There’s nothing more exciting than the prospect of a new challenge. The chance to unlock the secrets of a new venue, gathering information and building the puzzle piece by piece. The only thing for me that makes this even more special is sharing the success in good company and being able to reflect back on the memories with friends.

The planning for my current venue began in earnest, when I knew I was moving to the Hampshire area. Serving in the military has its ups and downs, but the next few years were going to be swayed heavily in my favor, leaning towards angling.

It was a natural progression from my previous venue that I had fished. I had reached that familiar stage we all inevitably come to, when you know it is time to move on to the next chapter. My sessions had become like dé jà vu. Arriving with the rods clipped up to the spot, ready to deploy proven tactics. Consequently, I had not changed anything in terms of my approach during the last 6 months, and for good reason. I had figured out all that I needed to and was reaping the rewards, but the one downside was that I was not learning anymore. Repeat captures were a regular occurrence and I really needed to sink my teeth into something new.

I’d had the ticket for around 18 months but was preoccupied elsewhere and hadn’t really looked into it enough to realize what gems the venue held. Being married and living in Army housing you are given a choice of properties. Luckily for me, one of these was but a mere 300-meter walk from the lake and 3 doors away from my angling partner in crime. After convincing my wife this was the best choice of property, for obvious reasons, the house was secured, and the plans began to form.

After moving in and getting settled, Rob and I lapped the lake whilst having a good catch up. Rob had been a member for a while longer and dipped his toe in and out, with the odd session over the years. He had banked some of the known fish, so we had a good basis to start from. After talking tactics, we decided to campaign it together, completely non-selfish teamwork angling. Every fish on the bank would be a result of putting our heads together and striving for the end goal. The plan was to bait heavily and often, whilst keeping rod hours down by maximising our efforts during bite time. This approach fitted perfectly with my angling style and helped to keep a healthy balance between fishing, family and work, whilst also allowing plenty of time to get in the gym, which is critical for my job.

The venue is a park lake of approximately 10 acres, with an estimated stock of 90 fish. Average depths are around 10-12ft and there is a large plateau that surrounds the island, dominating the central body of water. This is a natural magnet for the residents and holds fish in all weather conditions. After plenty of observation, benefiting from two pairs of eyes we decided on a few areas to target. The rods were clipped up and the Burco’s switched on. Amongst the obvious advantages of living a literal stone’s throw from the lake was that we were able to walk a lap at last light to see what swims were occupied. This gave us the chance to pre-bait in darkness and avoid popular areas. We initially went in with a heavy mix of particle, pellet and boilie. The aim was to bring in all species and establish the feeding spots.

The lake was busy, with many of the members keen to get their rods out after the long winter. It is however notoriously slow to get going given the depth of water, often other lakes in the area draw the anglers away, distracted by the more productive fishing on offer at the shallower lakes. Given our prior knowledge of this it was not a concern, and in fact played right into our hands, as we managed to keep our success under wraps, meaning the lake remained quiet for longer.

We were soon off the mark with a few stunning scaly fish banked. The details of each capture were documented, and a few subtle tweaks made. As we were starting to build up the picture, bite times started to emerge and certain approaches outshone others. Not being one for messing about with rig mechanics, I refined my options to three reliable presentations, all of which I reached for over the next few weeks.


Over the baited spot I started out opting to fish one rod on a wafter presentation with a German rig, made up with a size 4 Mugga, 15lb brown Ultra Skin and an anti-tangle sleeve topped with a Fungi wafter. In an attempt to see if a pop up was favored I fished the other rod on a Stiff hinged Rig, constructed with a size 4 Covert Chod hook, 15lb Tripwire chod section and an 8” Trick-Link boom. Both were fished helicopter style, using a 6ft length of leadcore. The third is my solid bag setup which I used to target fish in the shallow water on the plateau. Again, simple and reliable – just an inline drop off lead with a short Trickster Heavy braided hook length and a size 6 Mugga hook.


With the bite time narrowed down, the sessions predominantly became short midweek mornings, with a few overnighters thrown in. This allowed us to keep up the late evening baiting missions, spending the nights at home in bed while fish fed without line pressure. The alarms were set for 4AM, and armed with the bare essentials, it was just a short walk to flick the rigs out and watch the morning unfold.

If everything fell into place and they turned up on us, we were reeling in at 7AM and setting off to work with broad smiles on our faces. Weather conditions normally dictated where the bait went in, but the carp are be renowned for not reading the rule book and keeping us guessing. As the weeks went on we had some memorable sessions, landing some absolutely stunning carp. It wasn’t about who had success on each session, just that the teamwork was paying off and we were making lifelong memories.


One session in particular was of real note. We had noticed there was an area of the lake that the Geese could always be seen in, soaking up the very first rays of sunlight. With this noted, we started to bait the area both heavily and frequently. It had the added benefit of a double swim in which we could both fish the same area of water and be on hand to assist each other with netting, pictures etc.

With the area baited, rods at the ready we returned 48 hours later. All four rods where deployed to the line of bait and what ensued can only be described as pure carnage and possible the most productive 3 hours of angling in our lives thus far! Landing seven fish between us including the lakes largest resident. Which we then recaught from the same area a week later! Needless to say, we both bounced to work that morning.


However, this wasn’t always the case, and on occasions we would arrive to find fish showing in other areas of the lake that we hadn’t baited. Being awake and actively mobile at first light, whilst other anglers were still asleep in their bivvies meant that we could move onto the fish resulting in opportunist captures.


Over the season the combined effort continued to pay off, and the photo album was brimming with some stunning captures. I have no question that working alone, like most anglers on the lake would have still ended in a productive season, but the approach we pursued undoubtedly increased our catch rate and afforded us the opportunity to learn from each other and this helped to progress our angling. For me, sharing moments like netting a friend’s fish or capturing it on the lens enhances everything I love about fishing.

Repeat captures were now a regular occurrence a sure sign that we had worked our way through the majority of the stock. Between us we had over 100 captures, with roughly 10% of these being recaptures. There is no doubt in our minds that the team ethos resulted in us having such an incredible season. It seems in modern carp angling too many people have become obsessed with their own self proliferation and are perhaps missing out on experiences shared. Two minds will always be better than one.