Broth­ers Carl & Alex, two of the big­gest an­gling stars on YouTube, delve into Hamp­shire ponds, hook into mon­ster com­mer­cial cat­fish and en­joy an un­ex­pected sea­son-opener

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Carl & Alex -

Hamp­shire carp­ing

ALEX – Apart from do­ing the odd night at our lo­cal farm pond, we haven't cho­sen a cam­paign wa­ter to de­vote all our time and ef­fort. One of the rea­sons for this is be­cause, af­ter fish­ing the 300-acre reser­voir, we just haven't found a wa­ter that takes our fancy. But we are still look­ing and have found a few ex­cit­ing op­tions for a pos­si­ble cam­paign for next year. So, be­cause of not hav­ing a tar­get wa­ter, we have had the time to spend at plenty of awe­some venues. One of these places be­ing a group of three in­ti­mate ponds in Hamp­shire. We were down in Hamp­shire any­way, see­ing fam­ily, and thought we might as well do some fish­ing while we were there. In fact, we got speak­ing to a cou­ple of lads, Jamie and Jonny, two en­thu­si­as­tic an­glers who in­vited us to fish for a day at some of their lo­cal ponds. We ar­rived early and the guys showed us round. The lakes were mostly shal­low and we could clearly see spots in the crys­tal-clear wa­ter. We also spot­ted a few of the carp swim­ming mid-wa­ter, not look­ing too in­ter­ested in feed­ing but I was sure that a few baited mar­gin spots could change this! I started by wet­ting some mi­cro pel­lets and bait­ing up a num­ber of clear gravel patches in the mar­gins that I hoped to re­turn to later. We then headed down to the other pond on site where they do like a floater so we quickly drifted some dog bis­cuits across the sur­face. Fish were tak­ing in­stantly, in fact Jonny had what he be­lieves to be one of the small­est carp in the lake at around 3lb only min­utes af­ter cast­ing out! Shortly af­ter, how­ever, the wind picked up and ru­ined the sur­face fish­ing for good! I then made the de­ci­sion to have a walk round the other lake to check the baited spots. Five out of the six baited ar­eas were fish­less. How­ever, the last spot I checked, be­neath over­hang­ing trees, there were four carp and a num­ber of tench and bream all feed­ing hard on the pellet. I have never tied a pop-up rig so fast! I like to fish a pop-up on these mar­gin spots, not only be­cause I be­lieve the carp can see the hook­bait from a mile away and home in on it very quickly, but also be­cause I just love be­ing able to watch the hook­bait when they suck it in. As qui­etly as I could, the rig was placed. The fish did spook off but only tem­po­rar­ily. They were back five min­utes later and back on the feed. A fish of around 20lb spot­ted the hook­bait in­stantly and came over and sucked it in but quickly blew it out and spooked off. It knew some­thing was up. The next carp that ar­rived in the swim darted to­wards the pop-up and nailed it in­stantly. It shook its head and tried hard to get to the snags. I grabbed the rod and ap­plied as much pres­sure as I dared to steer it away and, af­ter a short, crazy bat­tle, it was in the net. It wasn’t as big as the one that got away be­fore­hand but it was a fish to be very pleased with. Af­ter calm­ing down, I had another wan­der and soon found another group of feed­ing fish. They had churned up the wa­ter so much I could no longer see the lakebed. I low­ered a rig into the clouded wa­ter and this time it took less than three min­utes be­fore the rod was away. This time it a pale dumpy fish but I was in­cred­i­bly pleased by the cap­ture! Un­for­tu­nately, the day had passed in an in­stant and it was time to head off to the fam­ily meal just down the road. Our thanks go to Jamie and Jonny for be­ing kind enough to share some of their fish­ing spot with us. Thanks guys, we are look­ing for­ward to our next ses­sion to­gether!

