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...
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