While the world slowly returns to some sense of normality, returning to Wellington Country Park this season for another dabble seemed like a sensible thing to do. I only live a short 30-minute drive from the park, which means my family can also duck in to see me and enjoy everything else the park has to offer. I already had other plans and have other syndicate tickets, but those other venues are safely secured and the opportunity to return to Welly doesn’t come around often. Since leaving the syndicate two years ago after three wonderful and successful years, sadly but not surprisingly several the original big A team fish have since passed on. But weirdly, a few of the big guns still going strong are ones I still need. After a quick chat at home, the decision was made to go back and have another dabble. Willow and the Big Common are the two main targets.

Clearly the makeup of the 35-acre lake remains the same, so all my old marks and distances noted in my phone have provided an invaluable starting point. However, the characteristics in terms of fish behaviour has evolved due to the reduced stock of original carp plus the now introduced handful of new stocked fish. It was also quickly evident the lakes stock of bream and tench had found its way up the food chain and they would need me to adapt my tactics to swerve catching them but use them to my advantage to lure in the carp. But the main change has been the lakebeds resurgence of the much-needed bed of weed. So previous specific spots or runs of gravel, or smooth glass silt areas have had to be reexplored. But last time I was on, the lake was completely baron and had none of the ‘green stuff’.

I like adapting to the green stuff in my angling, I always have. Adapting presentation, thinking about rig length and materials. Adapting lead weight, for the perfect drop and to aid more stealth getting rods into position. Adapting accuracy, in terms of locating and then presenting on spots with precision. And then finally, increasing confidence through simple techniques to build confidence that you are presented. Given a choice, I prefer to be presented across layers of the green stuff than on clear areas. I think its an edge, particularly if you can present on the green stuff close to known clear areas. In this scenario, I would offer free bait on the clear area but present my hook bait across the green stuff.

Since returning from the 1st July, I have only managed a handful of sessions either side of the summer holidays with the family. But I have been lucky, I have managed a carp bite on every trip and avoided catching the nuisance fish. Like any big fish water which is relatively low stock but has plenty of water and nooks and cranny’s to where the carp can hide. Always look, stay mobile and be as stealthy as possible. I am finding my insight on the lake very useful and depending on the weather and where the angling pressure is or has been. I tend to know where to look first.

August and early September historically has been very kind to me on Welly. In fact, my first bite first time around came on the 5th September 2016 when I landed my very first Welly carp. I was on about a 9-night blank at the time as I was clearly getting used to the place and the challenge that lay ahead, but this first bite was very special. I caught it from the little lake section, which is very dark at night and the bite came around 11pm from memory. A solid battle and it dropped over the net cord with just about enough light without needing my head torch. Once settled in the net, I vividly remember flicking on the head torch and illuminating these giant apple slides down both flanks, but with one side having a run of much larger slices. I knew instantly which one it was, as before joining I did endless amounts of research on the stock. It was aptly named ‘The Pretty Sutton’ at a weight irrelevant 38lb 4oz.


Last month across the August bank holiday weekend, unfortunately my 2-night stay was cut short only a couple of hours after setting up. Something at home had to suddenly become the priority. I was on fish too, but never mind I would be back soon. The week before that, after two moves in 24hrs I lost a very good carp at 4am in an area that has a notoriously shallow plateau that you need to navigate anything you hook either around or across, which is always risky. My complete set up is often faultless, but on this occasion the carp won the battle using that plateau to its advantage.

After the aborted August bank holiday trip, I knew it would be two weekends until I returned. I therefore used the time at home to tinker and to be prepared. The main thing ensuring I had a few 6” multi rigs incorporating the tried and totally tested Gardner Stiff Link hook link and a short subtle section of peeled back green ultra-skin soft to a size 4 covert wide gape talon tip hook. I have massive confidence that with a large balanced bait and the bead moved up 9-10” on a helicopter set up. I can get a good drop and presentation across the green stuff, providing the weed is not too deep and dense.


