Carp Fishing ~ Red Letter Session ~ Ian Lewis

Earlier this year some good friends came over for a Chinese takeaway and a few beers. During the meal my mate asked if Stanley and I would like to accompany them to a special private lake during late spring, for a spot of coarse fishing and have a go for the carp if we fancied it. Naturally I was well up for this and Stanley was equally excited, especially as my mate’s god son would be going too (who is similar in age) so a proper little adventure was arranged.

The dates for the trip soon came around and we found ourselves making our way to the private lake. I was grinning ear to ear like a Cheshire cat full of anticipation and excitement on the journey up there. On arrival we headed through the final set of gates and I was met with something that grabs the imagination, the sort of place you could imagine holding something a bit special!

After parking up we grabbed an ice cold drink and did a lap of the lake, before finding a likely looking area for float fishing. We unloaded the coarse fishing gear and got the kids fishing. The stock of perch and roach were plentiful and kept the boys occupied. Once I was happy they were set, I went off for a proper look leaving my mate and the lads to it. As I reached the far corner of the lake, I could see a few carp sat amongst the dense weed basking in the midday sun. The water was gin clear with visibility down to 6 or so feet and I was buzzing to have a go for them.

I sprinted back to the van and fetched the floater gear, and after some observation and patience I had a few fish taking dog biscuits glazed in a fishmeal liquid whilst I hid behind some rushes. There was a slight breeze which made it difficult to present my free lined trimmed down ABS pop up. My line of choice was 10lb Hydro Flo and a super sharp size 10 (and equally strong) Covert Dark Wide Gape Talon Tip which was attached to the hookbait with a blob of rig glue to secure it to the back of the shank. The carp were being very cute around my little hookbait and in the end I moved further down the bank positioning myself at a different angle, which enabled me to cast into a hole in the weed. With the wind on my back, which helped to stretch out the line and allow the hookbait to act more like the freebies. From nowhere two carp emerged and as one passed underneath the other took it without hesitation. After a spirited scrap amongst the weed the tackle held strong and the carp met the spreader block. A few pics and the scaley mirror carp was returned no worse for its experience.

The disturbance pushed the fish right out of range and they stopped taking mixers, so I decided as I’d had one, to go and set up camp and find some spots to prime for later. After choosing my plot, which gave me access to a large weed bed out in front, I had a lead about and found two hard clean areas large enough to present a hookbait on. One rod went down the right hand margin and out in front at 8.5 wraps range. My rig of choice was the ‘Multi Chod’ which was tied using 25lb Stiff Ultra Skin, a Size 4 Covert Dark Chod hook, running on 3 inches of CamFlex leadcore, which was tied to my go anywhere line GTHD in 0.39 (18lb). I added a Drop Out Chod Clip to the leader, so I could lose the lead if necessary, which would make the playing/landing process a bit easier given the weedy circumstances. I baited each spot with a kilo of my ABS custom 15mm fishmeal boilie.

The day got hotter as it wore on and I had to wait until early evening before my ATTs sounded a take. After landing the culprit, which turned out to be a low 20 common, the other rod was away and this resulted in a double figure common.

As the evening wore on I received two more takes, which sadly both resulted in hook pulls due to the abundance of floating weed. The action didn’t stop there though and I kept at it through the night constantly baiting and fishing accurately after each fish. By the morning I’d had eight carp and a tench. I wound in and gave the spots another good hit of bait and took Stanley for a cooked breakfast setting us up for the day.

After returning from breakfast the conditions looked good for more bites, I quickly attached fresh hookbaits, checked the hook points, wrapped up the rods and re-positioned them. It wasn’t long and I was away again resulting in another lovely mirror. After the pics were done I repositioned the rod I put some more bait in and went through my camera counting up the fish. Suddenly the right hand rod was away but unfortunately by the time I’d stopped the fish and turned it the hook pulled. I was pretty gutted as it felt like a good fish. Time was running out and it still looked so good, so I asked the ‘Home minister’ AKA the wife if we could arrange childcare for our daughter as she had work and needed cover, which would allow us to stay until Monday. Lady Luck was looking down on us as later that day when I’d come to terms with the end of the session, the phone rang half way through packing up and the wife granted permission that we could stay until Monday. As you can imagine I was overjoyed and practically doing cartwheels around the swim as 48 hour sessions for me these days are few and far between.

I got back to the swim and decided to concentrate all my efforts (and bait) into the productive spot out in front. I wrapped the second rod up to the same distance, so if I had a bite on the first I could quickly reposition a hookbait and keep a rod on the spot at all times. I went back to the van and got another 5kg of bait and decided to give the spot a good hit of around 3kg’s and leave it to rest until late afternoon and spend some time coarse fishing with Stanley.