Cat­fish at night

CARL – Once a year Alex and I start think­ing about cat­fish. It’s nor­mally around mid-to-late spring when tem­per­a­tures are con­sis­tently over 20 de­grees and dur­ing that frus­trat­ing time when the carp are spawn­ing or gath­er­ing to do so. Cat­fish are an awe­some species to tar­get be­cause the fight they put up is com­pa­ra­ble to noth­ing else in UK fresh­wa­ter. Many day-ticket lakes have a few cat­fish and quite reg­u­larly these fish ex­ceed 50lb. When it comes to tar­get­ing cat­fish most peo­ple will sim­ply take their carp set-up and place a hal­ibut pellet or chunk of spam on the hair-rig. Some­times, how­ever, a ded­i­cated cat­fish ap­proach is nec­es­sary to en­sure a hooked fish can be landed. At Tan­yard Fish­ery the cat­fish grow to over 70lb and, due to the large sets of pads and sunken snags, very strong tackle is re­quired. On our first cat­fish ses­sion of the year we tack­led up with 40lb braided line, lead-free leader ma­te­rial as a hook­link and size 1 hooks. It was boil­ing hot. There were carp cruis­ing all around on the sur­face, but we were sure that the night would bring us some ac­tion from big cats. A cou­ple of years back the best bait at Tan­yard was a small roach or a chunk of mack­erel. Re­cently, how­ever, most fish have been caught us­ing good old Spam. It’s cheap, smelly, soft and the cat­fish love it. Over the top of the hook­bait we of­ten spread hal­ibut pel­lets and boilies, but only when the ducks are not around as they con­stantly dive on your spot be­cause the lake is only shal­low. It was around mid­night when the first rod screamed off, line peel­ing from a very lightly set freespool. It’s im­por­tant when us­ing a run­ning rig to en­able the fish to move off with­out re­sis­tance or else the hook won’t take a proper hold. The ideal sit­u­a­tion is for the fish to en­gulf the bait, set off the alarm and then you are able to strike to en­sure you hook the fish prop­erly. Bang, the hook was set, the 3lb test curve 9ft Scope rod buckled right over and the fish charged to­wards the pads on the op­po­site bank! As al­ways, these cat­fish do their ab­so­lute best to en­sure you never get to see them al­though, un­like in pre­vi­ous years, our first cat­fish hooked this ses­sion was landed. At over 50lb it was a strug­gle to lift, but by bal­anc­ing its weight be­tween my hands and my knee I could safely sup­port its length for long enough to get a de­cent photo. Our sec­ond cat­fish­ing ses­sion was much colder, wet and windy, a storm was rolling in and things just went a bit men­tal. Be­fore it was even dark, we had caught two fish and lost another! Yet again fish to over 50lb were landed, when in pre­vi­ous ses­sions we had strug­gled to catch any­thing over 45lb. Over the course of these two ses­sions we only used £5 worth of spam and, due to the heavy ter­mi­nal tackle, the rigs will be just fine to use again next year, when we’ve for­got­ten how slimy and smelly cat­fish are and feel like tar­get­ing these pre­his­toric look­ing mon­sters again!

“Be­fore it was even dark, we had caught two fish and lost another !”

Sea­son-open­ing sur­prise

CARL – Un­for­tu­nately, June 16 hap­pened to fall on a work day so a mid­night start wasn’t an op­tion for me. In­stead, Oli Davies and I were up in Not­ting­ham film­ing a lit­tle river carp­ing video for NashTV. Cer­tainly not the worst way to spend the first day of the sea­son as it was great watch­ing Nash con­sul­tant Chris Smith fish off his boat and catch a cou­ple of ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful carp. How­ever, I was a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed I wasn’t go­ing to get on the rivers my­self. Well that’s what I thought! By early af­ter­noon Chris had caught ex­actly what we needed him to and the film­ing was all done. It was time to hit the road. Oli and I were sat in the van on our way back down south and it sud­denly sprung to mind that it was only 3pm. Straight to the river we went! We headed to the up­per River Lea, where the wa­ter is clear and fish are thriv­ing in good num­bers and it would give us a good chance to roll some meat for bar­bel and chub. Af­ter rum­mag­ing around in the back of Oli’s van we found a tin of Spam, some flaked boilies, and also a small bag of pel­lets to use as loose­feed. We walked down to the river and soon I spot­ted a shoal of fish, how­ever er these were no bar­bel or chub. There was as a group of five carp! I quickly chucked in some flake and they were feed­ing right away. Af­ter about 10 min­utes of my bait be­ing in the wa­ter ater is was ob­vi­ous they were very spooky and ev­ery ery time one of them touched my line or saw the meat it would spook off. So, I trimmed my meat downwn to a tiny cube, flicked it back out on to the sandyandy run and saw one of the carp edge closer and closer. This time it didn’t spook, in­stead­tead it came into the swim and mopped up all the bait in­clud­ing my hook­bait! The fight was a lit­tle crazy as on its first run it charged down­stream about 20 yards. But, af­ter a cou­ple of min­utes, the fish had tired and I man­ageded to get it in! If some­one told me I was go­ing to catch a river carp on June 16 I would have laughed! But some­how it hap­pened! Af­ter another hour of fish­ing, this time a lit­tle up­stream, we had man­aged eight lovely, bronze bar­bel be­tween us! The bar­bel were def­i­nitely eas­ier to catch than the carp but just as en­joy­able! By 6pm, we were knack­ered af­ter stay­ing up most of the night so chose to call it a day, but it had been a great first day.

We were in­vited to fish some Hamp­shire ponds by Jamie and Jonny

The up­per Lea me­an­ders through peace­ful coun­try­side

Oli Davies was soon into the River Lea bar­bel

We had eight of these lovely bronze bar­bel in no time at all

It took a lit­tle tin­ker­ing to net this River Lea carp

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