Looking back through some of images from this season suggests it’s been a fairly decent year given the limited time I’ve had. I was gifted with the birth of my daughter on February 27th this year, which meant most of my angling has been a Friday night after work, with the odd mid-week session here and there where possible. Essentially I’ve turned up from cold (more often than not) making up the numbers and trying to do my best with what was still available. In the past recce trips to the venue and priming spots has nearly always upped my chances tenfold, however with work and added family commitments this has become almost impossible. Observing the weather and getting snippets of information from friends always gives me an idea of where to start looking when my allotted time comes round though. I’ve worked really hard to try to put myself in the right place rather than having too may preconceived ideas. I have found even the best laid plans can impair your judgement and can often sway you with your comfort zone or favourite swim as it’s an easy option.

One thing limited time does do though, is it forces you to make the most any opportunities that present themselves. More often than not I’ll often see something and initially try and just get a bite and build from there even if it means moving throughout the session. During the later part of this year this has really paid dividends, although having said that you do find yourself chasing your tail at times, when really sitting tight and ambushing the carp with pre laid traps is the way to go albeit sometimes very boring waiting for hours on end.

At the moment I have so many ideas and plans for next year and in honesty there are some waters that I would love to have a go on. Some have a reputation for being tricky or low stock, but without making excuses I’m a realist with one night a week. Tailoring a venue to suit is probably a better option and fishing higher stocked venues will give me better odds rather than slogging it out for one or two fish a year.

Alan Stagg once said to me it’s all about the tickets and I’ve never heard truer words. If it’s a fifty pounder you want to target it goes without saying that you have to be on a venue that’s got at least one or more otherwise it simply not going to happe. I live close to arguably some of the best waters around- Yateley, Horton, Welly, Dinton to name a few, but with many of these the trappings other than ticket fees is time and time is often the single biggest ingredient to success. I’ve seen many anglers that have good results but they often have oodles of time to dedicate to the cause. I am living proof of this too as I often fished two sometimes three nights a week for around 4-5 months last year and fulfilled many of my targets. In fact I probably exceeded my wildest dreams. You soon become in tune with the venue and really hone your skills with practise, but that comes with the price that is time. For now I’m not going to make a decision on where to fish next year and simply see how things go.

This year I have contributed to several mainstream carp magazines, been out filming on four occasions with a Drennan Specimen Cup Winner and help put together some nice footage of carp to 35lb 12oz and caught carp from under the ice too! I’ve also had carp to over 30lbs from four different venues, caught several carp from my wish list and set a new club record weight in a charity pairs match with my old friend Ricky. I’ve had carp to 40 lb 8oz this year, catfish to 60lb+, bream to double figures, gained sponsorship from ABS Baits (Geoff Bowers) and tested some fantastic products from GT. Not forgetting attending the MNDA fishing with stars pro-am and catching up with some of the GT team, which is always nice. Witnessing Stotty throwing some shapes barefooted whilst slightly pickled was certainly a highlight!

As we start to see out yet another year I’d like to thank all the guys at Gardner Tackle for there continued support and the fantastic opportunity I’ve been given.