After recasting it wasn’t long before the rod was away with an absolute belter of a common that fought really hard, repeatedly stripping line off me. Fortunately the head bailiff was on hand to help with the landing, weighing and photographing. For the record it went 27lb 14oz and had the frame of a much larger carp. The fishing was unreal and this was followed by a few more carp, which were obviously well tuned into the bait.

Dinner was ordered and on its way, an Indian mixed grill for me and Chips for Stanley. I gave the spot another hit of bait, wound in and sat with our friends. Once we were watered and fed Stanley and I returned to the swim and re-positioned the rod as quietly as possible. Just thirty minutes later I was away with another stunner. I left this in the net under the watchful eye of Stanley and got the other rod straight out and scattered some more bait over the spot. Just before dark I was away again, this time with something very special. Whilst playing it I could see a big scaley mirror twisting and turning in the clear water trying to make the sanctuary of the dense weed beds. After a knee trembling 10 minutes of cat and mouse in the weed, Stanley waited patiently with the net and together we lifted her into the folds of the mesh.

I peered in and instantly ran to get my mate as I’d landed unquestionably one of the most amazing looking carp in all my years of angling. We carefully weighed her at 32lb 4oz and took a few nice images before returning her back to her watery home to one day make someone else’s dreams come true.

More bait was dispatched, the rods were sorted and we battened down the hatches before the storm arrived. As the thunder started I was away again, this time resulting in a low twenty common, which was followed by another two double figure commons. The owner and head bailiff came round in the morning and the head bailiff congratulated me and assured me that I’d had it right off and one or two in a session is the norm, not 21 bites from an estimated stock of 70 carp.

I ended what can only be a described as a red letter session landing no less than seventeen carp with lots of 20’s, a 32lb 4oz and a tench. Fingers crossed I get another invite!

Carp Fishing ~ Friday Night Fever ~ Ian Lewis

I got into work nice and early and worked right through specifically to secure an early escape Friday afternoon. No effort is too much to make the most of my one night a week session. Getting there early gave me time to look, and after some serious searching I found a big’un feeding in the edge in what could only be described as an obscure place. So I ran back and got the gear out the car, eager to have a go at the carp I’d spotted.

Upon my return to the ‘obscure place’, I surreptitiously set a trap in the edge as quiet as I could, hoping the lump would return. It was just a rod and net carried into the swim, whilst hiding the rest of my kit well out the way; it was all proper stealthy.

An hour had passed and the big mirror hadn’t returned but I had an idea where it may have had headed. With this in mind I moved up to the windswept snaggy end of the lake, once again keeping everything low key, and managing to place my trap effectively first time using a mixture of whole and crumbed 15mm fishmeal custom mix from ABS.

After about an hour a big mirror reappeared to my left, coming right up on to the shallow clean gravel, belly touching the bottom and it’s back almost breaking the surface. It was happily sunning itself, unaware of my presence; then after 5 minutes or so just disappeared back into the murky depths. About 30 minutes later the alarm sounded a take and the rod hooped round on a locked up clutch, and after a typical big fish scrap she went and rolled over the cord first time of asking!

At this point there were 3 of us gazing down into the net, and all 3 of us agreed the fish might top the magical 40lb mark. After readying the mat, wetting and zeroing the sling to the scales, we carefully carried her out and placed her ancient wrinkly grey body onto the mat. We treated her with the upmost respect; she looked as though she’d lived a life and seen plenty of action – a real old ‘character’.

So, after carefully removing the size 4 Covert Dark Chod, we weighed her and although I was enormously happy I was a bit dumbfounded at a weight of 35lb 2oz. She looked absolutely enormous on the bank too, well plumped. Never mind, she was a chunk all the same, and after a little treatment with some Intensive Care Carp Spray I returned her back to her home.

My plan was to move into the main lake for the night, but by 3PM anglers had arrived in their droves and my planned move just wasn’t to be. So I stayed on in the same swim which by this point was surrounded by other anglers. Just after dark I managed another bite, this time a repeat capture of a chunky low 20 mirror. After that the night past with no more action forthcoming and I was off by late morning, leaving the gate this week much happier than last week.

I used the amazing 0.39/18lb GTHD combined with 3ft of Silt Camflex Leadcore, and mounted the rig helicopter style. A 4oz Bolt Bomb attached to a Drop-Out Chod Safety Clip. The successful rig was tied with 6 inches of the new Stiff Ultra Skin with a size 4 Covert Dark chod, using a bottom bait presentation.

