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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My Perfect Carp Fishery

A bit of a random title I know but I’d love to run a fishery one day so thought that it might make for an interesting post. No doubt my wishlist will change as I become more experienced and visit different venues to fish for carp. There are some things I’ve seen at the other fisheries I’ve visited and some things I haven’t seen at all. If you know of a fishery which ticks all of these boxes, please let me know – as long as it’s in the North of England!

The Lake

OK, starting with the most obvious and by far the most important part of the fishery – the lake. Some people like small intimate estate lakes and others like huge inland seas of 100 acres or more. Me personally, I like an old gravel pit of between 10 and 20 acres. I wouldn’t want it to be round or square or any other regular shape, no I’d like it to have a few bays which would be good for stalking. Depth wise I’d say 8ft to around 20ft would be perfect, with distinct shallow and deeper areas so that you could choose an area to fish depending on weather conditions and the time of year. The bottom of course would be gravel being an old pit but I’d like it to be nicely matured with silty areas full of juicy bloodworm. Distinct gravel bars would be nice so that there was the option of fishing on top of them in warmer weather or fishing at the bottom of them near the warmer silt in winter time. As the pit would be a mature one it should be fully tree lined so that fish spotting was made easier and of course a tree lined water looks so much better than a lake with exposed surroundings – I’m always disappointed when looking at a Google Map of a new water to find it’s surrounded by nothing but grass, as if a hole has been dug out of a field and filled with water from a hose pipe! Of course, lilly pads and reeds are a must. Reeds are great for finding fish, they tend to move unnaturally as the carp are knocking into them and lilly pads just look stunning. Too many lilly pads make life difficult for the angler at times though, I fish a water called Brandesburton 3&4 on the HDAA book and although I love the place, the lillies do render a couple of good pegs useless in the summer.

The lilly pads at Brandesburton 3&4, they look lovely but don't help the fishing. Fish can regularly be seen crashing in these towards the trees - impossible to get to!

The lilly pads at Brandesburton 3&4, they look lovely but don’t help the fishing. Fish can regularly be seen crashing in these towards the trees – impossible to get to!

Access

Now, I do own a barrow but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’d rather not use it – they can be a pain to load properly and if the track isn’t completely flat then getting to your swim in one piece can be a bit of a challenge!  Even though the lake should be tree lined, a tarmac road should then surround the trees and you should be able to park at the side of the road behind every peg (2 designated parking spaces behind each peg would be nice). A small track from the ‘road’ down to the peg would be required but this should be kept as short as possible.

The Pegs

Now pegs for me don’t have to do very much but the difference a good one can make to the enjoyment of a session is huge. Here is a list of what I see are the essentials:

  • No overhanging trees which could interfere with an overhead cast
  • Decent size, enough for a 2 man bivvy with room left to cook and sit outside
  • Ground soft enough to allow bivvy pegs/bank sticks to be put in without having to get the hammer out
  •      Gravel/woodchip over grass I’ve found to allow this yet still keep the ground clean when wet
  • Enough room for a 3 rod pod, an angler playing a fish and a person next to him with a net

Essentials covered, here’s what I’d class as ‘nice to haves’. This is a post about my perfect carp fishery so all of these should be included!

  • A tree at either side of the swim which was safe to climb
  • Somewhere to hang my boilies and my rubbish bag
  • A portaloo (yes, a portaloo!)
  • A bit of shallow water to test presentations

The Facilities

A shop on site would be marvellous, just in case I forget to take an item of tackle or something breaks. A good selection of bait would be good too – I’m not sure how much I’d actually use it as I like to make sure I’m prepared for my sessions but knowing it’s there should I need something would be great. A café serving breakfast, lunch and dinner would be nice, I do enjoy cooking on my stove outside my bivvy but now and then something made for you feels so much better! A shower and toilet block like you get on camp sites would be excellent, also a fresh water tap where you can fill up your bottles should you run out whilst fishing. The block should also contain a first aid kit and a washing up sink.

The Rules

I never really complain about fishery rules, I just respect the owners’ wishes by following them. I’ve heard people complain about not being able to use nuts or barbed hooks but at the end of the day the fishery owner also owns the fish and without those fish doesn’t have a source of income so rules should be followed at all times. Without getting into a barbed vs barbless debate I would insist on barbless hooks. Some people think that they cause more damage, others don’t. I’ve used both and am more comfortable with barbless so that’s what I’d insist on. Here are some points about the rules I’d enforce:

