Anyone that knows me will know that my main passion in carp fishing is to target big fish and I’m not an angler that likes to spend time fishing day ticket waters. It’s not that I’m a snob when it comes to the size of carp, it’s more a case of when I start fishing a lake I like to get right into it without any distractions for however long it takes to achieve my goals.

Some might call this tunnel vision and with what I had planned this Spring I certainly didn’t want any distractions. Luckily Lewis at Gardner understood this and he pretty much left me alone all Spring. In fact all he had asked from me was to attend a filming social booked on Advanced Angling’s Gold Lake at Burghfield during mid-August. This left me plenty of time to remain focused, but I must admit I wasn’t too excited about the trip but I agreed as it’s effectively what’s required from us sponsored anglers or consultants as they are known in the trade.

Luckily for me, my heads down arse up approach to the big lake I was fishing in that area paid off in late May, so I wasn’t imprisoned by one fish and I could enjoy the remainder of my time on that water up until the heat wave set in. From that point I just enjoyed some floater fishing rather than spending countless days camping and sweating out in a bivvy behind dead rods.

The summer flew by and before I knew it the social on The Gold Lake was looming and I had to get my head on it. Funnily enough although I’ve fished in that area on and off over the last two decades I’ve paid very little attention to The Gold Lake, so I was definitely going in blind. I thought I’d best make some sort of effort to gain some info and even try and catch one or two during the planned two night stay.

Obviously stock is an important thing to find out and to my amazement I learnt the lake held a fair amount of fish and there were about six 30s amongst them. Catching one of them was going to be a tall order but as they say it’s best to dream big, so to try and catch one of them was a target I set myself.

I rang a mate who was fishing on the mighty Burghfield a few days before the planned trip to see if he knew anything about the venue and what goes. Unfortunately he didn’t but he asked the bailiffs and luckily for me they were fishing it the weekend before our planned visit on the Monday. This is where some networking paid off and I soon had a map text to me and info on the spots to fish and where the fish tend to frequent during the day and where they go and feed during the mornings and evenings. This was good info but better still whilst walking Frimley on the Sunday I bumped into one of our Pit 3 members Andy Champion and he’d fished the venue the week before. Andy’s info was awesome and he said it was fairly prolific but the crayfish were a nightmare during the night and the rules stated no nuts or plastic baits. Andy also told me to keep a close eye on a reed bed near to where you enter the lake as the carp seemed to live there or dive in there once the pressure started in the middle part of the lake.

Nigel’s Rig

I had some good info to go on and it was just a case of turning up on the day. I rocked up at the crack of noon and there were already several cars in the car park. I wasn’t going to be getting the first choice of swim and to be honest it was meant to be a working social anyway, so I wasn’t too disappointed to see others were keen. As I walked onto the lake I noticed the first few swims were empty and opposite was the reed bed Andy had mentioned. This obviously gave me a lift in confidence but out of politeness I thought rather than dive into a swim unannounced I’d best go and say hello to the others on the lake. I soon spotted some bubbling in amongst the weed beds out in the open water and after turning a few corners I found Alan filming a keen youngster. Whilst chatting to them, Matt Eaton and a carpy looking chap with a beard called James turned up after having a tour of the small lake. They had both seen the same areas of bubbling and being as they were there before me I gave them first choice of swims. It seemed Matty was keen on going at the bubblers around the mouths of the two small bays and James decided he’d fish in the far corner of the lake, which left me to choose between the East bank or the reedy bay. This is where watercraft and the good info came into play. I knew there were two others due to turn up and there was plenty of room for them to fish on the East bank, so if I went in the bay and fished to the reeds the carp would hopefully turn up once the lads started putting some leads across them in the main bowl of the lake. I’m not too keen on second guessing on where the fish will end up but with no snags in the lake and with the info I’d gained seeming spot on, all I had to do was look in the reeds and hopefully find some encouragement. As I crept into the back of the reed bed three half decent carp waddled off the shelf in a clearing at the back of the reeds. Although I’d spooked those fish, I suspected that others would turn up so that was the decision made for me. Whilst I was stood there hoping to see others turn up I noticed there were two channels to that clearing, so the obvious thing to do was to line them up and have a flick around with a light lead from the swim opposite to see how fishable those areas were. If they were clear enough to present a hook bait on that was me sorted.

