Well, I reckon I made the right decision when I moved my fishing over to Monks Pit in Cambridgeshire.
Since that first successful trip when I managed to bank one of the three remaining forty pound plus carp in the pit that I hadn’t already caught, things have just got better and better.
The next week I only had a single night at my disposal but the fish fed like crazy and I ended up with an incredible nine carp on the bank, I almost made it to double figures but fish number ten fell off at the net just as I was packing up!
As if catching this amount of big carp wasn’t rewarding enough for thirty hours spent solidly casting, spodding, and playing fish, one of the fish was yet another of the trio I have at the top of my hit list. This time it was a fish known as Moonscale and he weighed in at forty three pounds, a top result and, realistically, that now leaves only the one biggest fish in the lake for the full set.
Since that trip I have had a further four visits and, although none of these trips has been quite as manic, I haven’t actually blanked yet, which a real bonus.
A couple of times I have taken it right to the wire, catching at the last minute to save a blank but even then, the stamp of fish has made it well worth the wait.
Just the other week I fished for forty eight hours without so much as a sniff and then, in the last two hours of the trip, I took fish of twenty four and thirty six pounds in quick succession.
Most of the carp have been falling to the new Mainline Hybrid fished snowman style over plenty of free offerings and a bed of hemp, tigers and corn but I have had a couple on maggot and a couple on zigs.
It’s about this time of year, as the temperatures start to drop sharply, that the zigs start to produce a few fish and it seems as if the colder it gets, the better they work.
Luckily, at Monks, I can use four carp fishing rods throughout the winter and this allows me to try different methods such as zigs and maggots while always keeping at least two rods on my favourite boilie approach. I have had most of my biggest fish from this lake on boilies and I am confident that the biggest one will fall to this method in time, all I have to do is keep on persevering and hope the wheel of fortune spins in my favour before the winter is over and I move on to pastures new.
Check out my video diary here on the Fishtec blog!
As we move in to November we could well be wondering if the winter is actually coming at all this year. I am certainly not complaining though, the weather conditions throughout October have been perfect for carp fishing and my catch rates have been a reflection of this.
At the beginning of the month I moved back onto Monks Pit, in Cambridgeshire as I thought it was about time I targeted some large carp again. I have enjoyed my summer excursion on the large gravel pit in search of unknown monsters but, with the year getting into its last quarter, I wanted somewhere to settle down on, in readiness for the colder weather.
Monks has been good to me in the past and I have had a total of five different fish over forty pounds from the venue. I thought, at one stage, that I had finished with the place but, recently, I got chatting to a couple of mates who still fish there and realised that there are probably still three or four over that weight I haven’t caught so a return for the winter seemed more and more like a good idea.
My first trip was an impromptu affair, pulling off the big pit halfway through a session when I thought I should be making the most of big low pressure system, and turning up at Monks with just an hour and a half of daylight remaining, just enough time to get the carp fishing tackle sorted and setup for the night.
Having not been on the lake for two years I would have preferred a bit more time to walk about and suss the place out a bit but, instead, I opted for a swim that I had always liked in the past. The swim I chose was in the middle section of the lake, always a good bet to start with and it gave me a good view if anything topped elsewhere.
The carp at Monks do like a bit of bait so I spent the next hour spodding out a bed of boilies, hemp, tigers and corn, setting all three carp fishing rods at the same distance in a line across the swim.
That first night went by without any action and I was just thinking about a move when a good sized fish topped right over my right hand carp rod. It couldn’t have even been a full minute later when the line tightened up and the tip pulled down towards the surface, signalling my first bite.
Right from the off the fish felt heavy and incredibly powerful, but then I had been used to catching twenties from the big pit over the previous months so I was unsure exactly how much bigger this beastie might turn out to be. He fought well in the deep and clear water eventually weeding me up in a big bed of Milfoil down to my right. After trying all the usual tricks with no success I had to resort to going out in the boat to free him, this is always a lot easier and safer with heavy weed once you actually get right above the fish and change the line angle as it enters the weed-bed. After a few hairy moments I managed to get him free and then it was just a matter of playing him out in open water. With the clarity being so good I could clearly see him ten feet below the boat, twisting and turning on the line and he did look very, very big indeed. Although I’d never seen the fish before I recognised him from a description I been given only the previous night and, as he went into the net, I knew I’d cracked one of the few remaining big fish in the lake that I hadn’t already caught. He was a fish known as the ‘Hartford mirror’ and he weighed just a little over forty pounds, what a way to start a return to Monks!
