The F Word

Mr F’s ex­tra­or­di­nary run of luck shows no sign of abat­ing, with an­other mix of stun­ning and large carp des­tined for the al­bum this month...

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Paul For­ward

Mr F’s ex­tra­or­di­nary run of luck shows no sign of abat­ing, with an­other mix of stun­ning and large carp des­tined for the al­bum this month...

Once again I’m happy to re­port that my good for­tune seems to be end­less. I’m not en­tirely sure of the hows and whys – maybe I’ve trod­den in some lucky dodo poo, as yet again ev­ery trip has some­how

re­sulted some amaz­ing carp. To­wards the end of the sum­mer heat­wave I con­tin­ued with my short overnighters on the nearby Stour Lake – to be hon­est, I’ve en­joyed not hav­ing to travel too far (some seven miles), plus I was get­ting to fish the best hours any­how... through the evening, night and early morn­ing, then de­part­ing at around 7am for work. I’d had a fair amount of suc­cess too, noth­ing overly mas­sive but some crack­ing fish though, with both com­mons and mir­rors up to high twen­ties.

My first trip back to the Tip Lake was a breezy Sun­day af­ter­noon in late Au­gust where, af­ter weeks of siz­zling tem­per­a­tures, the baro­met­ric pres­sure had fi­nally dropped and grey clouds were rolling in. Af­ter see­ing a cou­ple of shows on my way around the lake, I’d dropped in a swim some­what strangely named Mar­garet’s... I know, but that’s what it’s called. I’d never even wet a line in there be­fore, but it was, I thought, about time. Two is­lands in front, at less than 30 yards range, meant it seemed like I was fish­ing on a canal. It is also fairly ob­vi­ous where to cast your baits, al­though this makes you, or cer­tainly me, feel a bit re­stricted. Any­how, most of the ground close to the is­lands I found was clear-ish, apart from the oblig­a­tory car­pet of blan­ket weed – but that was still well pre­sentable in my opin­ion, so it was along here I flicked three baits and a scat­ter­ing of free­bies. Less than an hour later, and much to my sur­prise, the left-han­der ripped off with what turned out to be one of the most fab­u­lous look­ing com­mons I’ve ever seen... hon­estly. I think it’s called The Per­fect Com­mon and I’m sure you’ll agree it def­i­nitely is. For those to whom it mat­ters, it weighed 33lb and, al­though noth­ing else hap­pened for me on this par­tic­u­lar trip, it def­i­nitely fo­cused my mind to con­cen­trate my time on here.

A change in weather sys­tems meant some

proper carpy stuff was at last reach­ing our shores and, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the fact that a fair dol­lop of the long over­due rain which was fore­cast for the last Wed­nes­day of Au­gust, I’d loaded up my van the evening pre­vi­ous for an early start on the Tip Lake. For me, there is still noth­ing like the buzz of ac­tu­ally be­ing there on the wa­ter, look­ing for clues at first light whilst most carpers are still in the Land of Nod with their bivvy doors zipped up. As I pulled through the gate in the half-light, I was con­vinced the rain ac­tu­ally in­ten­si­fied a notch or two, mean­ing (a) – it wouldn’t be light for a while and (b) – I was go­ing to get soaked!

