Finally, June was upon us and my buzz for fishing was at an all-time high. The reason – my ticket for Wellington country park had begun. I’d put my name down several years ago and I never thought my chance would come; it was like a pipe dream. The night before my first session was a sleepless one. I was like a kid at Christmas, full of anticipation and excitement and if I’m honest, I was actually very nervous too.
On my very first lap after, signing in and collecting a net, mat and sling from the shed, I got chatting with another member Dean Fletcher (British carp record holder). We have a lot of mutual friends and I know some of his family. After a natter he kindly gave me a guided tour informing me off all the swim names. Upon arriving in a swim known as ‘Animal Farm’, I clocked a group of carp moving in close. After watching them for a bit meandering along the margin and into the snaggy treeline, I didn’t hesitate to go and grab my gear, wishing Dean good luck as I hurried off.
I got back into the swim in double quick time and set about getting a couple rods into position, being careful to avoid spooking the ginormous carp that were clearly loving the sunshine on the back of the wind. Despite my efforts the day passed uneventfully, so I redid the rods ready for the night. As the evening drew in the carp had clearly moved out into more open water areas, which were already occupied with anglers. So I sat tight and ended up sitting up and watching the water late into the night. I was glad I did, as it meant I witnessed an impressive acrobatic display from the carp, it looked and sounded like farm animals throwing themselves out of the water.
Well, morning was soon upon us and the birds were diving over my bait, suggesting it hadn’t been eaten, so a move was inevitable. I needed to put myself back on fish. After packing my stuff up I did numerous laps around the 35 acre lake, but procrastination made me miss out on a few likely swims where I’d seen a little activity, and those areas soon became occupied. I was already learning just how on the ball you needed to be on this lake, in order to make the best of any opportunities. In the end I fished off the barrow for the afternoon and dropped into a few other areas trying to nick a bite, but to no avail. Although I did come close to hooking what looked to be a Ghostie well over 40lbs, which had my heart beating out of my chest!
Evening was drawing in, so I continued to walk and look and eventually come across an old overgrown swim that looked like it could do me a bite so set about positioning a couple of traps in the nearside margins. I’d seen a few carp not far from the zone, so a plan was hatched. That evening doubts and tiredness started to creep in and got the better of me. Luckily those doubts were soon put to bed when my ATT lit up and sung a tune. It was a prolonged and dogged fight but I slowly drew a chunky mirror into the folds of the waiting net. I woke up another member Simon, and he in turn helped with the weighing and pictures (I retuned the same favour later that morning). The old mirror weighed a healthy post spawn weight of 35lb 14oz. I was elated to get a carp on my first trip and get the ball rolling.
My next trip was an overnight session and once again I’d found some carp and set up in neighbouring water. Despite all the activity I heard that night, all I received was a savage liner. Part of me thinks I may have been done but in reality, it was probably a pike chasing his dinner and running into my line. I went off to work and returned the following day.
The weather was quite changeable, and the carp seemed nigh on impossible to locate. I ended up plumping for a popular swim called ‘Boathouse’ and after barrowing into the swim, an absolute monster of a carp showed to my right-hand side, moving a serious amount of water. I fanned the three rods out covering a good section of water, baited and sat back, but the session went by quietly, in fact I don’t think anyone received any action during that spell.
The following morning though another carp showed in almost the exact same spot as the day previous, which I made a mental note of. So I packed up feeling a little deflated, wishing I’d have done things a little different, but then again hindsight is a wonderful thing. I suppose if nothing else, I took a few things away; some of what I’d seen and the zones and wrap distance for future reference, so I guess it was another small piece to add the puzzle.
After that I didn’t get back till the following Thursday just on dark, as we had a school meeting for our daughter Fern about her start at school in September this year, and which teacher she would have. Upon my arrival at the lake it was busy and most of the swims were already taken, so I decided to start in a swim called Sluices. All I did was flick them out into areas where I got a good drop, then sprayed some boilie out over the three rods.
Well that evening the carp were going mental in the area between me and another guy, I paced up and down the bank, watching and listening to the display they put on. I couldn’t decide whether to stay put and hope they moved onto me or move but without knowing how far the other guy was fishing. I decided to stay put as I didn’t want to ruin his chances or mine by casting over his lines and risking a hook up. As Lewis described to me, I had full ‘Welly insomnia’; a mixture of excitement and contemplation on whether I’d got it right. Every time I tried to close my eyes and get some sleep, another carp would show and in those circumstances, I find that you can’t help but roll over and look out.
Eventually I drifted off and was woken at 4AM to a fair size male Tench which was followed by a bream. Then, like the evening before, the carp started their acrobatic maneuverers. This time I wasted no time and packed up and moved down to get a better line angle to the activity, although I purposely avoided flicking them too far because of respect for the guy opposite. Later that day I received another bite, fully expecting it to be a carp, but once again another Tench was attached! I thought “how’s your luck”, but it was probably better than a poke in the eye.
I got into work early and worked late that week in order to button up the project I was working on, to get back to the lake with a couple of nights at my disposal. The night before, all I thought about was the lake, who would be plotted up where? Where did I think the carp would be held up? And so on… I couldn’t sleep and got up at 3AM, washed changed and drove to my nearby BP garage to buy bread for my children’s lunch, dropped that off and took a slow drive to the lake arriving a bit earlier than allowed at 4.15AM (45 minutes early). This later resulted in a good telling off by the Head Bailiff, for which I apologised and immediately accepted what I’d done wasn’t ‘cricket’. I just didn’t quite know the lay of the land and just how tight they run the ship, I then got a bit of a talking too by Lewis too. Although I think he realised it wasn’t my ignorance but more me being a bit ‘overzealous’. I promised I wouldn’t be naughty again.
Moving on swiftly from that, I walked the lake, signed in, collected the carp care equipment and headed into the ‘Little lake’, and was lucky enough to get into the main swim. Just after turning up I witnessed activity, fish sheeting up and rolling on first light. I altered my hinged stiff rig slightly, shortening up the boom and adding a Covert Tungsten Anti Tangle Sleeve (for reasons I will go into later). After casting out a light lead to the areas I fancied fishing, I got my wrap distances and put the rods out. The next 24 hrs dragged and I felt like I’d got it wrong, so I whipped the rods in and actually changed all 3 rigs. After that I actually fished a lot better, going in with a little knowledge from my observations the previous day. After getting my rods out I felt really confident and around lunch time my middle rod was away with another Tench. It wasn’t exactly what I was after but it gave me a new found confidence in the rig and spot choice, which was what I needed, as I was having a bit of meltdown if I’m honest.
The rig I opted for was a ‘Ronnie’ but with the boom section being tied from Camflex Leadfree, similar to my over weighted hinged stiff, or ‘Obi rig’ as I lovingly refer to it as. That night, the atmosphere and ambience of the place felt electric and the in early hours of the morning, at around 1.30AM, my middle rod was away again. This time a carp was attached, which later resulted in a mint 25lb Ghost Common absolutely nailed on a size 4 Mugga. I did a few self-takes and slipped her back.
It’s definitely the case that I’m very much still in the learning process, trying to unlock the code to the lake. One thing I’ve learnt, especially as a newbie, is maximum effort and being on your game is a must if you want to succeed. Believe me when I tell you the carp have given me the right run around, but then more often than not, it’s all about the chase.
Well until next time, tight lines and be lucky.