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
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 !”
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