As keen as ever and hav­ing made the ef­fort to get here I threw on my trusty old army Gore­tex, fol­lowed by a pair of waders and set off for a lap. One of my mates called Lee Dean was the first an­gler I came to, in a swim called The Rails – it was time to put the ket­tle on. Noth­ing much had oc­curred dur­ing the night it tran­spired but, over a much needed cuppa, we con­cluded that my best plan would be to chuck a cou­ple of rods out in the swim next door then watch from un­der some cover un­til the rain eased up. In­deed, for many rea­sons (some not all that ob­vi­ous at that point in time) it was a cun­ning plan. For a start, I’d fished the swim a fair few times re­cently with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess and so knew a cou­ple of clearer, and there­fore more pre­sentable, spots in this very weedy lit­tle wa­ter. Most im­por­tantly we all knew it was ‘bite time’ and I needed to get some baits in the wa­ter quickly to ac­tu­ally give my­self a chance – maybe the best chance of the en­tire day too. So, grab­bing a brolly and the bare es­sen­tials from the van, I could now sit and watch a fair bit of wa­ter both left and right for signs of carp. The rods went out sur­pris­ingly well, both first time ef­forts, land­ing with a firm donk on the spots near the is­land, fol­lowed by 20 or so free­bies. In pre­vi­ous weeks I’d taken stock of the fact that every­body, bar none, were us­ing pop-ups on Ron­nie rigs and so I de­cided to be a bit dif­fer­ent and use my favourite, bog-stan­dard hair rig with a bot­tom bait. Noth­ing re­motely com­pli­cated, or even waft­ing, just a straight out of the bag 18mm Cell boilie, rea­son­ing that even though there was still weed on even the clear­est spot, it was only the rough blan­ket stuff and I was sure that I could present well enough on it. Any­how I’d got them out and had been shel­ter­ing for no more than 20 min­utes when the right-hand bob­bin lifted up to the top and stayed there. I wasn’t sure whether it was a take or what was oc­cur­ring, but I picked the rod up only to find noth­ing there – ob­vi­ously a liner. Whilst wind­ing in for a re-chuck the left-hand rod burst into ac­tion, the line lit­er­ally rip­ping from what was a very tight clutch. Drop­ping the one rod, I picked up the other to im­me­di­ately feel a heavy fish on the other end – within sec­onds it was weeded solidly in thick mil­foil. Not wish­ing to al­low it to get buried even fur­ther, I held the spool and walked slowly back­wards point­ing the rod di­rectly at the fish. Ever so slowly it be­gan to move, a few inches at first, then a foot or two, then I felt its tail kick and I

breathed a sigh of re­lief – it was still on. All I had to do was keep it com­ing. Lee had heard the take and was now wait­ing by my side with the net. Once it was close enough, I could see it was a mir­ror – not a bad one ei­ther, but the fight did feel weird... It is dif­fi­cult to ex­plain but def­i­nitely weird. Any­how, it was only when it went in the net that we re­alised that there was an­other line tan­gled up with mine and what’s more there was an­other fish on the end of it... Lee ex­pertly hand-lined the sec­ond carp, a low-20 com­mon, into a spare net which I’d quickly set up, un­hooked it and slipped it back, ap­par­ently no worse for its or­deal. The poor fish had been trail­ing at least 30 yards of line, plus the rig and lead, which had some­how got snarled up with both my line and bun­dles of weed. It had also, more than likely than not, caused the ear­lier liner on the right-hand rod.

Hav­ing sorted out the trail­ing fish and the messy web of line, we peered in the net and re­alised that my fish was much larger than we’d first thought – in ac­tual fact what we had was one of the big girls. Upon closer in­spec­tion we agreed it was Her­cules – the sec­ond largest mir­ror in the venue. On the scales the long, dark, chest­nut coloured mir­ror went 43lb. What a ter­rific start to the day! It is un­be­liev­able re­ally but, when things are go­ing well, th­ese mirac­u­lous events can and do hap­pen.

Once I’d sorted out the whole sorry mess, the rain did slowly start to clear but a cou­ple of hours or so later the swim be­gan to look a bit life­less... not sur­pris­ing re­ally, given the dis­tur­bance I’d caused. Still, I gave it un­til lunchtime just in case.

The heavy, grey skies had cleared by now and warm sun­shine was at last break­ing through. Pic­ture book fluffy white clouds dot­ted the sky, so it was time for a proper look around the 5-acre venue. A gen­tle breeze had picked up from a northerly di­rec­tion which was blow­ing down into a swim called The Point, which is also the weed­i­est part of the lake. The trees are rel­a­tively easy to climb on the end bank, which is tech­ni­cally out of bounds for fish­ing as there aren’t any swims, but I’d be cast­ing over that way from The Point. From my van­tage po­si­tion in the tree tops, I could see sev­eral grey/blue shad­ows pass­ing through the holes in the heavy weed – the odd one send­ing up tell­tale plumes of bub­bles as it tipped and fed. This looked promis­ing, I thought to my­self and so, af­ter a quick scan of my other op­tions, my day gear was loaded on the bar­row and swiftly trans­ported around to The Point.

