A good friend of mine fancied going carping for a couple of nights and was wondering where to go. There were a few places where we thought we would stand a good chance of catching, such as Farlows, Linear Fisheries or Orchid Lake. In the end we decided to stay local and fish Whitevane in Sussex as my friend’s wife was due to give birth in a week or so.

Whitevane is a ten acre clay pit which holds a lot of carp in all sizes as well as all the usual coarse fish. I hadn’t fished this lake for over ten years, when the lake record was a common called Tulip that went about 40lb at the right time of the year.

I finished work early on Monday and after deciding to take half day’s holiday, I loaded the car and drove to the lake. I pulled into the car park to find it empty, I had the lake to myself! I grabbed a bucket and walked round to a peg where I saw some fizzing around fifty to sixty yards out. I dropped my bucket in the swim, and went back for the rest of my gear. When I got back in the swim the fizzing had stopped, so I put the kettle on and decided to have a couple of casts with a marker float and found a lovely gravel patch just big enough for two rods.

I popped the float up, and cast the right hand rod bang on it. It landed with a satisfying crack, indicating it was on the gravel. On this rod I opted for 10” of 16lb Mirage with a size 8 Covert Inzicor and a corked 18mm bottom bait. The left hand rod was then cast just to the left of the float, and settled into softer ground, the rig on this was made of 15lb Brown Disruption and a size 8 Covert Wide Gape hook and a 15mm Tiger Nut pop-up on the hair. Both rods had 16lb Mirage main line with Covert Multi-Clips and a 3oz lead.

Phil's essential terminal tackle

I was very happy with how both the rods had gone out, and now I wanted to put some bait out. The seagulls stopped me using a throwing stick so I spodded a couple of kilos of 15mm and 18mm Tiger Nut boilies.

With the rods sorted, I quickly got the shelter up just as my mate arrived. We had a quick chat before he went to get his gear. He was just on his way back when my left hand rod, with the pop-up on, pulled tight and I bent into a fish. I got it in without too much trouble, and it turned out to be a little common of about 7lb which I quickly slipped back.

Phil sharpened his hook points with a Point DoctorI always check the sharpness of the hook point if recasting after a bite, and this time I found that the hook needed to be sharpened. The new Gardner Point Doctor made quick work of this, and with a new bait on the rod was soon fishing again.

My friend had chosen to go in the swim next-door and within five minutes of casting out he had a take with resulted in a lovely 27lb mirror. It was a really nice scaly one, and we were off to a great start.

As is the case in winter, all too soon it started to get dark. My right hand rod was away next, and I pulled into what felt like a better carp! My friend was soon by my side with the net, and he soon had scooped the fish. It looked every bit a 20lb’er in the net, and the scales swung round to 21lb, and after taking a couple of pictures I slipped it back. The action during the night was pretty hectic, and I managed another three carp up to 15lb and four bream, and my mate had similar amount of fish. I felt these bites had meant a lot of my bait was gone so as soon as it was light enough to see I spodded out another two kilos of Tiger Nut boilies. I then tied a few more rigs in preparation before having some breakfast.

Through the day I had two small carp and three bream. I was getting takes on both rods, but from small carp or bream. I therefore decided to put bigger baits on my rods to try and prevent this. On the left rod I chose a snowman of an 18mm bottom bait tipped with a 15mm pop-up. On the right hander, I just drilled out two 18mm bottom baits and plugged the holes with cork, and I upped my hook size to a 6 Incizor.

Tulip weighing in at 37lbAgain, it wasn’t long before the light was fading so I topped up the swim with another kilo of boilies. I wouldn’t normally use this much bait at this time of year, but due to the amount of fish in the lake I thought I would try something different, especially as I was getting consistent action. I also wanted to avoid attracting too many bream, so would rather use just boilie than any pellet or particle.

The good run continued, Scrapper weighing 24lbThis turned out to be a wise move because at around 7pm on the last night I had a bream like take. It didn’t fight at all, until I got it in the margin when it woke up, and went mental! My mate was there with the net again, and once in the net we both realised it was a good common, a proper lump. After getting all the gear sorted and zeroing the scales I lifted the carp out on to my unhooking mat. It had a bare patch of scales just at the end of its dorsal fin near the tail and my friend said unbelievably that I had caught Tulip! The bare patch of scales gave her identity away, and it turned out she hadn’t been caught in over 4 years! We put her on the scales and the dial read out 37lb, and I was completely made up with the capture. I had a bottle of red wine which we drank to celebrate and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I packed up in the morning, well pleased with the outcome. However, it seemed my luck didn’t end there as after popping home for a shower and some food I went for a quick overnighter on my club lake. There I bagged one of the rare, old originals called Scrapper which pulled the scales around to 24lb!

Tulip weighing in at 37lb