Well, my first ever blog, where do I start? This year has been a very different one for me. Although I’ve been the Manager at HF Angling since day one, this year I took full ownership of the store. We walled ourselves off from Homefeeds, put in a brand new entrance and spent many hours improving whatever we could. It’s looking better than ever, and I am very proud to be in such a position.
Anyway, enough about that. Let’s talk about the one thing that brings us all together…fishing. As most of you will already know I am a very keen carp angler. But unfortunately it won’t take me long to bring you up to speed about my year so far…Slow!
I’ve started a new campaign at an awesome club that I have been very lucky to join. With about 10 different waters to choose from, which are all full of amazing carp, I decided to concentrate on the two busiest lakes on the ticket. They are busy for a very good reason mind you, because the complex is perfect. Yes, it is perfect!
Imagine a venue with two absolutely stunning lakes that are completely surrounded by beautifully mature tree’s. With each swim nestled quietly amongst the woodland, making you feel like you have the whole place to yourself. The gin clear water of the old sand quarry encompasses different depths, weed beds, sand bars, unfishable banks and some absolutely stunning carp. I can’t name it for publicity reasons, but hopefully you will follow my monthly blog to see how I get on. I’ll slip in the odd picture here and there if I can get away with it.
January and February consisted of all work and no play. So as soon as March came around and things had settled down at the shop, I was more than ready to start trying to solve the two tricky puzzles I’d set my sights on.
Having grown up fishing local sand pits, I wanted to get an understanding of what was going on underneath the surface, as feature finding had been vital on other similar pits. So March was spent beating most of the swims to a froth with both a bare lead and a Deeper Pro.
April soon arrived and the lakes were still fishing slowly. But I was gaining plenty of knowledge about each of the swims I fished, keeping notes of everything I learnt. It seems it has been a very harsh winter this year with most places across England taking a while to kick in. Apart from a little common off the smaller of the two lakes, there was no further action to report.
When I say the smaller of the two pits, it is literally 4 acres in size with 6 pegs to fish from all across one bank. This lake actually holds the club record Mirror at a whopping 38lb and with plenty more big fish coming through too. I think these small tricky sand pits are a bigger challenge than “big pits” sometimes. Especially with a bottom like an egg box – spots and presentation really seem to come into their own.
The other lake, which we will call the big one, is 15 acres in size with about 15 pegs mostly on one side of the lake again. It was soon apparent that there are two “hot” swims that are almost always busy. They control two big areas of water which stretch across to the unfishable bank, which is a holding spot for a lot of carp. It’s a good old chuck of around 165 yards, so they know most of the time it is safe there. Apparently, the lads who can present a rig and spomb at that distance have achieved some mega results.
I couldn’t fish on the new waters throughout May due to being unable to complete two work parties. So, it was back onto my old Syndicate, a 60 acre estate lake full of big commons and some old original Mirrors that very rarely visit the bank. I only managed one small common (and about 100 tench!!) throughout the month. The night I caught the carp we had an awesome social: BBQ, beers, laughs and an awesome sunset. Surely this is what it is all about!?
So that brings you up to date. Almost. Things got a little bit more interesting for me in June. I couldn’t wait to get stuck back into my target waters and as most of us carp anglers do, I spent the majority of my spare time pondering what approach to take on my return. I kept a close eye on the weather, and constantly gazed at the lakes on Google maps. Surely the fish will have woken up by now and will be on the move?
My first session back on was a Sunday afternoon after work. My cousin, Will, had been down the Saturday night and caught two off the small lake. One of which being an awesome mirror called ‘The Raspberry’ which is a target fish of mine – she is beautifully dark and scaley with real character. Knowing the lakes had been fishing well over the previous weeks I arrived armed with a heavy amount of Supreme Marine boilies soaked in hemp oil and covered in stick mix.
As with other sand pits, the fish tend to give themselves away if you look hard enough, especially at first and last light. I wonder whether this is something to do with the nature of old sand quarry’s? As the estate lake and other silty meres that I have fished seem much more difficult to locate fish? Anyway, with that in mind I spent a good couple of hours walking around both lakes, searching high and low for signs of activity. A quick shimmy up a tree at the bottom end of the small lake near where Will was fishing soon gave away the most activity by far. There was a lot of fizz ups, and plenty of fish cruising around in the upper layers, probably enjoying this amazing weather we have been having.
It’s always a tough call on how to approach a little bay where there are a few fish relaxing away from the pressure. Do you put in bait in? Guestimate the depth of a zig? Drop a high vis pop up in amongst them? Or plumb your spots and hope they return after the commotion?
To try and nick a quick bite, I flicked out two pop up rigs with PVA mesh bags of mixed HF pellets soaked in SBRY Food Ooze. I was conscious of my rigs being lost in a load of weed but didn’t want to spook them by smashing a lead around.
