A successful spell through February and March led me to believe that my excellent results I’d been enjoying at the lake during this period of time, with less angler pressure, would unfortunately soon be coming to a close as the weather improved and inevitably more of the other syndicate members came out of their winter slumber.
I was more than content with the fish that I had caught so far this year, but with my ticket at the lake coming to an end in June I wasn’t going to ease up on the obsession – and the quest for ‘just one more Welly jewel’ was still burning brightly.
Out of the big carp in the lake that I hadn’t caught yet, one stood out that I dearly wanted to catch, and that was The Linear, a carp that had previously topped 50lb that carried historic battle scars and is simply an amazing looking beast.
It was now the beginning of April, and one of my favourite times of the year. The carp were becoming more active due to the gentle rise in water temperature and the increasing daylight hours; slowly but surely the huge carp that reside in this lake were making an appearance, one by one, as the winter turned to spring. They were not giving themselves away that easily, but the stamp of carp getting caught was breathtaking.
On this particular session, the joys of trying to finish my degree meant that it was an extremely demanding time as I was also working to complete assignment submissions and knuckle down with exam revision and consequently, as a result of being in the library getting everything in order, I arrived at the lake mid afternoon. This was a bit of a nuisance; because it meant that the morning arrivals had filled the main swims up, leaving me with a restricted choice of swims. Not only was Uni a constant distraction from my angling, but due my overly efficient reproduction capabilities, it also meant I had a heavily pregnant girlfriend to avoid/care for.
I opted for the last remaining ‘main’ swim called The Grassy. This wasn’t a bad consolation choice as I had been angling in the swim next door to a similar area over the previous weeks. It was evident, from rare shows of carp silently sliding up through the lakes surface, that they were using the island as a holding area or as a route to navigate from one end of the lake to the other in the relatively safe confines of the margins, out of most anglers’ reach. Going on the lakes form, afternoons were a good time to get a bite so I put out two singles tight to the island in the hope of attracting the attention of any carp that may still be in the area.
Being in a manic rush I had somehow left my sounder box in the van, so I had to make do with the classic old school method of stones on the spools with a frying pan underneath, listening for a clink on the pan if the spool were to start whizzing causing the stones to drop off. This was a slightly lazy approach, but a convenient temporary solution, at least until I thought bite time had passed for the afternoon and I could go and retrieve my ATT receiver from the silver passion wagon.
Due to my distinct lack of ability to ever feel satisfied I had been tinkering about with the perfectly effective Ronnie Rig in previous sessions. I wanted to create a rig that had the effectiveness of the Ronnie but also the ease of changing hooks like a multi-rig, the reason for this was that casting at range required a few tries to get the correct distance and land exactly on the spot; and consequently I’d occasionally bring the rig in after a couple of casts with the hook point turned over, so out popped the ‘Munnie Rig’ (Multi + Ronnie = Munnie) and I had caught fish on this rig on the two previous sessions. The only thing was the hook holds were not as convincing as the Ronnie rig captures I had had, so I decided that the time for experimentation was over and two Ronnie rigs were dispatched out to the island.
Within an hour of casting out, a carp had taken a liking to my 12mm pink pop up as it sat on the sunny island margin, and the clonk of stone on frying pan indicated that a spool was spinning away! I was carrying on from where I had left off, which boosted my confidence further and I felt like I couldn’t put a foot wrong. The fish immediately felt like a big one, and as I coaxed it in the pale shape of a big ghostie broke the surface. As much I like catching this slightly psychotic strain of carp, the novelty had started to wear off as quite frankly I wanted to be greedy and get through more of the big mirrors! The carp turned out to be a football shaped ghostie of 45lb 8oz and whilst it may not be the most desirable carp that the lake has to offer it is still a big fish and was an excellent start to the session.
At times the carp in Welly can really frustrate the anglers that fish on the lake, simply because they can be so bloody elusive and hard to track down, despite there being so many HUGE specimens. Nonetheless, on this occasion I felt so in tune with the lake that I was certain that I knew where the fish were – and I also had an effective approach that was doing the business.
After receiving no more action I was up at first light to scan the island, where I suspected the carp were still loitering, like clockwork they were there in the vicinity but I could get closer to them by a quick move of swims, to the Hole in the Bush next door. The benefits of this move included being able to fish and keep bait going in on recent productive spots and being on fish that were seeking the safety of the longer island spots.
I stuck with the same tactics, casting out singles on a simple helicopter setup again. The streamline setup once again helped to get the necessary casts, about 130-140 yards range, to intrude the carp’s ‘safe area’. Almost instantly another quick bite occurred and a feisty battle resulted in a typically angry common of 24lb on the bank.
After this I decided to introduce a kilo of Odyssey XXX boilies on a couple of spots; one was an Island Margin that is conveniently within catapult range, that I regularly bait whether I fish it or not when I am in the swim. The other was a well known area in the swim that sees bait literally every day.
