Carp Fishing ~ Kicking Up A Storm ~ David Gaskin

I had been persevering down the lake for a few weeks previously doing work nights, and to be honest I was getting a bit fed up of how poor the weather had been and as a result the lack of fish activity. I’m more governed by my work schedule these days, so I hadn’t really paid much attention to the weather forecast coming in. So much so, that I didn’t even know there was a storm due. It’s not the first time I’ve gone fishing under-prepared for a tussle with Mother Nature!

I got to the lake in good time after work and was greeted by the sweet smell of a slimy sling and the legendary Doc grinning ear to ear. The crafty old boy had snared one (only the second fish the lake had done this year). I quickly got the low down off him and it appeared that the brewing storm was causing a subsurface response in the shallow lake.

I was beginning to get a sense of déjà-vu because these conditions had the same characteristics of a wonderful session I had nearly a year ago. Surely it couldn’t happen again! With this in the back of my mind and going on the info of where a couple of fish had been seen, I went round to the bush swim. A usually productive swim that had been pretty poor in terms of captures this season, so poor in fact that I can’t even remember the last time a fish had been caught from there!

With the wind increasing, I had to get the rods out sharpish because I wanted to try and hit some long spots in the swim and the crosswind was far from kind. I chose a short helicopter setup with a 12mm pink pop up attached to a size 6 Covert Dark Mugga mounted on a Munnie rig (a variation of the Ronnie rig). Once the rods were out, I sticked out approximately a kilo of 18mm Live System boilies in the zone. It was the first time in weeks that I believed I had a genuine chance of a bite as the conditions were just getting better and better. At 11pm I had a bleep on the rod and was convinced the bobbin had moved. At that very moment a one toner got me scrambling out of the bivvy into the gizzards of Doris and I was battling my first carp of the year. Thankfully the scrap was straight forward and a 30lb+ carp was in the net. With a lack of anglers and a grizzly Lewis on the other side of the lake, I was instructed to only wake him up if it was one of the A team because of a “hard day at the office”. I decided to let the princess sleep and did a few self takes.

I woke up at first light looking across the windswept lake thinking these conditions couldn’t be any better. With the chance of a daytime bite I patiently waited until the wind had died down enough to get the rods and a bit more bait back out on the spot. Another kilo of Live System was dispatched with the Pro-Pela stick and the pop-ups were back on the spots. I kept my eyes peeled through a letterbox view keen to see if any more fish decided to let me know if they were present. I was fortunate to see a small ghostie show no more than 20 yards from the spot, so my decision to stay put was looking like the right move. At around 4pm the middle rod on the island was away. This time I had a more powerful creature attached but the Mugga held firm as usual and I coaxed one of the most splendid looking commons I have ever seen over the cord. By now the long cold nights of the previous weeks were a distant memory and all was worthwhile, the glorious common weighed in at 42lb 08oz.

With the light levels fading I was just hoping for one more favour off the carp gods to give me an opportunity to get the rod back out to the spot. I stood in the water, rod at the ready with 4oz of lead cocked until the wind dropped enough to pull the trigger. Thankfully after a few minutes of waiting an opportunity arose and the pop-up was back on the spot with one cast and the lull in the wind even gave me a chance to get a few more handfuls of Live System out there.

After dark the island rod was away and it felt like an eternity to get in. A little pink pop up on the Munnie rig was never in doubt to land this beast and eventually the huge frame of a mirror carp broke the surface in front of me. I immediately swooped with the net and the leviathan was sitting safely in the folds on the mesh. In the wind and spray it was hard to identify which fish it was, so I got everything prepped and tried to weigh it. It was at this point things got real and my poor little arms were wobbling all over the place with the needle frantically swaying around the 60lb mark. She was going to be a two man job, so I safely secured the fish and made a phone call to Lewis who was already on his way down to politely “hurry up” to help weigh and do the photos of this creature. A few of the other lads on the lake came round and helped to do the honours, which was handy because I was shaking and feeling sick with nerves at the sheer size of this carp. The final weigh-in revealed 59lb 8oz of February carp! An afternoon brace of over 100lb of phenomenal fish from an equally phenomenal venue.

