Categories
Joe Chappell

Reservoir Diaries Part 1

Rochford Reservoir is a venue I have fished a lot this year and a place I’m going to be putting some good time into over the course of the year, so it’s likely there will be more reservoir diaries to come.  It’s a day ticket lake, however they do offer a set number of memberships each year (I was lucky enough to secure one) and you must be a member to fish nights. The stock mainly consist of small commons. I’ve only ever caught 2 mirrors (and lost one at the net), but recently Nick, the owner, and Graham, the head bailiff, have introduced quite a few new fish up to the 29lb mark. It also has a good stock of bream, roach, perch, chub, eels and catfish up to 48lb.

The lake record carp and catfish

I’ve fished the res three times since I last wrote about it (https://www.essexanglers.co.uk/day-ticket-action-and-tidal-river-blanking/) blanking the first time but managing to catch the other two times. When I blanked, all my favourite swims were taken, so I opted to fish the shallower end by the inflow. There were lots of fish on the surface, but any time I put any bait out I was plagued by the gulls and ducks. I opted to just cast my bait past cruising fish and slowly bring it in front of their path in the hope that they might be interested. After a dozen or so casts, one fish came up and mouthed the bait but failed to hook itself. After another hour or so, I finally managed to hook one. It was an explosive take and the surface erupted. It wasn’t a big fish, but I was thankful to finally get a bite. Unluckily, the fish came off after a minute or so. I tried for the rest of the day and switched to fishing on the bottom, but I had the same result as most people fishing that day, a blank.

Climing a tree to gain a vantage point

On my second visit it was a bit cooler. I arrived around 9am and set up by the outlet. I didn’t bring any floater gear, so I set up the bottom bait rods. The morning passed uneventful and by about 2pm I was ready to move. I moved to the other side of the lake and cast one rod to the island and lowered one in the margins with a scattering of pellets over the top. It wasn’t until 4 hours later that my rod to the island burst into action. I was rewarded with a small common, probably around 7lb. With no one around, I had to do a self-take, so please excuse the fact I’m half headless.

This brings us to my most recent trip on Tuesday. I got to the lake pretty late as my mum wanted a lie in so I wasn’t too confident I’d get a good swim. Thankfully, most anglers were either at work or too tired to wake up at 9 o’clock and I managed to get the whole road bank to myself. The wind hand blown a load of scum into the corner, and I was certain the fish would be feeding on the naturals within it. I set up one rod with a catfish rig and cast it midwater. With my other rod, I cast it tight to the island with a 12mm sticky baits signature wafter, and a little mesh bag of pellets. Whenever I’m fishing, I can’t sit still. So I was walking between two sets of snags, watching the water for a few minutes while waiting for a bite. I saw movement in the snags to my left, so threw a few mixers in. Sure enough, after a couple minutes a hungry carp came to the surface and slurped them up. I rushed to set up my other rod with simple freelining tactics. I rubbed some Vaseline on the last few feet of line (this helps the line float and prevents the fish from spooking off of the sinking line) and reeled in my other carp rod. I dropped the floater into position and waited. It didn’t take long, maybe 10 minutes before a carp had slurped down my hookbait and I was in. It was only a small fish, and this was probably for the better as I’m not sure I would have been able to keep anything decent from tangling up in the snags.

After that fish, the spot went dead. I crept up to the right hand snags. There were already swirls coming up and I could see the odd tail. I tried my previous approach, a freelined soft hookable floater but the fish weren’t on the surface. I had some bread that was rock hard and 2 weeks old in my bucket, so I got it a bit wet, then mushed it around the hook. I dropped it in place and before long my rod hooped over. It was another small common. I was gutted because I had seen a really nice fish on the spot. I did a self-take, slipped it back and I stuck my carp rod back out to the island.

About half an hour later, Jack turned up. He hadn’t planned on fishing, but he was stuck inside and thought it would be better than staring at four walls all day. Not long after he turned up, I had a bite from the island. The reward was a nice double common, with a nasty scar which had obviously been there a while. It fell to a 12mm wafter on a German rig, tied using 20lb Fox Camotex Soft and a size 8 curve shank hook. I’m not saying something else wouldn’t have worked, that’s just what I used.

