Carpworld - - CONTENTS - -Carp­world -Tim Row­land

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

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