In the swim there is an is­land out in front at around 30 yards and the afore­men­tioned out of bounds bank to my left. It was plain to see that my only op­tions were the two holes in the mat of weed on the sur­face. A bait could be cast to into each one, which was about as big as a bed chair, plus a lit­tle clear strip down the left mar­gin. A cou­ple of flicks with a light lead con­firmed that the right-hand hole was clear, the other not so, yet still pre­sentable. Both holes were close enough for me to be able to cat­a­pult a cou­ple of pints of fresh hempseed plus 50 or so boilies around each hook­bait, the rod which was down the edge was easy enough to bait by hand.

Dur­ing the late af­ter­noon and evening, carp were vis­it­ing the area and oc­ca­sion­ally send­ing up plumes of bub­bles as they tipped to feed – each time they did so, my pulse rate in­creased a few lev­els. As dark­ness fell I’d still not had as much as a liner but with so many fish about, I felt con­fi­dent of a take in the night. I awoke just be­fore first light feel­ing dis­ap­pointed and a lit­tle be­mused to find the bob­bins hadn’t moved an inch and, as you do, I put the ket­tle on. As the day­light be­gan to break and I mulled over what could pos­si­bly have gone wrong, the mid­dle rod sud­denly burst into life. I was on it in sec­onds but some­how it had dived into the weed and now felt pretty solid.

Re­peat­ing the same pro­ce­dure as the day be­fore – walk­ing back slowly, whilst point­ing the rod at the fish did the trick yet again; the only trou­ble was that this time I’d up­rooted a gi­ant raft of a weedbed too and the whole lot was steadily com­ing to­wards me, but as yet I couldn’t see the fish. All I could do was to net as much of the weed as pos­si­ble and hope­fully the fish with it. The next thing I knew though, the net han­dle broke, snap­ping clean off next to the spreader block. Even worse, af­ter man­ag­ing to reach it with a spare net

and bun­dle the whole lot ashore, the fish wasn’t in there! Af­ter rip­ping away more of the weed, I dis­cov­ered the line was ac­tu­ally com­ing back out of the net and down into the mar­gins. As luck would have it though I im­me­di­ately felt a tug – the fish was still on! Care­fully I hand-lined the carp close enough, then into the spare net it went first at­tempt! Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, I let out a huge sigh of re­lief and punched the air. The Big Fully Scaled, in all its majesty, lay on the mat. Yet an­other one ticked off my most wanted list and once again there was no doubt I’d been a very lucky fel­low...

My next trip to the Tip Lake was in midseptem­ber and a mid­week one, the same as the last trip. I ar­rived be­fore first light and loaded a few es­sen­tials on the bar­row, then chucked ’em out again in Churchills, just for a few hours re­ally, to give my­self a chance of watch­ing the lake for clues. As the clock ticked by and the sun be­gan to rise in the sky, I saw a few move­ments and a bit of bub­bling in The Rushes which is two swims fur­ther down the lake. Upon in­ves­ti­ga­tion, there were in­deed a few about, maybe a dozen – some were cruis­ing about in mid-wa­ter, whilst the oth­ers were as still as stat­ues. But, more im­por­tantly, two of them were def­i­nitely big girls! There was no way I could def­i­nitely iden­tify the fish at that range, but, I could clearly see they were big! Think­ing back, I’d seen a re­ally big one in this area the pre­vi­ous week and a few of the reg­u­lars had told me that the big­gest mir­ror in the venue, called The Box, does like it there – and, more rel­e­vantly, does get caught there. One of the prob­lems with hav­ing had a tremen­dous sea­son al­ready, and catch­ing a fair few, is that in­evitably I’d started not only tick­ing them off my list but, re­ally and truth­fully, there were only three or four of the 35-plus fish left that I re­ally wanted to catch at this junc­ture. So, even though I re­ally don’t par­tic­u­larly en­joy tar­get­ing in­di­vid­ual fish, much pre­fer­ring to catch as many as pos­si­ble and see what comes along, I was, I must ad­mit, start­ing to think along those lines, and The Box was def­i­nitely near the top of my list.