Once I had sussed where and how they were feeding I juggled the rods around a bit and kept a constant supply of bait going in over the area and, during the next twenty four hours , I managed to bank a further five carp up to mid-thirties but the Hartford mirror really was the star of the show.
If I had had any doubts about where to pass the colder months of winter then they have been dispelled now, with fish of this stamp only an hour from my doorstep I reckon that Monks will be seeing quite a bit more of me and Paddy over the coming few months, I can’t wait to get back out there.
The fishing has been tough and the weather fairly unpredictable but Dave Lane has still managed to put together another of his Carp Fishing video diaries, showing you exactly what hes doing to try and temp large carp to the bank.
This week his two part carp fishing diary takes him to Big Lakes at Bedford…
With nothing much happening on the big unknown carp front again I decided to take another trip over to Kingfisher Lake in the Thetford Forest. I enjoyed my days stalking carp the previous week but I couldn’t help but think that there must be a way to crack the problem of the bubbling carp being pre-occupied on natural food.
I had decided that bait must be the key, as it often is so, rather than just chase them around with a handful of boilies; I was going to set a trap, and a big one at that.
I arrived in the early afternoon and picked an area at fairly close range, about twenty yards from the bank, one that had signs of fish moving regularly through it. By simply watching the surface of the water I could identify the most frequently used areas by following the trails of little silver pin-prick bubbles as they hit the surface.
Once I had picked my spot I fed it as accurately as possible with about one and a half kilos of boilies. The plan was to keep everything so tight on the bottom that, once the carp passed through the spot as they filtered the silt, they would be incapable of not sucking up a mouthful of boilies as the entire bottom in a small area would be covered with them.
Although I had great faith in my new method I decided not to fish on it straight away, instead I put both rods under the island where I had had the twenty six pounder last week and just kept an eye on the baited area, watching for any change in the pattern of bubblers.
I did not have long to wait either, within an hour I could plainly see that the trails and lines of bubbles had converged on the baited area and much larger concentrations of ‘fizzers’ were erupting exactly where the boilies were.
Winding in one rod I flicked it out into the epicentre of the disturbance and, within minutes, it was away with a lively little common attached to the other end.
Now I had a method that I knew would work I had two choices, just trickle in a few more baits and try for a second bite or take it one step further and fill it in again, I chose the second option.
Unlike the previous week’s visit, I actually had the whole night ahead of me so I decided to take a gamble and put another kilo and a half on the spot, making it wide enough for two rods as I did so.
Well, the gamble certainly paid off, although I was worried for a while as it well into dark before the second bite came.
After that it was just like clockwork, every time I climbed back into the bedchair and drifted off to sleep anther screaming run from the mag-runner bite alarms would drag me back out again. This went on for pretty much the whole night, approximately one fish an hour with a welcomed break after four in the morning, the last and biggest fish coming along at first light.
I had managed seven takes in all, landing six of them up to twenty six pounds and all commons apart from one small mirror, which was a bit strange really as it’s pretty much an even split in the lake, maybe the commons just like the silty areas a bit more.
I packed up about midday extremely tired but very happy with my results, all I need now is a result like that on a larger scale from one of my main venues and my favourite month of September will be complete.
Sorry it’s been so long since my last blog but, what with school holidays and an acute lack of carp there has been precious little to blog about!
I have still been off chasing the unknown, trying my hand on waters that most sane anglers would not look twice at. Unfortunately that is the only way I am ever going to realise my dream of a big unknown carp though, and it is par for the course to have more than a few blanks along the way.
There comes a time however, when I just want to get out there and get a bend in one of my many fishing rods and this time happens to be now.
Last week I decided to re-visit a small and tree lined lake not far from my home. It’s situated on the edge of the Thetford forest and is a picturesque, tree fringed lake with a large and well established island running along the centre.
Because of the surrounding forest it has a fair depth of silt, a build-up of years of fallen leaves that have rotted away on the bottom, forming a thick layer of detritus.
