At the end of May, myself along with fellow Gardner Tackle consultant Lee Wagner and head honcho Lewis Read had been asked to attend the Carp Society’s Junior Carp Camp at the prestigious Horseshoe Lake in rural Gloucestershire. Personally speaking it had been a while since I’d last helped out on one of the societies events and I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful lake once again.

A moody Horseshoe sunset.

I arrived on the evening before the juniors were due to arrive and after a brief chat with organiser Paul Boichat I made my way round to find Lee, who along with myself had been given the swims along the ‘Trout or humps bank’ to fish. After our hello’s and a good old chin wag I decided to get the gear out and look for a couple of suitable area’s for the kids and I to fish. After looking along the bank it soon became apparent that the small amount of water we had been allocated was going to be a none starter and a move was going to be in order when the juniors arrived the next morning. After a hearty dinner in the lodge with the rest of the instructors Lee and I made our way back to the swims, Lee to cast out and myself to catch up on a few hours kip before the onslaught of mums and dads descended on us!

The parents and juniors dually arrived next morning and my two lads Kyle and Conor were introduced to me. First impressions count on these kind of occasions and I did my best to be enthusiastic and confident of a few bites in order to give the boys a positive start. Likewise they too seemed keen and both looked like they had very funny personalities, so things looked good. Once they had said their goodbyes had been said and after both had set their gear up it was off for a tour round Horseshoe with the sole intention of finding some feeding fish. After a good hour or so we finally spotted a few fish right down the bottom end where the lake narrows up. We were not the only ones to have found them, as Lewis who had arrived that morning and his two youngsters had also been out looking for signs of fish. With that we spent the rest of the afternoon moving the kids down there and getting baits out as quietly as possible. Tactics wise it was simple case of flicking out a couple of solid PVA bags each dropped out at various distances from the bank in the hope of sneaking a bite before any fish that were here spooked out from the area. Lewis had supplied me with a selection of barbless Covert Mugga hooks and these were attached to 5 inch lengths of 15lb Trickster Heavy and attached to a simple 2.5 oz Flat Pear in-ine lead. All this was then fished in one of the Gardner small solid PVA bags. To try and temp a bite we had filled the bags with a selection of Richworth Baits new Solid Bag Mix and crumbed S-core boilies, along with a few micro trout and halibut pellets.

Kyle with his first ever 20lb carp.

With everything done it was time to settle in for the night and things looked promising when one of Lewis’s boys landed a superb heavily scaled 26lb mirror a new personal best for him. Unfortunately by mid-morning the next day it seemed that between us we had managed to spook the few fish from the area and after breakfast the boys and I decided on another lap or two to try and find another chance of a bite. With 24 hours fished it soon became apparent that due to the very cold spring weather the Horseshoe carp just weren’t playing ball as only a couple of fish had been landed despite some extremely experienced anglers trying their best to outwit a carp or two. I kept the boy’s spirits up as I showed them a multitude of tactics and rigs and despite the lack of bites both boys behaved superbly, there were certainly no quiet moments and we got on really well sharing numerous jokes and plenty of banter!

The next day it was time to dig that little bit deeper and pull out all the stops to get some fish on the bank. After another lap or two we found a few fish had moved into summer bay as the weather warmed a little and we were just in time to see Nigel Sharp and Dave Benton helping out with a fish on the bank. It turned out to be another lovely 20lber for one of the young anglers. With plenty of room up from them the boys and I dropped into a couple of swims 100 yards or so further up the bank.

We discussed tactics and it was soon clear zig rigs were going to give us the best chance of a bite or two, neither Kyle or Conor had any real experience fishing this way, so after a few minutes going through what we were trying to do and the tackle best suited for zigs we tied up a few hooklinks and got them out. Kyle was the first one to cast out and just a couple of minutes later the piece of black Zig Rig Foam was picked up and the line tightened and he was in! The fish fought well but with a little patience Kyle soon had it under control and I soon slipped the net under what looked like a 20lb mirror. The tiny size 12 Mugga hook despite being barbless was never coming out. It was at this point Kyle informed me his personal best was just a little over 10lb. Well his first bite and this fish looked to have doubled that! Nigel, Dave and the boys came down to offer congratulations and the Reuben’s confirmed the guess as they settled just a tad over the magic 20lb mark! I can clearly remember catching my first 20lber almost 25 years ago and the smile on Kyle’s face summed that feeling up, magical!

A small piece of black Zig Rig Foam fished just under the surface was the winning method.

With the pictures done and the fish returned it was soon Conor’s turn and he landed a stunning 18lb 8oz fully scaled mirror. Again a small piece of black Zig Rig Foam fished just under the surface was the winning method. At last a couple of fish and the pressure from my shoulders was finally lifted! The session soon came to an end and before long it was time to start packing away the gear and attend the presentation ceremony at the lodge. With all the parents in attendance, Paul handed out certificates and congratulated all the youngsters. It had been a very tough couple of days in terms of angling as the results showed with just a dozen or so carp landed, the extreme cold weather had certainly put the carp off the feed but despite this the youngsters and instructors had enjoyed a couple of days angling in superb surroundings. Both Kyle and Conor had been stars and their behaviour was a credit to them. I have already arranged to take them out again later in the year for a session at Linear Fisheries, so I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

The Carp Society runs the Junior Carp Camp every year and details can be found on their website.
One last kiss goodbye...