I was out with friends, enjoying some stand-up comedy and had my phone turned to silent. During the interval I was taking a trip to the bar, for more refreshments, when the phone started vibrating in my pocket. It turned out to be the Welly head-bailiff, and to my amazement he said that a ticket was available if I wanted one?! After a quiet (but noisy) spring at Pingewood, this was a very welcome and unexpected call and an offer too good to turn down… so I didn’t.

Now, I’ve never been one who likes to ‘bait and wait’ whilst carp fishing; the thought of piling the bait in and waiting really doesn’t get me excited. Give me a tree line to fish to, or nice quiet bay or even a lovely bed of lilies and I’m at my happiest. Peering into snags and under trees is my idea of heaven and providing there is a carp or two around, I’ll be confident of a bite. This is my favourite style of angling, from the first warm days of spring until late Autumn when the water starts to cool, and the fish move away from these areas and linger further out into the lake. Then it’s boring them out from the middle time! So, it looked from the outset like Welly would be right up my street.

carp fishing wading in at welly ghostie and mirror small tail

My first couple of fish came from The Snags Swim and were both over 30lb. In the first few weeks I spent time in a lot of different swims, in both the little lake and out in the main lake, but it was in Bramble Bay that things started to get exciting. A couple of large floating rafts of Canadian Pond Weed had drifted in close to the bank and over the next couple of weeks I had some great fishing using floating crust and bits of crumpet (it had to be Warburtons). The lack of bird life that year, and with the fact that most other anglers were ignoring the rafts, meant the fish were fairly easy to catch.

The first of the big fish to be tempted was a 38lb ghostie, captured from a tight little corner swim followed up on my next trip with an epic battle from The Small Tailed Mirror at 40lb 14oz…

I couldn’t tell how big a fish she was, as only a large pair of rubbery lips were visible mouthing the surface weed from under the raft.

It was amazingly exciting angling. A size 4 hook straight through to 18lb low-viz Green HydroFlo line was all that was needed when the fish were there, tucked so close to the bank. With a gentle cast beyond the fish, the bait was gently teased slowly back over the raft and brought to rest inches away from the carp’s mouth. All that was needed now, was for the fish to turn and suck my hook straight in. Unfortunately, I managed only a few more fish in this location, as they very quickly wised up and learned to avoid these rafts as they usually meant trouble for them.

At the time the Ulcer Fish was an upper forty, and an absolute beast of a fish that eventually grew to be over 58lb. She was easily identified in the water due to the distinctive large scar on her flank that gave her the rather unattractive name that she was known by. Our meeting came one September, again in a quiet corner near the Reeds Swim. This corner of the lake has the perfect tree for climbing up and provides a great view of that area of the lake. While up the tree, and with the light just starting to fade, I could make out shapes of four big-framed, deep-bodied fish come cruising along just a few feet from the bank. When they reached the handful of tigers that I had dropped in, four heads went down and four tails came up, as they cleaned out the area in minutes and then quickly disappeared down the marginal shelf…

That was my chance to get down from the tree and prepare a single rod with 2 small tigers and a small inline 2oz flat pear lead. After checking twice to make sure no fish were present, I lowered the rig in about 8 feet from the bank while making sure the main line was pushed to the bottom and concealed. Then, I individually flicked about 15 tigers around the hook bait, being careful to keep the disturbance to a minimum. Fifteen minutes later just one fish appeared back on the spot and gave its presence away with large boils appearing on the surface. Bits of weed and waterlogged twigs swirled around on the surface, as what was clearly a big fish, rooted out the tigers I’d recently introduced.

The inevitable bite was surprisingly gentle considering the short range, with just a single bleep and the rod tip pulling slowly over. I’d like to say it was a great scrap, but it wasn’t. She just popped up to the surface, wallowing about, and was scooped up into the net. it was all over in seconds! The Ulcer Fish weighed 48lb 14oz and was a new PB for me. Interestingly, I later checked the depth I caught her from, and it was only around 2 ½ feet. Amazing considering, she was much longer than that. Interestingly, another member named James (who was also a ‘stalker’) had told me that he’d definitely seen her feeding in the Little Lake earlier in the day. Those two spots are just about as far as you can get from each other, so she certainly did like to get about looking for a meal.


