Fishing with Poppy and more Spooky goings on

Well since my foray up into Oxland the fishing has all been based a little closer to home, mostly concentrating on Spooky Pool. Couple that with two trips out with the Popster it has actually been a pretty good couple of months.

The fishing on Spooky has been a little sporadic, and when its looked bob on for a bite things haven’t always materialised, and mostly when its look less so fish have graced my net. But I often find the middle of summer is an odd time to be on the bank. Fish behave a little strangely and often patterns of behaviour that you have observed over the months previous change completely and become much more random and difficult to follow.

At the beginning of the year the water in Spooky pool was pretty clear and you could nearly always find the fish cruising along the marginal shelfs or just sunning themselves in the middle of the pool. But in the last couple of months the visibility has disappeared completely and the water has taken on the colour of pea soup. I think this is largely down to increased algal activity but mostly down to the voracious nature of all the successfully spawned little ones, which love nothing more that playing head tennis with your bait. These little ones have been piling on the weight and are some of the finest examples of carp you could ever wish to see. Much like their larger brothers and sisters they are a complete Heinz 57, it would seem that no two fish are alike, except that they are all stunning. They completely make me want to dig a pond so I can cultivate a few of them myself!

Back to the fishing a couple of blank nights were finally rewarded when I slipped the net under the lakes second biggest resident. Well down in weight after a proper spawn and looking a little battered as well but another one of the list and one step closer to a red card. The ever faithful tactic of signature squid pop ups, fished over relatively big beds of Krill boilies and pellets proving her downfall.

Spooky is such a small, intimate venue, most of the time I am placing my baits with the aid of a baiting pole or lowering them into the margins. Because of this I use the biggest leads I can, 5 or 6oz flat pears usually fished to release on the take with very short 3 inch hooklengths. I firmly believe out hookbaits are picked up and spat out more times that is healthy for our nerves. But by shortening the link and increasing the anchor point I think it becomes far more likely that the hook will find a home inside the fish’s mouth. Only when fishing in the middle of the pool where there is a thick layer of very soft silt do I consider fishing a lighter lead arrangement?

After the capture of the big Ghost things went a little quiet and I had a couple of sessions where nothing much occurred, and one disaster where I somehow conspired to lose not one but two fish! Following this I gave the fish a week off and was planning on giving them another but good friends of the shop Paula and Chris were down on holiday so I suggested to Chris we sneak out one eve for a quick session. So having picked Chris up from their holiday lodge we drove up to Spooky to find the fish extremely active to say the least. It wasn’t long before we were settled at either end of the lake, with this in mind we sat down in between the swims for a brew or two. All the bigger girls were out to play that evening and to be honest I’ve never seen the fish up there roll and crash so much, it just had to be good for a bite? Well about half an hour before dark my rod placed in the middle of the pond ripped off. A spectacular fight ensued with the fish ripping yards of line from the spool to be inched back towards the net only for it to wake up and repeat the dose. Eventually it slid over the net cord and I peered over Chris to determine which fish was mine. Well I was delighted to see the Ghost linear nestled in the folds, another one of the big ghosts off the list leaving just two fish that were on my must have list, the stunning zip linear and the grand lady of the lake.

The bank holiday weekend saw myself and Poppy making the very early start for a day up at Creedy lakes. I scooped her up from her bed at 3:30am and plonked her in the already packed car and we set off through long and winding lanes heading up towards Crediton. Upon our arrival I was pleasantly surprised to see only two guys in the car park, a right result for a Sunday over the bank holiday weekend. So we loaded up the barrow, Poppy slide on her rucksack moaned it was too heavy and stuck it on the barrow again, and then we set off. No matter how quiet Creedy is to start with I always plan for it to get much busier as the day progresses, and I always think the fish then generally push towards the corners. So we headed along the nearside bank and settled on a swim one up from the far end, were I was confident that we could secure our own bit of water should it get silly busy later on. It was due to be a baking hot day and I just knew it would be a day to target them off the top. But before the sun rose we flicked a rod down either margin and plopped one on a solid bag out in front, just trying to steal a bite whilst we waited for the sun to rise and the fish to do the same. Well we didn’t manage anything first up but as the sun started to peak through as it rose above the trees I began “pulting” a few mixers, and low and behold Poppys margin rod burst into life. I was determined that she would do all the work on her rod so she gingerly picked it up and I tightened the clutch on the screaming Daiwa. She proceeded to hoop the rod round and leant into the fish tucking it under her arm to gain leverage. She does struggle to get the rod up but knows not to point it directly at the fish, and after a somewhat hectic and bruising battle I netted her first fish of the day which would at only five pound be the smallest by some considerable distance.

