What a year 2021 was! I think it’s safe to say it was a very up and down year for many, with moments of deflation, followed by optimism, euphoria, yet always tinted with the tinge of doubts.

The year started in the country in lockdown, and fishing was a bleak prospect. We were all told to stay local, essential travel only, and fishing was at the start, prohibited. Fishing which was saved by some amazing work behind the scenes by the Angling Trust, which allowed us back on the banks. Although it was days only, and the need to stay local, it meant we could do what we all loved, and looking back, I think it fared me well.

Generally, in winters gone by I’ve either continued on my chosen venue for my target or started a new winter campaign elsewhere. With travel restricted, I was limited in my options, and the routine post-Christmas socials were postponed.

I flitted about on a couple of lakes close to home and work for the first couple of months with nothing really of note. I caught numerous 20lb fish each month, with the highlight of this period, being a common just shy of 30lb, followed a 28lb mirror. Whilst I was certainly making the most of the days only, I was longing to get my teeth into something long term.

The end of January yielded the best fruit of all and an invite to walk around and the chance of a joining the Quarry in Essex. I walked around the venue with visions of the majestic scaly carp wallowing in the folds of my net. I had only just arrived at home, when my phone pinged with the offer of a ticket and I did not need asking twice. I transferred the money, and the opening weekend in May for the start of the ticket was booked almost instantly! That was the end of spring and into summer sorted.


Mid-March finally saw the green light to start night fishing again and straight from the off, the first night back on the bank saw me land a brace of mid twenty mirrors. My winter tactic of baiting up with a mix of crumbed boilies with a sprinkling of maggots and corn fished with either a Hinge Stiff Rig or Chod over the top was still working well. I had started using the Rigga BCR hooks for the first time that winter, having previously used the Covert Dark Chod hooks. However, favouring a beaked point hook, I had been keen to test the BCR’s. I was mightily impressed with the results from my winters fishing and moving into the Spring I was more than happy to continue. One evening a big box of Hinges, and Chod sections were tied with the usual Stiff Link and Ultra Sink providing the Chod sections and booms respectively.

During April I was still between venues, so I booked a night on Berners main lake. The forecast didn’t look great with gale force northerlies, a harsh frost on the cards, and the risk of snow. On arrival I put my coat on and set off on a lap. I spotted a few fish on the back of the wind and I soon had them lined up. Three rods were positioned in the area, with half dozen Spombs of the same mix that had done fish all winter. A take came in ten minutes! A slow heavy battle but unfortunately, I suffered a hook pull, which left me with that sinking feeling. I quickly whipped up a fresh rig and soon had it back on the spot. Amazingly the rod was away again before I had even got the kettle on! A beautiful linear of 31.12 laid in the folds of the net, and I was over the moon!


James came down to do the pictures and after slipping the fish back the rod was away again. This time another mid twenty mirror was my prize. The following morning one of the rods was away just before packing up, which resulted in a uniquely scaled upper twenty. For the rest of the Spring, I continued fishing quick overnighters and dropping onto any moving fish. I was catching consistently, but the best was yet to come!

The first weekend of May saw the start of my Quarry ticket and I couldn’t wait to get started. Confidence was high and I kept the tactics the same, only dropping the maggots, due to the nuisance species being more active and adding plenty of whole boilies. I drew first blood first trip, with a cracking scaly mirror.

My next trip saw me back at Berners filming with Carpology, and the rest of the DT Baits team. Not only was a great time had by all, but a host of fish were caught. I managed 13 fish to 30lb! A social at Sandhurst followed and again I got amongst fish. This time taking one of the original mirrors weighing 31lb! At this point, I felt I was really on a roll!


Work then proceeded to pick up as is often the way, so I was limited to fishing overnighters, so I dropped back onto Berners for a Sunday night the following weekend. The weather was abysmal for setting up in, but perfect conditions for the carp with gale force Southerlies and heavy rain. As I drove along the res the fish were rolling down the lake like dolphins!

As I wrestled with my brolly in the rain, I knew getting perfect drops onto a spot was going to be impossible. I opted to clip up three rods at a range on Hinges where I knew I would find lighter weed. I hoped by increasing the length of the booms it would be enough to ensure the hook bait was presented in the zone where the fish were showing. The GT-HD mono sailed through the rings and even in the crosswind I felt all 3 rods down first chuck. 3kg of boilies, chops and corn were sent out dotted along a line, and the fish continued to show.

What followed is probably the best overnighter I could of asked for. Within an hour I had a 36lb mirror known as The Red Admiral in the net, followed by a mid-twenty common. What a start!