We stayed in the swim for a couple hours and Jack had a couple of missed bites that we think may have been bream. I was confident where I was, but Jack wanted to move so we moved to the other corner on the road bank. I switched my catfish rig over to a carp rig and fished both rods in the margins with a scattering of pellet over each. It was about 5 and I was getting hungry, so I reeled my rods in ready to pop down the road to Sainsburys. As I passed the next swim, some man had caught a nice carp and couldn’t find his scales, so I ran back for my scales and weighed it for him. As I was putting my scales back in my bag, I noticed massive swirls over my spot. I lowered my rod back in, but after a few minutes the swirls disappeared and so did I, to the shop. When I got back, it didn’t look like there was anything on the spot. I lowered my rig down and saw a giant swirl as something must have swam away. I can only think I must have spooked whatever was down there. I fished until about half 7, but the only other thing I caught was a stinky, slimy bream about an hour before packing up.

I was starting to get hungry, and I had some lovely soup waiting for me at home. I called my dad and he picked me up. My search for a Rochford twenty continues.

Find Rochford Reservoir on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/markshallfisheries

My instagram: @joec.carp

Jacks instagram @jacks_angling_life

Categories
Joe Chappell

Ramble on the River Roach

Last Thursday, my mate Jack and I did a quick afternoon session on the River Roach. We were on our bikes so had to pack light, a rod, reel, net, some bait and some end tackle was all we needed. The Roach is a small river, running from the River Crouch near Paglesham to the outskirts of Rayleigh and all the way into Southend and Priory Park, where it is known as Prittle Brook. Not much of the river is fishable for course species, only a couple of miles and access is difficult throughout most of the stretch. Most notably, the river is connected to Rochford Reservoir via an inflow and outflow. This means that there is a constant exchange of water, but also when the river floods the two bodies of water connect and the fish can move between the two. This has led to numerous carp being trapped in the river, including a rumoured 15lb carp!

We started by fishing a swim by the outflow from the lake into the river. I started with simple tactics, a size 8 hook freelined with a little bit of bread on the hook. A carp came up and snuffled the bait as I let it flow through the deeper part of the swim but it quickly spooked off. I let the bread drift through another 4 or 5 times with no results. I had caught a carp and a chub with this tactic before here so I decided to switch up a bit and opted to use a few casters and a couple of maggots on the hook instead. I pinched a small shot about 6 inches away from the hook and cast into the deeper part of the swim. After 20 or so seconds the rod tip started to tap and I had caught my first fish. A lovely perch.

Because the swim is so tight, only person can fish it, so after my perch I let Jack have a go. He opted for a small pole float, a size 16 hook, and two maggots (a bit more finesse than me). After a couple of trots down he had one, it was species number two, a lovely little chub. Meanwhile I was changing over to a float and size 12 hook. Although freelining had worked, the bite detection was poor and I thought a float would give better presentation.

I tried for another ten minutes but the spot had gone dead so we decided to move a bit upstream to a swim known as The Pipe. It’s probably the deepest stretch and holds the most fish, I’ve seen videos of big chub there and have seen numerous carp there myself too. It was also possible for both of us to fish at the same time. Jack caught a few roach and rudd, and I had a small chub, but I think we spooked the bigger fish.

We moved further upstream, where the river passes through woodland and fields. Jack caught another small chub, but I didn’t catch anything else. All the fish we caught that day were on maggots and casters. I’ll definitely be back to the river soon and next time I think I’ll need to be a bit stealthier. River fishing is something completely new to me so I still have so much to learn. But I’m making it my mission to catch a 2lb chub from the river this year.

Be sure to check out my Instagram @joec.carp and Jacks Instagram @jacks_angling_life and stay tuned to hear about my recent sessions at Rochford Res and North Benfleet Hall Fishery.

Categories
Joe Chappell

Slimy Surprises

Last Thursday, my dad joined me on a 24 hour session to Chigborough fisheries in Heybridge, near Maldon. It was my second visit and his first. We were hoping to catch some stunning carp and beat my dads very poor PB of 15lb. I knew there were some stonking bream and tench present too so my dad took his feeder rod in the hope of catching a few of them while waiting for an elusive carp.