As a result of this the carp can be seen bubbling and fizzing up as they feed in the deeper water and this can lead to some exiting stalking situations.
I turned up on a Thursday morning, just for a quick day session as the conditions looked ideal.
I always think if you have a lake nearby and a bit of time on your hands, it got to be worth a trip out, even if it’s a quick one, as it only takes a few minutes in the right spot to catch a carp.
At this time of year, as the air temperatures drop and we get a few low pressure systems moving in, the carp can suddenly go on the feed and the lethargy of summer days can seem a thing of the past. September is actually one of my favourite months of the year and it has provided me with countless personal bests and memorable captures over the years gone by. In fact, I would go as far as to say that September, April and possibly February can be the best months of the carp fishing year.
On this particular trip I found the carp, as expected, bubbling up in the deeper siltier part of the lake and I spent a fruitless couple of hours chasing them about, using light leads and long nylon hook-links, a method I have a lot of faith in when the bottom is soft and silty.
On this occasion though, they seemed to be totally pre-occupied with whatever was crawling around in the detritus and I had to employ a backup method as time was ticking away and I had to pick the littlest one up from school at four o’clock.
About two in the afternoon the sun made an appearance and, within minutes, I spotted the first carp cruising along the sunny side of the island. This area is a lot firmer and I knew, if I could get a bait tight enough to the island, that I had a shout of a bite.
It’s exciting stuff when you have a bait cast into just eighteen inches of water and you can clearly see the backs of carp as they pass over the spot.
I think there must have been at least three near misses before the bow wave of a carp lined up perfectly with the exact spot of my single bait and then, suddenly, there was big swirl as he sucked it in and realised his mistake.
A lot of people will advocate the method of ‘locking up’ when fishing up against islands, fishing your line as tight as possible with no clutch or free-spool set and the bobbin right up against the rod but I totally disagree. The way I see it is this; a fish cannot actually take any line anyway, not unless he is going to climb out over the island and the usual result is that they shoot sideways along the island margin until they find a snag. As long as you have a small drop on the bobbin then you will know instantly when the bait has been picked up and, with a tight clutch, it takes just two paces backwards to pull the carp away from danger before he even realises what’s going on.
With the fish safely in the clear channel I had time to enjoy the fight as he plodded up and down over deeper water, putting a healthy bend in the rod as he did so.
Under the tip was a different matter and there were a few tense moments as he realised he was losing the battle but everything held firm and the forgiving action in the top section of my TF Gear Nan-tec rods easily absorbed all the last minute lunges.
Once he was beaten and lying on the mat I had a chance to relax and appreciate how well a few hours in the right conditions can go, instead of being stuck at home working I was holding up a heavily scaled twenty six pound mirror for the camera. With the fish safely returned and the gear hastily thrown in the back of the truck I just made it back to the playground in time, although I did get a bit more room around me than usual and a few wrinkled noses at the distinct odour of fish slime!
After my lost fish disasters on the big pit I decided on a return to the North Met last week for a spot of carp fishing, to try my hand and, hopefully, find it a bit less crowded than it was in the spring.
Well it was certainly a lot quieter and, surprisingly, a lot more scenic than the last time I was there. The trees had all leafed up nicely and the undergrowth had spread profusely, filling in all the gaps in the bankside and leaving the whole lake looking a lot more ‘carpy’ and nice.
I started off with the customary walk around the lake, climbing a few trees and peering into every nook and cranny but, after about two hours, I was still no closer to finding anything to fish for. I figured that, if they weren’t in the margins, then they must be further out into the lake out of sight so I found a nice swim that gave me a good view of the open water and just sat and watched for a while.
It wasn’t overly long before I saw a fair sized mirror carp slide up out of the water at about one hundred and twenty yards range so I loaded up the barrow and grabbed the bivvy and made my way around to the nearest swim.
One thing I had noticed on my travels around the banks was the proliferation on daphnia clouds, huge swaths of red slowly undulating in water like massive natural larders for the fish.
Daphnia is a massive source of protein for carp and it so easy for them to just swim through it like a big old whale shark, filter feeding as they go through. Quite why they would choose to ignore it in preference for an angler’s bait that they know may be dangerous I wasn’t sure and, going by the reports of how the lake had been fishing, I wasn’t convinced that they would.