Carp Fishing ~ Reflections on 2016 ~ Kai Richards

This year’s fishing has been one of the hardest years for me as time on the bank has been limited due to having to sit my GCSE’s, start college and find a job. Although a lot has happened I was still able to land four 30’s, which included a new personal best common.

I arrived at my syndicate lake for a 48 hour session in the hope of catching a couple of nice spring fish. After we had a long walk and a good look around I really liked the look of a swim called ‘Side of the Gate’. It’s in an area of the lake that has a lovely set of snags to the left of the swim, and with a warm wind pushing into this area I wasn’t at all surprised when I found a group of a dozen fish milling around on the surface. I soon had my gear setup and I quietly set about finding a couple of spots. I found a lovely clear gravel spot down towards the tree line, not too far from where the fish were grouped up. I soon had a rig in position over 8 Spombs of bait. After a little bit of leading around I also found a nice clear spot straight out in front of the swim at 60 yards, where I positioned my other two rods and then put out around 15 spods out over the top. I tied up rigs using the Camflex Leadfree leader material spliced to a size 8 Kwik-lok swivel with a C-Thru Brown Covert Lead clip. The hooklink itself consisted of a Trick-Link (25lb) and Trickster Heavy (silt 25lb) combi-link with a super reliable Covert size 6 Incizor hook. Most of the fish I had last year couldn’t resist this rig!

During the night and the next morning everything was quiet, with the odd few putting their heads out. At mid-day they started to become more active and started to show around 20 yards out. Suddenly, at 3pm my left hand rod screamed off and I hit into what felt like a good fish! After about 10 minutes it was in my net and looked like my first 30lb’er of the year! On the scales it went 30lb 10oz, so I got some pictures done quickly and we slipped her back as I was eager to get that rod back out.

Later that afternoon, at around 6pm, I topped up the swim, putting out the same amount as I did the day before and also reeled in my rods to re-bait them. As I was doing my last rod a couple of decent fish were jumping out about 20 yards out so I quickly got a rod in the zone and 30 minutes later I was into an angry little mirror which weighed 15lb 12oz. An hour or so later, just as it was getting dark, I had a weird indication coming from my left hand rod. I watched for a couple of minutes before striking into this sneaky common which had kited out of the left hand bay. After a great fight the beast was in the net and it looked huge! I was excited to see the weight so I got everything ready and my mate came round to take some photos. When it was on the mat we recognised that it was a common called ‘The Immaculate’! I was so buzzing to have enjoyed such a great couple of hours and to have this beast on my mat. It went 39lb 8oz on the scales – which beat my old PB common by just over a pound. The rest of the session was quiet and early next morning I left over the moon with catching ‘The Immaculate’. What a fish!
A couple of months before the year ended I was also able to catch one of my target commons called the ‘Gaz’ common which is one of my favourite commons I’ve ever had.

I had a 48 hour session ahead of me, so I decided to have a good walk round on a bank where the wind was pushing into. With an area known as the Comfy that had been doing a lot of fish in recent weeks being vacant; it seemed a good place to start.

I got everything set up and then found a spot straight out towards the tallest tree on the far side at sixteen wraps. I also found another nice area at fourteen wraps dead in line with a flag pole on the far side of the lake. After getting the rods out perfectly, each spot received a good helping of particles and boilies in the fading light.

The wind was blowing a South Westerly into a bay to my right and it looked really promising as the fish normally frequent the area in these conditions.

I was up at first light and the rods had remained motionless. I could see that there was a lot of fizzing about two rod lengths behind my main spot. After the activity had died down, I tied up three fresh rigs, each with one of the new Covert Dark Incizor hooks. These have unbelievable points and looked perfect on the KD presentation I was using. That evening I positioned the rods at the exact range I had seen the activity and everything was spot on for bite time in the morning.

The night passed quietly although I heard a couple of fish jump in the bay to my right. I woke up at 7am and it looked completely dead, so I decided to get a little more sleep as I had a party to go to in the evening. The next thing I remember is standing at the front of the swim, with a bent rod in my hands as a fish powered off. It felt a good fish from the off and as soon as I saw it I knew it was one of my target fish! After a further 10 minute battle I managed to slip the net under a big common and let out a sigh of relief!

