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 ~ David Gaskin 2016 Round Up

The start of 2016 was a frustrating period of my angling because it was virtually non-existent, which was very unfortunate with the mild conditions the UK was being blessed with. I had to work in amongst university life to get the funds together to renew my ticket for Wellington Country Park, it was a certainly a worthwhile investment! My first session of the year was in February and I managed to jump in on an area where the fish were being suitably clumped by fellow Gardner squad member Ian Stott. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that the fish were there in numbers, so I decided I wanted a piece of the action. I hurried to get the rods out before dark and by the time I was setting the bobbing on the third rod, the first rod was whizzing off. My suspicions were correct and I was off to a flyer with a scraper 30lb common in the net. Nothing happened until literally the same time the following day, same rod, same spot and I landed a 42lb common (well common/ghosty, same man different hat). It was an excellent start to the year and I was keen to get back again whilst they were making it easy for us anglers to locate the carps whereabouts, something that is a rare privilege on Welly!

A couple of weeks later I was hurtling down the M4 at a reasonably sensible pace praying I could get in the same zone as the previous session. The carp gods answered me sooner than I anticipated with an element of de ja vu thrown in for good measure. My first bite of the session happened again within minutes of putting the rods out just before dark and I was greeted with a lovely 37lb mirror sporting her wintry colours. This was followed up in the morning by mid 20 common, a sign that the fish were still comfortable in numbers up against the main island. I have to add at this point that bites this quickly on Welly are not common and I seemed to be turning up at the right time and getting the rods out with minimum disturbance.

The end of March was looming and the lakes residents had vacated their winter solace and started to spread out. Now I’m hoping my girlfriend shows her distinct lack of interest in my angling and doesn’t read the next part otherwise I will probably get a hefty punch to the throat! I was due to fish a three nighter, which coincided with the appearance of storm Katie fronting low pressure and big winds. It could only mean one thing, big carp! Unfortunately my better half had a minor car accident on the way home from work in the evening. Fortunately she was OK just a little shaken up, however this put me in the predicament of stay at home and be a loving boyfriend and comfort her or get up at 4am and go fishing with a horrendous storm due with the chance of a chunk. It was a tough decision (no honestly it was…..ish) but I had the attitude that if she didn’t need to go to hospital she would survive a few days without me.

I turned up at the lake swiftly followed by a few other anglers that had the hunch these conditions were worth being on the bank for. Lewis was in the bush swim and had caught a fish that night, so I opted for that swim knowing there was a chance of another bite. I had to fish shorter due to the power of the wind for both casting and baiting up purposes. At this point I was testing the Covert Dark hook range and had size 4 Mugga’s with 14mm white Tuna pop-ups on. I gave them some bait and just as the storm was gaining momentum I had a powerful fish attached to my right hand rod. After a twitchy battle where the fish must have clipped each marginal branch on the way in, the jewel of the Welly commons was lying defeated in the folds of the net. The Chesnut common weighing 52lb 8oz.

After returning the fish the heavens opened and I began to take a right good bashing off of Katie. The storm was that brutal I was holding on to an airborne Tempest at 3am albeit with a huge grin on my face as I was still flying high from the capture of the Chesnut. The following day I repositioned the rods and repaired my bivvy sewing the front back with the aid of a pack of Mugga’s acting as temporary stiches.

The afternoon was nearly over when I had an absolute whizzer on the same rod as the Chesnut, only this time it felt like it had enough power to take me water skiing! The heavens opened and my calls for help were muted by the battering wing and rain, so I had to don the waders and try to land this angry leviathan on my own. It was one of the most epic battles I have encountered with a carp and on landing it I knew why. As it finally slid over the net cord I caught a glimpse of the huge set of shoulders and width that are the characteristics of the Chinese common. A fish that hadn’t been out all winter and anticipated to be at a very big weight and it certainly didn’t disappoint as it spun the needle round to 53lb 6oz. A new pb and a brace of UK 50lb+ commons, the new Mugga’s certainly didn’t let me down!

The next significant session came early May when I had my annual five day session booked, so on the first day I baited with the intention of creating a five day platter. On day two I had a steady take from a spot I had seen a very decent fish silently slide out to its wrist the previous afternoon whilst baiting up. As I tried to net the creature it decided to swim behind me and in doing so caused me to get my arms in a spaghetti like mess. After untangling myself I had the fish in the net and it was unmistakeably ‘Shoulders’ at just over 50lb! It was the perfect start to the week and as the rest of the days passed I kept trickling in the bait hoping more carp would get snared from the baited area. It was hard going until the last morning when I was rewarded for perseverance and landed a fine looking mirror known as ‘Lumpys Mate’ at 44lb+. This was the start of a bobbin bonanza as I landed a further three fish in two hours. I must thank Lewis at this point as he was an excellent ghilly, photographer and provided great commentary and entertainment as the drama unfolded.