I was working Thursday, so we prepared most of the gear Wednesday evening ready to leave at about 6pm on Thursday. My dad picked me up from work at 5 and we loaded up the car and ate some dinner before leaving. We made a pit stop at Sainsburys on the way to buy some essential supplies (bacon, sweets and beer) for the session ahead. We arrived at the fishery at around 7 and after a short walk around decided on a swim. We didn’t see anything on our walk and due to the fading light, we picked our swim based on the advice of one of the friendly regulars. I set the rods up, meanwhile my dad went back to the car to grab the bivvy and bed chairs.

At around half nine, my dad had a screaming run on his right hand rod which had been cast into open water. He lifted into the fish, but it didn’t slow down. It just peeled the line off as if the reel was on freespool. After taking line for at least 5 minutes solid, the fish began to slow down, and my dad started to gain some line back. However, it was short lived and the fish went on another run. This time it was shorter than the first run and eventually my dad started to win this battle of attrition.  In the middle of fighting with the fish, my dad saw a huge owl fly about 5 feet over his head which just made the whole event that bit more special. We were certain that he must have hooked into one of the biggest carp in the lake or at least, a catfish. Whatever it was, it was obviously tired and came in like a sack of spuds after the initial runs, which took at least 100 yards of line. Eventually we saw it surface about ten metres out and it looked gargantuan. I struggled to get the net under it but after a few attempts it was in the net. It weighed in at a whopping 31lb, beating the biggest fish my dad had ever caught which was previously an 18lb conger eel, caught 25 years ago. I took some photos for my dad, but he was struggling to hold it by himself. I gave him a hand and the man in the next swim kindly took some photos of us holding it together. It was a team effort after all.

31lb catfish

We put the rod back out and recast the rest of the rods with fresh pva bags for the last time before trying to get some sleep. It was a restless night, and both of us struggled to get much sleep. As soon as we nodded off one of the alarms would let off a single bleep or a carp would crash in the margins. We were woken at around half four by an aborted take on my dads left hand rod in the margins. He was knackered so I recast for him. By now I was wide awake and the birds were waking up, letting off their morning song. I decided to recast the rest of the rods and I went for a little walk a few swims down to see what was happening. There was a rustle in the bushes and these two animals ran out in front of me, fighting each other. I jumped back in fright before peering forwards for a closer look. I have no idea what they were, but I suspect they were either stoats, weasels, pine martens, polecats or American mink. I still have no idea as they all look the same to me, slender and dark. I returned to our swim and enjoyed the peace while my dad snored. I tied a few rigs and set up his feeder rod ready for when he woke up.

By 6am, the bream had woken up too. My bobbin sort of danced up and down for a few seconds and I lifted into the fish. It put up little fight and came in easy, but it was an absolute slab weighing 5lb 6oz. It was the biggest bream I had ever seen, and we weighed it and took a few photos. We made some bacon sandwiches and enjoyed our breakfast but were soon interrupted again, this time by a nice tench.

5lb 6oz bream

I switched 2 of my rods over to big baits, 18mm boilies topped with fake corn. And I kept one rod with a 12mm sticky baits signature wafter fished on a German rig. This rod didn’t stay in the water long all day. Throughout the day, my dad and I caught numerous bream and tench, most were between 2 and 4lb however the odd one was a bit bigger. Whatever we tried we couldn’t get amongst the carp.

A nice tench of around 4lb

We were debating a move around 12pm, but we were both so tired we ended up sleeping for a couple hours. By the time we woke up, a move would have been pointless so we remained where we were and continued catching bream, tench and one decent size roach. Towards the end of the day my dad managed a lovely bream of 7lb 12oz, it wasn’t a carp however it was still a specimen fish that some people would spend years trying to catch.

The monster bream

It’s safe to say that after 24 hours of catching, catfish bream and tench, we were covered in slime and absolutely stunk, but we loved every second of it.

