Tim has had a great few SEASONS FISHING ON THE LINCH HILL COMPLEX, CATCHING SOME OF THEIR FINEST LOOKING CARP along the way
Tim has had a great few seasons fishing on the Linch Hill complex, catching some of their finest looking carp along the way
Ifirst arrived in Oxfordshire a few years ago now, after arranging a social with Dan Wildbore. We had a day walking around a few lakes and ended up on the Linear Complex. We found a few fish feeding close in, on a warm, sticky June afternoon. The area was devoid of anglers, so we grabbed the gear and a barbecue, flicked a couple of rods out and I hoped to catch my first one from this famous county.
Amazingly, that night I got a bite and from one of the big ’uns too, a fish known as the Big Common just under 40lb. It was funny really, as I had nicked a few baits off Dan and caught the fish using these fishy little cork ballers he had, which transpired to be Krill.
We woke that morning to a few fish looking like they were up for a spawn, so we reeled the rods in and went for a mooch over at Linch Hill. That was a syndicate at the time but we had a look around Christchurch. We found them rolling close in on a warm south-westerly and to watch such big, special creatures showing, one after another, got me really interested in the place. Dan explained the stock, highlighting certain fish that we saw and it remained etched in my mind for when I would one day return. I didn’t have a lot of time to fish that year, so I used the odd night that I did have, to fish up on St John’s and I soon realised how busy it was.
The following season Linch turned day-ticket, and I was itching to have a go on there. It was so exciting, having your rods out in such a small lake with so many big fish in front of you. I would turn up on a Friday night, which didn’t leave me with too many options as to where to fish. What it did do though, was force me to fish the neglected corners, which on such a busy lake, often held quite a few fish. Fishing similarly to how I had St John’s at the time, I had now rolled my own Krill cork balls and I simply flicked a chod rig down each margin, which sat perfectly on top of the lowlying weed. I pinched a few freebies into halves and scattered a few around each rod and the traps were set. I was finally fishing a lake I had been longingly wanting too for a while.
It wasn’t until the following evening, after getting the rods back out for the night, that the left-hander was away. The excitement was too much to describe, I felt such a huge adrenaline rush to know I was hooked to one of the special carp in there. I took it steadily, gaining slightly on a long-looking mirror. I edged out into the lake, praying that the hook would stay firm and it did. I netted the most beautiful linear I had ever set eyes on. I rang Dan who was fishing on Willow to come and give me a hand with the pictures. He rounded up a few of the lads and just as they walked into the swim, the other rod was away. Dan jumped in the waders to get a better angle to net it, while I nervously held the rod, bent in to a powerful fish. As it surfaced, Dan instantly recognised it, a fish known as Crinkle Tail, one of the big commons. He did the honours with the net and I was left totally blown away by it all. The Linear was known as George’s Lin, weighing 35lb and Crinkle was over 41lb – what an evening’s brace!
The lads gave me a proper soaking, what a moment! I caught another one the following morning, a cracking 28lb mirror that completed a fine end to my first weekend on Church. After that session, I was totally hooked on the place, it was all I could think about. I could only fish one weekend a month, so I had to try and plan it in around the good moon phases and arrange it all with the missus.
The next trip I had a 34lb common out of the edge, which was a real buzz. The following trip to that, I managed a lovely fully-scaled mirror of just over 30lb. It was all going really well, just rocking up and flicking the rigs out in the edge. I didn’t really fish after the autumn or through that winter though, and didn’t get back until the spring.
The following season I only managed three fish and it taught me a bit of a lesson. I thought I had cracked it, but it wasn’t so. I was reluctant to fish the known spots, as keeping things really quiet had been working for me, but it would seem that it could have helped me catch a few more. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as they say.
The quiet corners (thankfully) often held carp
I had gone all winter without a bite and it was the first week of May 2017. The conditions were warm and not a great deal was getting caught either. The fish seemed to be following the margins, so I stuck with the faithful pop-ups, fished close in over some halved and broken baits. Rob Allen was in the same boat as me, going a long time without a bite. He was fishing next door to me in peg 3 when, out of nowhere, he had a bite.