The fish at the pond went through a phase of not really knowing whether they wanted to spawn or not and bites became hard to come by. I gave the infamous Ronnie rig a try for a session to see what the fuss was about and low and behold it nailed the biggest ghostie in the lake at 49lb. Although it was a re-capture it was just extra confirmation that the Covert Dark Mugga hooks were nailing the fish in a variation of rig arrangements!

The lake was subsequently shut for spawning after the session and I was back in July to try carry on the luck I had during the spring. The lake was still really moody and tracking the fish down was proving difficult, so I had to step it up a gear and work a bit harder for a bite. I got to the lake after work and refused to setup anywhere until I heard a definite sign of a carp. It was 11 o’clock in the evening when the sound I had been waiting for happened. I was on it in a flash and aided by the moonlight I set some traps consisting of Ultra Skin and the ever faithful Mugga’s along a tree line with a light scattering of bait. These tactics proved to be spot on as I landed one of Welly’s finest mirrors at just over 40lbs. I had a spring in my step once again whilst Welly was dealing raw hands to a fair amount of anglers.

Feeling back in the groove of things I was back at the lake in August for a couple of nights for some more fun and games. I spotted the odd fish in a set of snags, so I decided to do a night in the swim accessing these and introduce some bait. The following morning the baited areas were untouched, so I had to get on the move elsewhere. Whilst wandering around the lake I found a patch of bubbles prickling the still surface of a snaggy margin with the culprit obviously being a carp. A simple pop up rig with a size 6 Covert Dark Mugga and a stick of crumbed up boilies was cast next to the bubbles and luckily it went in sweet first time. A few hours passed with the carp still present when my ATTs let out a bleep of panic. Fishing locked up I was on the rod and enduring a tug of war to keep the carp from finding sanctuary in the snags. The longer the battle progressed the more apparent it became that it was a decent one and as it rolled close to the net I caught a glimpse of the scar on its flank, meaning I had the queen of the pond swirling around below me and at this point I started to shake furiously. I’ve never had nerves like this playing a fish before and I let out an almighty roar when I engulfed her in the net. I’m not ashamed to admit I got a little emotional when I realised my achievement (obviously whilst I was on my own and nobody could see me!) this for me was the pinnacle of my angling life so far and one I may never beat. A little underweight from what we guessed it to be but a new pb again at 54lb 04oz.

We held a match on Welly this year to raise money for charities in aid of a Steve Mason, a legend of a member who lost his battle with cancer and for little Layla who has had a difficult time of illness in recent years. The draw was done and I came out last! This turned out to be a blessing in disguise and I was left with the little lake. I thought with all the 20 members bombarding the main lake with leads and Spombs the fish might seek sanctuary in the little lake. My partner for the match hadn’t turned up yet, so I primed a few areas for us both to fish and kept things nice and quiet. These tactics paid dividends over the course of the match as I went on to land six carp and my partner Chris landing the biggest of the match. We romped home catching seven out of the eight carp landed throughout the duration of the match.

Feeling rather satisfied I was off to France for a social and bit of a holiday. It was perfect timing and an excellent line up of friends. I spent the week at Etang de Pierre and although it was a beautiful lake, the temperatures were scalding and fishing was slow. I luckily drew a decent swim which accessed a large weedbed, where carp were holding up ready for a night time feast when the temperatures cooled. I carried on with the same rig tactics that I had used on Welly, which consisted of a combi-rig and Ultra Skin snowman rigs with a big size 4 Mugga on to ensure I had the fire power to land these potentially big residents. I winkled out a couple of fish each day to end a finally tally of 14 which was very respectable given the conditions. There were some lovely unique looking hogs amongst these so I was a happy bunny.

I was soon back at Welly for some final punishment of the year. It was Halloween and I was in the little lake where the public were enjoying some pumpkin carving. I had seen some ever so subtle signs of carp feeding in the sanctuary of the pads and decided to stick a night out in there. This was a wise move because I went on to land a 42lb ghosty, which was a fitting capture for the surrounding pumpkins and time of the year. During November the lake was really starting to slow down and it hadn’t done a bite for 13 days, when I was as shocked as anyone when I had a whizzer on a rod where I had actually heard a fish during the night. I landed a fine looking common using a multi rig tied using some of the new Stiff Ultra Skin stiff and a Covert Dark Chod hook. Once again the end tackle didn’t let me down.

