Sick to the back teeth with attending angling shows Darrell gets a chance to recharge his batteries on a filming trip to France for Korda’s Thinking Tackle and have some serious ‘me’ time. Getting the net under a fish or two made it difficult to think of
Sick to the back teeth with attending angling shows Darrell gets a chance to recharge his batteries on a filming trip to France for Korda’s Thinking Tackle and have some serious ‘me’ time. Getting the net under a fish or two made it difficult to think of it as work... but don’t tell the missus
FFor somebody viewed as a full-time angler, my ‘me’ time has been seriously rationed of late. As I sit to type this, it’s the day after the final carp show of the year and as I glance up at the calendar, I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. I have visited Holland, Italy and France as well as all the UK shows and I don’t mind admitting, I am bored shitless of talking about carp fishing.
Right now, I really need to get out there and just do some of it! This winter has dragged, and the mild spells we have come to expect haven’t materialised. By this time last year I was well amongst them over at Bayes’ and this year I have barely even managed to get there due to work commitments.
This week, once the temperature had crept into double figures, I knew they would be stirring and that next bite was imminent. Phil The Can actually sent me a text yesterday afternoon asking if I would be about for a night or two this week. My tongue-in-cheek response was to ask if he was missing the shepherd, and did he need me to bring the formula. Obviously, this was all light-hearted banter, but in all honesty I knew I wouldn’t have the time to join him in any substantial assault upon Bayeswater this spring. It’s often funny how a chain of events lead to an eventual outcome.
Yesterday I managed to get out of the show at Farnborough around 3pm, avoiding the dreaded pack-down, and I was just approaching the Dartford Crossing when my phone went. It was Phil... and the Coconut Common was laying in the bottom of his net! Having been fishing with Phil for 20 years, I knew his camera most likely wasn’t even charged and he would probably very much appreciate a little assistance. Thirty minutes later and I was pulling through the gate and a lovely moment was shared. Dave Lodge, Jim Chisnall and I all helped weigh the beast, that was last caught by Adam Penning in October at 52lb. This time it weighed a very honest 49lb 14oz. For Phil it certainly never detracted from the capture as a few ounces means nothing when considering a fish of this size. The fish was spotless, completely unblemished or marked, just in perfect condition from winter. Fair play to Phil – he’s had a very good 12 months on Bayes’ and it was nice to see the planets align for him.
As for my own fishing, I have had another trip over to Blasford a few weeks ago with a couple of nice 20s caught for the cameras, and also a quick day session to the day ticket lake at Bayeswater, where I had another common of 24lb. Since those trips in February, I have just returned from an 11 day French trip with Danny to film a couple of episodes of Thinking Tackle. These are due to be hitting the internet sometime later this year. To be honest this session was really thrown together at the last minute. Originally we had planned to go to Morocco in February, which was cancelled due to snow, then the next thing, I was being asked if I could go to France a month later on a road trip instead.
I had been looking forward to some winter sun for ages, so the Morocco trip falling through was definitely disappointing, but this French job certainly offered a better chance of a really big fish. I suppose somebody had to go and that might as well be me! The thing with planning a session when you don’t really know where you might end up, is packing for every eventuality. We weren’t going to an English-run, French commercial, where the information was going to be easily available, we were heading south to a region rumoured to hold big fish in pursuit of public monsters.
A few venues had been discussed, ranging from medium-sized gravel pits, where we could employ our usual English tactics, to huge river systems that would require Dan, crew and I to all be fishing from bivvy boats. Logistically, I could already sense van-carnage as I always try to carry a bare minimum of equipment and I like to spend time in advance, packing, so I can hit the floor running on arrival. The thought of being weighed down with kit that I might not use is my idea of hell. In the end I borrowed Ali’s Transporter and Dan, the crew and I travelled out on the Monday as a convoy. In the three matching vans, it all felt a bit military, like we meant business and I suppose we did. Once we’d crossed the Channel, we drove down to Gigantica to meet James (our chef for the trip) and Chris Kessler (another cameraman) before the second leg of the journey. Now a convoy of five, we continued south, in all it was a full day’s driving before we eventually reached our destination. Handily, we had a couple of gites to sleep in before starting fishing the following day.
