Tommy is visiting the Quarry pit again this spring, here’s installment one of a two part article detailing his previous pilgrimages to the UK.

In January 2016 I wrote my first article about fishing on English soil that was written about my love and fascination for fishing in the UK and the urge to catch carp on the Island where it all started. England is where modern day carp angling started, so for me it’s ‘back to the roots’ as I have always adapted some English techniques in my own fishing over here in Belgium, and other places I have been to.

The English way has always been kind to me, and has caught me a lot of fish along the way. When I say the English way, I mean rig wise, observation (watercraft) fishing in the margins, wrapping and clipping, feeling the bottom, using a marker and all other stuff. Tricks that overall have made me a better angler.

Actually, fishing in the UK was the natural progression and I did the odd trip years ago, but now I got the UK bug properly and I like it a lot! It’s not easy fishing, like going to France and catching hippo after hippo from a commercial fishery that’s stocked to the brim with chunks. We all like to catch big fish, and so do I, but needs to be a challenge; if it’s too easy it gets very boring and that’s why I set myself targets that will take some effort. Fishing on the big canals over here in Belgium is certainly a challenge and so is fishing in the UK where I like to go to lakes like the Quarry in Essex.

It’s a pretty busy day ticket lake with head of around 270 fish. These fish are a mixture of original fish (from when the Quarry was a syndicate) and new fish that were stocked in the last few years and all of them are fantastic looking fish. After my first session at the Quarry in late autumn of ‘14 (I blanked) I really wanted to go back and fish it again, and so plans were made to return again.

After a walk around the venue in 2015 with my mate Peter van den Star from Holland (when we were fishing at Ladywell) we decided that we would do a session in 2016. Man, was I looking forward to that trip and the chance of catching a UK thirty or even a forty. I was very exited!! But this was only August 015, which was a long way from spring 2016, and as Peter is a self employed builder he did not know exactly when he could get time out to do this session.

After a lot of chatting Ben Lofting (the owner of Cleverley fisheries and of the Quarry we were advised to come around May, as that is a very good time to come, but Peter could not take a week off as he was working hard on a very big project at the time. So he told me if you want to go, but you have to go with someone else as I don’t drive yet myself (which is ‘work in progress’ for me).

I started to ask around guys I know and Vincent, who is also a member of the Benelux Gardner Tackle team whom I met him at a few shows in the winter and had fished together too said he would like to come, so the plan was to fish the Quarry with Vincent for a week in May.

I booked the week via Ben and booked a ferry to sail on 6/7 May to fish until the 15th May. To say I was looking forward to this trip was an understatement and Friday 6th May could not come quick enough. Time passed slowly, and I did some fishing (blanking) on the mighty Albert Canal. These where my first steps on this big canal that I had wanted to fish for years but never had the guts to really give it a go until that point. The UK Quarry trip was on my mind all the time…

Finally, Friday 6th was upon us and it was time to get everything in Vincent´s van. It was an easy drive up to Calais and the ferry crossing was a necessary (boring) evil but as it was the first time for Vincent, so it was kind of exciting as well because it was his first session fishing in the UK!!

I think back on my first ever fishing trip to the UK as being epic and I still have the same feeling after all these years, I just love coming over and meet up with great guys who I have met along the way through Facebook and being a Mainline and Gardner consultant!! So it’s always nice to meet up with some of the guys.

Right this crossing went fine and the drive up to the Quarry on the ‘wrong side of the road’ went great (first time for Vince) and we soon found our way to the gate to paradise. Driving along the dirt track was just magical as you know it’s going to be a great weeks fishing. We drove all the way to the back shallow bay and took out the bed to sleep a few hours under the stars.
I only slept a few hours as it was dawn very soon, and I could hear jumping fish in the shallow bay so made my way down to the lake. The van was up the bank just behind swim 15, and being the last swim on this bank I saw fish jump to my left ,right and in front!

A plan started to form in my head, so I woke up Vince to do a lap of the lake but knew in my mind already of where I would like to fish. The swim son this bank have a reputation of producing some of the bigger fish in the lake. We did a lap of the lake and after returning to 15 I asked Vince where he fancied fishing? I gave him first choice to pick a swim, and he said I would like to fish in here in 15 and that was fine by me, as I was really happy to fish in the Sticks swim next door.

As soon as the rods were ready I did some plumbing around with the marker float and found a few nice spots that were clear of weed, so happy days. The left hand rod was fished to a gravelly spot at around 15 wraps and the middle was fished short of this same area. The right hand rod was fished to the right on a clean gravel area at 9 wraps. I baited a lot on the 15 wrap spot and went easy on the baiting of the close in spot, electing to fire a few pouches of boilies around that area – and that was me almost done. I just set the traps after the baiting up and the waiting game could begin.

Vince did the same and after we sat down with a nice cold beer, taking it all in and enjoyed a nice evening. It was quite busy around the lake, being prime time and weekend so we just did our thing. Bait wise I was using Cell (self rolled at home) and the new Essential Cell in a mix, I had never see this bait I only heard about it so Ben gave my a 10k bag plus the 5k of Cell I had enough of bait for the week.

Vince carefully got up a tree and could see fish close in and started stalking a few spots, but he thought the fish were up here for other reasons other than just feeding. The weather was great so perhaps spawning was in the air!! Ben’s opinion was that it was still too early and I hoped he was right!

Sunday passed blissfully by and I could hear quite a few fish along to the right of me and it made me think about changing the two rods that were positioned at the 15 wrap mark, because I had not seen any signs yet. I was confident that a bite was in the air on the right hand rod and early Monday morning that rod ripped off and this fish started to kite to the right. The right hand side of my swim is full of overhanging trees and the next swim around 100 meters away, which is why the carp love this area as it’s a bit like an out of bounds area! With some side strain I turned the fish around and after a 10 minute battle it was in my net and my first of the session was a fact!!

What a fish it turned out to be, a mirror of 32lb 12oz (writing about it gives me that same tear in my eye) and it was my first ever UK thirty. I was buzzing and my trip was already a success!! Man what a feeling. After the pictures were done I slipped the fish back into its watery home and cast that rod back out onto that spot and put another 5 pouch full of boilies on top.

The rest of the day past in a haze, as I was on cloud 9 and feeling very happy! Isn’t that is what it’s all about? Enjoying your angling and catching a few along the way.

I had a very nice low twenty mirror the night, on the same right hand rod, so on Tuesday lunch time I had a rethink for the other rods, as these where still silent and I had not seen anything out there. I decided that the middle rod was going to be fished on the same gravel as the right hand rod – about a rod length apart – and the left hand rod was going to be fished as a ‘single’ in the middle of nowhere.

That night I lost one on the middle rod on a new rig I tied up that evening, but the action confirmed the gravel area was definitely the place to be, a fact that reinforced a few seconds after losing that fish when I received another take on the right hand rod (the banker rod)!

Once again this fish tried its best to go right along the tree line, but I turned this one as well and she ended safely my net and what a fish again!! This time it was a 29lb common and again a new Uk Pb common. I was buzzing again and forgot all about that lost fish as this one more than made up for it. What a fantastic water this is!!

To be continued… Tommy De Cleen