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
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