Carp Fishing ~ Milemead Day Trip ~ Ricky Knight

Having seen loads of Milemead’s stunning fish popping up on my Facebook, it was only a matter of time before I went for a trip down there. Before my visit, I did my research by asking a few guys about the lake and how best to approach it. From the feedback, it was clear especially in the winter that a very ‘small’ amount of bait was the best approach to nick a bite.

I got down to the venue early on the Tuesday morning, but due work commitments I did not actually get the rods out until about 11am. I set up in peg 2 on the Specimen Lake as it was sheltered from the cold wind and I had been told it contained the deepest water. With no signs or shows to go by, the deeper water in the cold always seemed to be a sensible option.

The main feature in the swim was a big reed line, but the marginal shelf was quite weeded and I did not feel that it was worth trying to find a clear area on such a short session. From experience it’s apparent that on similar small venues like this (it’s 3acres) the fish really don’t like noise and especially leads going in, so casting around to find spots would likely spoil everything to start with. In hindsight, I think that leading around quietly pushed the fish out at the start of the session.

Eventually I found where the shelf ended and the weed stopped. The bottom of the shelf was silty and about 6ft deep. I fanned all three rods out and fished them all in the deeper water along the edge of the weed.

I decided to fish the same rig on all three rods; as it’s a presentation that I have a high level of confidence in as it has worked well for me many of times for me before. It’s a Fluoro combi-rig consisting of 15lb Soft Subterfuge connected Albright style to 25lb Trickster Heavy Braid. I like the fluorocarbon for the combi-rig as the lake’s very clear, so it makes sense to keep the terminal tackle hidden. This went down to a size 8 barbless Covert Dark Mugga. I fished that blowback style with a scaled snowman style hook arrangement, using a 10mm Cell bottom bait with a matching 8mm pop up. The critically balanced set-up went out with a small bag containing crushed boilie and micro pellets. Some people struggle fishing with such small baits, but for me it works wonders. With a couple of pouches of 10mm baits catapulted over each spot, I was fishing.

The day passed uneventful, however as it started to get dark, the reeds opposite started to knock showing some active fish had moved into the area. I would have liked to fish really tight to the reeds (where the fish were) but I could not get a drop. That evening ‘Top-rod Jamie’ came down and told me VERY tight to the reeds is clear and shallow but you must almost touch the reeds on the way otherwise you would be in weed. We’re talking less than a foot away! This was really valuable information that I wouldn’t have realised otherwise. Cheers for that mate, owe you one!

The rods had been out all day but to save the disturbance, I left then out into the night. At 10:30pm, and after they had been in the water over 12 hours, the first bite came on the left rod (almost in front of peg 1)… and turned out to be a pretty mirror of about 10lb.

The rest of the night after was uneventful. At first light I reeled in the left hand and middle rods and fired them up tight to the reeds in the hope the morning sun would bring the fish back up to the reeds. I also cast the rod I had caught on back out onto the same spot and added another little 10 baits.

At 9:30am the left rod was away again, this time resulting in a lovely upper double mirror. The reeds were moving all day but as I added 10 freebies over the top in the morning (massive mistake) the ducks murdered me in the shallow water. Then at about 3pm the ducks finally left me alone and I got a bite from really tight to the reeds, after re-casting numerous times. Soon enough a nice ghost common of about 10lbers was in the net. Less than 5 seconds after re-casting it back out, I had another bite! This time the culprit was a hard fighting dark coloured upper double common. As I started to pack up just before dark, I caught another small common from tight to the reeds once again. That spot had really come good.

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Nigel Sharp Joins Gardner Tackle

An introduction from Lewis Read:

“Everyone here at Gardner Tackle is thrilled with our new consultancy agreement with big carp supremo, Nigel Sharp.

Nigel is a hugely gifted and exceptional angler with an immense knowledge and experience base that will undoubtedly bring a lift to our product development through his personal testing and use of new terminal items.