I’m pleased with the way things are going in my angling at the moment, staying mobile and making the most of any opportunity that presents itself to me. Confidence in my bait, rig and approach will hopefully keep the bites coming and put me a step closer to my goals for this year…

Carp Fishing ~ Shoestring Success ~ TJ Elliot

After being let down with work numerous times, I decided to use the time I had off to my advantage. Unfortunately it meant having a very tight budget on what I was to spend my money on. I decided I’d go with the logical approach of only fishing if I had found fish (which sure enough paid off in the end). I’m not too keen on all the long distance fishing, as many of my friends know, I’d rather be tucked away in a little bay or somewhere that I can see the fish in close, instead of blasting choddies and hinge stiff rigs 180 yards towards fish that 90% of the time you won’t catch.

I started by walking laps of the lake daily, until I found fish that I thought I could angle for. The first relatively hot day we had this year saw a huge amount of carp enter one of the bays, and although I was on it quickly, Sam, a friend of mine happened to find them just before me and with a quality bit of angling ended up landing two.

Over the next few days, I continued to walk round, until on the Monday I finally found a group of around ten fish sat off the end of some snags in one of the bays. I attempted to fish for them for around three hours, but with no luck I decided to throw in a mixture of 16mm Krill boilies, some tiger nuts and a few Brazil’s. Hoping that the bait I threw in would keep the fish there until I returned the next day.

Tuesday morning came, and all I could think about was getting back to the lake. However, fortunately for the bank account but unfortunately for my fishing, I had been offered a bit of bar work helping out a friend at her pub for a couple of weeks, so I could only pop down the lake in the morning and try to pop back down after work for a quick over-nighter.

I popped into the lake whilst I was on my way to work, and I was gutted when I noticed that the bay had completely changed colour and there seemed to be a large amount of fish present. Burnt wasn’t the word!

Luckily, I managed to get away from work slightly earlier than I had expected and I soon found myself on my way back to the lake! Result!
Shortly after I arrived back in the bay, only to be greeted by a friend of mine, Jayde, sat in the swim where I had put bait. He informed me that he had seen the colour of the water and knew he had to give it a few hours (extremely good angling in my eyes).

After a brief chat, I figured I could fish the same spots from a swim opposite but I agreed to not put my rods out until he had reeled in as I wouldn’t want to ruin his chance of a bite.

Soon enough, Jayde had reeled in and I found myself putting my rods out. The first rod that went out was a PVA bag, containing crushed Krill boilies with ground pellet and a tiger nut mounted to a size 11 Covert Dark Mugga. The second rod had a shaved Brazil nut topped with a white piece of fake maize, this time mounted on a helicopter rig made up of a size 6 Covert Dark Mugga and 25lb Ultra Skin. The third rod was then placed in the margin with a simple hair rig, again tied using 25lb Ultra Skin and a size 6 Covert Dark Mugga. This time a 16mm Krill Wafter was my choice of hookbait.

Each rod went out with a firm ‘thud’ that filled me with nothing but confidence.

I had just begun setting the brolly up when the middle rod burst into life. I lifted into what felt like a big fish, followed by an extremely large yellow shape coming straight up to the surface. I tightened the clutch up and began to heave, attempting to get the fish away from the snaggy tree line, but unfortunately I couldn’t do anything else and the fish ended up ‘doing’ me in the snags.

I was livid. All of the hard work I had put in and I lost the only bite I had. I went to bed that night extremely gutted, but would you believe it, at 3 o’clock I was away again!

I hit into what I thought was the correct rod, but it’s turned out it was the margin rod that was away. Slightly embarrassed with myself, l finally lifted into the correct rod, and I felt myself connected with a powerful carp, this time swimming away from the snags.

After a short but violent battle, I had Rusty do the honours and lift the net under a lovely low thirty mirror. He went 33lb and 12oz on the scales and was a typical angry spring male.

Carp Fishing ~ The Quarry A New UK Adventure (Part 2) ~ by Tommy de Cleen

Tommy is visiting the Quarry pit again this spring, here’s installment one of a two part article detailing his previous pilgrimages to the UK.

Continued from part 1… During the week I did two features; one for Carp TV with my friend Joe Morgan, and a nice little feature for UK Carp (now Carp Feed). It was during this feature that Vince stalked a nice common, so he was off the mark as well, which was really welcome. He was struggling to get a bite on his main spot and I suggested he should move to another swim, but elected to stay in 15 and managed one more bite off a small mirror.

As the week came to a close I lost another one and caught 2 more small commons. I had really great time fishing with Vince, meeting up with some friends that I had made in the UK. On the Saturday it was time to go home ‘back to reality’, but not before a quick stop at the Mainline mansion to pick up my bait order.

