Carp Fishing ~ Session of a Lifetime (number 3) ~ David Gaskin

This week I arrived at the lake mid-afternoon, which was a bit of a nuisance because it meant that the early morning Sunday arrivals had already filled the main areas, leaving me with a restricted choice of swims. Given the options I opted for the last of the main open water swims, called ‘The Grassy’, which fishes towards the end of the island where I had enjoyed a successful trip during the previous session a few weeks back.I put out singles on the basis that there was a strong possibility of a move in the morning when other swims would hopefully become free. Within an hour of casting out a carp had taken a liking to my special little pink pop up that I had positioned close to the sunny island margin and I found myself doing battle with the first carp of the session. It turned out to be a football shaped ghostie of 45lb 08oz. It may not have been the most desirable carp the lake has to offer, but an excellent start to the session.

The next morning saw me move into the infamous ‘Hole in the Bush’ swim next door where I felt more confident, simply because I could fish previously productive spots that I was sure the carp were regularly visiting and confidently feeding on. Once again I cast out singles on a really effective setup of a size 4 Ronnie Rig tied to the new Invisi-Link as a boom, primed with a 12mm special hookbait. Shortly after casting out I received another quick bite, and after a scrappy battle the result was an angry common of 24lb.

After this I decided to put a kilo of CC Moore Odyssey XXX boilies on a couple of spots, with the idea to fish them through the night. The theory being that the fish would have the whole day to get confident on the spots, feeding without a line or rig in position. The plan couldn’t have worked better!

Just before dark I put fresh rigs on the new spots and again it didn’t take long before one of my rods was in meltdown. As I ran to my rod I performed a face palm cross summersault losing a trainer in the process! Stumbling about with one shoe and mud in my eye I got control of the fish and it instantly felt like a much more powerful creature on the end. After a lengthy fight a huge common rolled into the net, it was certainly one of the highly sought after A-team. It turned out to be the Small Tailed Common at 51lb! This one is a fairly infrequent visitor to the bank, and a new fish for me too, so I was absolutely over the moon.

I baited up the following morning with the intention of leaving the swim free of commotion for the rest of the session. It wasn’t until 2am when another spritely common of 32lb 4oz took a liking to my hookbait whilst browsing on the XXX.

carp fishing dave gaskin with the linearConditions were quite mild at this point so I was confident of another bite before leaving in the morning. I repositioned the rod and was woken up at first light to the little ATTs in meltdown! It felt like an age to get the fish in because it seemed to hold its ground and just waddle in really slowly and heavily. The size 4 Covert Dark Mugga held firm as always, and I knew exactly what carp it was as it rolled over the net cord. It was The Linear! A fish that was right at the very top of my wish list. With a fish like this, size was irrelevant, but at 50lb 06oz it certainly made the capture even more special.

I had enjoyed yet another truly splendid trip, catching two more of the amazing Welly A-Team using tackle, bait and tactics that I have 110% confidence in and enjoying the great atmosphere on this very special venue…

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.

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.

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