We arrived pre-dawn to a gravel pit I guess around 80 acres in size. Information-wise, other than being a no-nights venue, and that it had produced big fish in the past, we really didn’t know much else
We arrived pre-dawn to a gravel pit I guess around 80 acres in size. Information-wise, other than being a no-nights venue, and that it had produced big fish in the past, we really didn’t know much else. With the weather still considerably colder than the norm for this time of year, I was really hoping it would be quiet with regard to other anglers. My biggest concern when approaching any venue is always the same – other anglers getting in the way. After all, it’s only people in the way that can prevent you doing what you need to do. Luckily, the lake was empty and with the whole lake to now keep eyes on, I suggested we split up to cover more water. Just by looking at Google Earth you could see the bigger bowl section of the lake was stuffed with features and that would clearly be an area that needed investigating. With that in mind I had offered to watch the smaller, less visually appealing part, leaving Dan to view the best bit. He said “No, we’ll both go and look together!” So around we went, standing in the rain for about an hour, both staring at a blank canvas – the whole time fully aware the other side was likely where we needed to be. Once he was confident enough that they were very probably not here, he said, “Stay and keep watching, I’ll go and look at the other end.” If ever I needed confirmation of who was Batman and who was Robin in this movie, then this was certainly it!
Luckily I didn’t have to stand in the rain like a plonker too much as, before long, he came through on the walkie-talkie 10 minutes later to say he was seeing them in the main bowl. Sure enough he had and I’d only been back alongside him for a few minutes in which time I’d seen three for myself.
Dan shot off to get his gear while I kept watch for any further activity. By this point the morning had all but fizzled away and I was left wondering what sort of display we had potentially missed earlier on.
Once Dan returned, I collected my own kit and proceeded to do no more than flick my three yellow IBS 30 yards out, into a horrible deep abyss. The bulk of the activity had been around 120 yards out in front of Dan. Some were admittedly closer, but all I had to go on was a single show, 80 metres down to his left and quite close in. Conditions were bang on – low cloud, constant drizzle and it just felt perfect for daytime fishing.
I was almost certain Dan was going catch something quickly. From the depths of my drops, I felt completely out of the game at this point, convinced I was nothing more than
...he said, “Stay and keep watching, I’ll go and look at the other end.” If ever I needed confirmation of who was Batman and who was Robin in this movie, then this was certainly it!
a token spectator. Having said that with eight and a half day’s fishing to go, I knew I’d get my chance to throw a yellow wanger at something soon enough. At about 2.30pm that chance came quicker than expected, when a fish showed about 125 yards left of me and well out of harm’s way with regard to Dan’s rods. Without hesitation a rod was brought back in and unceremoniously thrashed out there – what’s more, the drop was superb. Now we’re fishing I thought!
A few minutes later, another fish showed a little left of the first, and another yellow IB on a spinner rig was slung on that one’s head as well. This one went down terribly, most likely in low weed, but in anticipation of the likeliness of this I had pushed my top bead right up the leadcore leader to counter any minimal weed. With two rods on fish and now in a much more respectable depth of around 12-13 feet, I sensed I was no longer a spectator.
It’s always a buzz to get the first take on a new water, especially on one rumoured to be home to fish in excess of 80lbs. A drop-back on the second rod I’d redone, registered the first take and, after a short battle, the first victim of our trip was sat in the bottom of my net. Not a monster, weighing just shy of 30lb, but enough to shake Dan up a bit after the morning’s events.
The following day was sunny and activity-wise it much quieter. Initially, I thought that was because they now knew we were there, but in hindsight it was more due to the weather I think. The third day was much like the first, with overcast conditions and rain. We had both baited our swims from the boat the previous day and almost straight after casting, Dan had his first fish. For the early part of the day I was terrorised by nuisance fish – such as gigantic rudd and/or some hybrid things, as well as a couple of tench. Dan then had a catfish and I was immediately questioning our decision to bait with a mix containing maize.
I had not seen much to suggest the carp were still around and when combined with these nuisance fish issues and some inconsiderate loon in a boat, I just wasn’t feeling it in this area anymore. I decided to wind in and go for a mooch as it was really the sort of day where, if you were doing it right, you’d be catching. I wondered up the channel, between the bigger bowl end and the other part, and almost instantly a fish came flying out of the waves. Unfortunately, it wasn’t reachable
It’s always a buzz to get the first take on a new water, especially on one rumoured to be home to fish in excess of 80lb
Phil and the Coconut Common at 49lb 14oz TOP
BOTTOM When the planets are in perfect alignment
A Blasford Hills’ mid-20 TOP
BOTTOM Another nice Blasford 20 caught during some winter filming
FAR LEFT Not a monster but it’s always nice to get off the mark early LEFT First blood for a forthcoming episode of Korda’s Thinking Tackle