As this trip came to an end I was already brainstorming about my next trip and throughout this week I talked to my good friend Peter van Der Star about arranging an autumn trip back to the Quarry – and the plans for the next trip was already in the making. First things first, I wanted to try to catch my first one out of the Albert Canal and it did happen for me after some blanking when I landed my first carp in the shape of a big 44+ mirror on the 28th May! A week later I had 7 more out of the Albert in less than 24 hours fishing, again a few good fish up to 45lb, but that is another story to tell.

Now that I had caught a few fish from the Albert I could relax, as the pressure of catching from this tricky water was off now, and the plan to fish in the UK in the autumn needed to be taken forward. I talked to Peter about it and he was very happy with the arrangements, so on the 14th of October we set sail on my second trip of the year to the UK this year and man was I buzzing to be visiting the Quarry again.

We got to the lake during the night and it was raining, so I put the shelter up in the ‘Sticks Swim’ and Peter slept in the van for a few hours until first light. It was pitch black so I could not see a thing but I heard a few fish crash out to my left and right. I woke up before first light, as you do when you are buzzing to start fishing, and I saw that the water level was well down, and that the shallow bay was even shallower than in May.

When Peter woke up we did a lap of the lake when Peter woke up, but I had made up my mind already where I wanted to fish as it was the only area that I had seen activity. And I felt that it was better to start in a swim that I had fished from and fish before and I knew fish like to visit.

Peter´s first choice of swim was the Corner, a fair few swims down from me, but we came to fish and not just for a social. Rods came out to play and traps where set easily as I knew where to put them in this swim. In the end I elected to put them where I had fished before and I managed to feel the drop, so I knew I was on the gravel.

There was only one problem, the weed on my side of the gravel was up and this could mean fish I hook could go into the weed and cause a few problems. This was born out on the Sunday morning when I had a bite, but after some pulling I lost it in the weed. I was gutted but put that rod back on the spot as I was sure I was going to get another chance.

My rigs where perfect, the bait I used was perfect only the fish did not play ball at all as the whole lake was fishing real slowly. Peter moved a few times, but he could not buy a bite either despite working hard, by moving every day and trying to find them fish.

On Wednesday I text Ben to ask him if it was possible to fish one of his other waters he kindly came back to me with a reply ‘yes you can fish another lake’ to which I replied excitedly ‘which one?’. The answer was you can fish the Top Lake if you like! That was awesome. We knew the lake had some stunning fish in and an opportunity like this doesn’t come every day so, I told Peter and we started pack up to make the move a few miles up the road to the Top Lake.

I knew ‘Geezers’ had died earlier this year, but there were still a few other gems to be caught from this ultra hard syndicate lake. As we had been given the opportunity to try so thought that we had better make the most of it.

We stopped at the Co-op in Hatfield Peverel and bought some food and drink for the rest of the week and then went looking for the lake. We found it quite easily, as the directions Ben gave us where spot on, and as I opened the gate and drove and the track (past the famous Cleverley Mere) we got to the Top Lake car park and there were no other cars in sight!

We did a lap of the lake looking for signs and made up or minds on which swims we would fish.

I was told fish in here follow the wind, but it was a cold north wind blowing so I chose a swim at the back of the wind and thought I’d see from there as we had 3 nights left so anything was possible. Three rigs found their way into the lake and the waiting game could begin again on this stunning looking lake. I was buzzing again and we were in with a good chance of a fish. We had a bit of a social this time and Peter tied everything in the book to catch one. In fact the only thing we did not try was zigs.

I even moved on the Friday morning as I had seen a few fish show down the other end, so had tried hard as well – but to no avail as we blanked are socks off. That’s fishing; and on Saturday we packed up and had one more stop before the long journey home.

Rig wise I had fished with the same presentations that I had in May – a rig that caught nearly all my fish this year. Bait used was the new prototype Mainline baits – so I knew there wasn’t anything g wrong with bait or rigs. It was just the carp did not want to play ball and the carp god did not want us to catch this time (I did pray to them). Luck, it seemed, was not on our side. Even though we blanked I had a great time in great company and fished two totally different lakes.

On this last note I would like to thank a few people on helping us on the way, first of all Ben Lofting for the opportunity to fish his fantastic waters, Gardner Tackle & Mainline Baits for their ongoing support!! Owen Davies and his girl Ali, Chris Cox, Jon Cook, Peter Hub for the visits and the long lasting friendship and Dave Levy (thanks for the picture and tips to fish at Top Lake).

Tight lines,

Tommy De Cleen

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