  • Leaders allowed but leadcore banned
  •    Yes I use it but I do so responsibly, some people don’t
  •    I’ve found leadless leaders to be superb, still heavy and much more supple
  • Nuts allowed as long as they are prepared properly and used sensibly
  • Home prepared particles allowed, again if they are prepared properly
  • Barbless hooks only, no limit on size
  • Minimum 15lb breaking strain line, no braid (except for markers and spods)
  • Large unhooking cradles only, no flat mats (I’ve seen fish flap off of flat mats)
  • 42” landing net minimum
  • No sacks but retainer slings are OK, maximum 30 minutes
  • Booking system
  •    This is the probably the most complex bit and if I’m being honest I haven’t thought it about it too much but I think a booking system would be needed (the perfect carp lake would surely be a popular venue!) I think a booking system would need to be enforced on weekends. I don’t think I’d do it like some I know where you have to book on the first of the month for the following month. I’d simply have an online system where you can see which pegs are free on any specified day and you can book there and then. This means that if you wake up on a Saturday morning and fancy going fishing you can logon, see what’s available, pay your money then travel to the venue knowing you’re going to get a peg

The Stock

So, the fish – quite an important part of a fishery I’d say! It wouldn’t be ‘well stocked’. When I hear that phrase I think of pale, starving, pellet pig fish being angled for in a muddy puddle. That’s probably a bit unfair but that is the first thing that comes into my head. My perfect fishery would hold about 5 – 10 carp per acre, no more, no less. Size wise a couple of 40’s would be nice with half a dozen 30’s, a good number of 20’s and some backup doubles. I’m much more interested in fishing for old originals than I am the biggest fish around.

Summary

So, does a venue like this exist? Should it? I certainly think so! The problem is that if it did it would be rammed day in, day out. The fish would be massively pressured; the lake would become ‘spotty’ and the carp ‘riggy’. Pegs would start to be described as ‘hot’ and before long it would just be another day ticket carp fishery. OK, maybe there isn’t such a thing as a perfect carp fishery and never will be…

Until next time, tight lines…

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Venue Review: Raker Lakes (Wheldrake, York)

Raker Lakes was a venue I hadn’t heard much about but it was when I was looking for a day ticket carp lake within an hour of my house that I came across their website. Their specimen lake is called Kingfisher but whenever carp anglers mention the place it’s always just referred to as ‘Raker’. The website stated that there were 220 fish in the 6.5 acre lake with 70 of these being over 20lb. All the carp in the lake are ‘simmos’, a fast growing breed of carp developed by Mark Simmonds. Some people don’t like this strain of carp because the fish can look very pasty and sometimes odd shaped but some can grow into very pretty fish and looking at the pictures in the catch report on the Raker website suggested that they had some very pretty ones. Time for me to have a session there…

First Impressions

A booking system is in place for weekends which means that you have to ring up on the first day of the month to book a peg for the following month. This just doesn’t work for me; I’m not able to book my fishing that far in advance so I can only fish Raker when I have a day off mid-week which is very rare. I understand the need to run such a system because the demand is so great so I’m not saying that this is a negative I’m just saying that for me personally it doesn’t work. Anyway I managed to book one of those rare days off work and decided to give it a go. The lake is about 50 minutes from home so closer than anywhere else I fish, this was a big bonus and as I was getting closer it was getting more rural – perfect, I hate any sort of urban fishing environment! The venue is very secure with 3 gates to open before you got to Kingfisher Lake and fencing all around the complex. The gates are locked on an evening so nobody can enter or leave the complex, again adding to the security of the place.

Pulling into the car park I could see the lake and a small outbuilding which was obviously the ticket office. This turned out to also be the toilet but it was all clean and the ticketing process was simple – fill out a form, stick your £20 in the envelope and post it through the metal box outside. There were a couple of ‘house’ barrows in the car park which was a nice touch, I remember how much of a nightmare it was before I had a barrow so to have use of one there was a massive bonus. As you might expect Raker gets busy so the first thing to do was have a walk around the lake to choose my peg (more a case of ‘see what’s available’ as can often be the case at busy venues). Whilst walking round the lake everyone was very friendly and was happy to give advice. I’d done some research beforehand to see where the fish had been caught in April for the previous 4 years. The catch reports from the website gave me the data I needed, it just needed cleaning up in Excel and putting into graph format. There was definitely a relationship between the information I got off the other anglers and the graph that I made so I knew they were an honest bunch and giving me reliable info. If you’re interested, here’s the graph.

Raker_Graph

Peg 12 was the one I’d heard the most about, it definitely seemed to be the ‘hot peg’ and the one that everyone wanted. The graph supports this but if a peg is constantly being fished then it’s likely that the most fish will be caught here! Pegs 2/3 and 14/15 are double pegs so options are available for those who fish with a friend. I ended up in peg 16 which was right next to the car park, the picture below shows how close it was.