Categories
Joe Chappell

The River Crouch Bass Adventure

I must have caught a few dozen sea bass in my life before. Nothing massive, the biggest probably a couple pound. Most were caught on bait and a few were caught jigging feathers. I’ve always wanted to catch one on a lure, the light gear and constant movement involved in lure fishing is what drew me in. A couple years ago I bought myself a designated lure rod, for pike, perch, and bass. It’s weighted at 8-20g, although I have thrown heavier lures without any issues.

I finished school at half twelve and the plan was to do a few chores around the house while my dad finished working from home for the day. After my chores were done and my dad finished work, we jumped in the car and headed out. The tides were perfect for late afternoon and we estimated that we could probably fish until the light faded around 8.30pm. The venue in question was the River Crouch. It’s only 10 minutes away from us and we’ve had mixed results there before. We’ve probably fished at South Fambridge 5 or six times in the last couple of years, always using bait. We’ve never really bagged up there, blanking a few times and catching a few schooly bass, eels and whiting on other occasions.

We arrived at the river for around 5.30pm, and we were fishing within minutes. That’s the beauty of lure fishing, you just attach a reel to the rod, a lure to the line and cast out. High tide wasn’t until 22:20 so initially, there weren’t many places to fish. We started by fishing just by the steps as you can walk right up to the low water there. Elsewhere along the river with a few exceptions, its mostly thick horrible mud that sucks the shoes from you’re feet if you step in it. I was looking where I was stepping due to the uneven rocks and out of the corner of my eye saw a flash of gold. I went for a closer look and it turned out to be an iPhone, it had obviously been there a while as the battery had expanded and the screen popped off, but it was still pretty cool to find a phone that some poor soul had probably dropped in the water.

We walked for a little while stopping and fishing every few minutes wherever the shoreline allowed. It was nice and cloudy but still warm and flat calm with a nice breeze, perfect fishing conditions. We stopped for a drink and tasted some fresh wild samphire that grows along the river before fishing at the last spot which is the Saltings – a long, deep grassy bank that pushes out into the river by 30m or so. I kept casting my lure, trying different retrieves, fast, slow, stop and go.

Wild Samphire

I then cast a lure out really badly which went out about 20 yards. Unhappy with the distance I reeled in as fast as I could so that I could recast. As I was reeling in there was a flash of silver in the water and an eruption near the surface. Fish on! My heart was beating out of my chest and the fish kept zigzagging left and right. It was a precarious descent to the waters edge and I prayed that the fish stayed on. I brought it in and found only one hook remained, clinging onto its bony mouth. I grabbed it by the lips and pulled it out of the water. We took some quick photos before putting it back, ensuring it recovered and swam away strong. I estimate it weighed around 2lb but gave an excellent fight on my light gear.

We continued fishing for a couple hours, making our way back towards the car. We saw a few fish show in the marginal weeds, but our lines remained slack, and there was nothing else to report. Although we only caught one between us, (and it was my dads eighth blank in a row for both sea & course) it was still good to get out for a few hours in the evening and we both learnt a lot on what was our first lure session in UK waters. Anyway, his luck was about to change on our next session, check back tomorrow to find out how he beat three PB’s in one session.

Categories
Joe Chappell

My First Carp

Now, I caught my first carp when I was 10 but I’ve always thought I never really caught it. It was a Nash open day at local lake, and the absolute legend that is Alan Blair handed me the rod, with a carp on the other end. Before this, I had only ever caught a few tiddlers on the float at a scout camp and been sea fishing with my Dad and blanked. It’s fair to say I caught the bug that day.

So after catching the fish pictured above, I went on to catch another one. This one I actually placed the rod in the water about a foot out, and it ripped off within minutes. I went on to kiss it, with Alan saying “Good lad” and another lad saying “We’ve got a carp angler here”. Well they weren’t wrong.

So there’s the story of the first 2 carp I caught back in 2013. After a couple years of begging my parents to go freshwater fishing again, and amassing some gear from family friends, sports direct and decathlon, our old next door neighbour took us fishing. We caught a few species, lots of roach and my neighbour even managed a tench and pike.  After that, me and my dad slowly started to have more of an idea of what we were doing and after a couple of trips we started to catch small fish on the float frequently. Some of those fish we caught were carp but we didn’t realise, they were a few inches long so I don’t really class them as my first carp.

