Royal Berk­shire

Af­ter call­ing time on his pre­vi­ous wa­ter and a last­minute change of plans to a Euro­pean trip, Rob Beck­ett’s un­planned trip to a lake near Read­ing pro­vided him with just the type of venue he’d been look­ing for...

Carpworld - - MAINLINE -

It all started for me when I re­ceived my ticket through the post on June 16th. I knew, how­ever, that I still had a lot of an­gling to do else­where be­fore I would be able to start my new ad­ven­ture. As it turned out, I did man­age to get it done sooner than ex­pected and with one of my close friends, Liam, hav­ing time booked off work, it was game on. We set to, or­gan­is­ing a five-day trip, but in­stead of go­ing across the wa­ter, we de­cided to spend a cou­ple of days at Linch Hill and, on the way back down south, stop at Read­ing.

Af­ter the first part of the trip was done, we ar­rived at our sec­ond des­ti­na­tion. Open­ing the gates we didn’t know what to ex­pect... and what­ever ei­ther of us had in mind, it cer­tainly hadn’t in­cluded an empty car park and the tracks and paths all be­ing over­grown. It was at this point we knew we’d hit the jack­pot, and that the gate that we had just passed through, was go­ing to see a lot more of us in the near fu­ture! We set to ex­plor­ing what the lake had to of­fer and, within min­utes, we had found a lot of fish tucked up in a shal­low bay, on the back of the wind.

A quick sprint back to the van saw me grab the floater rod and a tub of my faith­ful Krill hook­able floaters – I had my first chance. Watch­ing the carp mov­ing in and out of the bay via a weed bed, I looked to po­si­tion just a sin­gle floater along this pa­trol route. In typ­i­cal floater-fish­ing style, I watched, shak­ing, as the carp were

pass­ing through just un­der­neath my floater un­til one made a bee­line for the hook­bait. It was all over in a mat­ter of sec­onds un­for­tu­nately, as the fish pow­ered off into the weed and the chance was gone. The pos­i­tive thing was, we had found them, and they were catch­able. So we set to ex­plor­ing the rest of the lake.

Find­ing fish scat­tered all over the pond, and armed with a bit of knowl­edge gained over time, about swims, we de­cided to set up in two spots along the mo­tor­way bank and see what the morn­ing would bring. First light ar­rived with­out so much as a liner, but what we hoped to see, we cer­tainly did! Pos­si­bly the most ac­tiv­ity I have ever seen on any one lake at one time. Show­ing fish were ev­ery­where and plumes of bub­bles were scat­tered all over a dif­fer­ent zone of the lake. Af­ter drink­ing our wa­ter dry with end­less cups of tea that morn­ing, we de­cided to have a lead-around else­where dur­ing the day and find out a bit more about depths, etc. – the idea be­ing that we could move round to the other zone later on should we wish, and get the traps set for the morn­ing.

The next morn­ing I awoke at first light, flicked the ket­tle on and walked to the front of the swim. At first I thought I had just missed a big show but look­ing at the di­rec­tion of the waves that were rolling past me, it was quite clear what was go­ing on – Liam had one and he was in the lake. Get in! I ran round and found him in over his waders, as he had stepped off the ledge – yet with a mas­sive grin on his face. It turned out to be one of the old orig­i­nals known as the Ran­dom Lin – and what a fish it was, what a mo­ment!

Af­ter do­ing the shots, we sat and had a few teas while watch­ing the wa­ter. It was quite clear that al­though there were still fish ev­ery­where, there were also dis­tinct areas in that gen­eral zone which they pre­ferred more than oth­ers. I started bait­ing two areas in front of my swim with around 40kg of krill boilies, krill pel­lets and some par­ti­cle. The thoughts be­hind such an amount of bait were sim­ple. Lit­tle to no an­gling pres­sure equals hun­gry carp. I made the con­scious de­ci­sion to come back three days later and fish over the week­end. It was on, like Don­key Kong!