A few minutes later I was in the swim opposite with a leading rod and after making several casts I found that if I landed close to the reeds (almost clipping them) I’d get a fairly long drop into deep water and a firm ‘donk’. I could only get a short pull before hitting weed, but that was good enough for me and I soon began assembling some simple rigs. Being as leadcore was banned I used a lead clip and fished a D-Rig made from 30lb Mirage Fluorocarbon. The reason behind using this rather than any of the other materials was because I was going to be using hardened baits which had no buoyancy, so I was relying on the hooklink to push the bait away from the lead rather than a slow sinker on a softer link. Obviously if the crays weren’t in there I would have preferred to use the latter, but I wanted to be able to fish through the buggers attacking my baits rather than having to recast every hour.

Once the rigs were in position I nipped around to the far margin and baited both of the channels with around 4 handfuls of Urban’s 14mm Tuna and Garlic and then sat on my rods in the hope of a quick bite whilst the others cast around in the open water. Luckily everything went to plan and literally within an hour an aggressive take occurred and as I was fishing locked up I was on the rod in a flash and steering a fish clear of the reads and out into open water where it put up an excellent battle on my soft rods. After a few minutes a nice clean low twenty common was sulking in my net and to me it was job done and game on. Once the pics were done and the rod was cast back out it was a case of socialising with Matty next door whilst awaiting the next bite. The next bite fell to Matty and we all agreed he’d caught quite possibly the ugliest fish we’d ever seen which added to the fun.

Nigel’s Common

For some reason nothing else happened in my swim that night and I suspected the crays might have cleaned me out, so I recast both rods at dawn and re-baited each channel with another 3 handfuls of bait and sat and had a break with Matty. From what we could see Lewis had caught a couple from the East bank that morning and before I’d barely had a couple of sips of tea my ATTx remote signalled a bite and the next thing I knew I was doing battle with a lively carp. This fish wasn’t as big as the common, but it was welcome and the capture reinforced the point that I needed to continue baiting on a ‘little and often’ basis as both bites had come quickly after topping up the swim. Like the first, the fish had dumped the lead and as I rarely dump leads and I wasn’t carrying many spares I was already low on the larger 2.5oz version I prefer to use when using D-Rigs. I don’t know why but this rig definitely fishes better with larger leads and unfortunately I didn’t have any, so I had to put on 1.5oz versions. This is where it all went wrong for a bit because the bites kept coming each time I baited, but I suffered two hook pulls. One of the losses wounded me as I saw the fish and it was definitely one of the big’uns if not the big’un in the lake. It actually gave me a really slow take and I virtually wound it all the way into the bank and I got a sighting of it before it woke up. As I could see it was a chunk I simply just played it out for ages, only for the blooming hook to slip just before it was ready for netting.

Anyway, that p*ssed me right off, but not wanting to be beaten I decided that I would do the second night and after having a BBQ with the lads and robbing Lewis of all the big leads he had in his van, I returned to my swim and repeated the process. Another quick bite occurred and another nice mirror folded my light TC rods in half before slipping into the net. This only confirmed what I’ve always thought about needing a large lead with the D-rig, so I felt like I was back in the game although the clock was ticking as I only had until first light the next morning. The BBQ was soon lit, so I felt like I had to be sociable and wound in for an hour or so.

Just before dusk I returned to my swim, got the rods out and after baiting up again I just lazed around and chilled out on my bed whilst listening to the others having a laugh in Lewis’ swim. After not catching during the previous night I wasn’t really expecting a bite once darkness fell, so when the bobbin on my right hand rod rose to the top I thought it might be a liner and I hesitated to pick up the rod. When the bobbin didn’t return to the bottom and the line pinged from the clip, I picked the rod up and to be honest I felt very little resistance. There was definitely a fish on the end, but I wasn’t too sure whether it was a carp. Once closer it started sloshing about on the surface, so I immediately thought it was a tench or a small carp as I bundled it into the net before it took the other rod out. Just as I did this Matty came staggering back and voiced “Oh no not again”. I replied to him saying “It’s only a small one, so I’ll grab my torch, unhook it and let it go”. As I lit the net up I could see this wasn’t a little fish and it was an absolute banger, quite possibly one of the 30’s. After sorting out all the necessary I was soon holding up a 32lb+ chunk whilst Matty managed to gain some great night shots despite his condition. I was quite buzzed up by this capture and I suggested that once I’d got the rod back out and Matty had got his out that we’d have a little celebration. Unfortunately that didn’t happen as Matty didn’t return and the next time I saw him was the following morning just before I left. Considering that sort of fishing isn’t really my bag it was quite possibly the highlight of my summer’s fishing and it helped fire me up for the forth coming boilie fishing season that I the personally think starts at the end of August. I’ll let you know how that goes next time…

Nigel’s 32lb+ Mirror

Gardner Products Used