kitted up for this I was miles off, and I really hoped it was worth it.

I’ve just had my first trip, and what an eye-opener it proved to be – 60-plus acres, three islands and a mass of carpy looking features and areas. Loading the boat at dawn and motoring out through the mist was enough to raise the feelings of excitement and anticipation to new levels, but there were certainly several new skills to be learnt in this boat fishing lark. Out on the lake in a fair wind presents some challenges in locating spots and bait placement, and I had a long way to go to master these. However, each day bought a new confidence, and with practice it should come. Anyway, the first trip was a success in more ways than one… I found a cracking area, fishing off one of the islands with a bank of snags alongside it. It screamed carp, and one drift out and around here showed a little bit of coloured water you’d have never seen from the bank. It helped too that it was in the lea of the wind, flat calm and the warm rays of sun were on it, in contrast to the rest of the lake, which was hit by a cool wind.

I put two rods out here, each with a handful of crushed up baits glugged in GLM liquid and rock salt, and I sat back to take in the sun and enjoy the peace of this adventure. There is nothing like fishing somewhere new, and all night my mind was churning with thoughts of areas I liked, how I was going to fish them, etc etc, and sleep was hard to come by, even with the early start that morning. I was probably in my deepest sleep when I was woken by an absolute screaming take, just a one-noter that seemed to be getting faster and faster, and I scrambled out from under the brolly barefoot and pulled into a weight that felt miles away. With the snags to my right and no real idea where it was, I piled on the pressure in an attempt to get some much-needed line back on the half empty spool. The next thing the line fell slack, and my stomach dropped with that awful feeling, until suddenly I was back in contact, as it had run a good 50 yards towards me. A few deep short bursts in the edge, and I had a big common rolling over the net cord and that special moment of a first fish from a new lake. It was a stunner too, in mint condition after the winter, and as I slipped it back I couldn’t wait to return, well up for the challenges ahead and hopefully with more highs than lows.

Rick Golder.

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