Category Archives: Carp Fishing Reports

An Autumn Weekend at Brandesburton 3&4

Whilst on my tutorial session with Mark Pitchers, I had a text conversation with my carp fishing buddy Gaz about arranging a session at Brandesburton. We last fished it back in May which was a very successful trip so we were itching to get back to make sure that our luck last time wasn’t a one-off! We agreed to take the Friday off work and travel there on the Thursday evening even if it meant setting up in the dark. As it turned out, Gaz also took the Wednesday afternoon and Thursday off so headed to the lake late afternoon on the Wednesday to secure the lake’s only double peg (yes yes I hear you hardcore carpers saying that you shouldn’t pre select your peg before you get to the lake but we fish for enjoyment and there’s a social element to it too, plus we know the spots well in that peg and thought that the fish might be there at this time of year so there was some justification for it!) It turned out that there was nobody else on the lake so Grassy Bank it was and Gaz managed to get his bivvy up and a single rod out before dark. That night there was no moon and not much wind which meant it was pitch black and very quiet – enough to spook any man and Gaz later admitted that it was quite creepy so he got an early night! I’d told him to keep me up to date throughout the next day but I didn’t hear from him until mid-afternoon when a picture came through of a 13b mirror, not a bad start!

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Gaz’s first fish of the session

I was desperate to get to the lake but really didn’t fancy setting up in the dark so I decided that the best plan of action would be to go for a curry and beers with some of my old friends that I don’t see too often and head off on the Friday morning. Naturally, Friday morning turned into Friday afternoon and I arrived at the lake at around 2pm. Gaz hadn’t had any more action but had seem plenty of activity in front of him so I got the gear out of my car and setup next to him in the double peg. I got my first rod out but literally within 2 minutes Gaz had a take and the fish decided to go through my line. After a bit of a panic, we managed to untangle the rods with the fish still on – result! After a short battle Gaz there was a 19lb common sat in the net, Gaz was over the moon as it was his biggest yet from the venue and I was chuffed for him. We did the pictures and slipped her back. I got the rod back out and I couldn’t believe it when just 5 minutes later it ripped off! A short while later I had a lovely 14lb mirror in the net – what a start, a fish each within a few minutes of me being there, that’s no coincidence of course 😉

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Over the next few hours I’d had another 2 bites, I lost one of them and the other was a 12lb common which I caught just after it got dark at around 7:30pm. Because I was fishing against the far margin close to overhanging trees I decided not to try and get the rod back on the spot so just fished with 1 rod for the night (I was only fishing with 2 during the day anyway – i figured that 5 rods between us in that swim was pushing it somewhat). We got all the rods sorted for the night and sat back to have some food and chat the night away. Once bed time came I got warm inside my Fox Ventec 5 season bag (it’s soooo warm) while Gaz kept getting liners on the same rod, he was getting that many he ended up winding it in to get some sleep! The last time we fished the lake the bite times were early morning so I was expecting some action, it never came though and we didn’t even see many shows which was surprising as Gaz said they were boshing out all over the place the previous morning.

Gaz was leaving that afternoon and wanted another fish before he started packing away. He got his wish but it wasn’t a carp – yep you guessed it, a bream! Ah well he’d still had a good session so he headed back to Leeds.

As I now had the swim to myself, I decided to put a 3rd rod out so I cast it to where Gaz managed his 19b’er – it would be rude not to! I fired out a few of the Krill boilies over and between each rod and sat back to have some food. The evening was uneventful but I was awakened at around 11:30pm by a screaming take. It didn’t put up much of a fight and I thought it was a bream at first, it turned out to be a single figure carp which was still very welcome as it was over 24hrs since my last fish. I quickly returned it, got back into bed and the next time I woke was when it was light. I got the rod back out straight away so that I was fishing with 3 rods again to give me the best chance of getting another bite before I packed away at mid day. I had a chat with a few of the other anglers on the lake and it turned out that over the last few days we were the only ones catching – I’d love to say that it was down to our ability as anglers but sadly that’s not the case, we were simply in the correct swim for the conditions! Mid day came and it was time to pack up. I did so with a smile on my face as it had been a good session.

We have only fished Brandes twice this year, once in Spring and the other in Autumn. We fished it more last year yet didn’t catch a sausage then yet in just 2 sessions this year we have had 21 bites. A couple of those were bream, a few were lost but a good few of those saw the net too so all in all I’m chuffed to bits with our ‘year’ on there. I’ll be renewing my night permit and hoping to get there a bit more regularly next year. I might even get the odd winter day session in between now and then. You never know, I might even catch that 20lb fish I’m desperate for…

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I love this venue.

Until next time, tight lines…

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A Session at Majestic Pool with Mark Pitchers

Anybody into modern day carp fishing will have heard of Mark Pitchers. He’s the star of Fox’s The Challenge and contributes regularly to various monthly magazines. I’d heard that he offers tutorials so decided to get in touch to discuss various options. His schedule was quite busy but he had a place available on a group session he was running at Majestic Pool near Hull so I put my name down and started to get excited. Between booking it and the day arriving I had a family holiday and a busy time at work so I didn’t get the chance to think much about it, needless to say it came around quite quickly.

The other 3 guys were set to arrive at Majestic around 11am, I had work commitments in the morning but managed to wangle the afternoon off so set off from Leeds at 2:30pm. It was close to where I fish at Brandesburton so the journey was familiar and the weather lovely. I arrived at 4pm and introduced myself to Mark and the other guys. Mark pointed me in the direction of a peg called Sainty’s and told me to get my house in order and he’d be round soon. It was my first outing with the Fox Royale Classic bivvy so I spent some time making sure I put it up properly, after all there was no rush – we had all weekend! If you’re interested I thought the bivvy was great, you get a lot for your money – more information here

Fox Royale Classic Bivvy

I was really impressed with the Fox Royale Classic Bivvy

Not long after getting my bivvy up and my tackle in order, Mark appeared and started to give me some details about the lake, the stock and his recommended approach for the weekend. We set about looking for some spots and before long we’d found 2 clear gravely spots and one close to a snag where a fish had shown as we were looking for the open water spots. We clipped up, put the Spomb on and proceeded to put a bit of sweetcorn on the open water spots. We used the distance sticks to get the rods setup which just left the rigs to decide upon. Mark has had plenty of success using a simple but effective balanced plastic corn rig, the way it sits is lovely as I saw when he showed me in the margin – it’s just like a claw, waiting to take hold. The rods were cast and we discussed the approach for the margin spot. Because it was close to a snag the gear had to be heavy so a hinged stiff rig was selected with a few boilies scattered over the top. We were racing to get sorted before dark but we managed it and were happy with the spots that we’d chosen.

The first night saw me awake for most of it, not because of bites but because of the wind, rain and coots diving on my bait. The Delks are rather sensitive and were beeping regularly. Unfortunately this wasn’t replaced with a roaring take and come the morning my mat was still dry (well it would have been if the rain hadn’t have come down like it did…) I decided to leave things be and lay back down as I’d had a terrible nights sleep. Mark appeared before long though and showed me how to get the sediment off my lines in a morning. I asked if anybody had any luck throughout the night but unfortunately not. I was surprised, the venue holds a good amount of fish and the weather looked right for it. Mark suggested that we sit on our hands and don’t put any more bait out – if the fish had eaten the bait then we should have got a bite so the likelihood was that the bait was still sat out there uneaten. The day passed quietly but for Mark it was all but quiet – he was running around like a madman trying to find fish and get all 4 of us angling for them in the best way possible. It was very weedy so he had to spend a lot of time finding us good spots, especially the guys on the opposite bank to me as that seemed to contain the most of the weed.