So that leads me to what I would class as my first carp. It was a few days after Christmas of 2015 and my mum, dad and I went down to a new lake called Stambridge fisheries. We set up and after catching a few silvers on the float, I set up my carp rod. Now I had some idea of what I was doing after watching hours of Carl and Alex on YouTube. I can’t remember quite how it happened, but I remember looking at my rod on the alarm, and the rod tip was bending around, and the line was moving in the water. The cheap Dunlop alarms I owned had obviously broken as it was no screaming run like I had seen on YouTube. I Lifted into the fish and it was on. It was a mirror carp, around 5lb, and the first proper carp I had caught without any help. I went on to catch 3 carp that day, and ever since then every carp has been just as magical.

Categories
Joe Chappell

The Chigborough Chunk

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a trip to Chigborough farm and fisheries. I had visited once before to try a bit of fly fishing with a friend’s dad, but that was over a year ago. On this day, the target was carp and my fingers were crossed for a twenty. Once again, my mum was joining me on this adventure. Although she never fishes herself, she always loves to come with me, even if it’s just reading her book, watching the birds and having a nice chat.

A trout I caught the previous year

The previous night I had ridden my bike down to the local co-op around an hour before closing time. My hope was that they had a load of reduced bread and boy, did they. I think I spent about £2.50 and I got about £15 worth of bread. I was hoping that the fish would be in the upper layers and that I would be able to catch them on the surface. If they were, then I was definitely prepared. I spent hours that evening prepping bait, rigs and doing some final research on the venue in question.

The morning arrived and we began the half hour journey north. We arrived around half eight, loaded the gear on the barrow and went for a walk. We walked around May Water, the largest lake on site. We found a group of fish cruising on the surface between the weed around the back section of the lake. Armed with some mixers and the mountain of bread I had bought the previous night we got a few fish taking off the surface. We settled down and while I set up my one rod, my mum kept a steady flow of mixers going in. Before long, the fish had lost interest and the gulls had started their onslaught. We crept around the back of the lake for the next couple of hours, firing out mixers to uninterested fish and feeding the ducks and gulls. My mum thought it would be easier to jump over a gate and take a shortcut, while I went the long way around by the lake with my fully loaded barrow. A deer startled me and ran off into the bushes. Unfortunately my mum didn’t see it and was gutted (that’s what you get for taking shortcuts).  After a chat with a fellow angler and one of the bailiffs who works tirelessly to ensure the fishery is in pristine condition, we decided to make our way over to the back lake, Scraley Mere. Here we settled into a swim and enjoyed some lunch for a few hours. The abundance of rudd kept us occupied while the carp rods remained motionless.

We decided it was time for yet another move and based on the bailiff’s advice we moved to one of the long chuck swims on May Water that were vacant. We actually set up in the wrong swim and were in the swim adjacent to the long chuck swims, but still had access to the same water. I put a few spombs of bait out over each rod. One was about 12ft off the island and the other was cast to the right, between two showing fish.  The rod to the island burst into action, the bobbin slammed against the rod blank and dropped back down again (I managed to catch it on video). I lifted into the fish, but there was nothing there. Whatever had picked my bait up (I prayed it was just one of the numerous bream or tench present) had done me.

I cast the rod back out and was looking at the video of the bite when my other rod burst into action.  This time there was something on the end. The fish peeled line off the spool and weaved left and right. After a good ten minutes it was in the net and beaten.  It was a beautiful, deep bodied common of just over 19lb. A few weeks ago, before it spawned, it was likely a twenty.  We took some photos, slipped her back and got the rod back on the spot.

The session was drawing to an end, and with only an hour or so before we had to be leaving at 18:30, I decided to recast both rods. Both went to the right where I had seen more fish show and put another two spombs of bait out. My efforts were rewarded within minutes and the rod that was to the island, started to beep. After a few seconds of fighting the fish, it became apparent it was a bream and after unhooking it in the water, the rod was right back on the spot. 15 minutes passed and the right hand rod went into meltdown. This was no bream. It was a pristine 17lb common. Photos taken, and back she went.