As with all carp fishing though you have to take the rough with the smooth and, even if a lake is not on its best form, it’s still a lot nicer sitting out there trying your best than it would be sitting at home moaning about it.
Although my trip ended up being quite frustrating, as I watched carp just idly milling about in an edible environment, I still enjoyed every minute of it and, I found out later, somebody managed to bag a nice mid thirty just after my departure, from the other end of the lake.
Over the last week or so however, we have had a noticeable change in the weather, the evenings are turning cooler and damp and the mornings are refreshing, dew soaked and feeling a lot more conducive to catching carp.
I predict that the next few weeks will really start to pick up nicely and I am confident of a few good fish coming to the net.
In a couple of days’ time I am off to Oxfords Linear fisheries for the annual charity fish-in, held to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease association.
Basically it works by anglers paying to fish with the better known and mainly professional anglers in the industry (who give their time and help for free) this raises funds, as does a raffle on the last night.
The whole event is very light hearted and informal although there is a great chance for the paying anglers to pick up many tips and methods to take away to their own local waters and, hopefully, a few personal bests to be caught a swell.
Last year I had a lovely young lad called Sam to look after for the three days and I took him off stalking around the complex for most of the time. We eventually settled on Oxlease lake where I helped him to find a few fish and get them feeding on the surface.
It’s always an exciting method but, when he hooked into a very big fish indeed, it become a nerve wracking experience for me. I don’t think he quite realised what he had hooked until it rolled into the net.
At thirty two pounds it was, by far, his biggest ever carp and a real old warrior to boot.
I just hope I manage to send this years ‘visitor’ home with a smile on his face to match the one that Sam was sporting as he eventually headed off, tired but happy.
Well I’m back from this year’s MNDA charity bash at Linear Fisheries and it all went ok. I say just Ok because the fishing wasn’t spectacular this year, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. It fished alright, it was just that the area we were in was a bit patchy and, unusually for me, I decided to stay put rather than go off hunting them. On previous years we have been very lucky with the weather, there has always been at least one full day suited to floater fishing and it’s been on this day that I have usually spent my time trying to ensure a decent fish or two from any of the other many lakes on the complex.
This year’s event coincided with quite a brisk North Westerly wind throughout and the conditions actually looked perfect for the swims we had been pegged in. Along with myself there was Paul Forward and Ian Stott and we had a trio of guys between us, all friends and all on their second visit.
Despite a slow start we soon had the lad’s spodding and casting accurately and in time the fish started to arrive. My swim was particularly tricky because of some snags out in front but we were situated on the causeway between Brasenose one and two so at least we had options.
Of the six of us carp fishing there was only one dry net at the end but, to be fair, he did have to leave a night early for a prior engagement and, because of this, he missed the most productive period of all.
One of the lads, Jack, had about six fish I believe, so he went home with a big smile on his face.
Besides the fishing though we all had a terrific time and there was a live band on the second night, and a hog roast (Paddy the carp dog’s favourite part of the whole three days) In fact the food was amazing across the whole three nights we were there, egg and bacon in the mornings and a nice hot meal at night with plenty of cold beer and socialising. The whole event is geared towards enjoyment and it has no competitive atmosphere whatsoever, the main criteria is to make plenty of money for the charity and for everyone to go away happy, having had a time to remember.
I believe that this year’s event amassed more than £24,000 pounds in total so a big well done to everyone that freely gave up their time to make this happen and a big thank you to everybody that donated, from the paying anglers to the many tackle companies and individuals who gave towards the raffle. The biggest applause must, however, go to Len Gurd, Fran, Roy Parsons and the whole of the team who helped to organise the event, man the bar, make the food and keep everyone involved happy and content throughout, well done.
What a wonderful week to be British!
The British and Irish Lions have won the tour in Australia; and had me leaping all around the room like an over excited schoolboy, Andy Murray has become Wimbledon champion and, hopefully, we will win the ashes as well in a few days’ time to ice the cake off nicely.
To top it all off the sun is shining and it looks like staying that way for a week or two, I am off on holiday to even sunnier Spain and everything is at one with the world, well my little world anyway!