My home for the weekend!

My home for the weekend!

Late afternoon and with 24 hours gone, it was time to try some new spots. Mark said that he approaches each 24 hours as a different session and this was no different especially as it had been quiet. One of the rods was left on the same spot but recast and with a bit more bait over the top, one rod was cast further out to see if the carp were sitting close to the middle and the last rod was fished towards the no fishing bank at the bottom of the drop off. Rigs and bait were the same so it was just up to the carp gods now to make something happen. The sensitivity was turned down on the Delks and the rods placed lower to the ground to try and minimise any false bleeps. It worked well and I got a great night of sleep – good for my body but not great for my unhooking mat which was still bone dry. Mark couldn’t understand it, the weather was good, we had found some nice spots, baiting was sensible and rigs more than proven – a combination of these things should have produced fish! We didn’t make any changes for the first part of the morning but by mid morning the water was like glass, completely still. Normally in these conditions you can see signs of fish feeding, the backs of carp just breaking the surface or more visible signs such as a crash. There was absolutely nothing though and it confirmed to us that they just weren’t having it. Mark wasn’t happy, he wanted us all to catch but that’s just fishing and the main purpose attending a tutorial in my eyes is to learn first and catch fish second and boy had I learnt. I’d been taking down notes all weekend and I have plenty to come away and perfect in my own fishing. For the last couple of hours we put zigs on two rods to see if we could get a bite right at the end but it wasn’t to be. Mark worked his socks off for us and if he can’t make it happen, nobody can. If you’re thinking about booking a carp tutorial then definitely consider Mark’s services – he’s such a passionate and knowledgeable angler that you can’t not learn anything from a session with him. He’s a nice and funny guy too so you’ll have plenty of laughs in the process!

I want to end this blog post by not only thanking Mark for a great weekend but by also thanking the guys who run Majestic Pool. I’d never fished there before but will definitely fish there again. Although we didn’t catch, this was out of the norm and I’m sure a return trip applying everything I learnt from Mark would make for an enjoyable and productive trip. Majestic is such a pretty and well thought out place. The owners have clearly put their heart and soul into creating a top class fishery. With over 110 fish in 3 acres it’s well stocked with English carp and 75% of the stock are over 20lb – not bad eh! The swims are great and there’s a path running around the whole of the lake for easy barrow access. You can find out more about the fishery by visiting the Majestic Pool website.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, I learnt an awful lot, fished with the man who makes The Challenge (which I watch religiously) and experienced a new lake. No fish but still, what an absolute result.

Until next time, tight lines…

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A Margin of Error

It’s been two weeks since my last session when I had a successful trip to Brandesburton 3&4 and cabin fever was setting in – a trip to my local syndicate lake was in order. The beauty of this lake is that it’s very close to home and it’s tiny (half an acre) so I only feel the need to fish a single rod. In fact, not only do I only take one rod, I also leave at home a lot of the ‘just in case’ gear and have bought some specific bits of tackle to help me keep the gear to a minimum. A Nash H-Gun Multi Mat can be used as a bag, an unhooking mat and a weigh sling so all of my gear fits in it and then once empty at the lake it becomes my mat and sling. In that goes a Wychwood specimen landing net which folds down nicely, a reel, an NGT 4 piece 9ft Intrepid rod, a Delkim, an indicator, 2 bank sticks, my tackle box, a catapult, a few handfuls of boilies, a pair of foreceps and a set of digital scales. The ‘bag’ goes over my shoulder and all I have to carry is my net pole and chair – no barrow needed for this flavour of carp fishing!

Summer evening carpy goodness!

Summer evening carpy goodness!

The day started with a breakfast at the local pub followed by a few chores around the house so I arrived at the lake around 12:45pm. I had no specific plans about how long I wanted to fish for, I was just going to play it by ear. I started on the opposite bank to the image above and within a couple of hours of casting out I’d managed a small carp and a chub plus another carp that fell off the hook a few seconds after the take. I only took a couple of leads with me and I’d lost them both so to continue fishing I had to put some shot on the line which I wasn’t very confident in. Because of this and the fact that the fish seemed to have gone to sleep I decided to head home and have some food. The beauty of a local lake and minimal kit is that moving swims or nipping off for an hour isn’t a laborious task.

Belly full and leads replenished I arrived back at the lake around 7pm. The temperature had dropped slightly and there were more clouds in the sky. Speaking with the owner before I left I found out that the carp will come into the margins later in the day so I put a bit of bait right in front of my swim on a rock where I could see it. I fished into open water but planned to keep an eye on the margin and if any fish did come in I’d have another option. It didn’t take long before a carp came in and helped its self to the free offerings while I kept as still as I could. I’ve never really done any margin/stalking work so to watch a fish feed right under my feet was fantastic.

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Not long after the fish sloped off and I started thinking about how I was going to maximise the opportunity, I had a take out in open water and it felt like a good fish. Before I knew it the line went slack and once again my quarry had given me the V sign. I dropped my rig straight onto the margin spot and dropped a few more boils over the top. I was fishing a foot from the bank, it felt very odd but quite exciting – to watch a fish take my hook bait would be amazing.

Talk about fishing under the rod tip!

Talk about fishing under the rod tip!

I had to be close enough to watch the fish but because of that I managed to spook fish on a couple of occasions, I wasn’t too concerned though because they were the smaller fish and I felt that I still had a chance of a bigger one coming in. As I alluded to in my first blog post about this syndicate lake, the biggest fish swimming around is around 17lb and although that’s not big when it comes to specimen carp fishing, it’s the biggest in the lake and I want to catch it! At about 8:30 a group of 3 bigger fish all came to the spot together, they took a couple of boilies and then seemed to spook. I thought that I’d blown it until one of the fish came back about a minute later to have another look. My heart was pounding, there was only a couple of baits and my hook bait left! A few seconds later and the fish was over the hook bait so I couldn’t see it, there was an almighty explosion when the fish went mad, the Delk screamed and I fell on my backside trying to get to the rod! I had one angry double on the end of my line and it moved up the margin to my right at a pace while I tried to get it under control, all of a sudden it decided to go on a massively powerful run and before I could get to the clutch it snapped me off. I dropped the rod and sat on the grass for a minute to calm down and get my head around what had just happened.

I generally fish strong and use the best knots I can, in this case a palomar to the swivel. The line was 12lb breaking strain which I’ve used at this lake in the past without issue (I use 18lb on my main rods). I hate leaving tackle in fish but I do fish safe so the lead will have dropped easily and the hook was barbless so it should have got rid of it easily enough.

All in all it was an exhilarating yet frustrating day. There’s one thing for sure though, I’ll be back soon to search those margins but with beefed up line – that 12lb stuff is getting replaced ASAP!