Once the fish was safely returned it became apparent that the Creedy fish would have little interest in feeding in the lower layers for the rest of the day, so we dispensed with the bottom rods and concentrated on catching them on surface tactics. Nothing complicated a simple controller float and size 10 barbless hook was baited with a trimmed down Manilla pop up mounted on the back of the hook. I normally like to use the fake dog biscuits made by enterprise tackle which you are able to counterbalance with a small shot. This keeps the hook on top of the bait and out of the way of the fish, and I find these get you so many more bites when fishing off the surface. However all artificial baits are banned at Creedy, hence the trimmed down pop up. Well we managed to keep the fish feeding on the top for most of the day and despite not fishing very hard Poppy managed to land 11 fish including three fish weighing in at 19lb 6oz, 19lb 8oz and 19lb 10oz, with the rest all upper doubles, not bad at all for a 6 year old!

One thing I will comment on and I found very strange was the number of anglers I could hear round the lake in passing conversation stating how hard it was and how the fish just weren’t biting for them. This would be followed by well there catching lots over there, don’t know what they are doing? I find it odd that although probably 90% of the lakes carp population where visibly up on the surface, nearly everyone was fishing firmly on the bottom. Now Creedy isn’t a deep lake by any means but by fishing hard on the deck they were giving themselves a much reduced chance of a bite. So never discount your floater gear, there is no way we would have caught as many as we did without it.


Oxford Bound

Following the success of recent weeks I was desperate to keep it going and itching to get back on the bank, the fish were obviously feeding hard although not giving themselves up too easily, with an average of five nights fished for every bite.

 Arriving at the lake after work despite another delay from the road works, it was great to see that spring had definitely sprung and everything was starting to green up nicely. With a few more bushes planted and the marginal plants starting to emerge, Spooky was taking shape. It really is a lovely place to sit and watch as the sun goes down. Buzzards hunting out over the fields below, and if you’re lucky you can hear the badgers shrieking and snuffling around behind the lake. Whilst I was sat watching the fish go about their business it became obvious that they had moved off the marginal shelves and were ploughing through the soft clay like silt in the middle of the lake. Well I never like to ignore what the fish are telling me so I quickly rigged up a stiff rig on a length of soft coated braid, tied on an obscenely bright and smelly signature squid pop up. I then attached the lightest lead I had in my bag and flicked it into the middle of the pond where I had seen a fish roll earlier. Fish were rolling all over the lake and I spotted a fish called patch roll a few times and I rather cockily stated that our paths would cross tonight. A couple of brews later I was in the sack and off into the land of nod, only to be awoken at 1am by a howling take on the left hand rod, blimey it’s the rod cast into the middle ! It was one of those fights you dread, lots of changes of direction from the fish, line pinging off fins and all rather hectic and not under any semblance of control. But eventually I was able to breath out again as the fish popped up and folded nicely over the net cord and dropped down into the waiting mesh. Gathering up the folds I peered in nervously. There she was in all her battered glory Patch, called for and claimed! A quick skip and a jump and then I popped her into the floating sling for a few minutes so I could calm down and fetch Steve to take some pictures.

I was really rocking now and the next week couldn’t come round quickly enough, eventually Wednesday eve saw me speeding westward again. With the sun shining and the fish up and mooching about on the surface I wasted no time in firing a few mixers into the lake. I should mention that I had to do this from behind the locked gate as I couldn’t remember what the code was. Rather than waste time whilst I waited for jack to call me back with the entry code I thought I might as well try and get something going! Well despite my best efforts and a good couple of hours of frustration I failed to get them taking to any great degree. So it was back out with the bottom rods. Now over the past few weeks I had noticed that the fish have been showing nicely on one particular spot by the larger weed bed. Up until now I hadn’t put a rod on it as I had been having success from my usual spots. So hadn’t really seen the need to move onto it, but something told me the time was right. After a couple of exploratory casts that fell softly into weed, the third one landed with a big crack. Quickly the line was placed in the clip, hooklength and bait was added and out it sailed again and happily down it went with a nice thud, a kilo or so of krill was deposited on top and I sat back and put the kettle on. An hour later and it was away, after another cracking fight one of Spooky’s stunning zips appeared and I gladly stuffed her into the net, another one off the list and one extremely happy angler went home the next morning.

