Still Un­bro­ken

IT WOULD AP­PEAR MR CHILL­COTT’S fire IS well and truly lit at present. As well as catch­ing lots of them, he’s catch­ing some fairly large carp too. The past month has seen a visit to his lat­est SYN­DI­CATE, A FISH-IN AND A TRIP DOWN mem­ory lane to the Yate­ley

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - -ian Chill­cott

It would ap­pear Mr Chill­cott’s fire is well and truly lit at present. As well as catch­ing lots of them, he’s catch­ing some fairly large carp too. The past month has seen a visit to his lat­est syn­di­cate, a fish-in and a trip down mem­ory lane to the Yate­ley com­plex...

As much as carp fish­ing is al­ways full of won­der­ful sur­prises, and I look for­ward to go­ing fish­ing each week like a five year old kid at Christ­mas, some­times I get some­thing that starts to light the fires long be­fore I get to do it. Fa­ther and son duo, Alis­tair and Antony An­drews, who live just up the road at Yate­ley, in­vited me to join them on a ses­sion at the fa­mous Pads Lake which they had booked for late Au­gust. Be­ing rel­a­tively lo­cal, I bump into them from time to time and so reg­is­tered the days in my di­ary, un­der­lin­ing the words and fin­ish­ing the sen­tence with a few ex­cla­ma­tion marks. Why I made such a fuss of it all, I don’t re­ally know, but I could never have imag­ined just how much the wheels of for­tune were turn­ing in my favour.

I had only ever fished the lake dur­ing the Stoney and Friends events, and a cou­ple of times for mag­a­zine fea­tures, when CE­MEX stocked it heav­ily many years ago. To put my feet up and re­lax was all part of the ad­ven­ture, but I couldn’t help think­ing about maybe up­ping my ‘New Life Per­sonal Best’ just a lit­tle. With it now stand­ing at 29lb 15oz, I hoped a carp of 31lb or so would help to raise the bar a lit­tle at a time. As odd as it may seem, I didn’t want to catch a mon­ster straight away. How­ever, I wasn’t about to shake one off the hook if it came along any­time soon! With all that run­ning around in my mind I, of course, had other things to do, and other fish to fish for. Un­be­known to me was how far and wide the next few weeks would take me, and just as im­por­tantly, the vast ar­ray of emo­tions I would go through.

So with the Pads Lake pushed, with some dif­fi­culty, to the back of my mind, I started to pack the gear for my last trip to Hook Lake in Hert­ford­shire for a lit­tle while. This time, how­ever, I would be vis­ited by Harry Char­ring­ton and Brad Walker from Fox to do a whole host of film­ing. All I could hope for was that

I could catch a carp for the cam­eras. This was also the long­est drive I had made since the op­er­a­tion, and if there were no prob­lems then I would make the longed for jour­ney safely to see my mother down in Ply­mouth. As I ar­rived at Hook I tried to fo­cus on the fish­ing.

For some time I had been wor­ry­ing about the wa­ter lev­els, and the qual­ity of the one thing that keeps our carp alive. The ad­van­tage with Hook was that it seemed to have its own mi­cro cli­mate, and was al­ways a few de­grees cooler than the land sur­round­ing it. The carp didn’t seem to mind the heat­wave at all, and on my ar­rival they weren’t too hard to find. Sun­ning them­selves wan­tonly on the top, left me feel­ing that I should try and catch one where they were. I couldn’t help think­ing of the prob­lems I faced the week be­fore, when I was told how few of th­ese carp had been caught on the sur­face. How­ever, when I landed two of them from the top, I de­cided the chal­lenge was as good as it gets! Soon enough I had some mix­ers drift­ing in the breeze to­wards them, but it was hours be­fore they showed the slight­est in­ter­est. And when Harry and Brad ar­rived, I ob­vi­ously had less time to con­cen­trate on the fish them­selves. We bus­ied our­selves with the task ahead, but ev­ery now and again I would trickle in some mix­ers and even­tu­ally a chance seemed to ma­te­ri­alise. With Harry do­ing the hon­ours with one cam­era, Brad con­cen­trated on the hook­bait with the other. It seemed, even­tu­ally, the way the bait drifted in was the most im­por­tant as­pect, and my hun­dredth cast seemed to be right. Just as I thought I would be cast­ing again, a big set of lips en­gulfed the hook­bait and the bat­tle be­gan. The cap­ture of the 18lb mir­ror was made so much more ex­cit­ing by hav­ing the cam­eras whirring away in my ear! It was a won­der­ful day, with won­der­ful peo­ple, but it was the drive home which con­firmed I could even­tu­ally do the one thing I wanted to do more than any­thing else... see my mum.

