Bob Roberts’ di­ary

My monthly fish­ing­di­ary...

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Contents -

T WOULD be so easy to sum up this past month in three words – frus­tra­tion, frus­tra­tion, frus­tra­tion. The weather went from be­ing chilly to scorch­ing hot and then to mis­er­able, wet and cold. But for once, pos­si­bly the first time this decade, we had a bit of heat at just the right time and it may have been the spawn­ing year a lot of think­ing an­glers have been pray­ing for. These things come in cy­cles, so make a note of my pre­dic­tion (cor­morants, goosanders and otters per­mit­ting) and we’ll be en­joy­ing a bumper sea­son maybe seven years down the line. Any­way, enough of Mys­tic Bob...

IWeek one...

The plan was to visit a few ar­eas of the Trent along with Brian Skoyles and Al­fie Nay­lor to do a recce. We met Al­fie on the Daiwa stand at the North­ern An­gling Show when our con­ver­sa­tion turned, not as you might ex­pect to chub and bar­bel, but to Trent carp. Liv­ing a hun­dred miles away, Brian con­fessed he’d never caught one but re­ally would like to, so we de­cided to team up and put that right. It sounded like a plan and I have no idea whether we will suc­ceed or not, but when you get to the end you’ll see, ei­ther way. No pres­sure then. James the ed­i­tor is kindly ex­tend­ing my dead­line right to the eleventh hour pray­ing we tri­umph! It was in­ter­est­ing to visit a few stretches I haven’t fished in more than three decades. Boy, did it bring back mem­o­ries. The idea was to find three swims that were close enough to­gether but still give ev­ery­one a re­al­is­tic chance of catch­ing a carp, a gam­ble that meant pre­dict­ing where the fish would be, post spawn (or not). Then we had to agree a bait­ing plan, the el­e­ment that could make or break us. Too much bait might at­tract hordes of bream, as would the wrong kind of bait, but too lit­tle would sim­ply be a waste of time. Too short a du­ra­tion and they might not find our of­fer­ings, too long and the prospect of bream tak­ing over would in­crease. It’s tricky and quite a dis­cus­sion en­sued. We op­ti­mised it at 10 days, feed­ing sev­eral ki­los of par­ti­cles, hemp, tiger nuts and boilies each time. Quite a com­mit­ment when the stretch is day-fish­ing only, you can’t be sure the plan is work­ing and you could eas­ily be swim-jumped. Mer­ci­fully the club al­lowed us to re­serve three swims. If there’s a blank space where nor­mally you’d read Week Four then you’ll know we got it hope­lessly wrong! Any­way, while we were in the area it would be rude not to wet a line so Brian and I spent a few hours on a lo­cal pit. I hoped to catch bream but in­stead I had a re­ally nice wild com­mon that fought like stink on light­ish gear. I do hope this wasn’t an omen where I al­ways catch the wrong species be­cause that won’t bode well for the river carp cam­paign.

Week two...

Shiv­er­ing one week, sweat­ing the next. Wel­come to a typ­i­cal Bri­tish spring. With early morn­ing mist giv­ing way to blue skies, scat­tered cu­mu­lus clouds and a gen­tle south-westerly, I didn’t need telling twice that to­day was a day to catch carp on the sur­face. Bring it on. Hav­ing been hu­mil­i­ated by a duck at Alder­fen last month it was time for the re­match. To­day I would let it eat all the bait it wanted, even if the stupid thing sank. Yes, I would get past it. I would feed it un­til it could eat no more and then I’d have my wicked way with the carp. Or at least that was the plan. As I crept to­wards the lake an omi­nous sound of splash­ing greeted me. No, they couldn’t be! Oh yes they could. Carp were ev­ery­where, chas­ing af­ter each other with pur­pose be­fore crash­ing into the reeds and irises, writhing and ca­vort­ing, males and fe­males alike swip­ing their tails into a frenzy as the last eggs and milt were ex­truded from their vents. In­ter­est­ing as it was to watch, there was no way I was pre­pared to dis­turb them with a rod and line. I left them be and moved on to Tyram Hall Fish­eries where it turns out no-one had caught a carp from the syn­di­cate lake in days. I spent a long time look­ing but it was clear in my mind that it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore these fish also started spawn­ing so I let them be as well. I was about to head home when I spot­ted a few fish mov­ing in a cor­ner of the Match Lake. Af­ter flick­ing out a few mix­ers these guys clearly wanted to play so I grabbed a rod and pro­ceeded to have a lot of fun. It made me re­alise that we’re of­ten a bit snobby about com­mer­cial fish­eries. They are full of carp of­ten run­ning to mid-dou­bles or big­ger. I would have been a fool to turn my nose up at fish like this. Scale down and there’s some se­ri­ous plea­sure to be had.

Week three...