It was nearly time to go so I cast the rod out, left it on the deck and started to pack away my alarms. The time came when all that was left was to reel in the rods. I reeled one rod in and packed it away, turned around and the other rod tip was tapping. I started reeling and the shaking fight confirmed my suspicions, a lovely tench. With the cradle packed away, we grabbed the backup mat and took a few quick photos before making our way back to the car. On the way back round, talking to a few other anglers, it became apparent that I had done pretty well with most people not catching any carp that day.

Categories
Joe Chappell

Day Ticket Action and Tidal River Blanking

This weekend, I was fortunate enough to go fishing on both Saturday and Sunday. I can’t remember the last time I went fishing two days in a row. On the Saturday, I fished my local lake Rochford reservoir, it doesn’t take too long to get to and I’m also a member. On the Sunday, I wanted to try something a little different and completely out of my comfort zone, river carping. The venue in question was the river crouch.

On the Saturday, my mum dropped me off around 9, and after a quick walk around I decided to fish from the disabled platform on the road bank. I had never fished this swim before, I would have preferred the swims further down the bank. It was a tricky cast to the island with willows overhanging both above me and on the island. I set up my rods, one in the margins to my right with a 15mm sticky baits signature popup on my jcm rig. Over this rod I scattered about half a handful of pellets and around half a dozen crumbed boilies. The other rod, after about four attempts landed perfectly within 2 feet of the island. On this rod I used the same rig but with a 10mm white popup.

Graham, the bailiff came round to check my membership and have a quick chat and just as he started off again my rod tip wrapped around in a savage take. After a short battle I netted my first carp of the day, a beautiful 12lb 12oz mirror carp. This one came from the Island. A fellow angler kindly took some photos for me and we slipped her back.

I went on to catch another 4 carp that day bringing the total to 5. Two were from the margins, and three were from the Island, all were caught on a jcm rig. Now if your wondering what exactly a jcm rig is, it stands for Joe Chappell’s Multi Rig. I’ve been testing out a new way of tying the multi rig, you will be hearing more of this soon.

Sunday came, and after a nice lie in and mowing the grass me and my mum set off on our adventure. While preparing the gear, I noticed a crucial bit of kit missing. I had left my polaroid glasses in my dad’s car, which was currently two hundred miles away in Lancashire, this was a bit of a setback as I knew these would be important for spotting those carp in the muddy depths of the river Crouch.

We got to the river at about half 12, left the gear in the car (big mistake) and went for a walk. We were walking for about an hour, checking out likely looking spots and looking for carp. We managed to spot numerous different butterflies, grasshoppers and even a slow worm, but no carp for now. On the way back, walking through the tall grasses that cover the banks of the river, my mum fell in a hole, luckily it wasn’t too big, but she did get covered in mud.

We were almost back at the car when we saw a little roach or something skip across the surface, after a short look around it became apparent there was something bigger in the swim too, a carp, probably around 8lb. It had its head down in the clay and was clouding up the water. Now you see why it was a mistake leaving the gear in the car. Well I grabbed the car keys off my mum and ran back to the car, grabbed a net, mat, rod, reel, pack of hooks and loaf of bread. I came back to the swim, but the fish was gone.

We spent the next hour or so walking up and down, looking for fish but found nothing. My mum was getting tired, so we decided to settle down in a swim. There was an area of flattened grass, which looked like someone had been fishing. I hoped that maybe I could jump on their spot which they may have been pre baiting. We sat and waited for a few hours, but the alarms remained silent. We did however, manage to spot a little field mouse who had a taste for my boilies, as well as buzzards, a sparrow hawk, a pair of kestrels and some goldfinches and greenfinches. We may not have caught anything, but it was a nice day out in the sun, and we spotted some wicked wildlife too.