I just want to clarify that I didn't choose this swim purely because it was next to the car park!

I just want to clarify that I didn’t choose this swim purely because it was next to the car park!

All of the pegs had ample room for the bivvy and I particularly liked the flag stones positioned in a ‘U’ shape with grass in the middle meaning it’s easy to get the banksticks on the buzzbars into the ground – I much prefer this than using a pod but on some venues a pod is the only option.

IMG_6017

The ground in the pegs are gravelly which means your bivvy pegs, once in are very secure. On such a pressured lake it’s a good idea not to get the hammer out to put the pegs in and it is possible to do it without but your hands might be a bit red afterwards!

Gravelly, spacious pegs. As you can see I’m not the tidiest of anglers!

Gravelly, spacious pegs. As you can see I’m not the tidiest of anglers!

Looking out from every peg is a lovely bit of lake with features in every swim. There are plenty of nice margin and island features and that’s where the fish are generally caught from. Spodding isn’t the done thing here and most people fish hi-attract singles, stringers, PVA bags etc… mainly against the different islands. It’s all about accurate, short range casting here meaning the fishing distance is a comfortable one so leave those 3.75TC broomsticks at home!

 

My first 24hr session there resulted in a blank and I’ve been back since for another 24 and I lost one which I caught in the margins. I plan to go back before the end of the summer and hopefully catch my first Raker carp. Overall the place is a very well-run fishery and currently my day ticket lake of choice in Yorkshire. If I wasn’t so obsessed with Brandesburton 3&4 I’d fish there much more often. I am soon to fish Ladywood Lakes in West Yorkshire which is another popular day ticket lake so it will be interesting to see how it compares with Raker.

http://rakerlakes.com/

PS, please don’t be as stupid as me and try to stop the marker braid mid-flight – it hurts! Lesson learnt.

IMG_6878

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time, tight lines…

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Fishing with Tight or Slack Lines: My Thoughts

If there’s one thing that divides carp anglers its slack vs tight line fishing. The other thing is barbed vs barbless hooks but we won’t go there right now! The theory behind slack line fishing is that when using a heavy line like fluorocarbon the line will, when sunk lay on the bottom of the lake where the fish can’t see or feel it. People believe that carp will spook off a tight line meaning you have less chance of them taking your hook bait and getting a bite. This is something that drove me mental when I first got into carp fishing – I read as much as I could find on the subject and still struggled to make a decision about what road to go down. I have to confess that I’ve always been biased towards tight line fishing just because that’s how I started doing it before starting to research the negatives and positives of fishing like that.

After reading all that material I found that nobody actually described the process between casting out and switching the alarm on. I aim to cover here how I do it – I’m no Dave Lane but I have done my research and come to my own conclusions so you might be able to take something from this post.

If you’re interested in what line I have used and like, see this post on the best carp fishing line.

OK so first of all, let’s see what the pros say about it.

Tom Maker on Tight Line Fishing

Danny Fairbrass – Advantages of Slack Line Fishing

That’s 2 very good anglers with completely different opinions – they both catch their fair share of carp! The video from Kevin Nash below is fantastic; this introduces another spanner in the works ‘semi-slack’. As if it needed confusing even more!

Nash mentions flying backleads in the video which is another consideration. When I first started thinking about the whole tight vs slack thing a backlead was a possible solution, although it was a clip on one under the rod tips I was looking at. The conclusion I came to was that I’d have better line concealment and it would be easier when playing fish but at what cost to my bite indication? A backlead right under the tip introduces a massive angle in the line and angles in the line are bad for indication. Another thing that put me off using fluorocarbon and fishing slack lines was the whole sinking the line thing, people were quoting 30 minutes for their line to fully sink – seems like a lot of messing about to me!

So, after all this I wanted to fish tight lines – no backlead and my rod tips pointing straight at my lead. This would give me the best bite indication and I didn’t have to wait half my session for my lines to sink. Decision made I had to figure out a ‘workflow’. Here is what I do, step-by-step.

  1. Cast out and feel the lead down
  2. Put the rod tip in the water so it touches the bottom in the margin
  3. With my hand gently tug the line so that the 2 ‘v’ shapes move towards each other
  4. Once the V’s meet and all the line is under the water, pull some line off and put the rod on the rest
  5. Engage the bait runner and by hand slowly tighten up
    1. You don’t want it so tight that the rod tip is bending, just ‘nip’ it
  6. Pull a little bit more line off (literally a couple of inches) and put the line in the clip on the rod
  7. Clip the bobbin on and turn on the alarm
    1. As in the Tom Maker video above, I use the Fox Springers
Green bobbins with green Delks - tackle tart!

