carp fishing milton magic title

In my ‘end of year’ write up I covered my angling up until early December. It was a mega busy period at work, and with the Hampshire Avon in less than ideal condition, my last trip of 2019 was going to be down Milton Abbas. I got there before first light, on Sunday 27th, and planned to fish for two nights. When I arrived, there were a few people fishing, one being ‘Sonic’, aka #WinterHero, who was in a swim that had been doing a fair share of the recent captures. Up that end of the lake there is a warm water spring entering the lake, flowing in through several pipes and a channel from the pool above. I did a couple of laps of the lake, spending most of the time at that end, where the spring enters the lake, looking for signs of carp.

There was a swim opposite Sonic that was free, but I thought that setting up in front of him would not be a great move and the pressure could move the fish off, so decided to set up on the opposite bank a little further down, in a swim called The Conker. Two clear spots were found against the weed that was on the surface, and the third rod was fished into a deep hole out in front of the swim, and 2kg of 18mm Crab & Cray boilies were dispatched onto each spot. The day and night past quietly, but I was confidently expecting a bite as I’d seen a few fish moving about. At approximately 1.30PM on Monday my right-hand rod, that was fished against a weed bed, melted off! After a short fight amongst the weed I slipped the net under a plain but clean looking mid-20 mirror. I left her in the net to rest whilst I sorted out some bits then did some pictures and let her go, she weighed 25lb 14oz and turned out to be my last carp of 2019.

New Year’s Eve was a great night, spent around Wiggy’s place eating good food and having a beer or two, and knowing that I could fish the following day. Late that morning, I drove down to Milton to find everyone was packing up. I did a couple of laps and decided to go in a swim at the top end of the lake. All three rods went out sweet on the spots and I felt confident that my first carp of 2020 was imminent. However, the carp thought differently!

I was packing up the following day feeling my chance had gone, and almost everything was on the barrow. I was just packing the first rod into the holdall when I heard a clutch churning! I ran to the rod and picked it up and was connected to a powerful fish that was still taking line off a tight clutch as it powered through the weed beds in front of me, then it all went solid. I applied some steady pressure, but it didn’t seem to be moving. I stood up behind the swim, elevated on some high ground applying a little more and it all started to move. A big pile of weed was starting to come with ease. Worryingly, I had not felt the tell-tell thud of a fish since it got locked up in the weed bed. The weed bed was about 3 rod lengths out when the fish kicked free and my line was going down through the weed bed to the fish swimming around about 6ft to the right of all the weed. In the clear water it looked like a good fish and I did not want to lose my first bite of 2020. I had to give it some stick to keep a tight line to the fish and eventually bundled the fish and the weed bed into the net. I pulled the weed out of the net and immediately recognized the scaly mirror, one I had caught on a guest trip in 2017.

I called Wayne and told him I had a 30lb’er in the net and was in the process of packing up, and asked whether he was he able to pop down and do some pictures? I continued to pack the two rods away and left the fish in the net. Wayne was down in no time at all and we weighed the fish at 33lb 4oz. With the pictures done and the van loaded. I drove home a very happy man, calling Wiggy on the way to let him know my good fortune.


The following Tuesday my alarm went off at 4.30AM and I loaded the van and drove through the New Forest and through the Hampshire and Dorset countryside as I made my way to Milton, with Tuesday and Wednesday at my disposal. I did a lap and bumped into another member, Adz, who was down for the day. I fancied the swim I had been in the week before, but it was solid with weed so opted to fish the swim to the right and I was still able to get a rod on the spot I had caught from the week before. After a quick lead about I found two other spots against the weed and the rods went out sweet, with approximately 6kg of bait between them.

I had a few beeps during the day on two of the rods and put it down to the floating weed or fish hitting the line. A fair amount of weed had gathered on one of these rods, so I decided to re-cast it. When I picked the rod up it was solid! I pumped a weed bed back and when it was in the margin and I was pulling all the weed off I could see the back of a carp. Frantically I grabbed the net, sand whilst holding the main line I scooped the whole lot into the net. Pulling more weed away, there laying in the bottom of the net was a scaly 20lb’er! What a result!