One of the nicest looking fish I have ever had the privilege of catching slipped up the following week in very similar circumstances to the linear and I was starting to feel like I could do no wrong. Well predictably I was kicked of cloud nine and landed with a dirty bump as I followed my recent run of success with a couple of probably well overdue blanks.

Now readers of this log will know that the vast majority of my fishing is based around overnight trips between being in the shop. So I was terribly excited at the prospect of three full days and nights on the bank. After a lot of deliberation as to where to fish I settled on either Orchid lakes or I would travel back to Linear, as both of these would allow me to take the hound with me. Even driving up to Oxford early on the Sunday morning I still wasn’t decided on exactly where I was going to fish although I was edging towards linear. One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to folk who ask is not to become fixated on a certain lake on a complex or beyond that even a certain swim. It is in my mind ludicrous to decide where you’re going to fish before you arrive and are able to assess the conditions and the location of your quarry.  On top of this Linear as I am sure you are aware can be stupidly busy even outside of weekends. I decided as it was the first venue I would pass I would begin by walking the lakes at linear for a few hours and see how things panned out from there. After 3 and a bit hours in the car it would be good to get out and stretch the legs and let Bert have a good old root around on the bank.

Predictably the carpark between St Johns and Manor was chock a block and I just managed to squeeze into the last remaining space at the back. So off we went round the familiar sites of St Johns, past Henman hill to hear that the box common had just come out at a mighty 47lb! On round the shallows passing all the sleepy anglers down the social bank and still no signs of life although nearly every swim was taken so far. We eventually paused on the lawn swims down on the road bank were three chaps from Wales had been catching a few, but they weren’t sure if they were leaving yet well rather than hang around like a bad smell waiting for them to decide we pushed on, marking that swim as one to come back to as the wind was starting to push down into that end. After a lap of manor I couldn’t tell if anyone was moving out except for the chap in the Brown swim, but most of the fish seemed to be out and to the right of here so I wasn’t sure I fancied it, although it does have a great track record. A walk round Hardwick Smiths and a quick look at Oxlease and I was none the wiser? So we went and did another lap of St Johns and now it was clear that the Welsh boys were packing up so I dropped a bucket and went to get the rest of the gear. Upon my return the wind was now really picking up pace and blowing straight onto the swim, conditions looked absolutely bob on to say the least. I had fished this swim on a couple of occasions previously although a number of years ago so I had a rough idea of where I wanted to start looking. Well after a good lead around I settled on an area of light weed and softer silty ground at around 75 yards. Three rods were fired out in a line and they all landed nicely, and I proceeded to dump 20 spombs over the top which consisted of 12mm Krill, corn and hemp with a few (only a handful) tigers thrown in, this was all soaked in cloudy krill liquid. Rig wise I had chosen to use a fairly long section of N-Trap semi stiff with a size 6 Krank fished as a Ronnie rig to settle nicely on top of the weed. Hookbait wise I started with two on signature squid 12mm pop ups, one pink and one white and the third was a tiger with a tiny spec of yellow pop up corn on top.

With the wind increasing in strength as we entered the first night, I was very confident of a bite despite a lack of shows over the baited area, so come the morning I was a bit disappointed to be staring at bobbins that hadn’t moved. I was just digesting that disappointment as the left hand rod was away. After initially just plodding around on a long line the fish made a concerted effort and ploughed left and deep into a weed bed. It really was stuck fast, now in this situation I always like to keep some kind of tight line to the fish, not apply silly pressure but steady and strong pressure will in my experience get them moving again. It is paramount at this point to have absolute faith in your end tackle and line. Luckily the GT-HD held firm and steadily I could feel the fish inching back through the weed. One big kick of his tail and he was out, the rest of the fight was fairly unspectacular and fairly soon a mid double mirror was mine. I slipped him quickly back and fired the rig out onto the spot anticipating a bit more action, a top up with 6 spombs and I sat back with a brew. Well despite watching several shows in and around the area I didn’t get another take. So at around 11 I wound in to go for a wander with the dog, well it had been a rather hectic night for a few guys, but the majority were sitting behind motionless bobbins. It was also clear the huge majority of the stock was up the opposite end to the lake from us, looking like they were getting ready to spawn over the shallower water. To be honest the majority of the fish were in front of one swim, and the water was absolutely black with them. However I was confident that with the wind as it was the best chance of action was going to be from the lawns, besides it would have been difficult to move even if we had wanted to. So back round to the swim and as it was now mid-afternoon I decided to put another 10 spombs out to top it up. I am always a little surprised at how anglers go about baiting at venues such as linear. If you were to forget your watch you would always know when 6 O Clock was by the armada of small white missiles being launched across the complex. Now for me this is potentially bite time, so why would you lessen your chances. Far better in my humble opinion to get your bait out their earlier, have it working in your swim prior to any potential feeding spell. It is by no means guaranteed that bites will occur on or after 6pm, but between 10 and 5pm it would seem that on the whole bites are less likely but that’s just my opinion of course.