Nigel has agreed to help on Gardner’s videos and in magazine features. As a seasoned writer he brings an elevated level of experience and professionalism that we hope will benefit the Gardner brand.

Sharpie is an old friend of mine personally and I am really looking forward to working with him. I know he is a phenomenal angler, I’ve seen it firsthand numerous times, and I know we can work well together in support of the Gardner brand.

It’s about time Nigel was given the top level support he deserves and we’re hoping this agreement will see us moving forward together in the future. These are really exciting times for us all…”

Carp Fishing ~ Show Stopper ~ by Lewis Read

Shows are enjoyable graft sometimes. I was ‘hatched’ locally to Sandown where I have a lot of old friends that I rarely see. I knew I would have 2 days of hyperactive gibbering and relentless playfulness (in amongst the customer liaison of course), so it wasn’t too bad for a change…

By the end of Saturday the old voice was already starting to wane! I had been talking to so many genuinely interested people about the amazing fish in Welly that I was all fired up! I got to the lake at about 8pm and had to pack up at 6 the next morning.

For a week or two I really fancied giving Animal Farm a night, just to see if I picked up a liner or saw/heard a sign (it had been niggling me for a while). Well the sum total for my efforts was two whole bleeps on the right hand rod shortly after casting out. That was as good as it got and I decided that the conditions forecast for the rest of the week were so horrendous, it meant that Sunday night may be worth a quick night as it was the best of the bunch.

By C.O.P on Sunday at the show my voice was truly battered and I sounded rough as ‘fook’; but the night was warmer, and the car showed 9C on the way home. I REALLY fancied dropping into The Cold Swim or the one next door to it, now named The Stump, where the lovely 4C’s had seen a couple of fish show the previous weekend. I had a strong hunch they were there based on a result I’d had last winter from The Wides swim, again fishing on the back of another easterly.

As soon as I sat in the swim it felt absolutely right. Under the tiny little brolly it actually felt warm and the wind was pushing gently down the other end, a nasty chilly north easterly. I actually giggled to myself as I checked the Ronnie rigs, touched up points, tied on new hookbaits balancing them and then added a stringer to each rod. Each rod went out first cast with nice drops and pat downs.

I sunk the Mirage mainline and settled the BUG bobbins, so they just pivoted to make sure they were responsive to the slightest nudge of the line. Within half an hour I had a couple of single bleeps and then a while later another little lift, all on the same rod. With the fluoro this is a real giveaway, and I was excited to be getting them. This was singularly the most indicator activity I had received in ages and I was sure it was ‘them’…

Over the course of the next hour that same rod received a couple more little lifts when all of a sudden the bobbin twitched up an inch again then paused before it twitched to the top and sat there fidgeting against the front of the ATTs. It popped out the clip and as I picked up the rod I could see a big boil just to one side of where I had cast that rod.

The fish started peeling line off the clutch and I clumsily struggled into my chesties. I’d just pulled the straps up when I realised with bemusement and horror that the net was still on the barrow up the slope on the path behind me.

Luckily the fish was straight out long in front of the corner and, as it was still talking line, I had time to edge back and grab the net and chuck it down into the swim without any real risk. I wasn’t sure how I was going to set it up one handed and decided to slacken off the clutch slightly so the fish could take line under tension with my foot planted on the rod butt to keep it there. A swift ‘click click’ of arms into the spreader block and I picked the rod up again and carried on like normal. PHEW! A full on soiled undies moment was only just averted.

Eventually, after the usual titanic battle the fish rose up to the surface about 20 yards out and I gently coaxed it back to the net. Once enveloped I pulled her gently towards me for a better look and was immediately taken by the sheer width of the… Oh my!

With only 2 other anglers braving the Sunday night on the pit, I came up trumps when Pete answered his phone and I blurted I had a monster in the net. Pete popped round a couple of minutes later to assist with the weighing and then the photography. We lifted her into the sling and hoisted her up, taking a couple of seconds to register what the scales said… “Errrrrrr 54…… 54 and a bit!” that on 120lb Reuben’s equates to 54lb 4oz.