I slid the sleeve down the rig and unclipped everything, leaving the fish in the net and quickly clipped a new rig and fresh bait, and the rig went back out sweet. I catapulted another 2kg onto the spot and then Adz and I weighed the fish at 23lb 8oz, did some pictures and got the kettle on for a celebratory cuppa.

The night past fairly quietly, with only the odd fish heard during the night. During the morning I could see the occasional fish moving about and was hopeful for another bite; I was not to be disappointed. At around 11.30AM my left-hand rod, which was on the spot where I had caught the 33 from the week before, signaled a take. The fight was quite slow and ponderous, but soon laying in the bottom of the net was what looked like another 30lber. I weighed this fish at 31lb 8oz and then leaving the fish in the net, got the rod straight back out again. A mate wandered round and did the honors with some pictures. A sandwich was made along with a brew, and a little while later, in a break in the rain, I packed up and loaded the van for the hour-long drive home in the torrential rain.


It was not until after work on Saturday 18th that I managed to get back down, and the lake was pretty busy. I managed to get Sonic to let me set up pretty close to him, down to his right. I set up two rods and they went out on some lush spots, along with around 5kg of bait. Unfortunately, the car sized weed beds that were swirling around in the flow from the pipes had other ideas, wiping both rods out every hour or so. Needless to say, after a sleepless night I was not feeling it and a blank was on the cards.

I sat socializing and generally winding Sonic up most of Sunday, watching groups of fish drift about. I should probably mention how Johnny got the nickname Sonic. We both got our Milton tickets at the same time, and there was an abundance of hedgehogs down there during the summer. I was getting regular phone calls from Sonic moaning about hedgehogs eating the leftovers from his pan during the night and keeping him awake. So, I hatched a cunning plan; I would let the hedgehogs have some food, in the form of 11mm trout pellets as often as possible. There were not many nights when the inside of Sonic’s brolly was not baited with pellets to entice the hedgehogs in and keep poor old Jonny awake when he was not catching carp!

After watching Sonic catch a couple I wanted in on the action and had a three-day fishing weekend lined up for the following week. I pulled a few strokes at work on Thursday 24th, and managed to slide my shift back by 4 hours to finish a few hours earlier as well. By 11AM I was in the van driving to Milton! I had an idea where I needed to be, and it would be a choice between three swims. I arrived and did a lap, and after seeing a few fish I set up in the same swim Sonic had been in the weekend before. Unfortunately, it desperately needed some gardening done. Weed had gathered up in front of the swim and the first hour was spent clearing it to make the swim fishable. I had not fished the swim before so after finding some spots things were looking good. On top of that, I worked out that at a push I could get one of the three rods on the spot that had produced the two 30s I had caught recently. The rods went out perfectly and I slackened the lines off and Spombed around 3kg of boilies onto each spot.

The night was quiet, until around 8.30AM on the Friday morning when I had a bite off my right-hand rod and landed a good fish. As usual I unclipped everything, leaving the fish in the net. Wrapping the rod up and clipping on a fresh rig and hook bait the rod was back out in no time and another 2kg of bait deposited on the spot. Wayne and I were just having a brew when my left-hand rod signaled a bite. This rod was close in, only about 15 yds out on a shallow spot. The fish did not really do much and was quickly in the net. With both of my nets containing carp we sorted out the weighing and photographing the latest capture first. It was a plain mirror weighing 25lb 4oz. We then sorted the first fish and as I lifted it out Wayne told me that it was ‘Orange Spot’, one of two originals in the pond. At 29lb 8oz I was more than happy with my mornings results. We had another tea and Wayne carried on with his lap. I got the second rod wrapped up and back on the small spot, that was clearly bigger now, along with another 2kg of bait. I could not help but think that with two of the rods going I should have also caught on the rod that was on the ‘30 zone’ and I was convinced that I had been cleaned out, so I topped the spot up with another 2kg of bait.

carp fishing milton magic orange spot 29lb 8oz

The rest of the day was quiet and just before dark all three rods were re-cast and topped up with another kg or so Spombed onto each spot. On Saturday morning Wiggy arrived before first light and I could hear his car at the gate, so I fired up the Coleman for the second tea of the morning. Wiggy popped his head round and I told him the kettle was on! We had a couple of brews and had a chat before he ambled off to do a lap. Thoughtfully he settled on a swim to my left, not wanting to set up in front of me.