I had been watching fish show close in to my left and as the next swim on the left hand bank was currently free I swung one of the rods of the spot and just put three spombs over the top. I am pretty sure they were feeding on a fly hatch as the top of my bivvy was covered in the discarded skins of some form of mayfly. So with this in mind I only applied three spombs of bait, hopefully just enough to get them to switch what they were eating.

I was shaken from my bed at 4am by an absolutely ripping take, on the rod that I had moved as well. It was one of those takes that you are afraid to tighten the drag on, but sadly it was all rather hectic and short lived. As the fish twisted and turned and I could feel the line pinging of fins and then the hook pulled free, gutted. I’m not the most even tempered when this happens and the rod was unceremoniously cast aside and I cursed my bad luck loudly. But there was plenty of time for another bite before it would be time to go home so rather than sulk for too long I rebaited and cast it back on the spot

As I sat back and contemplated what I could have done to not lose that fish I just knew that it was going to happen again it just had too! I had been sat watching the water since just before first light and it was clear that the area out in front (not always over my bait) had a lot of carp feeding in it. I became more and more agitated as the hours ticked by, the fish continued to show and I remained bite less. In the end my thoughts got the better of me and I reeled in the right hand rod, not something I would never normally do but something needed to change. So I slid on a 12mm Krill pop up instead of the signature squid and put it back on the spot. Well 15 minutes later it was away as the bobbin pulled up and the tip slowly bent round. I leant into the fish and straight away I could feel this was a better fish, slow and ponderous but powerful. I inched it back slowly gaining line for about ten minutes, until the fish decided that it had had enough and wanted to show me who was boss. Line poured from the spool and I fought to gradually tighten the drag with the fish making it back out to where I had initially hooked it. This process repeated several times until I had him wallowing on the edge of the margins out in front, his giant head came up and he went straight the way back to the spreader lock and I lifted the folds of the net around him. Feeling a little giddy as I knew this was a proper kipper I climbed into my waders, broke the net down and slide the whole lot inside a retainer. Even though the hook was properly embed into the bottom lip it popped out first time with the aid of the forceps, and I was able to secure the fish with the minimum of fuss and hopefully keep the stress levels to a minimum. Up on the scales she weighed 37lb 1oz and then behaved impeccably for the photos and before too long I was sat back with the rod having been cast back out, brew in hand with Bert licking the taste of the fish from my hands!

Well despite the fish remaining out in front for a few more hours no more bites were forthcoming, in fact it then went very quiet for the remaining night and sadly I wasn’t able to add to the two fish banked. But despite the heavens opening with vengeance as I packed down and Bert and I resembling drowned rats, you couldn’t wipe the grin of my face as we made our way home.

A tweak here and there

Still bouncing around from the success of opening week I couldn’t wait for Wednesday night to roll round again so I could get back on the bank. As you can imagine I was full of confidence and despite Mr Henwood pulling it apart and catching the two biggest residents as well as a third thirty pound fish, I was sure that I would be able to catch another one to tick off the list.

Well the best laid plans of mice and men and all that as predictably I blanked, but it wasn’t without action as I know I was being “done” with lots of rod knocks and two of the three baited spots being cleaned out.

