Motorway – summer 1991
That first exciting trip to a new water is something every carp angler will have experienced. What we take from it can be used in future years to make further ‘first trips’ more productive. If you don’t learn from the inevitable mistakes then you will probably continue to make them, but if you do, then believe me, little will phase you... Last month I looked at waters I tackled in the 80s (Tyram, Drax, Three Lakes, Willow and Tilery), and this month there are five more from the nineties and noughties that shaped my future. Looking back, it all seems so daft, but, by the late eighties I still felt I hadn’t had a ‘big carp’ – despite having them to 28lb 4oz from Three Lakes on a day-ticket basis. Despite catching a stack from Tilery, both ‘Big Un’ and ‘Sumo’ had evaded me, although I did drop the former at the net, when the lead hit the shelf and nicely bounced the hook out. My fishing partner at the time, Andy Bramley, had started to fish Motorway with Mally Roberts, which could also be fished on the H&DAA permit, and was really enjoying it. Mally had already nailed the biggest fish at upper 20s (it became known as Mally’s Fish in the early years) and it appeared that the fish were really growing. Personally, I hated the place, as it was situated slap bang between the M62 and a housing estate, which was definitely not my idea of carp fishing, to put it lightly.
However, if I was going to catch a big carp I needed to get my head into gear and grow a pair and get on with it. The Tilery was starting to frustrate me and, much as Motorway was not my idea of fun, I was young enough and daft enough to put up with it for a stupid big carp. That was the easy bit saying I’d do it, but now I’d have to get on with it. I knew very little about the place other than it was to be endured rather than enjoyed – so it was time to do my research while on the good old work parties that we had to do.
Pulling out sunken trees, burning rubbish and generally milking the ‘Motorway Crew’ for anything I could get from them – such was life in those days. From talking to the lads, it was a case of fishing as tight as possible to any remaining snags and hook, hold and hope... nice! Most of them were using the boilie approach (Crafty Catcher in those days, I think?) which was all well and good but I felt like making the numbers up to be honest. I’d been very impressed with how Brian Skoyles had tackled the Emmotland complex, with boilie crumb and huge hookbaits and decided that is how I’d approach Motorway. Sacks of Nutrabaits Big Fish Mix were purchased and using the Cranberry/ Salmon Oil/sweet Cajouser/glme combination, I rolled hundreds of sausages and then once they had boiled, crumbed them and froze it in one kilo bags. That was an interesting March and April I can tell you! Hookbaits were around 24mm in size and would be flossed to Drennan Continental Size 2 hooks that I’d hand sharpened as best I could with the tools of the trade, ’91 style.
Rather than jump straight onto a venue I didn’t really know anything about, like, or understand, I decided to spend two weeks visiting the water three or four evenings a week, looking for carp. That was fun too – mosquitoes, hay fever, kids on push bikes, bream, fairly secretive local anglers, with just the odd carp spotted. Heaven help me. To be fair I had seen some fish showing all over the central area, as the locals had predicted, so if you can’t beat them join them, eh?
Trip one was planned for the first week in May and would be one of three midweek nights that week. Crikey, I was keen in those days! Living at home with mum and dad and working in Selby meant I could be at the lake by 6pm and could hang on until 7am if I really fancied my chances. I’d started to use a baitboat during my last year at Tilery (gulp), so that would be part of my armoury
too. Find the carp, cover the spot or spots in crumb and then catch as many as possible, as quickly as possible, so I could leave this hell hole and go somewhere quieter and more hospitable – well that was the plan!
I left work a little earlier than usual as it was to be my first trip and soon the battered old Golf was pulling into the car park. As usual for a midweek night on many fisheries at that time, it was angler free, so I guess the world, or should I say the Motorway, was my oyster. Two hours later and those crafty carp were not making it easy for me. Not a sign at all so I guessed I’d fish Danny’s Point and hope the location, coupled with the crumb, would do the trick. Two trips with the gear and then I proceeded to get the hookbaits as tight as possible to the remaining snags. Each hookbait went out with a kilo of the BFM/GLME crumb and then it was down to the carp to play ball... If only it was that easy! As the light faded it began – and never ended... The loaded swinger dropped back and as I lifted up the AKN I could tell it was not a carp straightaway, as it flapped and flopped, rather than seeking sanctuary in the snag. Wonderful, a snotty bream! Through the course of that evening and night, they reduced my stock of crumb by five kilos and upped my tally to seven. What a great first trip. No carp, no sleep, streaming hay fever and a tactic that probably was not going to work.
Postscript: I persevered with the crumb and huge hookbait tactic for two more weeks but, other than stacks of bream and two mid-doubles, I came to the conclusion that copying the other members’ choices of swim and tactics was plain daft. I took a week out and after two further midweek visits I found the bigger fish between Thomo’s Point and the Cold Hole – Plenty of big boilies got them feeding strongly and within two weeks I’d had the two biggest carp in the lake. The Big Un at 30lb 4oz and Nelson at 29lb 4oz. Job done and away to sanity.
ABOVE The lads got their backs into it, whilst I sat back and looked pretty
RIGHT TOP ONE OF SEVEN...
RIGHT BOTTOM NELSON FELL FOR THE NEW APPROACH AS DID THE WATER’S FIRST 30
ABOVE Old school carp FISHING AT MOTORWAY. THE CARP TEAM DAIWA GEAR, FOX BEDCHAIR AND WAVELOCK BROLLY – NOTE THE FLASK, NOT EVEN A STOVE
RIGHT MIDDLE I DID CATCH TWO OVER THE CRUMB