In the summer the Little Lake used to have a lovely set of reeds and overhanging trees, that the fish would regularly sunbathe in. Then they would come out the safety of their sanctuary and have a mooch around looking for food. This offered a great stalking opportunity, and it was often possible to stand in the water in your waders and have fish come very close to you and not be spooked.


One summer I caught about ten fish in this area, using either a cut down half boilie or a small piece of broken Brazil nut, on size 4 Continental Mugga hook fished under a small 8 inch crystal waggler float lightly held in place with a cut down piece of lead clip tail rubber and fished slightly over depth with a single AAA shot on the line that was just enough to cock the float. After a blank night on the Big Lake, a walk was needed, and as often was the case I found myself in the reedy corner of the Little Lake looking for an opportunity. The wait wasn’t long, as it was clear that numbers of fish were around the reeds and already feeding! It’s surprising how quickly you can move when you need to.

I always like to carry a 10-foot rod with me, which is in fact a short-handled pike fishing boat rod that is perfect for stalking. I crept into position, trying really hard not to crunch on the gravel bottom. My hook baited with a Brazil and the float set about 3 1/2 feet in 3 feet of water, so all that was needed was a gentle flick to get the bait beyond the still coloured water and have the brazil among what appeared to be several feeding fish. Within seconds the float dipped twice and then slowly slid away in what looked like a classic Tench bite! The massive eruption that followed, with four or five fish bow waving away in all directions, was clearly not what Tench are capable of! With my net in hand, I charged out past the reeds into open water, following a very angry carp that was trying to put some distance between us. The next few minutes were spent trying to get the fish under control and within netting distance, but somehow she managed to find the only snag in the swim, which was a small submerged branch with just the tip protruding above the surface, then proceeded to swim round it twice and get stuck. Putting on maximum pressure and wading out to my maximum depth, the branch thankfully broke away and I was able to scoop her up and bundle her into the net. Another angler kindly came around to help with the pics and the Little Two Tone pulled the scales round to 47lb 10oz – and was certainly one of my most memorable Welly captures!

Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, the lake is now shut and with probably will be for some time due to the Coronavirus. With my ticket running out at the end of May I’m unlikely to be able to fish the lake again. Luckily, I’ll always have some amazing memories of my time there.

Without doubt my best memory will be of catching The Big Common at 56lb 10oz from the Snags Swim. This swim had been kind to me over previous sessions, and for a few weeks had been productive for me, as I had a repeat capture of The Linear and a low 20 common. The following week, after walking the lake I was keen to get back into the swim as it was obvious that numbers of fish were still present, including a couple of The A team.


All 3 rods were fished to my usual far bank spots and each rod was baited very heavily with a mixture of whole and chopped boilies and tigers. Now the Snags Swim does call for the strongest of tackle, so the reel spools were swapped to 20lb HydroTuff main line and the rigs tied with size 4 continental Mugga hooks. The first bite came a few hours later, coming on the middle rod whilst chatting to a mate on the phone. After a brutal fight in the tree-lined bay the massive shoulders of the Big Common popped up and thankfully went into the net at the first time of asking. The pictures were everything you could want, from the water shots to the bank pictures and she looked awesome in the warm September sunshine. Several syndicate members came around to congratulate me and that was enough reason to arrange for a curry to be delivered with some cold drinks and we sat around soaking up the atmosphere. With one more night on the bank and fish still feeding, I went on to catch two more low 30lb commons and a 20lb mirror.

Welly is a fantastic place to angle, but it’s time for a change of scenery and some new adventures. If you ever get a chance of a ticket, or even a rare guest trip, grab it – you won’t be disappointed. I love the place.

This year I plan to fish a couple of new local lakes and have been on the hunt for a boat to fish the rivers, so when normal service is resumed, I’ll be kept busy with new angling adventures. And Frankie will be accompanying where ever I go…

Tight Lines



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