With clubbing season seemingly over all too quickly it was obviously time for a re-think on rigs. I had also noticed that the corn mixed in with my boilies and pellet was seemingly being ignored. Not surprising really when all five fish that had come out so far were all on corn. Now I don’t tend to mess with my rigs too much having been very happy with my particular version of a combi rig for a number of years. However I was very conscious of the fact that I should have had another fish, mostly because all my bait was being eaten. So it was highly likely I wasn’t converting any pickups I was getting. I have been playing around with the new Boom from Korda and I have to say I’m extremely impressed. I am convinced our rigs are picked up a lot more than we realise and therefore I want my rig to re-set itself and be presentable again if an when a fish picks it up and ejects it. Boom does this brilliantly by having just enough flexibility to push the hook away from the lead and ensuring that there is a minimal amount of movement before the fish feels the weight of the lead and hopefully the hook is driven home. For good measure I even shorten the rigs right down and upped the size of my COG leads to 5oz.

Wednesday came round again and once more I was heading west cursing the road works but pleased to have gained an hours extra daylight. Rods were lowered and shipped out to their spots and I deposited the last batch I had of Pacific Tuna and sat back full of anticipation. Which by dawn had bled into disappointment as the rods remained motionless, apart from a savage tweak just after midnight.

Another blank followed the next week and it was clear that the fish were changing their patterns and the couple of fish that did come out were caught away from the margins, which again was food for thought. With the Easter holidays now upon us and the girls having broken up from school I was able to pinch an extra night provided I took Poppy with me for one of them. I felt that there was still too much movement in my set up and I wanted to try to eliminate all the play between the lead and the hooklink. So with this in mind I went back to using 5oz inline pear leads fished drop off style, keeping the rigs at around 3-4” in length. I also decided to make sure I used the washing line method and kept my lines out of the water. For those of you not familiar with this method it I will try to elaborate a little more. It involves you casting across to the margin you want to fish, and then taking a long storm pole or bank stick, on this I would have two sets of rubber bands tightly wound round. Once I have positioned my rig using a baiting pole I carefully sink the line and make sure it’s nice and slack following the lake bed all the way back to the bank stick. Then I carefully loop the line and pull it under one elastic band and then under the other so it’s tightly secured but should a fish take the rig and run it will easily slip out. From here its back round to the rods to gently tighten up until the line is tight across and is all above the surface of the lake, any takes you receive with this method result in massive drop backs, It is all a bit of a palaver but it can be well worth it.

 Following a lot of thought I had decided to move away from using the Pacific Tuna and gone back to an old favourite with Sticky baits Krill. I had caught a fair few fish on the Pacific Tuna and it really is a lovely bait, but if I’m honest I put an awful lot of it in to the bottom lake and probably didn’t have the results that should have brought. So with that in mind it was back to the krill, alongside the new Signature squid pops ups. These are really smelly and contain the classic squid and octopus koi rearer flavour which I’m sure is responsible for many domestic arguments over time!

Well yet another blank night passed but despite not catching I knew I was getting closer as the fish were very active and certainly picking boilies off the spot. So I returned with Poppy the next night full of confidence. It took an age to get the baits in position simply because the fish kept visiting the area and at one point I had shipped the pole with my baited rig out only to have to freeze as several of the lakes residents drifted underneath! I just scattered a handful of pellet over the top as there was still quite a bit of bait left that I had put in that morning.

Bang on 8pm the middle rods bobbin dropped to the floor and then the rod tip pulled back round as a fish fled the far margin with my rig firmly attached. A short but spirited fight ensued and then Poppy was able to slip the net under my prize. Both dad and daughter were very excited and I was able to get some shots taken with Poppy myself and the fish which was lovely, I hope you agree that they have come out rather well.


Back on the Bank

Well after a few months of relative inactivity due to my chosen venue being shut for a period of time. I have been absolutely itching to get back out on the bank. So when the owner told me I could have the first night on the lake when it reopened I was delighted. Not only that but I managed to sneak and extra night as well. Now as most of my angling is based around one overnight trip a week in between opening the shop I was doubly excited.

 Wednesday night couldn’t come quick enough and eventually I was heading west praying that the traffic would part and the carp gods would be kind. Well the best laid plans of mice and men and all that, as I sat behind a large queue of cars winding their way slowly through the back lanes, due to the road works in the Glyn valley. Eventually 20 minutes later than planned I pulled up at the lake, not a massive hold up in the grand scheme of things but the light was going and I was only there till dawn. Rods were quickly flicked and lowered onto their spots, with a good handful of Pacific Tuna, pellet and corn scattered around the vicinity. After a good catch up with the owner and having built up a healthy tea bag stack I retired to the bag.