I had been un­able to get ac­cess to my favourite tench lake last sea­son. It’s looked af­ter by a small syn­di­cate of carp an­glers but, as the fish grow big­ger, more peo­ple come sniff­ing round and the rules tighten up. Every­thing’s a bit more pre­cious since it’s pro­duced sev­eral 40. I re­spect that. Any­way, I had a Willy Wonka golden ticket at my dis­posal. Bring on the tin­cas. This lake is full of tench. There are hun­dreds of them, yet in 24 hours I never saw a fizz of bub­bles, a swim­mer’s roll or a slap of the tail. It was com­pletely dead. The carp were AWOL, too. Overnight my host fished with his cus­tom­ary four carp rods. I chucked out two yet nei­ther of us had so much as a sin­gle bleep. Weird. In 24 hours I didn’t man­age a sin­gle bite on mag­gots. In past trips I’ve had feed­ers chased by jack pike so I’d taken along some of Daiwa’s new rub­ber frogs to try. They float on the sur­face and ‘pop’ as you re­trieve them. At least some­thing pro­voked a bite! First cast I was in. Only a spindly lean thing but I was over the moon. You re­ally should have a go with them. The takes are all on the sur­face, of­ten at your feet and they are ex­plo­sive. To watch a pike hit your sur­face lure in a flurry of spray is about as ex­cit­ing as it gets. Though my Cin­derella bivvy was due to turn back to a pump­kin around teatime, by noon I was de­feated. Pack­ing up seemed the log­i­cal thing to do un­til I saw a back slowly ride up in the wa­ter as a big carp de­cided it was time to crack open the sun lotion. Here was a game changer. Pre­vi­ous at­tempts at feed­ing floaters had re­sulted in hordes of seag­ulls de­scend­ing on me. So, I mounted a large, meaty, moist dog bis­cuit. This would be the only meal avail­able in town. I cast about 10 me­tres be­yond its path and edged the rig back five. Noth­ing hap­pened for what seemed ages and then sud­denly she just turned round, swam straight up to my bait a wolfed it down. Two things hap­pened. First the rod yanked for­ward and the drag be­gan to stut­ter. Sec­ond the fish was now point­ing away from me and I saw for the first time the width of its back. It was a mon­ster. For a while it just plod­ded up and down in front of me, com­pletely un­der my con­trol. I could see its depth, each fin and ev­ery scale in the clear wa­ter. This was po­ten­tially the big­gest carp I have ever caught in the UK and it was only a mat­ter of wait­ing for it to tire it­self out as she plod­ded along just be­neath the sur­face. And then it all went wrong. She’d gone to the right and I laid on a lit­tle side pres­sure to lead her back again when she had a bit of a hissy fit. I’m pre­sum­ing she ei­ther rolled on the line or it caught around a fin. From lead­ing this beast any­where I wanted, things were now out of con­trol and she surged away to the right strip­ping line off me like there was no to­mor­row. Ten yards, 20, 30, 40 and with no sign of stop­ping. Hon­estly, I’ve never wit­nessed a run like it from a carp. She must have gone 70 yards be­fore I got her to kite left. And then dis­as­ter struck. My line was cut-off be­low the con­troller. I don’t have the words to de­scribe how I felt. I hardly even swore. I didn’t re-tackle. I just crept home, tail fi­firmly be­tween my legs.

Week four...

As pre­vi­ously ex­plained Brian Skoyles and I hooked up with the in­cred­i­bly en­thu­si­as­tic Al­fie Nay­lor from Newark. We vis­ited the Newark Dyke dur­ing the closed sea­son, de­cided on an area to tar­get and de­vised a cun­ning plan to rec­tify the lack of a Trent carp in Brian’s CV. For me, it was a trip down mem­ory lane. I first fished here in the early 1960s with my old man when he in­tro­duced me to river fish­ing. We sought per­mis­sion from the Newark Pis­ca­to­rial So­ci­ety to re­serve three pegs for open­ing day and pre­bait them with a mix of par­ti­cles com­pris­ing hemp, maize and tiger nuts and pre­pared for us by the Hull Par­ti­cle Com­pany. Liv­ing lo­cally, Al­fie was tasked with pre­bait­ing our swims at silly-o-clock each morn­ing for 10 days. It’s a day-only fish­ery so bait­ing had to re­flect our fish­ing times. Did it work? To be hon­est, no. The fear was our ap­proach would at­tract vast shoals of bream in­stead of carp. It did nei­ther. The near­side baited ar­eas did not pro­duce. In­stead we caught cast­ing boilies to the far side over a light scat­ter­ing of free­bies. Al­fie, down­stream, had the first carp within an hour. Then Brian, just above him had a splen­did 16 or 17-pounder, I for­get the ex­act weight. On the up­stream peg, I re­mained carp-less al­though not with­out bar­bel. My first fish of the sea­son was a pris­tine lump 12lb on the nose, but I set­tled for 11-15 be­cause round num­bers don’t half rat­tle the In­ter­net trolls! Shortly af­ter­wards I net­ted a twin of the first fish which I in­ex­pli­ca­bly re­leased by com­plete ac­ci­dent as Brian read­ied the cam­era. Brian and I agreed that the fish was con­tained within the folds of my net af­ter un­hook­ing in the wa­ter but some­how ended up un­der­neath the net as I went to lift it out on to the mat. The fish van­ished in an ex­plo­sion of spray which is at least tes­ta­ment to the fact that I’d al­lowed the fish to fully re­cover! Oh well, in the scale of things over a whole sea­son it won’t mat­ter one jot but, right now, I can’t stop think­ing about it. I said this month had been pretty frus­trat­ing but rivers are open and I can at last en­joy some ‘proper’ fish­ing.

This nice wild com­mon on fought like a de­mon fair­ly­fairly light tack­le­tackle

Flick­ing out a few mix­ers lead to the down­fall of this pow­er­ful mir­ror

du­ties as Al­fie Nay­loron net­ting carp Brian guides in his prized At least Brian scored a first River Trent carp

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