The carp fishing hasn’t been exactly fantastic though and, in true British style, I think we can blame a lot of that on the weather leading up to this current hot spell.
I think this burst of summer however, will be exactly what the doctor ordered and I am expecting to return to lakes that have finally seen a proper spawning and are full of hungry carp.
Now is the time to be out there looking at what the lakes contain, getting to know your quarry and, hopefully, nicking the odd fish out of the edge or, even better, off the top.
I love surface fishing and I hope there is still a bit of nice weather in store for me to try my hand at it this year.
Nothing is quite as exciting as watching a set of lips close around the hook-bait and feeling that wall of resistance as you set the hook. The explosive nature of a fish hooked at close quarters off the surface is awesome and I can’t wait to give it a try.
I have been getting amongst a few lately though, mainly from shallow water spots in the margins or on bars as the carp have seemed reluctant to feed at all in the deeper water, although I am sure this will soon change.
I had a close encounter with a couple of bigger fish on my new pit the other day, not monsters but still a better stamp than I have been seeing although it didn’t end the way I had planned.
I had just spent hours getting my carp fishing baits into position without spooking the fish and I was pacing the banks waiting for the inevitable bite.
When it did come however, it turned out to be a small mirror that had somehow impaled the hook in its flank. Needless to say he then managed to spook every decent fish in sight and I was left right back where I started.
I moved the next morning and managed to find a few more carp to fish for but, unfortunately, they were not of the same ilk, although I did bag my biggest so far at 23lb pictured above.
The previous week was also an exciting trip when I spotted a group of carp milling around a weed-bed next to a small island. A shallow bar connects the bank to the island so I was able to put on my thigh waders and wade right out to them and place bait with deadly accuracy. Back on the bank I could sit there in total confidence that I was fishing as well as I possibly could.
It’s so hard not to keep checking a spot, even when you know everything is spot on, I just need to see the fish and know what they are up to at all times.
Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long, although it seemed like days at the time, and by the time it grew dark I had managed to land three carp, two twenties and a nineteen pounder.
So, even with the weather keeping the fish in a strange mood, it is still possible to trick the odd one into feeding; it’s just a matter of finding the right spot on the day.
Keeping the bait to a sensible level also helps, if the fish are lethargic for most of the time then there is no reason to assume they will suddenly eat ten kilos of bait just because it has grown dark. Quite often when it is as hot as this they hardly move from their daytime haunts throughout the night and can often be found in the same spots as soon as it is light enough to see.
Anyway, I am off to lay in the sun for a while so tight lines while I am gone and, hopefully, stalk yourselves out a few monsters while I am away.
Isn’t it funny, a few years ago we would have all taken this week off and crammed the lakes to capacity for the glorious 16th of June and the start to a new season. After an enforced lay off of three whole months, we would have all been champing at the bit to get back out there and wet a line.
I know a lot of carp fishing waters still hold fast to the old rules but, even so, there are very few anglers who don’t find somewhere to fish in the meantime.
Personally I am all in favour of a close season, I would just like it to be for three weeks in January so that I had a decent reason to stay at home in the warm.
I’m glad that things have changed though, the spring is such an exciting time to fish and, even though this year was not so good, we get to see everything waking up and the fish starting to feed once again.
More often than not the middle of June is spawning time and the beginning of the season often used to be marred by the carp starting their rituals just as we all turned up to fish.
I saw a little attempt at spawning a week or so ago, on a new and extremely large pit I have just started fishing.
The lake itself is roughly two hundred and fifty acres and location is obviously the main aspect of success on a place like this. I am not entirely sure of the stock in there but I know it could possibly have a few old original carp left somewhere in its depths, mixed in with two sets of stock fish, both of which are at least six or seven years established and could also be a fair size by now.
I was over the moon to find a group of carp within a couple of hours of my arrival for my second session; they were cruising around in some shallow water next to a huge reed-bed that stretched along a hundred yards of bank.
Within half an hour of watching I had seen at least six or seven different fish and that was all the incentive I needed to haul my gear up to the top end of the lake and get a couple of rigs into position.
Big pit angling is my favourite form of fishing and, if you add the fact that I had no real idea of what I might catch, you have the perfect water in my book. The excitement when that magrunner bite alarm screams out its battle cry is electrifying and I still visibly shake when I am playing fish from a lake like this, even though I have been carp fishing since god was a little lad!