 I must have crashed straight out because the next thing I knew was the middle rod was screaming for attention, which to be honest was the last one I expected to go. I managed to make it out of bed in a flash but for some reason I just couldn’t get my foot into my right hand boot. Now I’m sure it was only a matter of extra seconds but when you are desperate to get to the rod it seemed to take forever! Boot finally on I skidded to the rods and bent into the fish, that horrible grating sensation was being transmitted up the line and I could feel it had gone through something. However steady but gentle pressure did the trick and it pinged free and battle could commence, and although not a spectacular fight the fish gave a good account of itself mostly under the rod tip whilst having the good grace to stay away from my other lines. As he tripped over the waiting net cord my heart skipped a little beat as I could see in the moonlight it was a ghostie, and nearly all of the bigger fish in the lake are ghosts. Quickly gathering the mesh up I could see it wasn’t one of the big girls but was a nice lump none the less and definitely not one I had caught before. Fish secured in the net I got everything ready put the kettle on and sat back in the aftermath waiting for Jack to arrive to weigh it on the fishery scales. Hoisted up she went 25lb 2oz and looked very handsome indeed, great to get one on the first night back and I certainly felt the pressure lift. Not that you should feel pressure in your angling but sometimes it’s unavoidable and is mostly self-inflicted.

 With no more occurrences that night and despite having that fish I had a quick mooch up the far end and found most of the lakes population doing laps around the shallows. So I pulled down the house and moved up to that end, deposited a few kilos more of boilie, pellet and sweetcorn on the shallower area and left them to it as I trundled back to the shop.

 5 O Clock came round and I hopped in the car and again ground my teeth as it seemed to take forever to get back, but the rods were soon out and before dark this time, and I could sit back and watch as the fish did laps of the area seeming to stop on all of the spots to have a little feed. As dark came I struggled to relax and knew that I had to get a bite soon. They didn’t disappoint as the rod on the shallow area hooped round and line peeled from the spool. Again it was a fairly gentle ruck before a stunning and quite unique common slid into the waiting net, a fish that had a mouth like a Dyson, massively over slung and huge in relation to its actual size. Sadly the night time shots really fail to show the complete majesty of this fish. But I would never sack or retain a fish for a few hours just to get a better picture, no excuse for this in my book. For the record he went 19lb 8oz but to quote an often overused cliché, size really doesn’t matter when they look like that.

 More corn and pellet went back out onto the spot and I lowered my bait back out slackening the line right off and gently allowing it to sink to the bottom of the lake before I inched back towards the swim repeating this process as I went. Just after dawn this rod was away again I was just packing up as I looked up noticing a large white shape vacate the baited area at speed, I then noticed my rod tip knocking furiously before pulling round. Upon grabbing the rod I began to wind down as I could see the line cutting through the water in front of me as the fish frantically swam from left to right. As I caught up with it I felt the line tighten as it made the sanctuary of a weed bed, at which point the hook pulled. Absolutely gutted I sat down in dejection instantly think about what I could have done differently, the fight was over so quickly and the power of that fish was immense. But sometimes you don’t get that perfect hook hold no matter how confident you are in your rigs and hooks etc. Now I’m not saying it was one of the big two, but they do have notoriously soft mouths so I couldn’t help but think. But it doesn’t do to dwell on these things for too long, and despite the initial disappointment I was feeling as I drove home I was extremely satisfied to kick of the campaign with two fish, and two absolute crackers as well, roll on next week.

It will come good in the end…..

Despite managing to catch a few from a number of different venues over the last month and a bit it’s fair to say that I have been really struggling to catch from my syndicate. I always find summer (cough!) an odd time, with the fish often not playing ball and gorging themselves on naturals. But that said others have been catching albeit mostly the smaller specimens, I have just been camping!

Whilst my luck hasn’t been particularly good down country I have managed a couple of memorable trips elsewhere, firstly up to Lakeside View Fisheries near Cullompton where I took my daughter Poppy for her first experience of night fishing. Armed with a new compact bedchair sleeping bag and two man Trakker SLX V2 Bivvy myself and one stupidly excited child shut the shop on Saturday eve and made our way up to the lake. Poppy was extremely helpful in setting up camp and three rods where quickly dispatched towards the island and fifty baits sticked out over each rod. As most fish appeared to be getting caught close to the island I put one rod right up close then the next 10 yards further down and 5 yards off the island and the third a little further down still and ten yards off. Then I was able to create a diagonal line of bait coming off the island to hopefully intercept fish patrolling round.