Until next time, tight lines…

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First Session of 2015 at Brandesburton 3&4

Sat on the sofa in my pyjamas with an episode of Thinking Tackle on in the background you’d think it was a normal Sunday evening in the world of Mr Northern Carp Angler. You’d be wrong though, because I’m actually sat here buzzing after a great session at Brandesburton 3&4, only 6 hours ago I was at the side of the lake packing away my gear.

My friend Gaz and I started fishing Brandes in early 2014 on a day only ticket and in all honesty we struggled. With the venue being a 3 hour round trip we only did a handful of short sessions and although I lost one on my second session, it took until August to catch my first fish (which you can read about here). We decided to apply for night permits and do some longer sessions this year to see if we could crack it. This weekend we had a rare opportunity to do a 48hr session so we grabbed it with both hands, booked Friday afternoon off work and headed East. We arrived just before 3pm and with bucket in hand, started the usual walk around the lake to see if we could find any fish. The first peg we came to was Grassy Bank where a chap was doing a day session. He’d had 3 takes and there were still signs of activity in the swim so he recommended that we moved in after him. We decided that it was a good option as we’d fit the 2 bivvies in and there were enough likely looking spots to allow us both to fish a couple of rods each. We still had a quick walk around but in all honesty we’d made our decision so we were always going to go back to Grassy.

As we returned to the peg after our walk around, the chap fishing there had a take. It came off after only a few seconds but it was confirmation that we’d made a good decision. He was kind enough to offer that we bring our gear round to secure the peg and was happy for us to sit with him while he finished his session – this gave us a good opportunity to pick his brains about a few spots to give us a starting point. After a brew he started packing up and we got our bivvies out – we normally get the rods out first but the heavens were about to open and we wanted to avoid a soaking! We let the rain calm down a bit and then started setting up the rods. The far margin was the order of the day and we covered 4 nice looking spots with a couple of rods each, there are a lot of lilies and snags near that margin but the spots we chose felt clear so confidence was high.

The first night was uneventful other than a few liners. The rain hammered down all night but I was lovely and warm in my new Fox Ventec 5 season sleeping bag. The thing is huge but dear me it’s toasty in there! Well worth looking at if you’re in the market for a winter bag. I never sleep too well in the bivvy but I was in the land of nod at 6:50am when my left-hand rod screamed off. I ran out into the damp morning to play what felt like a good fish. Unfortunately it managed to let go of the hook and I was left feeling disappointed but also pleased that I’d had a take – there was still 30 hours to go so this gave me confidence. Within 40 minutes I’d had 3 takes and 3 losses – the confidence had turned to frustration and I feared that my chance was gone. An hour or so later Gaz had a take but he was smart enough not to lose it, the problem was that it was a bream! A big bream granted but a bream all the same and on the day not our target species. Not long after returning it though he had another take and this time it was a carp which turned out to be a single figure stocked fish. He was over the moon as it was his first Brandes carp so size didn’t matter. It all went a bit quiet so we got on with drinking some tea and putting the world to rights.

Grassy Bank in which we found some productive spots.

Grassy Bank in which we found some productive spots.

Early afternoon and Gaz had another take, this time by something much bigger. He said that he’d never felt anything as heavy on the end of his line and was determined to see it in the net….. yep you guessed it – he lost it! Of the 6 takes so far that day only 1 bream and 1 carp was landed – both by Gaz, the pressure was mounting… I did see some more action before the end of the day though and managed a small carp and a bream. With the action we were getting it was a no-brainer where we were going to fish for the night. All rods were carefully cast until we were 100% happy with their positions and we just managed to get them in place before dark, although I did manage to walk into my buzz bars and knock all 3 of my rods off after spending so long getting them perfect, idiot! It was dark by then so there was no way I was going to redo them so I kept my fingers crossed and hoped that I hadn’t disturbed the rigs. Not long after nodding off (midnight), I had a take on my left-hand rod – I just new that one would go with how happy I was with the accuracy of the cast. I soon realised that a small bream was on the end which was frustrating as I had no chance of getting it back on the spot so I was one rod down for the rest of the night. After returning the fish I got back into bed and was out like a light until 6:14am when I was woken by a screaming run. This was definitely a carp and it tried to take me into some snags, I piled on the pressure and after a short fight the longest carp I’ve ever caught was sat in my net. Because of the length I thought it might be bigger than what it weighed but to be fair it didn’t really have much of a belly. I was still over the moon though with a lovely mid-double common.

As you can tell by the hair (well, what’s left of it) and the bags under my eyes, I’d just got out of bed!

As you can tell by the hair (well, what’s left of it) and the bags under my eyes, I’d just got out of bed!

Shortly after casting back out to the same spot I had another take, again it felt like a good fish but this one also managed to stick 2 fins up at me and it got off. The rest of the day passed uneventfully and come mid-afternoon we started packing up. It was a great session with 12 or 13 bites between us in total and although we only landed 6 of them (and 3 of those were bream), we’d learnt an awful lot. Gaz had broken his Brandes duck and I’d broken my Brandes PB – not bad for a weekend’s work.

So, what did we learn I hear you ask. Well the first thing is bite times. Fishing day sessions last year and having to travel from Leeds we were missing the early morning bite time – the most productive time of the day by far based on our new found knowledge of the place. The second thing we learnt was how the fish move in that particular part of the lake and some of the spots you can catch them from. Pictures were taken and bite spots were marked – next time we fish that peg we’ll know exactly where to put the rigs to increase the chance of us catching. Other things we learnt was that the fish there don’t spook on tight lines and they’re bloody wise – they know exactly where to go if they want to get off of your hook!

It will no doubt be a few months before we’re back but we’re already looking forward to it. After all, we need to catch those monsters we lost this weekend…

Until next time, tight lines…

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First Session on my New ‘Syndicate’

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, West Yorkshire isn’t great for carp fishing. Yes, there are places to go and fish for carp but once you cross off the busy commercials (as in match type commercials which contain carp) and the ones that are more dangerous to
fish than Hazard Rock in a storm you’re left with a small handful of places and those need booking a month or so in advance. Syndicates seem few and far between (there might be a few no publicity syndicates but hence the name I don’t know about them) so when my friend Gaz said to me that there was a local pond that was run by a small syndicate and the owner was a friend of a friend, my ears naturally pricked up. Now this lake is small, I mean really small (probably about half an acre) and the syndicate isn’t a carp one, just a general coarse fishing syndicate but the few carp that are in there run up to mid doubles and it’s not far from my house so I just had to try and get my name down. After expressing my interest, it took a few weeks before I heard anything but then I got the text message – I was in!

As it’s fairly local I took a drive up just to have a look around. There was nobody on the lake so I did a few laps and put a bit of bait in a few margin spots and a spot in open water just to see if they liked what I had to feed them. A small handful of Sticky Baits Krill boilies in 12mm and the same of the Nash Instant Action Crab and Krill in 10mm. I saw the odd small carp spook from the margins as I was walking around but not much else. I then got to a snag in the corner of the lake and spotted a couple of koi carp and a common which was right in the edge and staring at me! It slowly moved backwards and out of site but I was happy, at least I’d seen some fish! That was on the Wednesday and I was fishing there on the Saturday (I am writing this post on that Saturday after the session, how’s that for being on the ball with my blog posts!) Anyway I decided to go and have another look around on the Friday night after work and put in a bit more bait. The water on Wednesday was only shallow enough to visibly see the bait in one out of the four spots I’d baited so I headed there first to see if it had been eaten. The boilies had in fact vanished, perfect – as least they like the Krill. I assumed that the other spots had been cleaned off too so introduced some more bait onto each so that I had options when I came to fish it.

