I haven’t managed an awful lot of fishing this month, but feel I haven’t done too bad during the short spells I have spent on the bank. At the beginning of the month I was without my rods as they were with Kev at Hampshire Custom Rods being re-built and given some much needed TLC! I was therefore forced to use some of the coaching rods at work which were massively under gunned for the weedy conditions, but I really didn’t have a choice! Armed with a set of 3lb T.C Shimano Alivio rods I made the short journey to the lake with a rough idea of where I wanted to be as I had seen them in a certain area on several mid-morning and afternoon periods in recent trips. The lake was fairly busy with most swims taken, however the swim I had in mind was still free so I promptly set up full of anticipation. I had a quick lead around on the areas I had seen them and before long had found some spots they had obviously been feeding on regularly as they were clean as a whistle with dense weed surrounding the areas.

I used my favoured Covert lead clip set up on around 4 feet of CamFlex leadcore as this would guarantee I could quickly drop the lead on any take hopefully bringing the hooked fish up off the bottom away from the weed. I always rely on super strong and reliable end tackle when the weed is up and I have been using hinge stiff rigs with 25lb Ultra Skin boom sections and 25lb Trip Wire chod sections, with size 5 Covert Chod hooks on the business end. I haven’t had a single problem with the weed and the hook holds have been incredible! My first bite came just before first light when a small upper double graced the net from the margin rod placed off an overhanging bush in a deeper gully. I got the rod back out, dealt with the fish and got back in the bag for a couple of hours and eventually woke around 10am, which was slightly later than planned!

By mid-day and with not much going on I had already topped up the spots and re-clipped the rods etc. and was going to join a few mates floater fishing on the other lake for a few hours. I was just about to leave the swim when I glanced back and saw a big mirror stick its head out on one of my recently topped up spots. The wind had swung and was now blowing straight in my face and was lovely and warm. I quickly tied on fresh Carp Company Caviar and Cranberry cork ball pop-ups and chucked the rods back to their respective spots as quickly as possible. I decided to put the kettle on to try and calm my nerves after seeing a further two fish on my spots, but before it had even part boiled the right hand rod was away. There was a buoy in the swim to my left and it was heading straight for it, but I clamped down knowing full well the tackle would hold out. Before long the fish was in close and as I was reaching for the net when it decided to power off again straight through my other lines! It was a right mess with the fish now stuck on the surface 20 yards out tangled in two other lines and there was very little I could do I could do nothing. The fish lay there constantly nodding its head and as I was stripping off to go in after it the hook pulled and an upper twenty mirror swam off.

I was gutted and everything was a mess, but I got it sorted as quickly as possible and had a take within five minutes of getting the rods back out this time on the middle rod. The fish felt very heavy and powered off towards the buoy at an alarming rate. I again clamped down and managed to turn the fish and gained around twenty yards before it turned off back in the direction of the buoy again. I tried my best but it eventually got there and snagged me solid before the line parted and I was gutted! I went to bed early that night and the wind had swung round again taking the fish with it, so I set my alarm for first light when it was due to switch again. I was awoken by an alarm but not the one on the phone as this time the right hand rod was away and I was soon in chest waders holding the rod at full test curve. It felt like another good fish and fought extremely hard but this time it all went to plan and I landed the most incredible scaley mirror and it was a bit of a chunk too!

I retained the fish and got the rod back out and sent a few texts to see if anyone could do some pictures when the light was better in a few hours. I tried to get back to sleep but I was too excited and sat drinking tea until Calum arrived to do the pictures. The fish was weighed at 34lb 4oz and was apparently known as “The Mug” due to the fact it hardly ever graces the bank! None of that really mattered though as its a beautiful proper old carp and one I’m proud to have seen in the flesh. That was it for the weekend and I packed up a happy angler despite the losses I suffered the day previously. I wandered if I had been using my actual rods would I have landed them having more of a backbone? Who Knows!!