That night it was home cooked macaroni cheese (Poppy’s favourite) and marshmallows on the stove washed down with hot chocolate, and a very late bedtime. We even managed a little mirror of a couple of pounds to kick things off fishing wise.

Despite her late night Pops was up bright and early to try and get a few little carp on the pole which sadly didn’t happen but she seemed happy despite the lack of action. I could see fish moving down the island margin to our right and with the guy next door packing up I swung a rod round and fished it right up tight. Low and behold ten minutes after casting out it ripped off and I shouted to Poppy and she ran out of the bivvy and picked up the net, she managed to net the fish first time but I had neglected to tell her to lift the mesh and it promptly swam out again! Thankfully the fish stayed on and at the second attempt she scooped up our prize which tipped the scales at a little over 17lb. As we packed down slowly I managed another little pasty and then as I was dealing with that one the middle rod melted off and I could tell I was connected to a larger specimen. After a decent scrap Poppy netted at the first attempt and we got some great rather windswept shots of the fish, myself and Pops all together, certainly one for the scrapbook.

poppy and me lakeside

The following weekend saw a rare two night session up at Furzebray, with seven of us heading up to pit our wits against some of the prettiest carp in the south west. Despite it being sunny nearly everywhere else the weather was predictably dour but at least it should encourage the fish to feed and so it proved. Our party managed two thirties to Matt and Kev and a rack of other 20’s on top off that, to be fair I struggled a little but managed to winkle this stunning 17lb mirror off the top despite the armada of ducks and geese as well as a very persistent swan. If you haven’t managed to wet a line at Furzebrays Island Lake I suggest you do so it really is a cracking fishery with some stunning fish to catch in very pleasant surroundings. Be warned however it is extremely popular and you need to book up well in advance.


After my success on the top at Furzebray I decided that rather than do my usual overnighter on my syndicate I would just take the floater kit down and see if I could target the fish that way, well I couldn’t do any worse! However the best laid plans of mice and men saw me heading home tail between my legs again despite having one of the larger ghosties mouth my hookbait. Moral was low and it was difficult to see where the next fish was coming from. But in the back of my mind I knew I was getting closer.

The following week I’m back on the road on Tuesday night again with the weather set for drizzle I opted to stay overnight but I like to be prepared so I packed the floater gear as well. Even though it was drizzling I flicked a few mixers in the car park swim and a few more in various spots and opted to set up in swim four with lots of fish feeding in and around the weed. After dumping the gear I went back to see if there was any interest in the mixers and to my delight I could spot a couple of fish including a big Ghost gently slurping them down in amongst the potmogeton and the weed. The following couple of hours where exhilarating but ultimately frustrating as the ghost kept coming back but my hook bait always seemed to be the last one and ignored. It seemed like the chance had gone as the Ghost was nowhere to be seen, although a few smaller mirrors where feeding I couldn’t bring myself to wreck the swim just in case the big girl returned. So I traipsed off back down the bank at set the rods up for the night, but I couldn’t get the thought of that fish out of my head so before putting the rods out for the night I crept back down and there she was bold as brass eating everything in sight ! Turning on my heels I sprinted back to the swim grabbed the rod and ran back down stopping a few paces before the car park and telling myself to calm down and not screw this up. With my heart beating out of my chest I flicked the fake counterbalanced mixer into the gap in the weed and tried to calm my nerves. I could see her just turning round and pushing the weed up as she nosed around for the floating biscuits. Then without hesitation she rose up and took mine, I was undecided whether she had taken it properly but as the line twitched I decided to strike and the water just erupted as she turned on her side and powered down into the weed. My first thought was to grab the boat as normally you have little chance of landing them from the bank, but this was a big fish and with steady pressure every time she kicked she moved a lot of the weed and I could inch her closer, till eventually I bundled her over the cord and into my waiting net. I make no apology for the lion like roar and fist pumping that followed. On the scales she went 33lb 5oz but weight was almost immaterial as this must be one of the most stunning carp I have had the fortune to cradle. So broad you could have put a saddle across her, perfectly proportioned with s stunning pinecone like pattern of scales over her shoulders the photos simply don’t do her justice. I was so happy that after having a brew with the owner I packed up and went home, thanking the carp gods all the way back.