After several teas, dinner was finally eaten at around 11pm and I finally decided to try and get my head down. That was easier said than done as combined with the adrenaline, the rain, driven by the wind sounded like my brolly was being hit with 15 milers! Eventually I drifted off and at some point just before it was getting light I woke to a few stuttering bleeps on the right hand rod. I slipped my trainers on and stepped out from the shelter of the brolly to almost be taken off my feet by the force of the wind! Feeling the line, it was bowstring tight and I bent into a slow heavy weight, which kited slowly left at range before grinding to a halt. I kept the pressure on, doing my best to try and see out to where the line was pointing as the wind and rain hammered into me. It soon dawned on me that the fish wasn’t snagged, it was merely holding bottom! It slowly started to move towards me again, wiping out the left-hand rod in the process. I opened the bail arm on the left rod and continued with the slow constant pressure. After what felt and age something turned over in the waves and I led it over the waiting net cord.


What laid in my net transpired to be an older resident believed dead, a fish known as Lumpy spinning the needle to 38.12! I was made up and I didn’t care that I was soaked! Moments before we could the pictures, the other rod was away with a low twenty, before James took a mid-thirty himself! It’s safe to say, I went to work shattered but extremely happy, having managed 5 thirties in 5 weeks in 5 trips.

Unfortunately, during the following trip the bubble burst. Due to a cancelled trip to France, I decided to head to the Quarry for a 5 night session. I managed a couple of twenties early on following a move after the first night onto some fish by the shallows. As the day wore on however the temperatures rose, and the feeding fish activity fizzled out. The following morning the warm weather finally arrived, which triggered spawning and saw me hanging my rods up for June.

The summer saw me consistently catching on the Quarry, with regular upper twenties, however the bigger residents seemed to avoid me. I seemed to be playing a numbers game.

Autumn was soon upon us and I was determined to get one of the large Quarry residents before Christmas. However, at the beginning of November I had a trip booked to Gigantica for a week. It was a new water for me, and whilst the fishing was slow, I did manage 3 fish, which included a mega 44lb mirror! This fish blew me away with it’s incredible length and colour.


After arriving back in the UK, I was determined for one last big push on the Quarry before Christmas. The lake had changed massively since my trip and in the space of 3 weeks the leaves had fallen, the banks were littered with a mix of gold, red, and brown. As I walked down the track into a swim I favoured called Winters, I instantly clocked a showing fish. I continued my way round, however with nothing else to go no, Winters was to be my home for the night. I went out in the boat and noticed leaves littered the tops of the now slowly dying weed beds. As I neared the spot, I could see it was still clear, so I deposited a bucket of bait and rowed back to bank. My ever-faithful Hinges with razor sharp size 4 Rigga BCR’s were positioned over the top.

At midnight and I woke to a fish clattering out not too far from the spot and shortly after I heard several more. A little while later, I was away with a small stocky of 17lb. A little disappointed I debated replacing the rod, before finally deciding two on the spot was better than one. Due to the depth of water, I hoped I could get away with getting the rig back on the spot if I managed to do it in one cast. As is often the way, one cast was three as I wanted the drop to be perfect. I climbed back in the bag cursing I hadn’t got it right first time, hoping that I hadn’t blown my chances.

At some point after 4am my middle rod was howling for attention. The take was so violent I could hear the spool of my SS being shredded as line was wrenched from the clutch. I was instantly flat rodded but quickly gained control of whatever I was connected to. It kited on a long line and I was thankful that the weed beds were dying off. However, as the fish continued to kite, it was heading towards a deep snaggy bay to my left. I applied more pressure to guide it away, but it pulled back harder. It quickly became a make or break situation, so I piled on the pressure and hoped it would turn. The fish exploded only feet away from the first set of snags along the treeline, before finally surging back out into open water, forcing me to backwind furiously. As I guided it back towards me, I flicked on the head torch and caught the glimpse of a large linear row of scales. Knowing the lake held some truly impressive linear’s, I was now keen to get her in the net and thankfully she duly obliged at the first time of asking. She was not the Big Lin of the pond, but it was a magnificent linear, perfectly proportioned with an over slung mouth and not a blemish on it.


I slipped her into the retainer and Jim kindly came down to do the honours at first light. It was a fish known as Elliott’s and at a top weight too. I was made up! Finally one of the bigger residents and a special fish to many connected to the lake. As it transpired it was my last fish from the Quarry for 2021 and my penultimate carp of the year. My final fish being a lovely scaly scrapper twenty on an annual Christmas social in Norfolk during the weekend before Christmas.

What plans do I have for 2022? I would like to hit the repeat button and see if I can emulate 2021. I’ve just come back from a New Year’s Day social, banking a couple of upper doubles on zigs. I’m due to start of my chosen winter water for a couple of months with the hope of a truly mega common, and I will of course renew my ticket for the Quarry, as I chase some of the gems it holds. Throw in a few planned socials, and it promises to be a busy year, but more importantly, if I’m clever and just lucky enough, I hope to cradle some truly amazing carp along the way. Here’s hoping.

Be lucky and tight lines everyone!