Sweet Jesus! A PB by 4 ounces! God bless my new scales (the old ones were weighing light I discovered recently after the real Ronnie and others kept telling me all my fish weights were on the ‘light’ side which was certainly true for some of the individual fish).

The fish marked more than a PB. It was, quite possibly, the penultimate high of a season that has simply been extraordinary for me. I’ve said it before, I know I’m not the best angler in the world, far from it, but by fishing a lot and doing things right (good bait, good tackle and a sensible approach) I have had the most wonderful run of good fortune. No doubt the lake I fish has a lot to do with the amazing results, and of course I have been a little lucky elsewhere, at the Herts Club Lake and on Frimley Pit 4.

The “Unknown” was a new PB and my 10th fish over 48lb in 2016 (an utterly mind numbing and ridiculous statement to type). It’s still barely sunk in to be honest and as I reminisce it seems unbelievable still… 2016 has been THE DREAM.

Is it beyond the realms of belief that I could nick another golden bite before 2017 arrives? Well a carper can dream can’t he?

Carp Fishing ~ Effort in the Edge ~ by Tom Oliver

At the start of the year I was at a bit of a loss as of where to fish, and with no tickets acquired for the coming season, I decided to spend some time fishing day ticket venue Hollybush Lakes on the Hampshire/Surrey border. I really enjoyed my fishing on the venue, catching some lovely old carp and I also learnt of a very secluded syndicate that was steeped in history which was also controlled by the owner of the day ticket venue. As luck would have it I got very friendly with the owner, over my many trips to Hollybush, and when a couple of spaces became available later that summer he kindly offered myself and a friend a ticket for the venue. To say we “bit his hand off” would have been an understatement, in fact we paid our ticket fee before even looking at the lake we were that keen!

We had both done plenty of homework on the venue and seen pictures of some incredible old leney mirrors that were as old as the hills and highly desirable! Not only did it contain a very special stock of carp but it was like a carp angler’s dream with the lake comprising of a maze of islands, channels, bay, lillys, snags, it really did have it all and was one of those “if Carlsberg did carp lakes”! The first walk around was really exciting as it was a hot day and we managed to spot several decent fish including one real good one down one of the back channels. Lots of exploring was done and it really was difficult to navigate being very overgrown but we covered every inch that day and planned a return the following week with some tackle.

The first few trips didn’t really yield too much, but we had a lot to learn and the more time we spent there the more we started to notice. I think the first few trips we probably spent more time with the rods out of the water than actually fishing. I decided that the best approach would be to start baiting spots in the edge all the way around the lake on a regular basis, hoping the fish would start to bump into them wherever they travelled. I hoped if I could start getting them cleaned regularly the fish would also start getting used to accepting my bait amongst the plethora of naturals I had to compete with. I was baiting with a mixture of 6mm and 8mm trout pellets and chopped and whole Caviar and Cranberry boilies in a variety of sizes. The whole lot was also covered in Aminol+ shaken up and then covered in Krill powder to further boost attraction and appeal to the fish.

I kept baiting the spots regularly and after a few weeks it was noticeable that some of the spots were getting turned over regularly as the light silt covered gravel was now glowing on the bottom. One spot in particular looked recently turned over and as I had seen a fish in the same channel 20 yards further down I decided to drop one rod on it for the night and see what happened. The spot was very close, so I set up way back and kept as quiet as I could and at 5am the following morning my ATT burst into life as a very angry carp tried to bolt down the channel towards a snag. I applied steady pressure and managed to turn the fish and before long it was coughing water as it slid over the spreader block. To say I was pleased would be an understatement and I immediately called my friend Mike who had joined with me to tell him the news. I also called the owner of the lake to see if he could assist with capturing this special moment for me, which he kindly did and we weighed and photographed the stunning common in the morning sunlight.