Small but perfectly formed, my new syndicate water.

Small but perfectly formed, my new syndicate water.

Saturday came and I put the gear in the car. I tried to scale it all down as much as I could so that I could stay mobile and just do short sessions without having pack a load of gear away. I also didn’t want to upset the regulars with my bite alarms and bivvy, there are a lot of retired people who fish the lake and they deserve the surroundings to remain peaceful so I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible. I just fished 2 rods and although I needed the alarms, they were turned down so that you could hardly hear them and I used the receiver on vibrate only to alert me if I had a take. The bivvy and even brolly was left at home as was the huge unhooking cradle I normally use. I have a foldup Nash one that I use for stalking so that was packed as again it’s smaller and lighter. I met Gaz there who had already walked the lake and decided to setup where he’d seen a few crashing. There were two other anglers on and with the lake being so small I couldn’t fish near where Gaz and the carp were. Because I’d baited both ends of the lake though I was quite happy putting a rig on the 2 spots I’d primed at the other end and setup with that in mind. The first rod went out into open water with a supple braid, snowman blowback rig and a few boilies went out around the spot. The second rod went underneath an overhanging tree where I’d heard the 17lb fish had previously been caught. To avoid snagging up the tree on the cast I chucked my lead onto the bank at the side of the tree, attached my rig then put it in by hand. This was a helicopter leader setup with a Krill Pink One popup as the hook bait. No freebies were put out over this rod.

Gaz had decided to do a bit of float fishing before targeting the carp and he’d managed a couple of ide. My rods had been out about an hour and nothing had happened. I wondered if I should have brought my float rod too just to see what else was in there and give me a better chance of catching something on my first trip. I quickly had a word with myself – I was here for the carp and I’d only just got here man! A few minutes later one of the Delkim’s burst into life and I jumped down the mud-built steps to lift into the fish. Somehow my left hand ended up on the blank above the handle as the fish decided to play Mr Angry. It went on a huge run and the mono burnt into my fingers slicing my skin – good start! I manage to tame the beast and get it under control. It came closer to the net and I knelt down to bundle it in, that was until 1) I stung net hand in the nettles next to my peg and 2) Mr Angry got angrier and went on another run. Luckily the skin on my hand managed to stay bonded together this time and I played the fish for another couple of minutes before finally slipping it in the net. I knew while I was playing it that it was a good fish (for this lake) and it looked very nice indeed as I laid it on the unhooking mat. The barbless hook was taken out with ease and the weighing resulted in a respectable 14lb 6oz. Considering the biggest fish in the lake is 17lb I was happy with that and a good result after only an hour of angling for my new found targets. Gaz came over to take some pictures and congratulated me on the capture. I slipped the fish back and got the rod back out onto the same spot which was the open water one. A few more boilies were peppered around the spot and I sat back down to reflect on the capture. OK reflection in this instance means Tweeting and texting pictures of the fish but let’s not be pedantic.

A 14lb 6oz mirror and my first fish from the lake

A 14lb 6oz mirror and my first fish from the lake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before long the same rod was off again and I was hooked into what felt like a smaller fish. It didn’t last long and the hook pulled after ten or fifteen seconds. That’s fishing; you win some you lose some. The wind was starting to get a bit cold so I put a jacket on and made myself comfortable in my chair. The Delks were going nuts in the wind but I like a sensitive alarm so didn’t bother adjusting the sensitivity and just watched the indicator in case of a proper run. I wasn’t disturbing anybody as the volume was really low so I was happy to leave them as they were. After about half an hour I had an absolute belter of a take and the Delks dual tone sang to me in the autumn sun, bliss. A small common was soon in my net and released not long afterwards without a weighing or photography session, it was a nice fish but not really needed at the size it was at – see you again when you’re a bit bigger old chap!

I decided that it was time to reel in and go home to eat, and drink, and wash, and watch Thinking Tackle etc… etc… I really enjoyed a few hours up there and will be going back mid-week to put a bit more bait in. My plan is to keep it going throughout the winter so that the carp don’t shut down and stop feeding. A 17lb carp to a lot of you will be ‘just a double’ but on a lake so close to home and the biggest carp there, it’s my target fish and I plan to do everything I can to see it on the bank.

Until next time, tight lines…

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Les Genets and the Story of the Current Lake Record

Banter is a big part of fishing, especially carp fishing. The amount of time you’re sat behind the rods waiting for something to happen means that you need some form of entertainment! My fishing buddy Dan and I are always at it, taking the p!ss if a fish is lost or a making it known if one of us catches more than the other. Before his French trip we were discussing PBs which at the time were fairly close with his being slightly better. I did of course argue that mine was harder to catch! He went and did something on that trip though that’s going to put me on the back foot for quite some time. I thought it was only right to ask him to share that story for this blog which he’s done brilliantly. Over to Dan…

 

Before I start, I think it’s important to point out that I’m not as good at writing as Rob is but I thought after such a memorable session it was worth having a go.

I started fishing as a kid around the age of 9 catching small roach and Rudd from my local pond. There were about 10 of us in the village and we had a pond about 20 metres squared to fish in. As soon as one person’s float bobbed under, 7 more floats would suddenly splash down next to it! There was the chance for ‘Terry the Trench’ though, a real red letter day if you caught all 1lb of him!

As with most of these stories I discovered beer, bacon and women and fishing disappeared to make room for work and relationships from about the age of 17 until around two years ago at the age of 27.

I’ve since then become totally and utterly obsessed with fishing, from trout on the fly, to pike on the lure, to float feeder and more. But there is one fish that has caught me hook line and sinker and that is the carp. It seems to be full of mystique, with some people crediting them with near Mensa like intelligence. Personally I don’t believe all that twoddle but I do think they are very instinctual, running (or swimming) at the first sign something isn’t right. Unless you’ve got them feeding. When they get their heads down, especially in a group, they really can be easy to catch. For me the two most important aspects of carp fishing are location and baiting. Get these two things right and you are quid’s in. So obviously when I booked my first trip (via angling lines) to Les Genets carp lake in France for a week’s carp fishing over a year and a half ago, which aspect of my fishing did I focus on? Rigs of course! I spent hours and hours tying and perfecting all manner of rigs. Ask me to tie an anti-eject critically balanced reverse chod kd blowback? No problem!

After hours of being moaned at by my other half, I narrowed my rigs down to three types, for pop ups, wafters and standard bottom baits.

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The flurocarbon D rig, great for wafters.

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Aggressive? Yep! The popup rig I took to Les Genets

SO at 4pm on a sunny Friday a few weeks ago, myself and 4 old friends, two from the original pond in the village of Palgrave Suffolk, set off to Portsmouth. Between us we filled the back of a Hilux and an old converted horsebox trailer. We must have had over £10,000 worth of gear loaded, it truly is amazing the amount of tackle you take when carp fishing. My target for next year is really to cut down and be far lighter and more mobile.

