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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.

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