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.
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.
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…