Written by Steve Baker
I arrived to a chilly wind that was blowing in a north-westerly direction across the lake, which wasn’t ideal for the lake, but after a few hours watching the water it was clear that the fish were following the wind with a few fish rolling, with one or two of them displacing the water around a marginal area opposite the peg that I bagged my personal best from last October.
I wasn’t expecting much action for the first few days so I gradually set my stall for my five-days session, whilst taking time out to scan the water for any signs of activity. Again there were one or two swirls in the area out in front of me, so after I set up and got my rods sorted two rigs were despatched to the desired locations; one to the marginal area that the wind was blowing into and the second just off to the left into deeper water. The marginal rod was given a small handful of hemp, chopped tigers and sweetcorn, whilst the left hand rod was cast out with a golf ball sized bag of chopped boilie and a variety of different sized pellets.
A couple of hours passed before a good fish head and shouldering over the left hand rod, which in turn caused a procession of bleeps from my alarm. The indicator rose to the rod then steadily gave way to a slow run. I was on it in a flash and leant into a good fish. It powered off taking line on a tight clutch and putting an alarming bend into the rod. After a couple of minutes I managed to gain a little more line back but just as I was gaining control everything fell slack which left me severely gutted. After the ball breaker of a session that I had on my last trip out to the venue I was starting to think that I was going to experience much of the same this time around. Still dejected, I sent out another golf ball bag out to the same spot and hoped for the best.
As the light started to fade later on in the day the wind dropped in strength and the lake fell flat calm, which gave away the presence of a fish merrily bubbling away in the margins down to my left. I instinctively wound in the far margin rod, put a fresh tiger nut hookbait on the hair and carefully dropped the rig just to one side of the patch of bubbles so as not to spook the feeding fish below. Everything was set as slack as possible on the rests so that the carp would not come into contact with the line as it was feeding on the lake bed. I sat next to the rod in anticipation as to what would happen next, and a few minutes later the flat calm lake was interrupted by a large boil on the surface giving way to a screaming take off the rod that I had just placed there. As I leant into the fish the reel paid out masses of line as the fish made off towards the other end of the lake. As I applied more pressure it detoured off to my left, close to thick marginal reed beds that line the banks of half of the lake. I followed the fish down the bank still applying maximum pressure until I was over the top and then steered it away from the reeds. Then as if someone had flicked a switch the fish ‘gave up the ghost’ and dutifully swam straight into the waiting landing net as I let out a scream of delight at my spot of good fortune. I unhooked the fish, which I identified as the ‘fat linear’ in the water then gently lifted her up and onto the double unhooking mat, which was there for extra protection so as not to cause any damage to the carp. Into the weigh sling she went which was then hoisted up onto the scales, which read 29lb 8oz, a new personal best by 12 ounces. I was over the moon and gave a nice big cheesy grin for the cameras before slipping the fish back into her watery home.
'Fat Lin' at 29lb 8oz - Happy days!
After the excitement of a new PB I calmed myself down with the first of many brews that week and hit the sack early in readiness for an early start the next morning. How right I was; at 4am the following day my left hand rod gave a few warning bleeps awakening me from a deep sleep then ripped off causing me to fall flat on my face as I tried to clamber out of my sleeping bag. I again leant into what felt like a half-decent fish which wallowed around in the middle of the lake on the surface for a while making a few lunges here and there taking some line off the clutch. As it neared the net the fish woke up and went mental in the close margin going from one side to the other at a fast pace which was difficult to keep up with at first. But in the end I slipped the net under yet another carp. I didn’t know what I had caught and didn’t think it would weigh much despite my dad telling me it looked like a real nice lump. I rolled up the landing net and placed the fish onto the unhooking mat putting my glasses on at the same time. I was completely taken back as I gazed upon a huge long fish with a nice dark coloration across its back. I didn’t want to say anything but I thought I could have yet another PB in the bag and the scales confirmed it but not only had I done that but I had also passed the 30lb milestone with the fish weighing an impressive 30lb 12oz. I was ecstatic and couldn’t take in what I had just achieved as I held aloft my prize as the camera flashed away in the early morning light. I held the fish in the water for a while so that she (a term I give to all carp regardless of its gender for some strange reason) could gain her composure and she slowly waddled off back into the depths. I slapped the water in delight and let out another huge roar to let the whole area know of my result.
'Scar' my new 30lb PB
The day just got better and better after that as I took another three fish culminating in yet another personal best in the form of the ‘birthmark common’ at an impressive weight of 28lb, along with mirrors of 24lb 7oz and 27lb which I recognised as the one fish that my fishing partner, on the last session in October, had at 26lb.
Thursday started much the same as the Wednesday with me taking another fish at 28lb 14oz, a recapture of ‘Split Linn’, which before this session was my PB and the only fish that I took in the week long session that I had back in October of last year. Along with that fish on the Thursday I also landed a pretty common which tipped the scales around to the 22lb mark. All was going well with the fish still moving about along the marginal spot that was regularly topped up with a small amount of bait and with the weather report for the following day given out as being hot and sunny. Perfect I thought to myself as I had been meaning to try out as few rigs for surface fishing that had been bouncing around in my head for a while before hand.
The 'Birthmark Common' at 28lb
As I got out of the sleeping bag on the Friday morning the heat was already rising so I decided to start there and then by continually firing out the chum mixers with the catapult to create a continual stream of bait going along the line of the wind. Later on the day before I was informed that the carp in this particular lake didn’t like even the slightest ripple on the waters surface for taking bait off the top so I was eager to put this so called ‘expert’ opinion to the test. I kept the bait going in using the little and often approach and before long a few carp could be seen slurping down the mixers one at a time. As they seemed to be a bit apprehensive I decided to delay casting in until I had a number of fish feeding with confidence at one time so as not to spook the carp out of the swim that were already resident. I kept this approach going until later on in the day when a group of carp were confidently destroying the growing patches of mixers out in front of me. The size 10 ESP Big T hook was baited with an enterprise fake dog biscuit and then I waited for the right moment to put my plan into action. The same group of carp as before then steadily made their way to the new patch of mixers that I had just fired out and then I cast the baited rig to the left and beyond the desired area. I slowly retrieved the rig until it was the correct distance out then let it drift naturally into the area where the carp were now devouring the free offerings. Then, without warning, a large set of rubbery lips rose from nowhere and closed around my hookbait. A split second was given which was followed by me striking into one very angry carp that made its way at an unstoppable speed away from the area from which it was hooked. As the fight drew on and the number of spectators behind me rose the fish began to tire with its lunges and runs getting less and less intense which were carefully cushioned, as I couldn’t give it the big ‘heave ho’ using the lightest line that I could get away with which was 8lb. I and the people standing behind me could now clearly see the fish that was attached to the end of the line and whispers of ‘this could go 30lb’ etc were now making me very nervous indeed. As it neared the net wallowing on the surface I prayed for the hook not to pull, which thankfully it didn’t, as the carp was engulfed in my landing net. I again unhooked the fish in the water then lifted it onto the unhooking mat. The big linear lay there in all her splendour glistening in the sunlight as I with help from a few of the other syndicate members slipped her into the weigh sling and hoisted her up onto the scales. The weight was called out at 30lb 4oz which I had to see for myself, as I couldn’t quite believe that I had bagged myself yet another 30lber and one which was caught off the surface as well. I once again gave a nice big grin as the cameraman did his job which I might add came out brilliantly.
30lb 4oz - off the top!
Reflecting at the end of the session I couldn’t quite believe what I had achieved and I think that it will take something very special if I am ever to repeat or surpass what I had done, and the occasion will be implanted into my memory for many years to come.