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to follow us on instagram @essexanglers and like our facebook page. If you would like to check out my instagram it’s @joec.carp

Categories
Joe Chappell

A ‘Lucky’ First Trip

Since we have been allowed to fish again in mid-May, I decided to fish as many new waters this year as possible, wanting to move on from the local day ticket lakes where the average fish are single figure, and to break the 20lb barrier. I think it’s fair to say I have been fairly successful, fishing 4 new waters, breaking the 20lb barrier and beating my PB twice.

On my latest trip I fished Priory Park, it’s an urban lake of barely an acre in size however it has some beautiful specimens swimming inside. I’ve visited the lake a number of times, on my lunch breaks from school (I go to school 5 minutes away), and on dog walks and days outs. Having scrutinised every recent post on the Facebook group, and talking to a few locals I ordered some bait from a local bait company. The fish in Priory get caught a lot on this bait, giving me confidence.

The Rig, with an 18mm Bounty Hunter Boilie

The day came when I was to fish it, despite having enough rigs to last me a lifetime, I had tied a couple of new ones ready for the following morning. The approach was to be simple, yet deadly effective, a size 8 micro barbed curve shank, tied in a simple hair rig, around 6 inches long. My dad dropped me off around 8am, a bit later than I had hoped as I’d heard it could be hard to get a swim. After arriving at the lake, and having a short walk around, it was apparent that there was only 3 empty swims, one was right in the corner, the other 2 were adjacent, and had a few fish cruising on the top. I chose the swim with fish cruising on the top, in the hope that they might drop down to feed. (Surface fishing is banned) I decided to fish one rod mid water, with a scattering of boilies and corn around it, and the other one, a single hookbait cast around 10ft off the island. After a chat with a few of the anglers beside me, it became apparent that not much had been coming out the past couple days, one person had caught one shortly before I arrived, but apart from that, the night had passed uneventful for the other 8 or so anglers.

The Rods

My rods hadn’t been in the water longer than a couple hours when my rod to the island burst into action. The fish kited around to my left, wallowing on the surface, I could see it was a big fish and my heart started pounding like a drum and bass record. With another burst of power, the fish tried to bury itself in some snags to my left, but within minutes the battle was over and my newfound neighbour had netted her for me. It was a common. And it was BIG. (For my standards) “I think it’s Lucky” he said. My mind was blown, had I just caught the biggest common in the lake? We brought her onto the bank and after comparing a few photos, our suspicions were verified. I had caught her. A fellow angler kindly took some photos on his camera, and I was given a soaking. It was a new PB after all, 24lb 4oz. After a short chat, and finding out that the fish was likely to be nearly as old as my parents, we slipped her back. I phoned my mum immediately after, I had been telling her the names of the fish I was hoping to catch the previous night, Lucky being one of them.

The Soaking

I put the rod back out on the spot, with the hope of another bite but no matter what I tried that day I couldn’t buy one. Zigs just off the bottom, zigs just under the surface, midwater, to the island. Nothing else was working.

The Zig

So that sounds like it, end of story, but not quite. I’ve been in lakes many times, to retrieve rigs, to save tethered fish, gosh I even fell in once, but they are all stories for other days. Well on that Wednesday I was in once again, this time to rescue a seagull. It had got its wing caught in some line on the island and, being a park lake with lots of people around the poor bird started to attract a crowd. Well we all know how the story goes, a video of a dead bird goes viral on Facebook and angling is banned. Well it was hot anyway and I didn’t mind going for a swim. So, I reeled the rods in, took my net around ready to jump in. Rolled my shorts up and hopped in, it soon became apparent that it was a bit deeper than expected. Well out I got, the shorts came off, and back in I went. Now I didn’t want to get my t-shirt wet, so I took that off too. Ah I left my hat on, I’ll Frisbee it to the bank. Nope. Forgot I left my glasses on top, ready to spot that next carp. Well the glasses started to disappear in front of my eyes a good 10 feet away, good job I had the net, no worries because I scooped them up with a sigh of relief. Well back to the seagull, I managed to get it untangled, got the line out of the tree too so that was my heroic action for the day. Somehow it wasn’t a disaster and with a round of applause from the growing crowd I made my way back to my swim, in the hope that the Carp Gods would recognise my bravery. They didn’t but it was a great day out and I met some cracking anglers. A day I’m not sure I will ever forget.