I photographed the carp and both of us were buzzing for him to have caught one. As we sat drinking a tea, still in our waders, one of my rods ripped off. I was on it in a flash and soon doing battle with a Christchurch carp. I was using braided main line and with no give in the main line, it was destroying me, taking me all over the place. I could see my leader knot though and not far behind it was the tail, I knew it was a big fish. As Rob scooped her up, he recognised it as a fish known as the Toe Jam Common. I couldn’t believe it, one of the most pristine commons I had ever set eyes on, all 42lb of it. We slipped it back after a few photos, both very content with how the day had unfolded.
The following morning, I was getting a few liners, even though I was only fishing in the edge. I had bivvied up right by the water’s edge, just to try and avoid people walking too close to the rods. I crept up off the bed chair, peered over a bush and could see the fish moving up and down the shelf, literally in three feet of water.
I crept up off the bed chair, peered over a bush and could see the fish moving up and down the shelf, literally in three feet of water
I reeled the rods in, brought them away from the water and lowered both rigs on to a bit of dirty bottom, in really shallow water. I left the swim and went and sat with a lad in peg 1, just to get away from the spot and keep the disturbance down to a minimum.
As we were sitting there, and only 30 minutes after making the change, one of the rods received a violent take. Once again, I had a crazy creature on the end that was hell bent on not getting in the net. I steadily played the carp in the beating sun, with the sweat pouring down my cheeks. It charged across the surface, dorsal up like a sail and it was as though I was playing Jaws. We got it in and we were amazed at the sheer size of it. It then dawned on us that it was the elusive Ironing Board. It was totally unique, with a solid frame, random scaling and chestnut in colour, a truly special carp. It was also a new PB for me – 45lb 6oz of incredible Oxfordshire mirror carp.
I caught a few more that season, all cracking carp and, although I loved the place, I was struggling with the style of fishing. I was limited to being forced into a swim to a degree and it felt like I wasn’t really angling for them.
It was purely by a stroke of luck that for the following season I was offered my Stoneacres ticket, which was the syndicate lake on the complex. That would be a whole new ball game – a much bigger lake with far fewer carp, and boat work too, all new things for me. I was so excited to start and there was always the option of Christchurch if it wasn’t too busy and I fancied it. I assembled the gear over the winter and couldn’t wait to get started. A few of the lads that I had been fishing with on Church had also got tickets, so I knew it would be a good bunch I would be fishing with.
My first trip found me set up in Big Point and they were showing in front of me, big time. I went out for a look in the boat and I remember thinking where do I start? I got the rods out on some lovely spots and, although I didn’t catch, it was a huge learning curve. I photographed my first one that weekend and it was a great atmosphere and a lovely welcome to Stoneys.
I kept plodding away – arriving late on a Friday, rushing to get the rods out and hoping not to disturb any fish present. I learned the best times to watch for showing fish, in conjunction with the moon. I began to set up in a swim on the Friday that gave me a good viewing point. I would wake
I caught a few more that season, all cracking carp and, although I loved the place, I was struggling with the style of fishing
really early on the Saturday, watch where the fish were doing their feeding and move on to them for my last night.
It was late May; the wind was blowing a northeasterly and it felt cold. I took a stroll up the top end of the lake and in the calm surface of that area, the odd fish would give themselves away. I ran back to get the gear and went about setting a couple of traps. I flicked out a couple of chods just for the Friday night and had them jumping over me all through the hours of darkness and into the morning.
That Saturday afternoon I decided that I needed to have a look at what they were doing, so I got in the boat and drifted over the area. As I glided over the zone, I could see a black cloud of silt from where the carp were ripping up the bottom. I chucked a block on it and I couldn’t even see the bottom. However, by the time I had got the rod ready and went to place it, I could see a little clean spot appearing through the murk that they were clearly harvesting.