On the scales it went 33lb 4oz, but to me the weight was irrelevant as it was such an awesome looking fish. As I slipped it into a retainer to recover for a few minutes the middle rod tore off, which resulted in a lovely dark 26lb 4oz mirror. I phoned a friend on the other side of the lake and he offered to come round for camera duties. While we were taking pictures of the common, I received a take on the middle rod I had repositioned a few minutes before. After a short battle I had an angry mid-double common in the net.

The year of 2016 wasn’t my best year, I didn’t have as much time as I hoped for, there was way too many things going on at home and although I didn’t manage to catch my target fish of 2016 which was called ‘Kim’, I did manage a PB common, another target fish and a reasonable amount of nice sized fish. I really hope 2017 is a better year for me and everyone else’s angling journey!

Carp Fishing – George Benos 2016 Highlight

It was the 8th February 2016 and I had just finished an eleven hour shift at work. The weather up until now had been some of the mildest we had experienced for a number of years, with mostly warm South Westerly winds and the temperatures hadn’t dropped below double figures for weeks!

Normally I would wait until the following morning before heading off fishing, but with a massive storm forecast I knew I needed to get down the pond. To add to this my mate Daz was already down and he informed me that another angler was also going to be heading down. With the very strong winds we had forecast, my plan was to fish on the back of the wind in a swim called the Middle Bumpy and see out the worst of the storm before moving sometime the next day, as I figured the winds would be too strong for me to fish my baited area effectively.

I had been baiting an area called the lawns very heavily for four months, making the round trip drive of almost 250 miles, in between sessions, just to keep the bait going in. I would also bait before I left and I was convinced that even though the lake held a relatively low stock the unseasonably mild weather would keep the fish feeding. Add the bird life into the equation, which would make a huge dent in the amount of easily available food! My bait consisted of 20kg buckets of hemp, ground bait and pigeon conditioner, with around 15kg of boilie for good measure.

As I set off for my 120+ mile drive I could feel the wind increasing in strength as I was constantly having to adjust my steering angle on the van as I raced down the M25. I knew that the other angler was due to arrive at around 10pm and I hoped I could beat him down as I just knew he would have the same plan as myself! As I got closer to the lake the weather took a turn for the worst as the forecasters had predicted. Not only had the wind got up to gale force but the rain was lashing down at a vast rate. Then the inevitable happened and some d*ckhead thought he could equal Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap at Silverstone and wrapped his motor round a crash barrier on the A3. My heart sank and after sitting in a massive traffic jam for almost two hours, my mate Daz rang to confirm my worst fears and the said angler had beat me down and as expected headed straight into the middle bumpy. It was a no brainer really and I must admit I was a bit pissed off and even toyed with the idea of turning round and heading home. I decided that I would park up the road in a lay-by and drive to the lake for first light and weigh up my options.
As first light loomed I was already up and standing in the lawns (the swim I had been baiting). The rain had eased somewhat, but the wind was savage and I could barely stand without being blown around. I figured it was far too strong to allow me to fish effectively, so I just spent most of the morning walking around moping and poncing tea off Daz.

I had pretty much made my mind up that I was going to tuck myself away in a little swim out of the wind at the complete opposite end of the lake and see how this progressed as I had three nights at my deposal. Whilst having one last cup of tea with Daz, he informed me that the said angler in the Middle Bumpy was planning a move at midnight to the Lawns when the wind died down. I wasn’t going to be outdone twice, so with Daz’s help we were soon struggling to put my Armo bivvy up. The wind was so strong I ended having to use 16 inch bank sticks to keep the thing from ending up in the ground behind me!

I fished three rods and decided to flick one to the right just next to a little overhanging tree. The middle rod went out to my baited zone and my left rod at around 70 yards range to an apex of the reception building on the opposite bank. Due to the massive winds it was a real struggle to get the rods bang on and feeling for a drop was almost impossible. I remember going to bed that night thinking I had no chance of catching.