5 hours of traffic jams, MacDonald’s, AC/DC and repeated p!ss taking later, we boarded our ferry, destined for Caen’s France. The crossing was awful. Top tip number one, unless you’ve booked a cabin, take your bedchair on board and don’t bother with reclining seats, they are shocking! Saturday morning we drove off the ferry and on to the lake which was a quick 2 hours away on very quiet and clean French roads.

On arriving, my first thought was ‘WOW’. What a truly stunning piece of the French countryside. The best way to describe it is a cliché, but idyllic just doesn’t do it justice. We walked the lake and setup our bivvies. Location was not a decision to factor in as we’d all drawn for our swims and I found myself, quite happily in the middle of the lake with one of the main features, an aerator, to fish to.

The stunning Les Genets

The stunning Les Genets

We all decided not to fish the first afternoon and simply chilled, got everything ready and eventual mooched over to the fishing lodge for our first meal of the trip. If you ever visit this lake, and I strongly suggest you do, get the food package. Heather’s cooking is tip top and you will certainly not go hungry.

It's a good job Heather's cooking is better than my photography!

It’s a good job Heather’s cooking is better than my photography!

Stuffed, we headed back to our swims. The lake is a standard oval shape however the far margin has a slight current caused by a nearby stream feeding into an inlet and out of an outlet at the other end of the lake. As such all the fishing is to the far side of the bank and all the pegs are on the other side. Due to the overhanging trees and shrubs etc., bait boats are essential, and the lake has two for hire at very reasonable rates (mine was the largest and an excellent boat at 80 euros). I chose to fish two rods either side of the aerator and one in just off an overhanging reed bed about 30 foot to the left. Bait was simple, crushed and chopped cell and hybrid boilies in both 15mm and 18mm with the addition of lake pellets (from the local leading fish farmer, they are superb quality with low oil and high protein. As such they are the only pellets allowed on the lake) and Larry’s, the lake owners, home cooked maize. Hook baits were chopped cell, a cell wafter and a snowman rig.

The stream inlet and outlet are at either side of the lake underneath these bushes.

The stream inlet and outlet is at either side of the lake underneath these bushes.

A bait boat was essential to get right underneath the bushes where the fish were.

A bait boat was essential to get right underneath the bushes where the fish were (that’s if you can see it against the backdrop…)

At about 3am I was rudely awoken by an absolute screamer of a take, a real one toner. As I hit the rod my first thought was, that’s odd, there’s nothing there. As I reeled in I could feel something pulling, all be it very small. As the tubing broke the surface, the offending culprit was clear – not a carp, but another species ticked of my list, all be it one I wasn’t overly happy to catch. A copyu! For those of you who don’t recognise the name they’re giant rat like rodents and not very pleasant at that!

On the second day (after a cracking full English which was included in the meal package) I once again had a ripper on the left hand rod on the aerator. This was no coypu and the fight was fantastic. This fish was not interested in coming quietly and repeatedly stripped metres of line from a very tight clutch (I use ESP Syncro in 15lb and have total confidence in it, a superb line). Eventually a golden mirror carp slipped into the net and after photos and unhooking weighed in at 36lb and 8oz. I was off the mark and what a way to start, with a PB. This was possibly the best looking fish out of everyone’s catches and was certainly the best of mine. A stunning, perfect and unblemished creature which I will remember for a very long time. Rig wise all that messing around months before had been pointless it seemed. It fell to 3 pieces of maize tipped with a piece of fake floating corn to negate the weight of the hook. A size 8 Fox Arma SSC served as the hook and this was simply knotless knotted on with no additional trickery, it simply doesn’t need it. Fox Camotech coated braid in light camo 15lb soft made up the rig, with the coating removed on the hair and just below the hook to create a hinge effect. An anti-tangle sleeve covers the double loop knot and this is attached to a Fox quick clip tied with a Palomar knot (I have 100% confidence in this knot) to the mainline. Normally in silt I would use a lead clip system; however since we were using the boats I opted for an inline system to give me better bolt effect. The lack of weed and snags meant I didn’t need a drop off system (there is really no need to ditch a lead unless you are fishing really snaggy swims – I’m sure all the talk of dropping leads is simply a way of tackle firms making more money out of us). The lead of choice was a Taska flat pear inline at 2oz. Anti-tangle tubing impregnated with tungsten by Nash polished this off and I always use a back lead with a heavy bobbin when fishing in this way.

36lb 8oz, my first fish and more than double my UK PB!

36lb 8oz, my first fish and more than double my UK PB!

Day three began as day two had – a fry up, the rods out and a dose in the bivvy. Eat, sleep, fish, repeat! At about noon I was alerted to my right hand rod by two single bleeps. My mate had seen a fish crash further to the right of my available water by another reed bed in the morning and told me over breakfast. Nothing ventured nothing gained thought I and I decided to put the same maize rig over this spot. It was this rod that was now alerting me. However nothing was really happening. The bobbin moved slowly up then settled back down again. I turned the alarm off and pulled the line gently with my fingers, something pulled back. I hit the rod hard – Fish on! Slowly I retrieved line and I have to say the fish didn’t seem to put much of a fight until I saw it about 3 rod lengths out. It looked like another mid thirty. It soon took off and completely flat rodded me, stripping at least 50 metres of line in a matter of seconds. This was no mid thirty. If it was, it was on steroids. After about 10 minutes, it slipped over the net. Looking in the net I knew it was a decent fish. As I lifted it out of the water I knew it was a very good fish. As I inspected it on the mat my heart stopped. The lake record fish has a very distinctive scar that looks like a lightning bolt. This fish had the scar. All of a sudden it seemed to balloon in size. We shouted Larry round and as we weighed it I was all over the place. As the needle span round to 59lb and 9oz Larry told me it was a new lake record. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I tried to hold it up to the cameras but couldn’t – the fish was huge and I was simply not strong enough to lift it. Waders on, I went into the drink, and thank god I did. What a truly amazing feeling. Being in this beautiful animal’s world was a very special feeling.

The big girl at her biggest weight yet, what a result.

The big girl at her biggest weight yet, what a result.

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As the photos finished, I held her in the water and gave her a kiss. What a magical moment. She rested on my hands in the water, holding her own weight, but not yet ready to swim away. Eventually, after what felt like an eternity but was probably only a matter of seconds, she swam off strongly. I just stayed in the water staring at where she had gone, in a true state of shock. My fist trip to France with a UK PB of 17lb, not only had I smashed it, I’d caught the lake record! Beers were exchanged, hands were shook and I just seemed to float around in a world of my own. Needless to say the rest of the trip was a bit of a blur, but in total I caught 7 fish, totalling 230lb. Between the 5 of us we landed over 1280lb of fish and averaged 33lb per fish. What a truly amazing trip and one that will be remembered by all of us for a long, long time – most of all by me.

Overall I was pleased with the way I approached the session. I concentrated on my baiting, feeding little and often and not sitting on a huge pile of bait like many anglers do. I simplified my rigs and although the big girl came to a simple hair rig, the others came to a fluorocarbon D rig that really works well with wafter hook baits.