Due to work commitments I didn’t fish again until the final week of the month when I had a trip planned to France for my job at FLE. We had arranged The FLE 2015 Tour and were taking 13 clients to The Fishing Resort Du Der run by Hans Sissingh in the Champaign region of France. We had hired Lac Chenet exclusively for the clients and some even had the luxury of cabins in their swim. Upon arrival we were greeted with a lovely barbecue and some cold French beers along with beautiful sunshine and the clients soon set off for a look about in preparation for the draw. People were fishing in pairs with one single angler and once everyone was back we got things going so people could get sorted before it was dark. We sounded a hooter at midnight to signal the start of the fishing and our first call came after an hour and a half as one of the clients had a low thirty ghost common. We assisted with the weighing a pictures before trying to get some much needed sleep after the long journey. Myself and Graham were sleeping by the outdoor bar area as we didn’t have a swim until Monday when ours became available on the other lake.

Things had started well and we were kept busy throughout the following day as a few fish were steadily caught and pb’s broken. We also had a supermarket run to do which took a lot longer than expected with my sense of directions! Each evening we also had to deliver each angler a freshly prepared three course meal which was part of the food package and was highly complimented by our clients. We had our first 50lb+ fish caught the following morning whilst doing a round of the lake offering tuitions ad help to the clients and it was a fish I had caught on a previous trip in 2011 and is still my foreign pb now. It was a massive buzz for everyone there to see such a large fish on the bank and everyone now had their sights set on a fish of such high calibre. It was another night of no sleep with a few more fish caught around the lake and we were looking forward to getting our swim at midday as it had a cabin with real beds!

After a lap of the lake visiting the clients we loaded our kit in to the van ready to move into our swim and it didn’t take long to get everything sorted. It was quiet for the clients so we decided to fish for a couple of hours as we were seeing them show at around 120 yards out to our left. We fished with solid pva bags glugged up with oils and washed out pink pop-up hookbaits cast at the showing fish instead of making too much disturbance leading around. They were still showing after the rods were out and within an hour the first bite fell to Grahams rods and it was a great first fish at over 46lb. I slipped the hook out in the net so Graham could get a fresh bag out there and retained the net securely with a two rod buzz bar on a storm rod. As Graham was clipping the bobbin on my rod was away and after a spirited scrap I landed a lovely looking 39lb 8oz mirror. I too quickly got the rod back out as Graham’s rod was again away with what looked to be another big fish. He got the fish to within about 40 yards when his other rod tore off. I quickly lifted in to the fish and slipped the net under a 26lb mirror before Graham had landed his fish, so I quickly assisted and we eventually netted what was clearly another good forty.

Once on the scales our thoughts were confirmed as the needle span around and settled on 49lb! We had a couple more that afternoon before having to wind in and do the evening food delivery which coincided with a huge storm! We had to deliver three course meals to the clients on a golf cart for transport and got absolutely soaked in the process! The storm did however signal the start of some more action for our clients, so most of the evening was spent helping with caught fish and socialising. We awoke a little on the hazy side the following morning and it was blistering hot which had given the carp the final push to commence their annual ritual. All the fish were around the shallow margins of the island well over 180 yards out and the noise from the thrashing was incredible! We spent the day giving tuitions to the clients in their swims and I did a whole lot of spombing too. We had a great social on the Wednesday night and had the day off to fish on the Thursday and although the spawning had subsided the action was slow going. As the afternoon rolled in a fresh westerly blowing in our faces, which saw us catch a few more fish and we retired at around 10pm as we had a long day ahead of us with the journey back.

We both managed a couple more fish just before we had to wind in including a 43lb mirror on my left hand rod after loosing three on the bounce due to cut-offs on the zebra mussels. In fact there were three zebra mussels clasped on my line when I netted the forty! We all gathered after loading the kit to thank Hans for such great hospitality, fishing and to settle up the bar tabs for the week! The journey back was long and tiring including a pretty rough boat crossing, which had one of our clients curled up hurling which wasn’t ideal. We eventually got back to FLE at around 1am and after the quickest unload ever we all retired to our own beds for some well overdue sleep!

I should be back out on my syndicate in the coming weeks so will let you know how that goes next time!