I won’t go into too much de­tail, but the drive down was a rather lengthy af­fair. I have never given much thought to my own safety, but with Lynn sat next to me and other road users around me, the last thing I wanted was to hurt any­one. Thank­fully, the trip was a breeze, and we pulled up out­side my mum’s house some five hours later. I prob­a­bly shed more tears in those 10 min­utes than I have in all my life, and the three of us hugged for an ab­so­lute age. It is some­thing which shows that there will al­ways be things so much more im­por­tant than fish­ing, thank­fully. To that end, it was hard for me to get back into my an­gling, but as it has done on more oc­ca­sions than I can re­mem­ber, Holly­bush was just about to get me into the swing of it all. It hadn’t been fish­ing well, ac­cord­ing to the two guys I met on the bank early one Mon­day morn­ing, but on my third cir­cuit of the lake I spot­ted some­thing of in­ter­est. Know­ing

It was a won­der­ful day, with won­der­ful peo­ple, but it was the drive home which con­firmed I could even­tu­ally do the one thing I wanted to do more than any­thing else... see my mum

the lakes, as I do, I’m of­ten drawn to fea­tures that I know well. To that end, I no­ticed sev­eral fish ap­pear­ing and dis­ap­pear­ing into a short but deep chan­nel in a very shal­low area of the lake. It was all the en­cour­age­ment I needed, and soon enough I had bar­rowed my gear into the swim that cov­ered the area. I sat and watched the fish for a while longer, and even­tu­ally they dis­ap­peared. It was time to sort the rods out, and soon enough I had two stiff link pop-ups nestling in the deep chan­nel ac­com­pa­nied by around 4kg of the very ob­vi­ous 10mm and 15mm Hy­brid.

I sus­pect by now, if you read much of my scrib­bling, that you’ll have no­ticed this is what I al­ways do. It’s be­cause it works ev­ery­where I go, why should I change, even when all those I speak to rec­om­mend a “well carpy” PVA tube of bits and pieces, or a “bright, sexy geeza” pop-up?

Hav­ing waited un­til the carp had wan­dered off, I was able to set my traps with­out alert­ing them, and to that end I sat down with my first brew of the ses­sion full of con­fi­dence. All was well at Holly­bush, but more im­por­tantly, my Mother was as well as could be ex­pected in Ply­mouth. Let the games be­gin!

The area was com­pletely sur­rounded by dense weed, and I tight­ened up my clutches so the reels would give line be­grudg­ingly on the take. And with the leads drop­ping off from my line clips, it would en­sure the fish came to the sur­face quickly. In many re­spects, this takes away the fact that the fish could bury it­self in the weed from the off. This was the plan, and to the let­ter the plan de­liv­ered the goods. Even with my ‘fash­ion-deny­ing’ bait­ing strat­egy, as al­ways the first bite came within a cou­ple of hours. It was a stun­ning scaly mir­ror of 22lb and it fought all the way to the net on the sur­face. As did the other seven fish I landed dur­ing the next 36 hours! The con­stant ap­pli­ca­tion of bait af­ter each fish, and in­deed at times of to­tal in­ac­tiv­ity, seemed as al­ways to be the an­swer. The tight clutches took the weed out of the equa­tion, and meant that I had landed ev­ery fish I hooked. There were a cou­ple in par­tic­u­lar which made me smile just a lit­tle more than the rest. The first was one of the older fish in the lake, and at a thor­oughly spawned out 27lb 2oz, it was great to see it in such fine fet­tle. The other was one of the more re­cent stock fish, the most stun­ning lin­ear I be­lieve I have ever seen. It surely rep­re­sented the fu­ture of Holly­bush... I just hope it has one!