After the two weeks finally elapsed, I arrived at the lake almost minutes after I turned my work laptop off for the week. I had a fair idea who was on, where anglers were set up and most importantly, what had been happening on the bite front in recent weeks. The carp hadn’t gone totally to ground, but things had slowed up a little with that burst of upper 20-degree heat during the week. With cooler and more blustery south westerlies due along with a scattering of rain, from a weather forecast perspective things were looking positive. However, after a couple of one-mile laps without the barrow. It was evident my session would need to start based on a hunch, rather than observation. I therefore dropped the barrow in to a swim called Grassy but decided to go for another lap before getting the rods out. After another lap, I decided to remain where I was for now and that’s where I settled in for the night. After a motionless night and very little to see or hear, I was convinced they were not out in front of me in open water. Despite this, I did stay put and endured another quiet day and night and by this point I was convinced a move was needed.


Weirdly by lunchtime on the Saturday, I shared the 35 acres with only four other anglers, so lots of areas now lay empty. I packed down the barrow and pushed it halfway round the lake and into a swim/area known as the arm. After a quick look in this area, I couldn’t spot anything through the polaroid’s so decided to spend the next few hours having a proper walk. I did 4 laps in total, which took me around 4 hours after stopping to look under the many tree lined canopy’s around the edges which do become popular during the warm sunlight. Despite putting in the time, I only found three stocked fish which were not frequenting any particular spot for long. They were just cruising about just under the surface. So 4 hours in and a healthy portion of chicken and chips from the on-site café, I decided to push the barrow back to Grassy and drop back in on my old spots on the theory if I can’t find them in the edges then they must be in open water. On the basis I did trickle a few spombs of Sticky manilla active the previous two nights, I opted to fling out three very tidy and reliable rigs back on to the spots and add no more free offerings.


I don’t know why, but as darkness fell and the warm air started to cool and you could feel damp in the air. Going into that evening, I felt allot more confident than the previous two nights. It just felt right. After the long walks in the sun and a couple of late nights previous, I turned in at 9pm and slept like a baby until my left indicator let out a single beep at 3am, which startled me and I pivoted up to see if it would progress into something more substantial. A couple of clicks of the spool and I lifted and landed a mint mid 20lb common that I decided to slip back without even putting up on to the unhooking mat. Not that I was ungrateful, but I was soon to be entering proper bite time which are often the classic early mornings on Welly. With that fish returned without leaving the water and with me only using 2oz leads, I took the decision to fling this back out on the same spot. Feathering down a 2oz lead can drop in with minimal disturbance and within minutes I was back in bed and sound asleep. Around 5:30am I woke and turned on the kettle for my early morning coffee while observing first light. It was a classic Welly morning. Flat calm water, mist drifting across the lake in the low teen air temperature and the only sounds being geese and cockerel from animal farm. It really was a majestic morning and felt really good for another bite.

Coffee consumed and pondering with having another. A single beep again on my left-hand rod and a couple of turns on the spool and I lifted in to my second carp of the trip. This time from the off, clearly a much better carp. No hard lunges or powerful runs, just using its weight to try and plod away from me. It was a straightforward battle, which is often not the case. When they come along, they are most welcome. Across the net cord it went and although a repeat capture, I had absolutely no issues in the slightest catching this very special and sought after scaley in the pond. Yes, almost 5 years to the day I had nailed ‘The Pretty Sutton’ again but this time over the next magical milestone at 43lb 8oz. I knew going back I would inevitably have some repeats, but when they look this majestic I have absolutely no issues at all. Catching this one in the daylight though and an opportunity for some daytime pictures did make it more special. Thank you to the lads who assisted me on the bank and with the camera.


After the pictures, it was crash down the gear and barrow back to the van. Within three hours of leaving the lake side at 8am, I was pitch side coaching my under 11 football team to a 5-3 victory against a very impressive Oxford United team. What an all-round great morning!