After catching the biggest ghosty in the lake, the best common in the lake, the biggest common in the lake and the queen of the pond is something you only dream of on doing on any lake. Doing this on Welly where they are carp of ludicrous size is an obvious bonus. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to use strong reliable components from the Gardner Tackle range and firmly believe they have been a vital factor in a year’s angling I’m unlikely to ever surpass.

My 2016 by Tommy De Cleen

The weekend before the VBK meeting and the show season kick off and not much fishing done after my October fishing trip to the UK, I’ll give you an insight on my angling I did this year. Recently I keep planning sessions, but keep skipping on them as I have lost my fire and during the last couple of months and I haven’t done much fishing. At the beginning of this year at the Carp Show in Zwolle, I got a lift home from a guy who fishes a lot on the mighty Albert Kanal here in Belgium. I have always wanted to fish this awesome big canal, but never got around to doing so. Talking to John on the way home, I started to buzz about the idea of fishing on this mighty waterway as it’s something that I have wanted to do for a long time.

By March I started fishing a smaller section of the canal, but blanked twice as it was still too early. I had to start sometime and you can’t catch them at home. It was soon April and it was time to get my teeth into the Albert Kanal (the AK as us locals call it). I was buzzing and loved every minute spent on the venue. Yes, I was blanking as it can be rock hard on as there are miles and miles of water all connected to other canals. Between this network system of water are locks and the fish are extremely nomadic travelling through locks and into other sections of canals. Targeting just one fish is nearly impossible, but catching fish is not and catching big fish is possible (which one is another story). I am not fishing all the time as many people think, as I have a misses who I need to keep happy, so every fortnight I do two or if I am lucky three nights.

In May I visited the UK for my first trip of the year, which was to the Quarry with Gardner Tackle Benelux team member Vincent. I had a blast catching 5 carp (I lost 2) two of which where new UK PB’s for me, in the shape of my first ever UK thirty pound mirror and a new PB common. To say I was buzzing was an understatement! These two fish made my year and to catch carp in the UK is special for me (a Belgium) but love it and they don’t have to be massive carp to get me buzzing.

After I returned home it was back to the AK as this was my main water for the year, but it was hard going as I have mentioned. On my third session I got very lucky and landed a 20kg mirror. The buzz I got after catching this fish was an awesome feeling and with an AK fish in the bag (and what a fish) my year was made!

Things got even better, as the weekend after I was back on the AK at another stretch and driving along the path I noticed a fish roll. Location is key but very, very hard on such a big canal and I was blessed to see a sign. On close inspection there was an inflow of water coming into the AK from the flooded fields as there had been a lot of rain in the previous few days leading up to the trip. This inflow had attracted some carp as I saw another one show, and another one. Rig wise choice was a presentation that had accounted for all my fish so far this year, the awesome Oz Holnes rig (Hybrid rig as I call it these days). This rig combined with a Salty Squid pop up was the down fall of 6 out of 7 fish I caught in a short space of time (a little bit more than 12 hours).

To say this AK is rock hard, it was damn easy on the few hours fishing in the right spot at the right time. Dead simple at times but after that spell of good luck it was downhill as I had no more takes at the AK, and I did try on a few more sessions but failed to catch anymore!! But 9 fish in 8 sessions is not bad on my first year at this mega water. And I will be back for some more punishment in O17. In July I had a trip in France with a good mate of mine, but again it did not go well and it was hard to get amongst the bigger fish wish this lake holds, but made up with a few smaller fish and a good 15kg fish in the end. It was a nice social session in the end and I really enjoyed the company. After that session the blues turned in and my angling fire was not blazing as it was too hot to get out or I did not feel it!! And I was so looking forward to that next trip in October to fish in the UK again, after my success in May I was back on the Quarry for another week with my good friend Peter from Holland, but we blanked as the lake was fishing really poor at the time. After 4 nights of blanking we got the chance to fish one of the syndicate lakes in the Cleverely fisheries portfolio, being the famous Top Lake in Essex. Having 3 more nights we were buzzing again at this new chance, but this place is rock hard and we blanked in style the 3 nights we had left but we kept trying to turn it in our favour but missed out. Again another great trip in very good company, but them carp gods where not on our side!! We will be back in 017 that’s for sure. After this blanking trip I got myself a ticked to fish a moat not far from home, but did one sort session and it just did not feel right and that was it. End of the year is closing in and maybe I do one or two more sessions (but not sure yet)… Plans enough for next year again!