I ar­rived back to the lake and as be­fore, it was empty and no trou­ble at all drop­ping into my swim and I soon had the areas baited ready for the morn­ing. Af­ter be­ing kept up all night with bleeps ga­lore I was in­cred­i­bly tired, with a mas­sive amount of doubt in my mind sur­round­ing my line lay into the area due to the vast amounts of Cana­dian pondweed in the lake. I was con­sid­er­ing a move to maybe get a dif­fer­ent an­gle. With that still fresh in mind and a tea in my hand, I saw a huge com­mon come clean out of the wa­ter, fol­lowed by a long line of fizz that headed di­rectly to­wards my spot. With that the left-han­der was away, cre­at­ing a mas­sive flat spot as the carp ac­cel­er­ated away from the area. Af­ter giv­ing me a proper run around from weedbed to weedbed, my first Read­ing carp was in the net... and what a carp it was!

On cloud nine af­ter that morn­ing’s events, I pulled the phone out and rang the In­dian restau­rant that was on speed dial. A nice curry ac­com­pa­nied by a few beers – that was a per­fect

end­ing to the day! I set­tled down for the night and with the traps set once more, I was ex­cited with what the next morn­ing might bring. Just be­fore first light I was awo­ken to that sweet sound of a Neville sing­ing its tune, I was away again! This turned out to be an­other rare old char­ac­ter, go­ing by the name of Pearly – mega! With some quick still shots sorted it was back to re­peat­ing the process ready for the next trip, hop­ing that I could still keep the spots go­ing!

The next trip couldn’t have come quick enough as Liam and I made the 150-mile jaunt back up to Read­ing. It turned out to be a bit of a funny old trip – con­di­tions weren’t that great, with mega-high pres­sures and I don’t know what else. It all just felt a bit stale re­ally. How­ever, on our fi­nal morn­ing, just af­ter I’d cooked up a ful­lenglish, with all the trim­mings, out of nowhere came the most sav­age take I think ei­ther of us have ever seen. The bob­bin smashed into the blank and the fish was tak­ing line from the clutch be­fore the Neville had even made a sound. Pan­icked, I ran to the rod and when I lifted it up I re­alised that the fish had taken off that quickly, the bloody clutch plate had spun off the front of the reel. Fran­ti­cally try­ing to put it all back to­gether, I man­aged to slow the fish down at the same time, and af­ter play­ing it for around 20 min­utes it popped up... It was quite pos­si­bly the small­est fish in the lake and it had given me a right run around! It was then that time again and we made ready for the home­ward jour­ney, but not be­fore bait­ing again heav­ily for a moon-phase on the next trip!

Un­for­tu­nately, Liam couldn’t make this trip with me, due to a hol­i­day he had booked with the fam­ily. Nev­er­the­less, I was prepped to the max and de­cided to fish the two days lead­ing up to this moon-phase, and stay un­til two days af­ter as well – lovely jub­bly! I rolled up to the gate around 5pm

and, low and be­hold the place was empty again. I couldn’t be­lieve my luck! Bar­row­ing the gear around to the plot, I im­me­di­ately started get­ting the rods out on the spots and emp­tied a good 5kg of bait, straight over both areas. I re­mem­ber sit­ting there that night with a mug of tea in my hand, look­ing out upon the flat calm lake with such an­tic­i­pa­tion of what the trip would bring. The next morn­ing I awoke at first light to see that a chap called Reece, who I had met on a pre­vi­ous trip, had turned up in the dark. No sooner had the mist parted and the sun crept out, than one of my rods was away again! This fish turned out to be an­other rare vis­i­tor to the bank and was one of the snub-nosed com­mons. What a per­fect start!