Saturday morning was quiet, until around mid-day when I had a screaming take from the 30 zone! Wiggy heard the bite and strolled round just in time to net a good common along with loads of weed. It was not until we removed the weed that I realized that the common in the net was probably the biggest in the pond. I rang Wayne who was at home and told him I had a mid-30 common in the net and he said he would stroll down. Whilst Wiggy and I waited for Wayne to arrive we had a cup of tea and got the kit ready. We weighed the common, named The Widow at 36lb 10oz. This was a new UK PB common for me and I was over the moon.

carp fishing milton magic widow common 36lb 10oz

After that I decided not to fish that Saturday night and to socialize down the boat house for the evening. Before going down I wrapped the rods up and baited the spots with another couple of kg of bait on each spot. A great evening was had and at first light all the rods were put back out on the spots and they were baited again with another few kilos, spread between them. At around 9.45AM my right-hand rod pulled up tight and held there, a second later it pulled out the clip and line was being pulled from the tight clutch. After a short battle I netted the fish and called Wiggy, telling him I had what looked like a 30lber in the net. He said he would pop round and I said to bring his rods and get them out. During a break in the rain we weighed and photographed the mirror at 32lb 3oz and photographed the fish. After not putting the rod back out and constantly telling Wiggy to get his rods, he did just that. He put two rods out and baited them and a few hours passed with us drinking tea and eating biscuits. The rain was heavy and was in for the rest of the day, and at around 1PM we started to pack up in the rain when Wiggy had a screamer! The fish managed to get in a weed bed, and after ten minutes or so it was clear that we needed the boat. I ran down to the boat house and got the life jackets and an oar, picking the boat up on the way back. Wiggy passed me the net and put his rod down whilst he put the lifejacket on, then we set sail heading towards the offending weed bed. It was pretty windy, with torrential rain and the last thing we needed was a boat battle, but that is exactly what happened. After what seemed to be an eternity of being blown and pulled around in the boat, getting soaked, we landed a 28lb mirror. I was over the moon, and the look on Wiggy’s face when it went in the net said it all. Soaked though we let the wind blow us to the bank and sorted the fish out and continued to pack up and drove home soaking!

The pike fishing season on Milton is a month long and always starts with a Pike match on the first Saturday or Sunday. This year it was to be the Sunday, and after work on Saturday 1st February I headed down expecting it to be busy. On my arrival everyone was down the boathouse end and I did a lap and quickly found fish in the swim I had been in the week before. Quickly I got sorted, baited the spots and flicked the rods out. I had just got the brolly up and was having a brew when the rod in the 30 zone signaled a bite! Could it be another one? Only time would tell. I landed a big framed plain mirror that looked 30lb all day long and I got sorted and weighed the mirror at 32lb 6oz. With Wayne doing the photos I baited the spot and reeled the other two rods in, going down the boat house for an evening of curry and Stella, with some darts being thrown in for good measure.

carp fishing milton magic mirror 32lb 6oz

Having to stop fishing at 8AM, when the Pike match started, I left the proceedings earlyish and flicked the rods out in the hope of a bite first thing in the morning. On Sunday morning, at around 7.30AM my right-hand rod took off. After the fish went solid in eth weed, I felt it pop off as the hook pulled. I packed up and pottered around with Wayne most of the day, weighing a huge number of simply massive Pike. I won’t go into much detail on what was caught, but I doubt will ever see that many big pike for as long as I live!

The following weekend it was expected it to be busy, and having had my fair share of fish recently I decided to fish a small unpopular swim, with the expectation that someone would drop into my left and I would have an easy sociable weekend. Friday and Saturday were quiet and come late Saturday afternoon nobody had dropped into the swim as expected, so I moved in there just before dark. Later while down the boat house socializing, I had a bite, and after the shortish run to my rods I made contact with the fish and immediately felt the line grating on something. In fact, it was so bad I was convinced that I was not going to land it. But after some persistence I landed a 21lb 6oz fully from a spot to my right. After sorting the fish out, I checked the line and realized about 90 yards was ruined, but the 20lb Hydro Tuff had held strong. I pulled the offending line off and wrapped the rod up and cast back out to the spot. The lead went down with a crack and I spombed a couple more kilos of bait out there before returning to the boat house and the rest of the trip was quiet.