K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid) - a lake record on a basic knotless knot hair rig? Surely not...

K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid) – a lake record on a basic knotless knot hair rig? Surely not…

If you want a trip to France, go for Genets. Superb fish, superb hosts. Not an easy lake by any means, but not stupidly complicated like some. The total price was £675 and that covered the lake, food, travel, crossing, bait and plenty of beer. Bargain! A special mention must go out to the hosts Larry and Heather, you couldn’t ask for more. Nothing was too much to ask and Larry is a fountain of knowledge. Listen to him and you will catch. The lads must also take a mention, Slim, Coops, John and Chip. Chip our driver and local guide (his French dialect is something to behold) was on his 7th trip, and caught 19 fish up to mid-forties in the week.

So to finish, if you’re thinking of a trip to France, get on Angling Lines and get to Les Genets but leave the big girl alone, she belongs to me!

 

To keep up to date with Dan’s fishing adventures, follow him on Twitter.

Have you ever thought about a carp fishing holiday in the UK? Read the guide here.

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A Session at Frisby Lakes with Nick Burrage

It’s well known that people learn in different ways. Some people like to work things out for themselves whereas others need to be shown how to do things – I am definitely in the later camp. My time on the bank is very limited and because of this I just don’t have the time to put into working things out for myself, it would literally take years. There are a lot of opinions about carp fishing tutorials and it’s a subject that seems to divide anglers. In a recent letter to a carp fishing magazine, a reader said that he felt very short changed after a tutorial because the tutor seemingly didn’t give him the attention he expected. I have now done a tutorial with two different carp anglers and I must say that both were excellent. Why have I done two I hear you ask – wasn’t one enough? Ultimately I want to develop my own style of fishing but I want this to be influenced greatly by the anglers I respect the most in carp fishing. Tom Maker and Nick Burrage are two of these anglers so I booked a tutorial with each. Although their results are equally as impressive they’re very different anglers so I figured that I’d learn an awful lot which I could then apply to a wide range of situations and hopefully increase my catch rate across the board. My session with Tom was back in July, the one with Nick was in the second half of September, here’s the report…

I’ve been following Nick Burrage for a while now. He’s currently sponsored by Nutrabaits and Gardner Tackle and was previously a consultant for Nash Tackle. His YouTube channel is excellent and it’s clear to see by watching his videos that he’s a very technical and thinking angler. One of the subjects he covers a lot is watercraft and this is an area that I needed to improve on so I fired off an email to book a slot in his diary. Before long I’d received a reply and after a couple of emails we had a date in the diary. Nick had asked me to write down some of the things I’d like to cover and a list of things I wanted to ask him on the day. Over the next week and a half I wrote down as many questions as I could think of in preparation for the session. Along with theory, I wanted to improve some of the more practical areas of my fishing like casting and feature finding so I told Nick this to ensure we spent the right time in the right areas on the day.

After finishing work at 12:30pm I came home and packed the car. Frisby Lakes isn’t a venue I’d heard anything about previously so I stuck it in the sat nav and set off to make the 2 hour trip. The journey was fairly painless and I arrived at the lake at around 4:20pm. Nick appeared in the car park and after the introductions we had a look at the water and straight away Nick started emptying his head of knowledge whilst filling mine. He had arrived a couple of hours earlier and found us some fish to angle for. Unfortunately this was at the other end of the lake but fear not, we managed to wangle the best ‘barrow’ in the world to take all our gear round there!

Frisby Lakes Trailer

Best ‘barrow’ in the world? Absolutely!

Nick’s bivvy was already up and we decided to share a peg and fish with just one set of rods. The plan was to get the rods out to see if we could nick a bite then get up early the next day and cover all of the theory that I wanted to learn. Whilst setting the rods up Nick went through the various end tackle setups that he uses – believe me this was an eye opener, I love innovation and there were a few cool tricks and tips I’d have never have thought of in a million years! With the rods out I started to set up the bivvy as the sun was setting and I didn’t want to be getting my house in order in the dark. We had a few brews in the dark and chatted about carp fishing which led to covering some of the theory that we were due to cover the following morning. I wouldn’t have been able to take any proper notes as it was pitch black so I tried to retain the information and write it all down the next day – this wasn’t the easiest thing to do as there was just so much info! Nick’s knowledge is very impressive and I went to bed with all sorts of things spinning around in my head. Some of the things we spoke about that evening I’d never even considered. PH levels and water density I imagined to be in the vocabulary of a chemistry teacher, not your average carp angler but I loved every minute of it – this is the stuff it would have taken me years to cotton onto and learn about so I was lapping it up and trying to retain as much as I could.

The night promised more than it delivered, we had a few liners before bed and then another few throughout the night. One of them was so savage that I ran out of the bivvy and picked up the rod! I’ve never cast out in the dark but as we had a chod rig on I was confident that it would present over anything so lobbed it back out and went back to bed. It turned out that it was a bit of a rubbish cast as the line was drooped over some reeds at the side of the peg which I only discovered in the morning when it was light again, DOH! The high pressure meant a very cold night and when we got up early the next morning we had to put coats on to stop us shaking uncontrollably. From 7am  – 3pm we covered all of my questions, the theory I wanted Nick to talk about, rig tying  and baiting patterns. As you might expect Nick’s rigs were very innovative and there were a lot of ‘ah, that makes so much sense’ moments. I took lots of notes and had pages and pages of them by the time we wound the rods in for the casting and feature finding lesson. Unfortunately the fish had moved out late morning so we never got a bite but I didn’t care, it was never about catching fish it was about learning and boy had I done that!

I read all the time in the mags when anglers are talking about their sessions that they have ‘found their spots’. Normally it’s a hard spot the size of a dinner plate in a thick area of weed, a silt depression or a gravel bar etc… I had no idea how to find these spots and even if I did I’d never be able to find them again with my rigs as my casting was so poor! Nick watched me cast and started to give me feedback. I said to him that I was much more interested in accuracy than distance, I don’t fish any lakes where long chucks are required but I wanted to be able to cast accurately to islands etc… It turned out that I was doing more ‘pushing’ which was affecting my accuracy and my distance regardless of how much power I put into it. Within a few casts Nick had got things looking much better. Distance was still relatively short but the accuracy was much better and the whole thing felt more fluid. After a few more casts I was getting further out and was happy with how far I’d come in such a short amount of time. We did some feature finding and talked about why certain spots were good to present a bait. I think just these 2 combined will help my fishing massively but that combined with all the theory I’d learn over the last 24 hours I’d probably knocked about 15 years off of learning it myself.

I thanked Nick, said goodbye and set off on the journey back to Yorkshire. Unfortunately it was rush hour but that meant that I had time to run through some of the things we had covered in my mind. It was a brilliant tutorial and I had learnt a stack of new things.

So, after 2 tutorials where am I now? Well, I’m certainly at a point where I am taking bits from each session that fit most with my style of fishing. I have 4 tried and tested rigs in my armoury that I’m 100% confident in. I have various end tackle setups I can use for different situations and have a good idea about when to use each one. I have a baiting strategy for different types of lakes and have the option to fish a tight or slack line now I know how to set each one up and get maximum indication from each. I am now confident that I can turn up at any lake and either find some fish or apply some theory to it to make an informed decision about where they should be given the conditions on the day. More than anything though I have confidence in what I’m doing because I’ve been shown it by two very successful carp anglers. We all know how much confidence can maximise results and because of the two tutorials I’ve done, I no longer have any worries that I’m doing something wrong.

