I simply cannot believe how fast this year has gone! I’ve had a really hard year, trying to find the time to get the sticks out. When I have managed to go I’ve really savoured the moment of just being there, rather than concentrating on my angling.

It was during one of these savouring moments that my carp head kicked into gear. I was up really early one morning, thanks to an infestation of red spider mites crawling over me all night (quite possibly the world’s most irritating feeling!) when I witnessed fish crashing in a secluded corner at the opposite end of the lake. It was quite a spectacle, with one fish after another boshing in an area no bigger than 10 square metres. Now this was something different on this venue, because the fish rarely show themselves in such an acrobatic manner, which can be incredibly depressing at the best of times!

I knew the area was the deepest part of the lake, and also never fished. The pathway that leads to the nearest swim was totally overgrown and would require a lot of work to allow reasonable access; as did the swim itself. Undeterred, I arrived at the lake one hot and sunny morning before work and ‘attacked’ the path and swim. I’d come armed with my freshly purchased Lidl Loppers and other random gardening tools. They all survived but I didn’t! Broken, the endeavours left me looking unfit to sit at my desk let alone complete a day’s work, but I’d achieved what I had set out to do.

Before setting off for work I’d had a quick plumb about and found three good areas of varying depths that were right in the zone where I’d seen the fish show the previous week, none of which were more than 20 yards out. Perfect; so I baited with a combination of pristine pellet and some nut mix boilies, with the intention of fishing the primed spots over the upcoming weekend.

Friday couldn’t arrive quickly enough and this time around I found myself doing battle with an infestation of red ants! It was just another obstacle I’d have to overcome with napalm and renewed determination. I won – they lost….

Finally three rods were positioned to my complete satisfaction each with the ever- faithful S2 pop-ups attached to a Mirage/Trip Wire hinged stiff links tied with size 6 Chod hooks. 35lb CamFlex leadcore leaders and 3oz Bolt Bombs fished heli-style with Drop Out Chod release clips under a cut-down Gardner tail rubber completed the terminal arrangements.

One thing I hadn’t actually taken into consideration was the height of the swim, which elevated me above the surface of the water to such an extent that from the opposite side of the lake it made the bivvy look like an imposing theatre! I didn’t like this, as I prefer to be tucked discreetly away and this was the total opposite. However, my first night produced an absolutely belting take that had me connected to a very powerful fish that I just couldn’t slow down or control! Its power was simply unbelievable, at least for the time I had it on! As soon as it hit the weed (which was in abundance) the hook pulled. I was absolutely gutted! There are still quite a few big fish in the venue that have somehow evaded being caught despite having been seen numerous times, so it makes losing a good one all the more depressing!

That rod was eventually repositioned, but it transpired to be the right-hand rod that pulled down hard at 5am the next morning. With all good intentions to jump out of the bag and into the awaiting open boots, I bypassed them completely seeking revenge I found myself standing in the aforementioned red ant nest with nothing on my feet (yes, lovely that), but I was into a fish, sod it! Immediately it locked up solid in the weed, but rather than jump into the boat I managed to move the entire weed bed edging it nearer and nearer until I realised I was a long way off reaching it with the landing net.
I wasn’t even sure if the fish was still on but I had to give it everything to get it in applying as much pressure as I dared. Soon, thanks to my woeful guidance skills and a lot of brute force, the slow-moving weed bed had wiped out the other two rods and I had to take to the margin with the net to salvage what, if anything was still on the end of my line. I scooped the lot and found an indignant 12lb stocky that was eventually revealed and released leaving my swim a total wreck with no rods fishing. Certainly not my proudest fishing moment, it has to be said.

I needed to give my approach to this swim some serious thought, and as the session wore on I actually managed to extract a couple of carp up to 22lbs, but I knew deep down that I had to look at a swim called ‘The Reeds’ that offered me access to the same water but with a different angle of extraction.

With the nights drawing in I really needed to maximise my baiting during the daylight hours and also ensure that I landed my rigs spot on no matter what time I turned up at the lake. In an ideal world, I would simply be able to get the rods out during the daylight hours, but that luxury was something I didn’t have. Because of my limited time I’ve necessarily honed my night casting skills and there is definitely some sort of satisfaction in landing a rig in a hole in the weed 50 yards out in pitch darkness.

With Smartphone’s now, everything is that much easier to record; making notes and taking pictures of the tree lines really does help to get your casts right, there and then. Getting into the habit of measuring distances accurately using a set of Wrappers really is a game changer and although I wasn’t convinced by these (before I used this method) I’m now a total convert! I still use the Mark-It marker elastic to create a visual line marker, because it’s reassuring to know I’m exactly on the money, but it’s the Wrapper’s that I use to set this range.

One other thing; if you don’t already, try practising casting your baited rig by swinging the lead in front of you to line yourself up with the tree-line that you’ve recorded and then swinging back in a pendulum fashion before casting at your spot. I personally find that this method gives you far greater accuracy day or night, rather than holding the lead behind you and casting from that point. It’s the same approach with golfers. You don’t see them about to tee off with their club in the air, do you?

I’ve done a few nights in The Reeds swim now, and with the help of regular baiting trips the six-foot square hole in the weed has been opened up and is now twice the size. The spot is now so clear that when I view the spot from the boat it looks like Brighton Beach! There are still walls of weed around it, and this means the casting has to be spot-on, and consequently I have had to adapt my casting for this situation. So far, it’s been working out well. Two trips out, and I’ve landed five fish with the biggest being a nice looking 27lb common. Of course, I’ve lost a chunk as well so the torture continues, but that’s part of the challenge isn’t it!

Despite the year flying by and night’s drawing in I’m not going to let it interfere with my plans. I’ll be out there when I can – and trying to make every second count!