I spent much of the ses­sion won­der­ing what the fu­ture held for me, where I was go­ing to an­gle and just as im­por­tantly, what I was go­ing to an­gle for. As yet I hadn’t re­ceived the key for a very spe­cial lake in Es­sex, so I would have to wait for that to ar­rive a lit­tle later. Hav­ing vis­ited my mother on the long drive to Ply­mouth meant it was now ac­cept­able for me to make the jour­ney back to my favourite lake at Melch­bourne, in Northamp­ton­shire. How­ever, with prob­a­bly still an­other 18 months of re­cov­ery from the op­er­a­tion to go, I didn’t want to push the boat out too far, too quickly. The tired­ness and the headaches are still

very de­bil­i­tat­ing, and as I have said I don’t want to put any­one in dan­ger. To take my mind off things to a cer­tain ex­tent, I was go­ing to Wil­low Park that week­end for a rig clinic, and there were a few peo­ple at­tend­ing whom I en­joy spend­ing a lit­tle time with. My friend, Tony Smeets, had or­gan­ised the event, sup­ported by Mark and his crew at Wil­low. By the time I had ar­rived, ev­ery­one was in situ and all I had to do was squeeze my­self in be­tween a cou­ple of them and try and fish as ef­fec­tively as I could... which was a tad dif­fi­cult to be hon­est!

It got very sim­ple in the end, chuck ’em out as far as I could, bait the hell out of the two stiff link pop-ups and chat the day away. It seemed like a plan, and more quickly than I ex­pected, I landed the first fish of the event. It was a crack­ing fullyscaled and a fish that shows the kind of qual­ity avail­able at Wil­low. The trou­ble with this sort of event is that I get bored sit­ting around wait­ing for an­other bite, so I de­cided I would take the vis­i­tors on a sur­face fish­ing frenzy on the mid­dle lake. Dun­can Smith, from Hamp­shire Tackle, joined me and, along with 30 or so oth­ers, we caught carp af­ter carp off the top. There was also the mem­o­rable chance to meet sev­eral peo­ple I hadn’t seen in many, many years. For me it made the event com­plete, and I se­ri­ously can­not wait un­til we do it all again next year. Un­be­known to me how­ever, the wheels of for­tune had slowed to a snail’s pace as I pre­pared for the fol­low­ing week’s visit to The Pads Lake at Yate­ley. To be hon­est, I had de­cided a long time ago that I would never fish Yate­ley again. Yes, it has big fish in it once more, but I had been there in a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment, with dif­fer­ent peo­ple and dif­fer­ent carp. I was never sure it could be that spe­cial again, but as usual... what the hell do I know?

I met up with Alis­tair and Antony at around 9.30am the fol­low­ing Tues­day in the car park of Yate­ley West An­gling. Af­ter thank­ing them pro­fusely, we tried to get a look at the lake. You aren’t ac­tu­ally al­lowed to look around un­til the party be­fore has left, but when we did so, we dis­cov­ered the lake hadn’t been fished for two days! It was mu­sic to my ears, and I was sure even that small respite for the fish would work in our favour. I think the two guys had al­ready de­cided where they wanted to fish, but rather unso­cially I de­cided to fish the Point Swim at the other end of the lake. Just be­cause it’s called the Pads Lake doesn’t mean you have to fish the pads, does it? I left them to it whilst I in­ves­ti­gated a spot that came back to me from many years be­fore. Af­ter

a few casts I had found what I was look­ing for. A silty strip in front of a bank of weed. As I dragged the lead back maybe half a rod length, I felt gravel which I never want to fish on. With the rods clipped up, in­clud­ing the spomb, I felt I couldn’t have de­signed a bet­ter area to fish. I had re­verted back to my PVA bag rigs, and the 3¼oz Kling On lead came to rest in the silt along with 3kg of 10mm and 15mm Hy­brid. It was... well, per­fect!