I’d definitely recommend a tutorial to anybody. Do some research and pick the correct angler for your type of fishing and you’re onto a winner.

Until next time, tight lines…

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A Session at Ladywood Lakes, West Yorkshire – 18 – 19th Aug 2014

West Yorkshire isn’t exactly known for its quality specimen carp fishing which is unfortunate as that’s where I live! Day ticket options are limited to only a couple of places, Erics Willows and Ladywood Lakes. I’d heard good things about both of them but never got around to giving them a go. When Dan, one of my fishing buddies said that he wants a session before he heads off to France in pursuit of monsters, Ladywood was the obvious choice with it being local and not having a membership fee like Erics. Ladywood operates a booking system on weekends so we along with our other fishing buddy Gary decided to book a day off work and do a 24 hour session Mon 7pm – Tue 7pm.

Leading up to the session I did a bit of reading on the place and tried to get an idea of what might work. I also called the very helpful bailiff Gus who gave me some good tips on the place. The weather was due to be unsettled because of low pressure – very carpy! The wind was forecast to be a cold north westerly so I suspected before I arrived that the fish would be on the back of the wind. For more info about this and why I came to that conclusion, have a watch of the video below. You only need to watch it for a minute or so to hear the relevant info but it’s explained really well. If so do have a spare hour, I’d recommend watching the whole video as it’s very informative.

So, Monday evening arrived and it was time to load the van. It still amazes me how much gear is required for carp fishing – I also fly fish for trout and for that I only need a rod, reel and a box of flies!

How much kit!?

How much kit!?

As we were setting off Gary mentioned something about heading to York, when we questioned him it turned out that he thought we were going to fish at Raker Lakes and had planned his approach/bought his bait accordingly! As always the journey conversation was about tactics, what we’d heard about the lake, what we might catch etc… etc…

Within 40 minutes of setting off we were driving around the lake looking for empty pegs. The place was bivvy city and this was midweek! This is clearly down to the quality of fishing but any carp angler will feel a sense of disappointment when faced with so many anglers. We found 2 empty pegs and an angler packing up next door so that gave us the option of fishing next to each other. The other option was to spread out in odd pegs across the lake but we chose the 3 in a row as we’d seen a few fish crashing in that area and the guy who was packing up told us that he’d had one that day but first thing in the morning. I decided to jump in the peg he was vacating because it had a nice margin to the right. For some reason I didn’t think about the bigger picture, the guy leaving had had one that morning so I thought great, let’s give it a go. One thing that failed to register was where he caught it from – the empty peg to his left and the one that Dan was now setting up in! The other thing I failed to consider was the wind; it was blowing into the peg I was setting up in. Now, if you were paying attention earlier you’d have noted that I thought the fish would be on the back of the wind so why the hell did I choose to fish on the end of it!? Doubts were now firmly implanted in my head and as I was looking at the lake there were fish showing on the back of the wind, SHIT! My scribbles on the image below might help you to understand my problem (I took this image the day after hence the sun and my rods in the water).

Ladywood_Swim_View

My options were to move to a peg straight across from me where I could get a rig close to where the fish were showing or stay put and try to fish what I had in front of me the best I possibly could. The free peg was crammed in between 2 other anglers which wasn’t very appealing and as I was half setup at this point due to needing some shelter from the rain when we arrived I decided to stay put. At least I’d be fishing next to my mates – I know this can be a classic mistake but I’m a pleasure angler and an overnight session is also time for me to chill out. What that means though is that I’ll never complain if I don’t catch because I know that a lot of the time it’s down to me to make things happen.

Gus the bailiff had told us that the fish will come in close so with what I had in front of me I decided to spread the rods but fish quite close in. A rod went in both my left and right-hand margins and one straight out in front. This lake is deep at 24ft in the middle and the margins drop off very quickly so I fished the middle rod on the shelf in about 12ft of water as I wasn’t too sure about presenting a bait in 24ft of water in the middle of August! If I’d have thought about it properly though I might have tried doing just that – the cold wind was crashing into my peg and cooling the water in front of me which might have pushed down any fish that were in the area. Hey ho…

Dan and Gary were expecting some action during the night; they were close to the fish and getting some serious liners, fish were crashing out in front of them and it looked nailed on for a bite. They both actually said that they didn’t see the point in going to sleep as they were expecting to be up and playing a fish at any time! I wasn’t getting any liners at all nor seeing fish in my swim. I knew I wasn’t on the fish and if I did get a bite during the night it would be more about luck than judgement. There was nothing else for it, time to get some sleep and see what the state of play was tomorrow – no doubt I’d be waking up to see pictures of Dan and Gary’s captures. As is turned out all of our plans were scuppered, I managed to get about an hours sleep, not because of runs but because of the bloody train track and road running next to the lake! Gary and Dan hadn’t managed a bite and were left scratching their heads.

After numerous cups of tea and some breakfast it was time for a rethink. We all tried to change things. I tried different coloured popups, solid PVA bags with different coloured hook baits, zigs and roving the rods to try and find some fish. I ended up fishing the shelf in front of me with 2 rods over half a kilo of boilies but that didn’t work either. The 2 guys at either of the empty peg had both caught fish; I was now regretting now moving the night before… The day passed quite quickly and for all of us it was uneventful. Dan and Gary were still getting the odd liner but I didn’t have a bleep. Before we knew it we were packing up. The weather was nice so I packed up the bivvy a couple of hours before leaving and just laid on the bed chair in the sun. We packed up the van and headed back to Leeds discussing what had (or hadn’t) happened.

A couple of days later we were talking about the session on our fishing Whatsapp group. Also joining the conversation was John, another friend and the most experienced carper of the group. His view was that tweaks to the setup should have been made to convert the liners into bites. Lead arrangements and rigs were mentioned but I maintained that I wasn’t on the fish and no way was I going to start tweaking my rigs when I was 100% confident in them. Plus I don’t fully understand rig mechanics so I’d have been guessing as to what to change. I think if John had have been there he’d have seen the difference in swim activity from mine and Dan/Gary’s. Dan and Gary did agree with John which in their shoes I’d have probably done the same as they had a lot of activity in front of them but weren’t getting the bites so at least they have learnt something and both are determined to go back and make something happen. What did I learn? Well, looking back I should have thought more thoroughly about my choice of swim. I suspected that the fish would be on the back of the wind yet I still set up on the end of it. There was a free peg where the fish were showing but I made the wrong decision and stayed put. As just mentioned I didn’t want to start playing around with my rigs but I did try different hook baits and different areas of my swim. One thing I didn’t do was try the deeper water which thinking about it now could have been a more comfortable area for the fish given the cold wind. All in all though I still enjoyed myself and will be going back to try and settle the score.

Until next time, tight lines…

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Finally, a Carp from Brandesburton 3&4 Pond!