Up until this point Vinnetrow had not been very kind to me and I had banked only one of the three bites I had managed that season. I put this down to lots of reasons, with the main one being it was difficult to regularly get on the fish due to angling pressure, but also over baiting when I did manage to drop on fish. We live and learn!

Just before first light the following morning I was woken by the constant bleeping on my left and middle buzzers. I sat on my bed chair blaming the wind for pushing debris onto my lines, which by now had slowed a little. Eventually I could take no more and was busting for a pee, so got out to shake the lines clear and reset the bobbins. I had been fishing with the bobbins on the other side of the alarms to reduce the sensitivity due to the constant bleeping caused by the wind. After looking at the rods, both lines had been pulled from the clips, so I popped them back in, reset the bobbins and climbed back into my bag to try and get some much needed sleep. Minutes later the bleeping started again and I tried my best to ignore them until I could take no more and decided to reel them in and redo the rods. I bought the right hand rod in and then noticed that both my other rods had been pulled from the clips again and the bobbin on my middle was moving up and down! Oh sh*t I think I might need to hit that!

As I picked up the rod I was met with slack line. I reeled and reeled until eventually my left hand bobbin started to pick up too! I’d obviously had a pick up and the fish was trying to make the sanctuary of the snags to my left. It had picked up the line on my left hand rod and by now I was sh*tting myself at the thought of losing my third fish in a row. I kept pulling what felt like a dead weight toward me until a great big set of shoulders surfaced around 15 yards out, which could only belong to one fish! It was all going ok until around 10 yards out when everything locked up as the two lines knitted together. Without a thought and fully clothed with my Snugpac jacket and thermal wellies on I grabbed my net and jumped straight in! I must add that although Vinnetrow is quite shallow, it’s not something I would recommend for anyone to do, but I wasn’t about to let this one get away. I waded out as far as I dared and at full stretch and I could feel my jacket popping me up with the air trapped inside it. I just about managed to get the whole lot into the waiting net and pulled it towards me.

As I looked into the net my suspicion was confirmed and there before me laid the Half Lin in all her winter glory. I let out a massive shout of joy and called Daz to come round and confirm it was indeed the Half Lin.

That bought my time on the pond to an end as although the lake contained some cracking fish, I really only joined for that one fish. On the scales she weighed in at a massive 57lb 8oz and I must admit that on the drive home that morning I was beaming from ear to ear. I did reflect on how lucky I had been with all the ‘if’s and buts’ however it proved to be magical session and the memories inspire me to keep at it, as they can often come when you least expect it!

Carp Fishing – Ian Lewis 2016 Round Up

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2016 started quite slow for me as I wasn’t able to get out much and when I did I felt very out of touch. I landed my first carp of the year on a very frosty morning on the 24th of February and I was elated to finally catch one and get the ball rolling. A bite resulted in a perfect wintery coloured chestnut common of around 25lb. I landed a small cricket bat common soon after and I went on to catch the same 25lb Common a few weeks later.

I managed to get a few more nights in over the following month, however I was really struggling to get anything going and in all honesty I was suffering from mental health issues. Fortunately a few good friends picked me up and put me straight and it wasn’t long before I started to get amongst them once again. I recall one night when I bagged the longest low thirty pound common I’d ever seen. It fought like an absolute demon and my legs went to jelly when my mate and I gazed into the net thinking it was an upper thirty or maybe bigger. It was certainly a lean, mean, fighting machine with not an ounce of fat.