Over the course of the next few weeks I kept the bait going in on various spots around the lake and unfortunately was “done” on several occasions when fish had managed to throw my 4oz inlines. I decided to make a tactical change and use a lead clip with a dirty great big 8oz Grappler Lead, which was coupled with a short 4 inch Trickster Heavy braided rig and a super sharp size 6 Covert Dark Mugga. The hookbait was an 18mm Caviar and Cranberry bottom bait fished back to back chop.

On the following trip everything was put into practice and the tweaked set up was lowered by hand onto one of my little one rod spots. It really was exciting as I could almost see the rig on the spot from my bedchair in the daylight. But before it was light enough to see, a few beeps followed by a very fast take signalled the heavier lead had done the job. The fish ran me ragged for the next five minutes as it tried to find sanctuary in every obstacle in the vicinity but eventually I got the upper hand and a long mirror was slid over the net cord. I quickly weighed the fish at 28lb and slipped it into a retainer before making a few calls for some assistance with the photographs. I was proper buzzing as it was one of the really old ones I had really hoped to catch. Before long Alan Stagg from Gardner turned up and we managed to get some great stills and video of the incredible old carp before slipping her back. I was really pleased with how things were going and it seemed the fish were regularly visiting several of my spots and providing I kept the bait going in hopefully wouldn’t change.

The following week the same routine was carried out and I was tucked away in the bushes once more with one 9 foot stalking rod and a hand placed rig a few feet out on my pre-baited spot. The fish seemed to be visiting this particular area of the lake around first light and this week was no different. I was watching two sets of bubblers moving over the bait when all of a sudden the rod hooped around as another angry carp had slipped up. The fight was again very much dominated by the fish but everything held good and another old looking mirror lay beaten in the bottom of my net. The fish was weighed at 23lb 4oz and I slipped it into a retainer to await Alan’s assistance once more on his way to work. As always I did a lap of the lake before leaving adding plenty of bait in the usual haunts, but unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to return for a few weeks as I was off to Portugal with my Mrs and my friend who was also on the syndicate and his Mrs.

We had a great time away in the sunshine and enjoyed some superb food and drink and we even managed a small amount of angling from one of the local marinas. The topic over many beverages was getting back to the lake once back in England as we had both more than whetted our appetite. My friend Mike had managed to catch his first fish after suffering a couple of losses and it just so happened that he had also caught the much sought after Scattered Linear I had also caught as my second fish from the lake. I managed to squeeze in a quick night on our return but suffered a blank and felt this was due to the fact the bait hadn’t been going in for the last few weeks. I baited heavy on leaving and again during the week before returning after work on the Thursday night. The normal routine was carried out like clockwork and I was tucked up in the bushes out of sight of any wary carp before nightfall. The night passed uneventfully and I was starting to worry as the normal 5-6am bite time came and went. Around 7am I peered over the edge from behind the bush and could clearly see two good fish feeding over the spot, so I hastily retreated back to the safety of my brolly where I couldn’t be seen.

Around five minutes later the silence was shattered as my ATT was once again singing its merry tune and another fish powered out of the channel to my left. The fight was not as aggressive this time around, everything went really smoothly and I soon had a plump jet black common in the net. Alan once again kindly obliged with the photos and the fish was a proper character with a twisty tail and weighed 23lb 14oz. I felt I was on a roll at the lake and things could only get better, however things were about to take a turn for the worst.

Unfortunately I suffer with Crohns disease and not long after catching the common I suffered a really bad series of flare ups that have seen me in hospital and not out on the bank since! Health takes priority though and there will be plenty of time to outwit a few more of those special inhabitants next year when I start back on there in the early spring. I can’t see myself getting out much before then as currently its -7 outside and many of my local lakes have a lid on them. I’m still resting up after being unwell, so my time has been well spent tying rigs, hand rolling hookbaits and generally have a good sort out before my next assault!

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