Hand­ily, Reece was on hand for the shots and I man­aged to get the rod back on the money with lit­tle dis­tur­bance. Sit­ting there buzzing and gaz­ing at the shots on my cam­era screen, the rod I had only just put back out sig­nalled an­other take! Wow, what a morn­ing this was turn­ing out to be. Af­ter a long bat­tle be­tween weedbeds, I man­aged to slip the fish into the net and af­ter peel­ing the mesh back I was in shock... It was the Ran­dom Lin again – cer­tainly a fish I was not ex­pect­ing to see con­sid­er­ing Liam had caught her a few trips prior. A quick phone call to the boys at Sticky and 30 min­utes later they ar­rived to do the shots – per­fect!

Once I had come back down from cloud nine, I man­aged to pull my­self to­gether and re­peat the process – bait­ing up both zones again, get­ting the rods out with the min­i­mum of fuss and set­tling down ready for the morn­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, what had been work­ing up un­til now was not go­ing to be the case for the next 48 hours. Dur­ing the days I would reel in and go for a walk, just in case they had moved to a dif­fer­ent area, but noth­ing was show­ing any­where! I just car­ried on re­peat­ing the process – af­ter all, con­sis­tency is the key and I had faith that

they would turn back up on my fi­nal morn­ing.

The next morn­ing came and it was a very wet one at that. We all love a mis­er­able pack down in the rain, don’t we! Af­ter load­ing the bar­row and reel­ing one of my rods in, I no­ticed a head poke out and then an­other. I was al­ready soaked, so I de­cided there was no harm in giv­ing it an­other half hour and, with that, the tip on one of the two rods left pulled round and I was in. This turned out to be a carp known as White Tips – one of the old ones I had seen bask­ing, dur­ing the sunny and high pres­sure pe­riod a cou­ple of trips back. No sooner had I got it in the net and un­hooked the TA size 4 from its bot­tom lip, than I had a take on the last re­main­ing rod – how’s your luck? With only one net set up, I had to try and get this one in as quickly as pos­si­ble, try­ing not to let White Tips es­cape in the mean­time.

But, with a lit­tle bit of the old lady luck, it slipped into the net no prob­lems and I couldn’t be­lieve it – it was One Pec. What a brace! A quick phone call to the main man, Scotty K, let­ting him know that I had two in the net and did he fancy

get­ting wet – and he was on his way. We pro­ceeded to both get drowned like rats! Lovely times in­deed.

Af­ter the last trip I was un­sure of when I would be able to get back down, so there was no prep work in­volved be­fore my de­par­ture. I would have to set­tle for start­ing with a blank can­vas again, if you like. How­ever, just a week later and with my old mate Liam back in ac­tion and ready for a 48hour trip, the van was loaded and off we went. We got to the lake and this time there were cars in the car park – but no­body was in the area we had been fish­ing pre­vi­ously. Af­ter find­ing them ab­so­lutely ev­ery which way we turned, I de­cided to drop back in the zone I had been fish­ing whilst Liam got to work set­ting up at the other end. We met in the days for a walk­a­bout as usual and even had a nice old curry on the sec­ond night.

Much as be­fore, I re­peated the suc­cess­ful process of my pre­vi­ous trips, but for al­most 48-hours I had not so much as a bleep. In the back of my mind I knew they would turn up on that sec­ond morn­ing for sure! Af­ter chat­ting away to Liam on the phone, dis­cussing what we had learnt this trip and hatch­ing a plan for next time, one of my rods was away. I pulled into the fish and it just went solid – not good! Af­ter be­ing at a com­plete stale­mate for 20 min­utes, I had no other op­tion but to climb on­board an im­pro­vised, float­ing de­vice and reel my­self out to the fish. No sooner had I got above the weedbed than, as is al­ways the case, it popped up and surged off again drag­ging me around the lake. Fi­nally, af­ter slow­ing it up just be­fore we ended up in the swim op­po­site, the carp’s head came up to the sur­face and I quickly slid the net un­der­neath a proper one. Yes – what a bat­tle! I then pro­ceeded to spend the next 30 min­utes get­ting back to the swim, where Liam was ex­pec­tantly wait­ing to lend me a help­ing hand. I couldn’t be­lieve it, it was a mir­ror known as Floppy Tail and an­other 40-pounder to boot. I was buzzing and I don’t ac­tu­ally re­mem­ber driv­ing home that day – it was all a blur.