The lin­ers started at around three in the morn­ing, big slow lazy ones, but the first bite didn’t come un­til the first light of day ap­peared on the hori­zon. Again, with no lead on the line the fight was all on the sur­face, and soon enough a 25lb com­mon lay in my net. Thank­fully, I had set up two nets, and as I rested the com­mon in the mar­gin, one of the other rods was bounc­ing in the rest. Again the bat­tle raged on the sur­face, but even­tu­ally I guided the mir­ror into the out­stretched net. At 26lb things were mov­ing on nicely. I spent much of the day look­ing around, spend­ing a lit­tle time with the lads, but I couldn’t help want­ing to get back in the ball game. To that end, and af­ter putting out an­other three ki­los of Hy­brid, I was sip­ping a con­tent­ing brew in the early af­ter­noon sun­shine. An hour be­fore last light it be­came ob­vi­ous that sev­eral fish were once again feed­ing in the area. The wind had dropped, and the smooth sur­face was only punc­tu­ated with feed­ing bub­bles. Even so, I nearly jumped out of my skin when a buzzer howled. This time the weed did play a part and, as I strug­gled, Antony came round to ver­bally as­sist. Even­tu­ally, the carp came free from most of the weed, and along with a big ball of the green stuff, I was able to drag the fish to­ward the net held by my vis­i­tor. The carp looked big, with her huge shoul­ders forc­ing the weed down her flanks. All I could think of was a ‘New Life PB’ as the net en­gulfed it – but once we got the fish on the mat I was sim­ply blown away by its size. It was a big 30 for sure, but when Antony read out the scale read­ing of 40lb 7oz, my eyes once again filled with tears. We were trou­bled by the light, and to be hon­est, none of the pic­tures came out

too well. Be that as it may, it is a mem­ory that will stay with me for­ever.

Thank­fully, the guys landed a fish just be­fore I left the fol­low­ing morn­ing. I had a cou­ple more topped by a lovely fish of 27lb 8oz, and as I closed the gate I wished them all the luck in the world. Antony, quite rightly, moved into the swim I va­cated and I even left him a cou­ple of ki­los of my Hy­brid to com­plete the pic­ture. In an amaz­ingly ironic twist of fate, he landed a mir­ror of 40lb 7oz as well.

As I sat feel­ing poorly and rest­ing my painful head at home in my arm­chair, I re­ally couldn’t have been hap­pier. What a way to round off an un­be­liev­able ses­sion! And whilst we speak of in­cred­i­ble irony, let me tell you about my mug. I had used the same mug for over 25 years. It had even been parachut­ing with me. Un­for­tu­nately, I dropped it at Yate­ley, and even made a post on Face­book about the up­set­ting in­ci­dent. The re­sponse was un­be­liev­able, but one per­son’s post caught my eye, or rather the mug he sug­gested did. Matt Small said he would send me the mug, which he did a day or so later. Some things touch me more th­ese days, and I had tears in my eyes as I opened the pack­age. The mug said it all, as did the ‘New Life PB’ which fi­nally opened the doors to a fresh, post-op­er­a­tion, world. It just goes to show carp fish­ing has so much more to it than sim­ply catch­ing a carp. There are places to go, ad­ven­tures to be had, but most im­por­tantly, there are in­ter­est­ing peo­ple to meet. And I can­not for a sec­ond tell you how happy I am about that.

Take care of you and yours, Chilly.

ABOVE One of the older HOLLY­BUSH fish AT 27LB 2OZ – IT WAS GOOD TO see it look­ing so good

BE­LOW BOT­TOMThe Wil­low Park rig clinic, and the mot­ley crew

BE­LOW TOP I spent my time at Wil­low catch­ing carp off the top with all the vis­i­tors

LEFT I spent much of my time won­der­ing what the fu­ture had in store for me

LEFT MID­DLE At 26lb things were mov­ing on nicely!

LEFT The scales read 40lb 7oz and my eyes joy­fully filled with tears once again

BE­LOW The in­cred­i­ble Pads Lake trip had opened the doors on a fresh, post-op­er­a­tion world...

ABOVE In an amaz­ing twist of fate Antony landed a 40lb 7oz him­self!

LEFT I can never thank Matt Small enough – a very spe­cial sur­prise

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