It stayed quiet for the next 90 minutes, but there were still signs of fish in the area. This really is where the Deeper Pro comes into its own. With little disturbance to the bottom of the lake, you can slowly drag it a few times across the surface by casting past the fish and thus causing very little disturbance. I quickly learned there were still plenty of fish in the swim and near the bottom too. There was a lovely overhanging bush of which the Deeper showed an extra foot of depth underneath, possibly a feeding spot? I also found a lovely clean sand bar where a lot of the fizzing had occurred. Two quick recasts onto these spots and both leads hit the deck with a “donk” so I knew my rigs would be sitting proud as the evening drew in. A couple of pouches of bait over each rig was the icing on the cake.
Both traps were set, my swim was tidy, and everything was set up perfectly for a take. Will had even been and picked up two pizzas for us – what a legend! That night I had one of those moments on the bank. Surely you know what I mean by one those moments? The moment when you’re sat eating pizza with your best mate, there are fish showing themselves near your hook bait and the sun is setting over one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever had the pleasure the to fish. Even just writing this thinking about that moment it makes me feel good.
All of a sudden, the right-hand rod rattled off, sending my Edwards Custom Upgrade alarm into absolute melt down. I charged over and lifted into a very angry fish. It knew all the tricks in the book, hugging the bottom, heading for all the snags, pulling left and pulling right. I must have been close to landing it about 3 times before it roared off into the lake again. My 10ft rods held their own, keeping the fish under control during one of the most heart pumping battles I’d had in a very long time. I knew it was a better fish than last time, so was desperate to land it. Eventually an awesome common slid into the net and I could breathe again! Will looked at the fish in the edge and said “Mate. That’s a 30 that is” and to be fair it did look massive. It actually weighed in at 25lb, a fish that had been out at 29lb previously and had obviously been spawning. What a result!!
It still had plenty of energy left when I was trying to get some good pictures so it beat the crap out of me. These pictures made me laugh… It’s happened to us all right?
What a buzz catching my first decent fish from my target water within the first few hours. Surely there was chance of another? I remember getting into my bag that night after getting a fresh rig back into the water with my heart still pumping.
The best ever alarm tone in the world woke me up at 5am on the Monday morning, a screaming Edwards Custom going into melt down again! When I got to my rod line was stripping off at an incredible rate. I grabbed the reel, tightened the clutch and lifted into another carp. This one was even angrier than the last and just kept taking line – I couldn’t stop it! After another long and hard battle, a second common graced my net. Not as big as the last but I was still overjoyed.
By now I was confident that the carp were enjoying my bait and my tactics were working a treat. However, the weather changed that morning, the wind switched direction and it was much hotter than when I had arrived the day before. I kept an eye out for any signs for fish, which seemed to become none existent by late morning. So I decided to reel in and go for another long walk around both lakes.
Up the opposite end of the lake there are many obvious sand bars which can be seen from the bank when wearing polarized sunglasses. They are surrounded by very thick Canadian Pondweed which stretches right up to the surface. The fish had moved up here in numbers. I could see plenty basking in the sun with their backs out, but there was more moving beneath these, with the odd one crashing out of the water. It seemed my best chance would be the fish into the weed from a tight little overgrown swim in the corner. A move was on the cards.
My left-hand rod required a very awkward side cast. I had to wade out in my shorts to get an angle that would allow me to present a rig in the middle of the weed on a clear spot I had found from being up in a nearby tree. This was in the middle of the showing fish and therefore I felt it would be my best chance of a bite. My right-hand rod was more straightforward, presented just off the edge of the weed bed.
All was quiet through the night until the next morning when both rods produced a bite each – I love it when a plan comes together!
I reeled in shortly after landing the mirror making the drive home with a big smile on my face – what a cracking session. As I write this, my final session of this blog was last week. I turned up after work on the Sunday again, excited and confident for another 24 hours on my target lakes.
I quickly found the fish enjoying the big weed beds at the top end of the small lake again. But this time they seemed closer to the other peg adjacent to where I fished last time. The Canadian Pondweed is much thicker here, and after a bit of ‘leading around’ the edge of it I found silt weed around 2ft long. I opted to fish my rigs into this as close to the action as possible Making my hooklinks 2ft long to ensure my pop-ups were presented.
After unfortunately loosing 2 fish to the weed, I managed to land a third a couple of hours before leaving the next day. Another banging mirror which put up an epic battle and I was more than relieved to land.
So, there you have it, the campaign is finally off to a good start, and I will now be keeping you updated on a monthly basis. I’ll leave you with this thought. The 38lb club record mirror (and my god it is an awesome character) hasn’t been out this year yet, and will surely slip up soon? Maybe I could be the one to catch it? Every carp angler has to have a dream!