Since starting my carp fishing journey, this Hull & District Anglers Association water has inspired, intrigued and frustrated me all at the same time. The 8 acre gravel pit in East Yorkshire was once home to the most famous of Yorkshire carp, Jumbo which was discovered in the pond after a netting weighing over 40lb – in the 80’s and in Yorkshire this was huge! Fish these days run up to mid 20’s I believe but you don’t come here to catch the biggest fish you can, you come here to fish for stunning old warriors who have been living here for years. I first heard of HDAA and Brandesburton whilst reading one of the angling weeklies, someone had caught a 20lb’er and that a year book was £38, this was music to my ears so I decided to join. A friend who lives close to me joined at the same time and we made the first trip to the pond in February of this year. Despite the 140 mile round trip I fell in love with the place. We didn’t buy night tickets so this year at least we’ll only be fishing days. The first session was uneventful, we fished the ‘4’ end and didn’t get a single bleep all day. A few weeks later we made another trip this time deciding to fish the deeper ‘3’ end from the fieldside pegs. The deepest part we found with the marker float was 23ft with a gravel bar running down the middle. With it being winter still I fished at the bottom of the bar with a simple boilie approach, matching the hook bait with a few freebies. At 5:45pm one of my alarms gave a couple of beeps and I lifted into what felt like a heavy fish, it was plodding about for a couple of minutes then everything went slack, I’d lost it and I felt absolutely devastated. I stared out of the window all the way back to Leeds wondering what could have been. I just had to put it right and crack the place so I promised myself I’d give it a good go this year. Having a busy job and young family coupled with the fact that it was a 3 hour round trip meant that my time there would be limited especially as I only had a day ticket but I’ve tried to go as much as I can and have so far racked up 6 days on there now. Sessions 3, 4 and 5 also resulted in blanks although session 5 was brilliant as the fish started to spawn – I reeled in and packed up early to let them get on with it but it allowed me to get some brief glimpses of what was in there. So, onto session 6 which was on the 2nd Aug. I’d recently been on a tutorial at Linear Fisheries in Oxfordshire with Fox and Sticky Baits consultant Tom Maker. The amount of carp that man catches is beyond belief and I wanted to know how he did it. I wanted to put into practise what I’d learnt so I approached things slightly differently to how I normally would. Firstly I walked the lake and didn’t worry about how long it might take for me to see a sign of carp. All the mags tell you to find the fish but other than session 5 when the fish were spawning I hadn’t seen any carp show at 3&4 so thought it would be a waste of time, in the past I’d just end up getting the rods out in the most convenient swim. It took me about an hour to walk the whole of the lake; I spent a few minutes in each swim/bay but didn’t see any fish. About half way round though I did see a single reed stem knocking, I watched closely and it moved one way then the other, sometimes against the wind. It had to be a fish, maybe not a carp but a fish and it’s all I had seen so that was my sign, I had to fish there. I saw it in a bay and could get to it from a peg known as Point so I dropped a bucket in the peg and headed back to the car for the rest of my gear. While walking back to the car I stopped to chat with the guy fishing opposite, he was in a peg called Gaza and I just wanted to find out where he was fishing so that I didn’t cast over the top of him. It turned out that he was one of the bailiff’s. While we were chatting, a big grey cloud came overhead, a thunderstorm was on the way so I rushed back to the car and got my gear to my peg as quickly as I could. As I was pushing the barrow the thunder started, I found my peg and rushed to get the brolly out of its bag, just as I got it out the heavens opened and the rain started falling heavily. Without even pegging the brolly down I jumped under it and hid there for the next hour sat on a bucket until it calmed down. Here is a quick video I took, it was hammering it down!

I hid under the brolly, drank tea and had some food while waiting for the rain to stop.

I hid under the brolly, drank tea and had some food while waiting for the rain to stop.

I drank tea and scoffed a Pot Noodle, even though I didn’t have my rods out I felt OK, for some reason I was quietly confident of some action – maybe it was because I’d seen some signs of fish and managed to get a peg close by? Maybe it was because I was fishing there the next day too? I’m not sure to be honest but I felt confident and we all know how confidence can work in our favour. I probably got my first rod out about 5:30pm and was happy to fish with one rod at first – again this was down to confidence, I normally get all 3 out as quickly as I can but I just knew I was in the right area and was happy with my cast in relation to where I’d seen the reed stem knocking. I did eventually get a second rod out choosing a short cast to my right hand margin with a solid bag but at about 7pm my first rod alarm screamed into action and I was into a very angry Brandes carp.

I was that confident I only put one rod out at first - I normally get all 3 out as quickly as I can!

I was that confident I only put one rod out at first – I normally get all 3 out as quickly as I can!

First of all the fish tried to take me into the lillies close to where I’d hooked it, I managed to steer it into open water and it plodded about for a while whilst making the odd dart towards the bottom. It then started coming closer to me and darted off towards the lillies to my left. Again, I put trust in my 18lb ESP Syncro main line and pulled hard to avoid losing it. All the time I was playing it Tom the bailiff was watching and saying how much it looked like a 20lb’er by the way it was fighting – this made my legs shake even more! Eventually I managed to get it in the net and the feeling was immense – looking down at my first 3&4 carp, a lovely common. The fish ended up not being a 20 but I didn’t care, I was over the moon that I’d finally caught one – it was just short of 14lb and an absolute stunner.

What a stunning common, Brandes carp are definitely worth waiting for. Not huge at 13lb 12oz but who cares when they look like this.

What a stunning common, Brandes carp are definitely worth waiting for. Not huge at 13lb 12oz but who cares when they look like this.

For those who are interested here are a few points about the setup I caught it on:

  • Leadcore helicopter leader with a 3oz distance lead
  • The rig was a simple popup rig consisting of a size 5 SSBP, a 4 – 4.5” hook link coated braid with a bit stripped near the eye for a hinge, a bit of silicone over the eye and also a bit to trap the hair to the shank just before the bend
  • Hookbait was a 12mm Sticky Baits Krill ‘White Ones’ popup
  • About 50 freebies were spread across a small area around the hook bait, these were 12mm Krill shelf life boilies

The main thing I learnt here was the importance of finding the fish. Funnily enough while I was sat there waiting for something to happen I thought to myself that if I caught a fish today I’d be fully bought into the whole walking the lake business at the start of every session. Needless to say that’s now going to be a big part of my carp angling, it’s without question the most important part of the jigsaw and I’ve learnt my lesson the hard way – choosing to ignore it and ending up with blank after blank. The other thing I learnt was the importance of being happy with your cast – my first cast didn’t ‘feel’ right so I wound it in and it was tangled. The second cast was too far to the left and in the past I’ve been guilty of just leaving it thinking that it would be OK but I wound in again and got it right on the 3rd cast which was the spot where I caught the fish.

The bay where I managed to get the bite.

The bay where I managed to get the bite.

I was due to stay and fish the Sunday too but decided to call it a day after catching that common. I ended up getting back to Leeds about 11:45pm absolutely exhausted but still buzzing from a great day’s fishing. My wife knew how much I’d wanted to catch one from there so I told her all about it when I got home – she even seemed to listen for a change which was nice; she normally switches off as soon as the word carp is mentioned!

Here are some pictures I snapped of the pond; hopefully you’ll see why I’ve come to love the place.

IMG_7278 IMG_7274 IMG_7251

Until next time, tight lines…

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