The first take came mid-afternoon and was a double figure common, looking a bit on the plump side.
The next fish managed to hold off until the early hours of the morning but then it all seemed to go a bit mad. By the time I packed up the following day I had managed to up the tally to seven fish, most of them were male mirrors in the eighteen to twenty two pound bracket, obviously ganged up before spawning as this constituted a real red letter day on a pit this size and with not a huge stock.
All of the carp I banked were in mint condition and stunning examples of what a carp really should look like, huge scales and fantastic colours and every one of them fighting fit.
On my last morning they started to show the odd sign of getting a bit ‘jiggy with it’ and, although they didn’t actually start to spawn, there was the odd little thrash about in the reeds.
I did hear from the bailiff that, a day or two after I left, they absolutely smashed the reeds to pieces in a wild sexual frenzy, lucky buggers, and I am sure that the fishing will now return to a normal state.
I am under no illusion that it will get a lot harder as the fish start to split up into smaller groups and I will be walking my legs down to stumps in an attempt to keep on top of them but I am looking forward to every minute of it and, who knows, maybe I will be lucky enough to hook a long forgotten monster one day soon.
Well I have been a bit lacking on the blog writing front recently and for that I apologies. I have recently moved house and been kept busy putting together cabinets and hanging shelves, erecting sheds and all the other paraphernalia that goes with the wonders of a re-location. I’m just glad that moving swims is so much easier!
My carp fishing has changed a lot in the last few weeks, as has the weather, and with spring finally sprung I moved on to the North Met pit in the Lee Valley.
I had heard a lot about the lake in the past but never actually set eyes on the place, although Google Earth is a wonderful tool for a bit of armchair exploration; it’s just a shame you can’t see the fish jumping on there.
It’s an interesting venue, being comprised of two separate lakes that are joined by a pipe that the fish freely swim through and plenty of islands, bays and channels make for a really varied and exciting layout.
My first trip coincided with a bit of early warm weather and, amazingly, I found some of the biggest fish in the lake all lazing in a snaggy half sunken bush at the bottom of a tiny bay, more like a finger of water really. Bearing in mind that the lake is around sixty acres I was surprised, and excited, to find a concentration of eight or nine fish in such close proximity, particularly as there was nobody fishing for them.
It didn’t take much figuring out as to where I was going to start my little campaign and I soon had two carp fishing rods set up in the nearest available swim and cast out in perfect positions to intercept any fish that left the snag and travelled back up the finger.
The important thing about snag fishing is to make sure you have taken the safest option possible and that anything you might hook is going to end up on the bank and not wrapped around an old sunken tree root. To this ends I had carefully scoured the water with my Polaroids and made sure my fishing line was clear of obstructions and, with everything set, I sat up close to the rods to wait.
To be honest I wasn’t actually expecting any action until the evening when the fish might decide to move out and I was just wondering if I may have set the traps too early when one of them went off.
I had only been fishing for an hour and already I was into my first carp on a new water.
Because of the nature of the swim I didn’t let him gain any line and it was a bit of a hit and hold tactic I employed really. I could feel him twisting and turning in an attempt to gain some ground and then, with a wave of his tail, he rolled over on the surface and knew he was heading for the net.
He wasn’t the biggest fish I’d ever caught, in fact he was probably the smallest of the whole bunch I’d seen in the snag, an out-runner that was not considered big or old enough to sit in the main snag with the big girls, but he was very welcomed all the same.
It’s always good to get that first fish and to get one so quickly was a real bonus, although the swim did die a bit of a death after this and the rest of the gang melted away throughout my first night without stopping for supper as they passed me by.
I knew that the Met would only be a short interlude for me during the spring as I had a water lined up for the beginning of the tradition season but I intended to try my hardest to get a few more over the coming weeks. Plenty of walking and staying very mobile was the plan and I was really looking forward to putting it into action, everything depended on the weather though and the water temperature needed to rise considerably before the fish would leave the cover of snags, reed-beds and the like and start using the lake properly, hopefully it would happen sooner rather than later.
Don’t forget to take a look at my Carp Fishing Video Diary!