Early on Monday 10th February my alarm went off signaling a trip back to Milton. I loaded the van and drove down there arriving in the dark, and I made a tea in the thermos mug and started to do a couple of laps in the dark, to see if I could hear any lumping out. As it got light it was clear there were a fair few fish half-way down the lake, so I set up and got a couple of rods out. The weed was a complete nightmare and it was clear that the fish had done the off. I had committed 6kg of bait spread across the three spots, but I was no longer feeling it and had to move. I reeled in and did a couple more laps, finding some fish at the top end, so I packed up and moved up there and then went back to the van to collect more bait. I felt I was going to need more than the 4kg I had on me!

Once back in the second swim of the day, the rods were put out with another 6kg of bait across the three spots, and within a couple of hours my right-hand rod signaled a take. It felt small and not long later I landed a 14lb 8oz common. I unclipped the rig and left the fish in the net while I got the rod back on the spot, along with a couple more kilos of bait.

It was quiet for the rest of the day and night, but there were still a few fish about. The following morning, I was up early having a tea, when at around 7.15 I had a bite on my right-hand rod, that got in a weed bed and I just ended up pumping it straight into the net. I pulled the weed out of the net and unclipped the rig leaving what looked like a mid-20 in the net. I got the rod back out and then sorted the fish in the net out. It weighed 26lb 14oz, and Wayne took a few snaps and we let it go back to its watery home. We were just having a cuppa when my middle rod screamed off and I landed a scaly 19lb 8oz mirror. My rods were on single stick, with the front ones in the pond so my tips were deep down, in the hope the floating weed beds would not wipe me out. It had worked well but the buzzers where a bit too close to the water and it was not till I packed up that I had realized that the water had come up a fair bit and the Nev’s were partly submerged. By the time I got home two were not working and needed some attention. A quick email to Staggy and Lewis at Gardner with the catch report and news of the broken alarms and soon I had acquired 3 new ATT’s!


Believe it or not, it wasn’t as easy as ‘turn up and fill it in’ and then catch! I had only been using boilies and had been going though between 8 and 15k a trip, but the fishing had been pretty intense and not quite as plain sailing as it sounds, with floating weed beds wiping you out day and night. You were also having to constantly up flicking weed off your lines.

On Monday 24th February, I had arranged to take Staggy Pike fishing on the Avon. He was after a 20lb’er and this stretch had produced big pike in excess of 36lb since I had a ticket. Conditions were not ideal, with the river a raging torrent and still well over the bank, with chest waders being needed to navigate around most of the banks. In places it was a bit touch and go. We decided to fish close the vans, in a nice slack for most of the day. It was an enjoyable trip with us catching nine if my memory serves me right, but no biggies… There is always another time!

The following day I went to Milton and felt like I needed an easy trip, but this visit resulted in a blank.

Since then the fishing has been a little slower. I did a 3-night trip that started on Thursday 12th March, landing a 20lb 9oz scaly mirror, and then another two-night trip in the same swim landing a 23lb 12oz mirror. By now COVID-19 was constantly in the news, and that weekend I got the news that the department store I work in was going to close that following Monday. It was a strange feeling working the rest of the week with no customers in what is normally a busy bustling shop. The week was spent closing the store down and sending the stock to the distribution centers for the online side of the business to sell.


I had booked Monday 30th March until Tuesday 7th April off work and my girlfriend and I had planned to attend a charity black tie event in Cardiff, making a long weekend of it, with me fitting in some fishing on the days we were not away. But with the increasing threat of COVID-19 the event was cancelled and later I was to find so was my fishing.

I have spent the two weeks at home pottering about, doing odd jobs that I am fine with if it means that this will reduce the time this horrible virus is in our lives, but hopefully it won’t be too much longer until we are able to grace the grassy banks of our chosen venues again. *As I type this it’s Tuesday 7th March and I am due back at work tomorrow, but not at the department store I normally work at. I have been redeployed, like many other Partners, and will be working at a supermarket for the foreseeable future. It’s a strange feeling knowing you’re going to work somewhere else after being at the same store for 13 years. It almost feels like the first day at a new job. Well it might not be a new job, but I am sure it will feel like working for the grocery side of the business.

Stay safe and stay at home!

Gardner Products Used