It had finally started to come together and it wasn’t long before I bagged another lovely 32lb+ common. Once again though, the usual things such as work, family and social events killed off my angling for a bit. On my return Geoff at ABS had recommended I tried a tweaked but proven fishmeal recipe called Rock Lobster. l arrived at the lake and after a scout about I climbed a tree and found some activity on the reed line of a small bay. I wasted little time and grabbed the gear and raced back absolutely buzzing to get a rod positioned with the new bait. I waded to the edge of the tree line after the fizzing had stopped and carefully threw several 15mm Rock Lobster boilies individually to semi spook the fish before flicking one rod with a light lead and a Hinge Stiff into the area. The atmosphere was electric and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before a bite came my way. There was a seriously warm south-westerly hacking into the swim and it looked perfect for a bite. The rod melted off only ten minutes after positioning the rig and I was attached to one of the A-Team Mirrors known as Josh’s Pet. After a spirited scrap she was soon laying in the folds of my net. About two month’s prior she was out at well over forty pounds, but she had obviously had a good spawn and we weighed her at a modest 36lb 2oz. After a few pics we slipped her back got her back no worse for wear and another of the big mirrors was ticked off the wanted list. After all the commotion, I decided to top the swim up with another 20 or so boilies scattered in the general area and reposition the one rod with the hook point masked with a piece of dissolving foam. I was half way through sorting out my kit that was strewn around the swim when the alarm sounded with another take. This time a really ancient dumpy mirror of low 20’s was responsible. Before doing the pics, I quickly re-baited and flicked another fresh Hinge Stiff rig comprising of a super sharp size 4 Covert Dark Incizor into the same area. I’d just got all my kit sorted when another succession of bleeps sounded but the hanger pulled up then dropped back into the original position. I put this down to the clumps of floating weed drifting around the bay. The sun was setting on the horizon and I decided to bring the rod in and re-set the trap before it got too dark. Unbelievably as I picked up the rod the tip arched round and attached was a new PB Common of 36lb, which marginally beat my old PB. A few lads helped with the pics and it transpired this fish is apparently notorious for getting hooked and sitting on the spot trying to rid itself of the hook. Crazy! Three bites, a brace of 30’s and a low 20 in around 3 or so hours. I was understandably very pleased!

No further action was forthcoming and I think the fish had slipped out of the bay after the third fish was hooked. However, that night a few beers, a curry and some light- hearted banter were shared to celebrate a new PB.

Once again, I had commitments elsewhere and work got really busy, so it was a while before I could get back down. When I did return I had two nights at my disposal and I decided to fish an area of the lake that has produced some good fish for me in the past. A big bucket of mixed particle and boilie was introduced in the hope of a good hit as the conditions seemed perfect for this approach. The next morning it really kicked off and that session I think I had 6 or 7 bites with carp up to low thirties.

As luck would have it I repeated the same thing over the following weeks and the bites continued. I banked some real stunners and a few tench until other members cottoned on to what I was doing and on my last session I spent a full 48 hours waiting patiently for the big pay out, which sadly never happened. I think the bubble had burst.

My next outing came a couple of weeks later, on a 48 hour carp match that I organise each year. My friend Shaun AKA ‘Smokes’ and I held our own, finishing 3rd place with only one good fish spliting the top 3 places.

The next day I had a week’s family holiday in Devon and managed a bit of sea fishing with my son and father in-law. I was refreshed and up for another go on the syndicate as I had been away for about 3 weeks or so. Once again the mood of the lake had changed and I found myself right up the other end of the lake. Over the next few weeks through observation, determination and perseverance I went on to land a bunch of really nice scaley mirrors to just under 30lb. Weirdly could only get bites from one spot despite my efforts.

I was unable to fish for a couple of weeks and when I got back down, the area I had been baiting and fishing was devoid of carp and to be honest the fish seemed localised in front of two or three swims further up the lake. I took a gamble on an area where I thought I might manage to ambush them passing back and forth. This was to be another successful run (apart from losing one) with a handful of cracking mirrors and commons.

Late autumn was soon upon us and I decided to have a go on a heavily stocked club water, which on paper sounded perfect for the winter but in reality, it was far too busy for my liking. I only ended up doing an overnight session then a day session with just a few carp to speak of. I was stumped as where to go and I found myself fishing a water I’d fished on and off years ago, that had recently been restocked. This was to be superb fun and over the next few weeks I landed carp to upper doubles and lots of them fishing day only sessions. My son had a go too and landed some lovely carp, which was great fun.

The year of 2016 wasn’t all bad. It started slow with quite a few blanks and although I didn’t manage to catch the mighty ‘Penny Common’ that I dearly wanted, unlike one of our other team members (Jack), I did manage a PB common, another one of the big mirrors and a reasonable amount of thirties and completed some good features too. Fingers crossed the carp gods are favourable to me in 2017 and I can get out on the bank regularly.

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