A week or so later I de­cided to prep the kit and go it alone, mid­week, for a few days. I was aware I had a lot of stuff to deal with at home and the fish­ing would slowly start to dwindle as we headed into win­ter, so now was the time. I ar­rived at the lake and it was empty – per­fect, I thought. I got straight back in the swim from the last visit, but it

just didn’t feel right. So, af­ter do­ing the night and get­ting up just be­fore dawn, I de­cided on the move across to The Point swim on the op­po­site bank, as I had seen a few sub­tle shows close into that bank. No sooner had I got the gear round there, than out popped a head, just a few rod lengths off­shore. Af­ter closer in­spec­tion, it had shown right over a tiny lit­tle gravel seam that was sur­rounded by soft silt. I re­mem­ber think­ing and chuck­ling away to my­self: ‘that’s that one sorted then’. There was a lit­tle bay just around from The Point and I found a nice area in there, next to some snags. I had seen a few fish in the bay, on my way round too. That evening came and just af­ter 9pm the rod in the bay was away. This was a lit­tle dou­ble-fig­ure com­mon and af­ter a few, wet self-takes I slipped it back. Noth­ing came the next morn­ing and I checked the snags but noth­ing ap­peared to be in there now ei­ther. Had they moved back to the other side I won­dered? My head was telling me oth­er­wise and I talked my­self into stay­ing put, based on the ‘show’ I’d seen the day be­fore. So I con­cen­trated on get­ting set for the last night of the trip.

Sure enough, I was awo­ken by that same rod rip­ping off early the next morn­ing. Dur­ing the night it seemed as though ev­ery weedbed in the lake had drifted in front of me, and I found my­self watch­ing the fish rolling on the sur­face some 50 yards out whilst I was rooted to the bank, play­ing it through dense weed that had ac­cu­mu­lated no more than two rod lengths out – great!

How­ever, by tak­ing my time and adopt­ing the tried ‘n’ tested ‘slowly, slowly catchy mon­key’ method, I got the fish all the way back un­til ev­ery­thing fi­nally ground to a halt some 10 yards out from the bank. But now I had an­other dilemma – I could see the fish, but, couldn’t quite reach be­yond the weed. So I had no other op­tion but to get the net be­hind the fish while un­der ten­sion, drop the rod and then, as quickly as pos­si­ble, shuf­fle the fish in tail first and hope for the best! Fi­nally, peel­ing the net back, I was greeted with a dis­tinc­tive clus­ter of scales amongst the weed – the king of the lake was mine. Af­ter an all too brief time at the lake, it had now come to an end with the cap­ture of this stun­ning fish.

So I had no other op­tion but to get the net be­hind the fish while un­der ten­sion, drop the rod and then, as quickly as pos­si­ble, shuf­fle the fish in tail first and hope for the best!

BE­LOW Liam with the Ran­dom Lin

BE­LOW A cool, lit­tle com­mon. The spot was build­ing

RIGHT He had to do a lot of work on the areas first though...

LEFT Rob baited his spots heav­ily with washe­d­out Krill

BE­LOW Rob bent into an­other one dur­ing a morn­ing feed­ing spell

LEFT The lovely old, Ran­dom Lin, an­other of the wa­ter’s gems

BOT­TOM RIGHT Rob uses bot­tom baits and wafters once the fish have spawned

BE­LOW BOT­TOM The clue is in the name. A lovely, dark mir­ror with huge pecs, and white tips adorn­ing its tail­fish

BE­LOW TOP A dull, driz­zly morn­ing – and a carp in the net

RIGHT A mid-30 com­mon, known as One Pec, what an im­mac­u­late fish

BE­LOW CLUS­TER, ONE OF THE carp he dearly wanted to catch

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