I had been lucky enough to fish as a guest at Milton Abbas a few times over the last few years and had fallen in love with the place and was really hoping that at some point I may be lucky enough to get a ticket one day. Then a miracle happened! It was a Saturday afternoon and I was on the banks of the Hampshire Avon, whilst on a work party, when I received a message from Wayne offering me a place on the Milton syndicate. To say I was excited at the prospect was an understatement and having calmed down I messaged Wayne back explaining I was off to a BBQ and that I would gladly take the ticket and would call him on Sunday.
I decided to go down Milton the following Friday and met Wayne at the boathouse, where we had a chat over a brew and then we walked around the lake. Once we had completed the walk around, we had another brew and Wayne asked what I was up to? I explained that I intended to shoot to a club water for the night and return in the following morning when the ticket started, to have a go. To my surprise Wayne said ‘don’t bother with that, go and get your gear out and set up’. That was enough for me!
For my first night I elected to set up close to the boathouse and fished towards a large floating weed bed that was situated down that end of the lake. At 4AM on Saturday morning my middle rod signalled a fast take and after a short fight I had my first Milton carp in the net as a ticket holder. The fish was sacked up for a few hours and when the light improved a lovely mirror of 25lb 14oz was weighed and a couple of self takes done.
Apart from the Champions League final, which was being screened in the boathouse, the rest of the day and Saturday night was quiet. On Sunday morning I was having a slow pack down when the middle rod signalled a slow take and after a spirited fight, a mirror weighing 24lb 10oz was photographed. Having had that one I packed the rest of my gear away and was soon on my way home. I knew I had a busy week at work and in the evenings socialising, but nevertheless was hoping to get back down the following Sunday for a 3-night trip. Sunday simply could not come fast enough and while driving down the country roads I had a little chuckle to myself; I was off to the paradise that is Milton…
When I arrived at the lake I found just two people already angling; one was carp fishing for the day, whilst the other was targeting the crucians. I was aware that my good mate (the living legend) ‘Wiggy’, would be down after he finished work, so I did a quick lap and on the way round Johnny was playing a carp, and just after I did the honours with the net, Wiggy arrived. The pictures were done and having gone on our way, I decided to fish a swim further up the lake as a lot of weed had gathered there and I expected a lot of carp to be sitting there under the weed beds.
I set up in a swim known as The Conker, and Wiggy had decided to go next door to my left. We were both sat having a beer when at about 9.30pm my left-hand rod, which was fishing in front of a channel between two small sets of pads, let out a few beeps. I found the bobbin to be tight against the rod, I quickly landed a small heavily scaled stockie. We took a couple of pictures and got the rod back out on the spot along with a bit more bait ready for the night ahead. Then at around 4am Monday morning I received a screaming take on my right-hand rod and after a bit of a battle I landed a lovely looking mirror. She was carefully sacked up, the rod wrapped up and put back out on the spot. I was shattered from the busy week, with lots of late nights and early mornings, so decided to get my head down.
Later in the night I was woken to the same rod going into meltdown. After a short fight, a scaly stockie was soon in the net, so I wandered round to see Wiggy, to get him to do a few pictures. The scaly one in the net weighed 14lb 14oz and we clicked off a few pictures. We had a quick brew and then weighed the fish from earlier in the morning. This one turned out to be bang on 28lb, and with the pictures done I set about doing a round of bacon sandwiches for us. The perfect start to any day!
The rest of the day was quiet, as the weather had turned unsettled, as from mid-morning it was raining constantly into the night. Late in the afternoon the rods were all re-done and more bait spombed out accurately onto the three spots for the night ahead.
At around 2.40am I was awoken from my slumber by a slow take, and after a short fight a mirror more or less swam straight into the waiting landing net! That fish was sacked up and with the rod all wrapped to go back out, I decided to have a quick brew. Then while tying a new rig I had another take! This time it was on the middle rod fished against some pads, next to a weed bed. Unfortunately, I lost this fish in the weed so lent the rod against the brolly and continued sorting the right-hand rod out. Then upon finishing my last mouthful of tea my left-hand rod pulled up tight and shortly afterwards a low double stockie was resting in the net. Finally, I got the right-hand rod sorted and weighed the stockie that was in the net and took some mat shots. The middle and left rods where put back out on the spots, along with a couple of Spombs of bait over the top of each hookbait. It was a busy night!
Whilst I was having the next in a steady stream of tea the right-hand rod was off again! This time I thought I had a small bream or roach on, as there was next to no resistance, but as it got into the margin, I landed a grassie. I left the grassie to rest in the margins and went to summon Wiggy to do some more pictures, which he was more than happy to do. The Grass Carp weighed 18lb 1oz, and we took a couple of shots of one side before it was gently released. I grabbed the other fish that I had sacked up earlier and we recorded a weight of 22lb 12oz. With the pictures done I was back on bacon sandwich duty.
The day was quiet so I reeled in late morning and did a few laps and found that a lot of the weed had broken up in the wind and rain during the night, and it had starting to gather in front of the boathouse. I had had a few bites and was quite happy to stay put for the last night. That evening I helped Wiggy walk his gear to the car and we were saying how I had been a bit unlucky, catching so many smaller fish, and hopefully I would catch a 30lb’er that night.
Once again at around the magic 4AM time ,my middle rod signalled a steady take and it was clear from the start that this one was a better fish. After a slow steady fight, and after extracting it from a couple of weed beds, I landed what was clearly a better fish. I put the waders on and lay the mat in the water next to the net and unhooked and sacked up a better fish, but to be honest I was not expecting it to be as big as it was. I made myself a tea and sent Wiggy a message, saying that the 30lber was in the bag!
At around 8.30 I noticed Wayne was down at the boathouse talking to Chris, so I strolled down and asked if he could do some pictures. Wayne asked what I had caught and I cheerily said a mirror, nearer 35 than 30. With that both Wayne and Chris made their way up to my swim and we had a brew while I got everything sorted. I lifted the fish onto the mat out in the water and they hoisted her up. The scales span round to 41lb 6oz! I was in shock; I didn’t think at any point that I had captured a 40lber. We took some water shots and let a carp known as ‘No Name’ swim off between the weed, back into its watery home.
All of the bites had come over a mixture of 14, 16 & 18mm BM Baits Crab & Cray Red with garlic along, with a helpful spread of 11mm trout pellets.
Rig wise, I was using 18mm hookbaits with a white 14mm RS pop up, fished as a snowman blow back style using the ever-reliable size 4 Mugga hook combined with a production sample of a new tungsten skinned hooklink (Ultra Sink).
Keeping the presentation simple and effective, I used a Covert lead clip set up and Pro XM main line with lots of putty in 6″ gaps up the main line to keep the last few feet pinned down and out of the way so that fish feeding around the rig would be less likely to feel the main line. Just simple and ultra-reliable!