A few years ago, my friend  Jonny Miller got me a ticket for a lake in Essex called Golden Gates. It’s a long lake with a long island in the middle, I believe it was dug for jet skiing and around 7 acres in size with a good head of carp.  The ones I wanted the most were the Gratwick strains, nice scaly old ones. But the one I was really after was a mid-40 common called Bulldozer a well know Essex carp.

The ticket started in July, and I headed down there to meet the new members and pay for my ticket. As it was a bit of a journey for me to get there, I decided to fish that night. I ended up fishing a swim called ‘Kenny’s’ after the owner. I managed to get 3 Chod’s out for the night but I had to be off the lake mega early for work the following morning. Kenny’s swim gives you a great view looking up the lake, after a quiet night, as I was packing up the next morning, I saw a few fish showing over to my right, this was duly noted for the next visit.

We were just coming out of Covid with the restrictions now lifted, so that made fishing a bit easier. The following week I returned to Golden Gates and after a good look around I decided to fish the opposite end to my previous visit, as you can imagine the weed was up big time, as it was now the height of the summer. I managed to find a couple of clearer areas out in the middle, and I pinged out a couple of singles for the night, wherever I’m fishing, summer, or winter I always have one rod on a single pop up, a tactic I’ve done well on over the years.

At just before first light I landed a wicked mirror called ‘Floppy Tail’ one of the lakes original with loads of character. I took a couple of self takes and slipped it back and I headed off to work.

After fishing around the pond and catching most trips, I started to get something going in a swim called ‘The Humps’ – named as there are two humps around 20 yards out. No one seemed to be interested in this swim, so with that in mind I started to fish there and when I left for work, I would bait up, something I do a lot. I did really well in this swim, catching two of the lakes better fish, one called ‘The Elusive’ and the other was the ‘The Silver Common’.

I dedicated my winter angling to that lake, mainly at the the carpark end as it was bigger and wasn’t so muddy…the last thing I wanted was to get the van stuck.
By mid-April and the trees had started to blossom and spring was well on its way. Other anglers started to show their faces and the lake was slowly getting busier. There was a swim called the ‘The Front Bay’ which was situated in the middle of the island with a channel running through it. I knew this was a good area in the Spring, as it had a record of doing bites this time of the year.

On one trip I noticed fish jumping tight to the island, so I pinged out a single white Sticky Signature pop-up to this area and catapulted a handful of Manilla boilies around the area. Coming out of winter into the Spring I tend to fish a helicopter set-up and a rig comprising of 9” of Invisi-Link and a size 6 Rigga CVR hook fished with a pop-up. I really like this hook as the CVR’s have a mega curve.


I was wrapping up one rod to hear the one I had just cast out was away, a cracking upper 20 mirror. That night I landed three more carp, before packing and heading off to work early. As you can imagine I was gagging to get back to Golden Gates and have another go in that same swim. Two days later I managed to get back and I was catching right from the start….I just couldn’t do anything wrong. That year was the first time in my Angling career that I caught a carp on my birthday, by now I had caught 16 carp in 2 weeks from this swim but still no ‘Bulldozer’.

I was talking to some pals on the phone saying tonight I’m having it…. it’s got to happen!, my confidence in the swim and tactics was high. The next day I was due to meet the owner Kenny to pay for the coming new season, at around 6am I got a take that felt a lot heavier , it stripped line from me and was trying to get out the channel I was fishing in, but I managed to turn it and after a short battle ‘Dozer’ slipped into the net , I couldn’t believe it, I think I talked this one into the net! I’ve done this a few times now, talked about a certain carp and I’ve ended up catching it the next day!

After securing the fish in the net, I ran to my friend Mikey Wilson who was fishing down the other end of the lake. As I walked into his swim I just said, “Mikey I’ve got ‘Dozer’ can you do me some pictures for me?” Normally I would do self takes but the Front Bay swim is very tight on space – also, I know Mikey is talented with a camera!

She went 41.8 a little down in weight, but nevertheless it was an absolutely cracking carp. I now had to call Kenny to say I wasn’t going to rejoin, as I’ve just caught the one, I was after. He was fine with it, that saved me £650 membership for the following season! I ended up catching one more before packing up and saying my goodbyes to the syndicate members, I had a great year on Golden Gates, made some new friends and bagged all the target carp that I wanted.