After 12 weeks or so of no angling due to family illness, both my wife and mother in law were finally on the mend. Both medical procedures went ahead and both went as planned thankfully, and around mid-March I finally got the rods out. My first trip of the year was a 48 hour annual social with some friends over at RDAA’s Junction 12. Upon arriving I have to say it looked pretty bleak, and the head bailiff said nothing had been out by paying customers since the turn of the year. Hearing this only made me more determined to put a carp or two on the bank. We all did about three laps of the lake and then pulled straws for a walk off to secure our swims of choice. I came out third and opted for the shallows with my mate Shaun, while my other mates Ollie, Chris and Azza fished on the same bank but up towards the bottle neck and far end in the deeper bowl.
That night I managed a mint mid-twenty mirror and a rare but small common, so I broke the lakes duck on carp caught by paying punters and opened my 2018 account. The following morning the weather took a dramatic change and snow fell relentlessly. Ollie bless him, was ill equipped for the bad weather and did the sensible thing and left early whilst we all hung it out hoping and praying for an epic picture with a ‘snow carp’. Sadly nothing else was forthcoming and the only action was early on from my swim. Getting back to the car park and across the railway was a mission, especially when my van got stuck in a boggy area off the hard standing but that’s another story!
A week or so later I managed to get a day session in on my local syndicate Swan Valley and the good run of luck continued with a mid-thirty common being the result after the second move of the morning.
Soon after I managed to secure a new ticket for an old estate lake containing some lovely carp, and my next trip was a day session with my son over there around early April, which saw us land a few carp and a couple of tench. I’d started to get into the swing of things by now and my Mrs agreed to let me do Tuesday nights and the odd Saturday day with my son Stanley. I started catching a few from the syndicate and I was really getting amongst them on the estate lake.
I was really enjoying the new estate lake as it was a new adventure and I was doing it on my own terms doing just day sessions. I tended to arrive early and leave late afternoon and I landed a number of stunning carp up to upper 20’s and making some lovely memories with my son. The syndicate has and always will have a draw to me because it contains a number of big carp, but with that you have greater competition with other anglers who are just as keen only with a great deal more time and flexibility, which if I’m honest was wearing a bit thin for me, as I had such short and regimental allotted times to go. I love the lake in question and I have been lucky enough to catch the majority of them but there was still a few that I dearly wanted but as my mate Geoff so rightly said ‘Ian you can’t catch em all and what’s more life’s too short with so many other adventures out there to be had’. There’s definitely some truth in this.
My next trip to the syndicate turned out to be a good one resulting in three fish to low 30’s and a PB Zig caught carp (those who know me, know I have a slight aversion to the method) as I much prefer to catch them out of the edge or perhaps on a Hinged Stiff Rig over boilie. However, there are times where you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth and using the right method can be the difference between a blank or a good session.
This was my last productive session on the syndicate as they spawned shortly after and I ended up concentrating more on the estate lake while the syndicate was shut. Whilst on the estate lake I did a fair bit of surface fishing too, which was nice I must say. I think I ended my short flurry of sessions over the estate lake with around 28 or 29 carp from memory, and I managed to save a blank on every trip even if it meant walking miles and fishing several swims in a day to get a bite.
Shortly after, a childhood dream became a reality when I got an invite from the Crown Estate to fish the mighty Virginia Waters in the Royal Windsor Great Park, which is a huge expanse of water around 140 acres in size, steeped in history and folklore, fishing for the unknown with very limited documented about it, and a place that truly captures the imagination. This was to be a real challenge, one that required a lot of walking, dedication and done on very limited time too. Well after my invite and magazine feature finished I was hooked on the place. I’d been lucky enough to catch 4 carp with one being an absolute stunner, so I signed up to the syndicate and from June up until about September or early October and I put 110% effort into my angling. I ended up pulling off with 25 carp to my credit, unfortunately none of the much bigger residents but I did manage a few absolute wood carvings despite all the sleepless nights, mozzi bites, miles and miles walked I thoroughly enjoyed the place.
My plan was always to move onto their other water, Obelisk Pond for autumn and that’s what I did. It was a very productive and enjoyable experience, not just the fishing but the people I met along the way. The lake is steeped in history, being dug centuries ago and contains carp as old as the hills. This lake is reasonably well documented and information was a bit easier to come by. Once again I did my own thing and gave them plenty of boilie. I was lucky enough to catch 18 carp in around 7-8 nights with the majority being 20’s and some real old characters amongst them too.
In recent week I have fished a couple of local lakes close to home that I frequent most winters. This gives me a chance to catch up with friends and still get my string pulled on short day sessions through the colder months. I’ve landed my fair share with multiple captures each session being common, which also serves well for trying and testing new rigs or products out.
Throughout the year I’ve tried to stay focused and give it my all, making the best from the time I get to go. It’s only right to thank my sponsors both GT and ABS for their continued support, the team at the Crown Estate for their help, and of course my close mates who are always popping down at all hours to do pics or bring me provisions and lend an ear.
I’m looking forward to 2019 and I am planning to fish the same waters but probably focusing most of my attention on Virginia Waters in the hope of landing one or two of the jewels that reside there.
Tight lines and be lucky…