I lowered a rig down, followed by a small handful of bait and the trap was set. Only two hours later the rod was away. I remember playing it, shaking like a leaf. It was giving me the right run around and I missed it on the first attempt at netting it. The carp was eventually mine, a magnificent scaly mirror and my first from the lake – I was elated! My best friend was with me, who had come down just for a BBQ and a catch up, so to share that with him was a special moment.
That capture made it a bit of game changer for me – I now knew what I was looking for. That evening I got a liner from a cormorant and although I didn’t think it would have made any impact on the rig, it transpired the day after that it had. I had them showing all over me and when the action stopped, I went out to check the rig and it had been dragged into the weed – I was gutted.
Between trips, the fish had started spawning and having planned my weekends in advance, I was left at a loose end. Thankfully, they were not showing any signs on Christchurch and a few swims were free, so I decided to do the weekend on there. As per usual, I managed to find a few fish close to the bank in front of peg 6 and, after fishing with placed rigs for a few trips, I wanted to achieve the same on Church. I literally waded the rigs out to two small, clean spots, so I could make sure the presentation was bang on.
The following morning, I was sat with Rob in the blistering heat, when the rod ripped off out of nowhere. It kited behind a tree some way down the
margin and the line became entwined in the branches, where they entered the water. Rob was down to his pants in seconds, wasting no time in swimming out and freeing the fish. I was back in contact and amazingly we managed to net it. It was a really nice mirror, just over 30lb and a nice welcome back. Thank you, mate!
Just before dark a coot picked up one of my rigs, so I decided to re-do the rod. I reeled it in reluctantly, but somehow the rig was tangled, despite using a stiff boom, so it was a good choice to do the rod again. That following morning I received a slow take and it kited out to the middle. I could see in the half-light it was a big fish. I slipped it in the sling for half an hour, woke Rob to give me a hand once more, and to see what I had. I knew it was a big common, but I didn’t know it was the Perch at over 45lb! After sorting the scales and assorted gear, we recorded a weight of 46lb 2oz. It was epic, a special creature indeed, and another one of the A-team from a lake that seemed to be so kind to me.
I left on a high and in the meantime, we all gave the Stoneys fish a full month to recover from their spawning. When I came back I dropped in to Big Point, which gives you so much water to watch. The following morning there was a good display in front of a couple of large weedbeds, fortunately only 40 or so yards out, in my swim. Not wishing to disturb them, I opted to leave the rods out of the water until later in the day, choosing just to scatter a few baits across a wide arc, at the range they’d been showing.
That afternoon I got the rods on some nice spots and waited for the Sunday morning bite-time to arrive. It was a glorious morning – the sun was shining and the lake was absolutely flat calm. I was having a brew with the lad next door, when one of my alarms signalled a fast take. It weeded me straight away, so I went out in the boat and after a long, epic battle, I managed to slip the net under a scaly mirror. It was one known as the Millwall fish, which is known as a fighter. The weed prevented it from giving me too much trouble, which was a right result. I rang Scott Lloyd, who was fishing Willow and he got some great shots for me. He also gave me a hand with a few things, mainly tips and tricks with the boat, as he is quite the ninja...
A few weeks later I was down for a social with the lads, celebrating Rob’s capture of the Tatton Common. We had a
ABOVE A beautiful Oxfordshire morning LEFT Krill cork ball pop-ups soaked in L Zero – winner!
INSET Baiting with halved Krill boilies seemed to pick out the good fish too ABOVE The mighty Toe Jam and a standard soaking
ABOVE Followed by the elusive Ironing Board at 45lbplus
RIGHT Another weekend capture and another Church 30 LOWER RIGHT The old ‘0 0’ fish, a classic Christchurch mirror
TOP LEFT Tim learned a lot from the boat TOP RIGHT First blood, elation! ABOVE What a carp it was too RIGHT They could often be found right in the edge