I’d only fished the swim a cou­ple of times be­fore and, to be hon­est, I didn’t re­ally like it that much as you can end up feel­ing hemmed in if peo­ple go next door and op­po­site. The swim is in the cen­tre of the lake and has two prom­i­nent bars run­ning par­al­lel to the bank – one at 25 yards and the other at about 40 – this one hav­ing a gi­ant bed of fluffy topped rushes grow­ing out of it like a small is­land and hence the name, The Rushes. On the bars the depth was about 4ft and in the gul­lies about 7ft, all of it weedy – with some of the mil­foil up to the sur­face, a fair bit of Cana­dian and the rest, thick blan­ket and silk­weed. It was the blan­ket and silk­weed that I thought of­fered the best, maybe the only, chance of pre­sent­ing a bait prop­erly. Af­ter a fair amount of cast­ing around,

I wound up with two rods fish­ing on the slope of the first bar, with the third one on the back of the sec­ond bar, where a blan­ket of new, lu­mi­nous green, silk­weed was cov­er­ing the bot­tom. The carp of late seemed to be spend­ing a lot of time feed­ing on and around this fresh weed – maybe be­cause of the small snails and fresh­wa­ter shrimp, or maybe be­cause they eat the weed it­self. I know that roach love the stuff!

As dusk set­tled I baited each spot with a fur­ther 50 or so boilies and sat with Richard who was in The Rails, next door. Unusu­ally for me we had a take­away de­liv­ered – Amer­i­can burg­ers, spicy chicken and fries, which was ac­tu­ally very tasty, washed down, ob­vi­ously, with a few fine ales. Some­time, around mid­night, I was awo­ken by a low 20lb mir­ror which, af­ter an ad­mir­ing glance at both sides, I slipped straight back to its wa­tery home and jumped back in the bag. Just be­fore first light a jit­tery, jerky take oc­curred on the long­est rod on the sec­ond bar. Straight away the fish felt heavy, plod­ding up and down be­hind the bar. De­ter­mined not to let it find the sanc­tu­ary of the weed, I piled the pres­sure on and started to gain line. I tend to play fish hard any­way, es­pe­cially so in weed, where you just can­not af­ford to al­low them to do as they like. My line is tough, with a break­ing strain of 20lb, so, af­ter drop­ping the lead, I do try to keep the pres­sure on and their heads up. I’m pleased to re­port all went, swim­mingly well, re­sult­ing in a rather large mir­ror carp glid­ing over the net cord. I didn’t know quite how big un­til I tried to lift the net – it was a proper unit, this one.

Once on the mat and still in the torch­light I opened the net to re­veal the mus­cle-bound and al­most pur­ple-coloured flanks of a mas­sive mir­ror carp, cer­tainly way over 40lb. Al­though I’d never seen it on the bank be­fore I had a sneaky feel­ing that this could be my tar­get mir­ror! On the scales it reg­is­tered a tad over 47lb. No jok­ing, I had to shake my head a few times in dis­be­lief – ob­vi­ously wor­ried for a mo­ment that I was still dream­ing. Shortly af­ter putting it in a re­tainer to re­cover, Spencer and Richard called by to see how things were. For­tu­nately, both are ex­cel­lent with a cam­era en­abling me to get some fab­u­lous shots of this truly mag­nif­i­cent crea­ture.

With the au­tumn now in full swing, I’m go­ing to con­cen­trate on the Tip Lake when­ever I’ve got the time, and fin­gers crossed, I’ll try for one of the other three high­ly­de­sir­able 40s, namely The An­chor, Top Arthur, and, most de­sir­able of all, the in­cred­i­ble Satan’s Lin­ear. With the evenings draw­ing in now, I’ll also be pop­ping down to the Stour Lake for a few overnighters, but, what­ever hap­pens, even if I don’t have an­other bite I’ll be more than happy with the way my sea­son has gone.

Un­til next month, tight lines, Mr F.

P.S. On a sad note, my favourite un­cle, Derrick, passed away re­cently. He was end­lessly pa­tient and un­der­stand­ing with me and my brother as kids and was the guy re­spon­si­ble for teach­ing me how to fish, as well as to re­spect the won­der­ful world in which we live. I will def­i­nitely miss him.

BE­LOW The Per­fect Com­mon – no, se­ri­ously, that’s what it’s called

ABOVE A lovely Stour Lake com­mon

ABOVE One of the Lake’s big girls – this is Her­cules, weigh­ing just over 43lb

LEFT They were fizzing over my left-hand rod

ABOVE The view from above...

BE­LOW The Big Fully at 30lb­plus

BE­LOW I don’t par­tic­u­larly like sin­gu­lar tar­get fish, BUT I MADE AN EX­CEP­TION WHEN THIS ONE ROLLED OVER THE CORD. THE APTLY-NAMED BOX, AT 47LB

LEFT One for sor­row...

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