Green bobbins with green Delks – tackle tart!

I now use the ball clips instead of the slik clips but other than that, this is how I now setup.

I’m fairly happy with how I do things now, the only thing I do wonder about is how much of the line is off the deck near the rig. I’ve started using leadcore to help with this and it all depends how deep the lake is and how far out you’re fishing. If you’re fishing at 30yds in 15ft of water there will be more line off the deck than if you’re fishing at 90yds in 6ft of water. I actually went to the trouble of creating a spreadsheet which calculates this – very sad! I’m hoping to share it on the blog at some point in the future so look out for it (UPDATE – here it is!). Here are the results based on the example figures above. Remember that these are absolute worst case as they don’t take into account any sag in the line due to the weight of it or the leadcore.

30yds15ft 90yds6ft

Do carp actually spook off tight lines? If I’m being honest I haven’t observed them enough to know, maybe they do. What if though they actually saw the line and just avoided it – are they more likely to spook off a tight line they couldn’t see? An example which was given to me was that if you were walking down the street and tripped over something you didn’t see it would give you a big old shock, if however you saw a rope at waist height you would simply go around/over/under it and carry on walking.

I’ll leave you with a link to a recent blog post by Simon Crow on the same subject. It makes for very interesting reading.

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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And so it Begins! An Intro Post…

Hello! First of all thank you for visiting my blog; I’m glad you found it. I suppose I should introduce myself really and tell you a little bit about my angling background and how this blog came about.

Unlike many fisherman (and women), I never fished as a child nor did I have any angler family members or friends. In fact I never really got it, I used to watch Matt Hayes a bit on Discovery Shed but that’s about it – I had no idea what fish he was catching or how he was doing it, I simply stared at the TV because nothing else was on. I have though always been into shooting (mainly clays) and in the summer of 2010 I was browsing the classified section of a shooting forum and noticed a post by a guy wanting to swap some fly fishing gear for an air rifle. As it happened, I had an air rifle sat in the loft collecting dust (I’m notorious for having new ideas, buying all the gear and a few weeks later realising it’s not for me – this item was a victim of this habit) so thought why not. I met him at a service station and exchanged goods – I had no idea what I was getting, how much it was worth or more crucially how to use it, it did however give me an excuse to find out…..

Fast forward to the September and I’d booked a lesson with a local fly fishing instructor, his name was David Henderson and I had the day with him at a local (ish) trout Stillwater called Raygill Fisheries near Keighley. It turned out that the rod was decent (Wychwood Trufly 9’6” #7/8) and the reels were OK, one of the lines was a floater the other a sinker and the vest did the job. I was fairly happy with the deal I’d done. Anyway to cut 4 years of trout angling into a couple of lines I loved it, was well and truly hooked and quickly moved onto fishing for wild brown trout on the Yorkshire Dales rivers (my favourite being the Nidd). I still fly fish now and absolutely love it but my time these days is divided between fly fishing and carp fishing.

So, how did I get into carp fishing? Well, I was bullied into it, sort of…  A couple of my neighbours were coarse fisherman and I started going along to the local commercials with them more for a social than anything else. Coarse fishing never appealed to me as a fly man, it just seemed too easy and if I’m honest I was right – it’s not challenging enough for me. I’m not saying that coarse fisherman aren’t good anglers because a lot of them really are especially the match men but it’s just not my bag. I still do it now and then but only for a bit of fun, I don’t really take it seriously. Anyway so I started coarse fishing with them and as much as I tried to sell them the delights of fly fishing they were never that interested, one of them bought some gear and enjoys it (and is actually quite good at it!) but they’re coarse fisherman through and through. They started getting interested in carp fishing and I just went along with it, I saw carp as just another coarse fish so didn’t take too much interest but I bought some gear and gave it a go. It turned out that specimen carp fishing wasn’t anything like general coarse fishing, it was a much bigger challenge and the mindset was completely different. Blanks are much more regular than even fly fishing, the venues are less commercial then coarse fishing and you’re fishing for big old characters that have been around for years. I saw many more similarities between fly and carp fishing than I did between coarse and carp fishing and I got the bug big style. I never saw myself pushing a barrow loaded with gear, something which I could never understand when I knew nothing about it – after all, the kit of the fly fisherman is pretty much a rod, a reel and a box of flies! I’m now a true carp angler with a barrow, bivvie, 3 rods and bite alarms – yes bite alarms! Delkim’s of course…..

So that brings you up to speed with my angling ‘career’. There’s plenty I’ve missed out of course but you get the idea. Fishing for me is about escapism, achievement, relaxation, friendships and learning. I hope this blog enables you to share some of that magic with me.

Until next time, tight lines…

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