I purposely rested the baited areas through the day with the intention to fish them through the night. This was a tactic that is often overlooked, but I firmly believe had been pivotal in luring some of the bigger residents of the pond into my net. The theory being that the fish had the whole day to find and feast on the spots and to get really confident that the spot was safe whilst there is no end tackle present.
As the light levels dipped low enough to avoid the bastard coots from picking up my rigs I prayed that one cast would be enough to get the rods out on the spots for the night. Without any wind causing a hindrance to my casting I delicately got them out perfectly first time and once the rods had settled I was chatting to the chap next door who mentioned that he thought he saw a fish poke its head out over the close in margin spot a little while earlier.
I tend to take these comments with a pinch of salt sometimes, but his sighting was fully justified when it turned out that the plan had obviously worked an absolute treat, again as born out by the events that were about to unfold! As it turned out, it didn’t take long before my right hand rod was almost being wrenched from the buzzers.
Amusingly for Lewis (but not to my knee caps or face) as I ran to my rod at an impressive pace I performed a full face plant with a cross summersault whilst losing a trainer in the process! Stumbling about with one shoe and mud in my eye, and Lewis wetting himself, I got control of the fish and instantly felt a much more powerful creature pulling on the end.
This fish kited then pulled line off the clutch furiously as it tore along the near margin of the swim, as more and more line was stripped from the spool concerns naturally grew. I could feel my GT80+ mainline grating along what felt like discarded line, left over from a lost fish perhaps or an unfortunate cast. The sensation was not a pleasant one, however after keeping faith in my tackle I began to turn the carp and steer it towards open water, eventually gaining direct contact in the process.
A lengthy fight resulted in a huge common rolling into the net, it was certainly one of the monsters, but it was difficult to identify which one of the four resident 50+ commons it was at first as we left it in the net. Just as we lost the light a few of the other lads arrived lending a hand and luckily it turned out to be ‘The Small Tailed Common’ at 51lb. An infrequent visitor to the bank, and a new fish for me so I was absolutely over the moon. With all the handshakes complete and a quick celebratory can of 7Up (is there a carpier fizzy drink?) I got the rod back out and slipped into the bag.
The rest of the night passed by quietly, which surprised me, as the common the evening before was excreting bait on the mat. Knowing that it was definitely my bait and also knowing how Iong the bait was out there it was obvious that it was hungry and must have really got its head down.
With this in mind, I decided to bait up with the throwing stick using 18mm baits to get the range required in the morning, right on first light to avoid the attention of the gulls and with the strategic aim of keeping the swim free of commotion for the remaining 24hrs of the session; with just a recast necessary before dark.
I had certainly relaxed throughout the day, content after having a colossal common from the previous evening, but I still wanted to be greedy and catch more fish. The signs of activity in the swim were subtle but there were still evident within my swim and I felt confident that I could get lucky one more time before the session ended. The rods were once again put out with the same successful presentations, namely the winning combination of a ponced 12mm pop up on a size 4 Mugga/Ronnie rig.
It wasn’t until 2AM when I had a take off the lodge spot. This happened to make it a fish off each spot in the swim at this point, and having enjoyed another spritely fight I was soon guiding the fish into the confines the net without wiping out any of the other rods (which can occur in this tight swim). It turned out to be a common of 32lb 04oz had obviously taken a liking to the xxx and was more than welcome.
With it still being in the small hours of darkness I wrapped up the rod and cast it back out on the lodge spot at a 100yards with minimal fuss. I feared that there was no bait out there so I decided to top up the spot with 30 baits. It was a chilly night but the upside of that was it was clear and still and I could be confident with the accuracy of both the bait and the repositioned hook bait.
Strangely, probably because of how the session had gone so far, I was confident of another bite before leaving in the morning. The repositioned rod woke me up at first light causing the little ATTs to go into meltdown. When I pulled into the fish, it halted immediately and just seemed to hold its ground. I slowly gained line and some momentum and the carp just felt awfully heavy whilst almost waddling in. To be honest, at this point I thought it could be one of the big mirrors that is known for fighting like this. Thankfully, it just kept coming in as my nerves became more and more frail. The size 4 Covert Dark Mugga held firm as always and I knew exactly what carp it was as it rolled over the net cord; it was The Linear!! A fish that was always at the very top of my Welly Whacker wish list…
I really couldn’t believe what had happened, with a fish like this size is irrelevant, but at 50lb 6oz I’d be lying if I said the weight didn’t make the capture even more special. Just like all the other carp, The Linear was in absolutely immaculate condition, and is truly one of the most spectacular fish I will ever see.
The Linear was a fitting end to 3 wonderful years at Wellington, topping off a catch list of over 100 carp including 9 different 50’s. It’s not only the outrageous stock that make this venue so special but the whole package of decent, gentlemanly anglers set in a picturesque park estate. As one door closes another opens…..the Parrot is squawking!