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Tight lines, Tommy De Cleen

Carp Fishing ~ Lyddon at Large

Every year for the last few years, myself and a bunch of mates take a trip (sometimes two) across the channel to Lake Serene in France. It’s a stunning little venue which is brilliantly run by the owners John and Mave. As usual we were booked to fish on Lake One, which is a very picturesque 16 acre ‘L’ shaped lake, with swims for 6 people. As we have been going for a while, we generally rotate the swims each visit. This year was no different and my swim of choice was the ‘House’ swim. It is very conveniently placed right in front of the owner’s house, which meant breakfast and dinner would be only yards away and with the others dotted further around the lake, I had a large proportion of the water all to myself. As with any lake, it’s always worth chatting to the owners/bailiffs as they will generally try to put you right on the fish and where they have been feeding/caught from recently. John knows this lake like the back of his hand and he was soon pointing out a couple of likely looking spots that had fished well during the previous few weeks (incidentally, one being where I had caught well from two years before). After unloading all the gear and getting set up, it didn’t take me long to find my spots. There would be no casting for me though, as they were all well over 100 yards out, with the furthest being nearly 150 yards away. I’m not a particularly proficient long caster and combined with the fact I was using 16lb Mirage fluorocarbon main line, rowing baits out was the only option. It wasn’t a problem though, as you can be super accurate and after having had a good prod around first with a marker pole, you know your rigs are going to be bang on the money.

Not much happened for the first 48 hours despite seeing a couple of good fish crash out bang over my middle and right hand rods. At around lunchtime on the Monday, I had a slow steady take on the middle rod. I was pleased to finally get something and after a steady plodding fight, I netted a pretty little scattered scale mirror of 31lb 8oz. It was a fairly small fish for the venue, however I was pleased to be off the mark.

After replacing my rig it all went quiet until the following afternoon when the same rod was away again. An almost identical fight followed and I was soon lifting out a nice common carp. Up onto the scales she went and I was pleased to see she was a new pb for me at 39lb 8oz. After the obligatory few pics, I slipped her back and set about re-positioning the rig. I replaced the other two rods at the same time, as they had both been out there for over 48 hours now. Each spot was treated to the same baiting strategy of mixed up chopped and whole Sticky Krill and Manilla boilies, along with a good proportion of corn and a handful of 4mm pellets to attract the smaller fish into the area. All three rods were fished with the same rigs, which consisted of a 3 foot length of muddy silt Camflex Leadfree leader, a 5oz flat pear lead and 5 inches of 25lb brown Ultra Skin. This was finished off with a super sharp size 4 Covert Dark Mugga fished blowback style with either a snowman or single wafter, using either Sticky Signature or Manilla pop up. Both are simple no nonsense rigs that I have 100% faith in.

Later that same afternoon the middle rod was away again and straight away I could tell this was a much heavier fish. Despite trying to wrap itself around a couple of weed beds, eventually after about 10 minutes I could see a decent mirror carp lumbering up and down in front of me. With Jack ably wielding the landing net, she was scooped up at the first attempt. It was clearly a much bigger fish this time and we both initially thought it was a big forty, so I was more than pleased to see the needle swing round past the magical fifty pound mark and settle on 52lb 10oz. It was a very deep bellied fish (like the angler I hear you cry) that was soon posing for a few obligatory snaps.

A quiet night followed, barring my usual snoring, however at first light the middle rod was away again. An almost identical fight followed and once more a fish tried to weed me up on the same weed beds, before I was able to slip the net under another big mirror carp. Once again she looked a big forty and ay 48lb 12oz our guess was a touch more accurate.

I went back out in the boat for a quick prod around with a stick and soon found the spot I had had all my previous fish from. It was only about 20 foot from the bank in about 10 feet of water. In an area of relatively firm silt, there was a hard clay spot about 5 feet in diameter. The rig was lowered back onto it and after a couple of scoops of my bait mix were sprinkled over the top, I rowed back to my swim. I’d probably only been back on the bank 30 minutes, when the middle rod trundled off again. Once again it felt like a decent fish and after a fairly uneventful fight, I soon had another lovely mirror of 42lb 4oz smiling for the camera. That was pretty much it for me, apart from a cheeky little mid twenty mirror on the last evening. I can’t end without mentioning my mate Nate Green, who topped off a fantastic week for us all with an amazing common carp of 87lb. It was a truly stunning fish that I think he will struggle to beat.

All in all it was another fantastic week at Lake Serene. I can’t wait to get back out there again next October and you never know, maybe next time that monstrous great common might want to grace me with her presence.

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