Along the Way

Af­ter a lengthy sab­bat­i­cal, we wel­come Jim Wil­son back into the fold. He starts back with tales from a large venue that on/off he has been pit­ting his wits against over the past cou­ple of sea­sons

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Jim Wil­son

We wel­come Jim Wil­son back into the fold. He starts with tales from a large venue that he has been pit­ting his wits against over the past cou­ple of sea­sons

Well, it’s been some time since I found my­self sit­ting down to type up a di­ary-style piece, based around my fish­ing ex­ploits, for the one and only Carp­world. So, when I was asked if I’d like to con­trib­ute again it was an ab­so­lute ‘no brainer’ for me. The thing I found hard­est, while giv­ing it some thought, was how I could make this piece rel­e­vant to the ma­jor­ity of an­glers out there. Now con­trary to what some peo­ple be­lieve, my an­gling is a hobby to me, al­beit a mas­sively im­por­tant one, that some­times bor­ders upon an ob­ses­sion. Let’s be hon­est, it does for most of us – oth­er­wise we wouldn’t spend so much time talk­ing about, think­ing about it, and be­ing out on the bank do­ing it. But it is far from a job for me – I al­ready have a job, one that I truly love. So my fish­ing does play sec­ond fid­dle, which at times can be frus­trat­ing – much the same as it can be for many an­glers I guess!

So, where did I de­cide to start this first part? I de­cided to take it back to the be­gin­ning of the spring. This year has been an en­joy­able one in my an­gling. Hav­ing had some big changes over the New Year pe­riod and late win­ter, it turned out to be one of my most pro­duc­tive spring/sum­mers for quite some time. Through late win­ter I had some re­ally en­joy­able trips to Lin­ear Fish­eries, mainly to get a bend in the rod – but I also had a few so­cials with fel­low Fox con­sul­tant Tom Maker which, in all hon­esty, were an ab­so­lute blast. We caught some good fish be­tween us over the course of four or five trips. These were in what can only be de­scribed as some pretty dour weather at times. The ‘beast from the east’ clearly be­ing ev­i­dent on a cou­ple of those trips.

Once May ar­rived, I’d got it in my mind that I was head­ing back to a big boat­ing lake that I’ve been fish­ing on and off for a few years now. So that is where I’ll kick this piece off. The big pit is heaven in my eyes. It com­prises over 100-acres of water, rel­a­tively low-stocked, and with ex­ten­sive out-of­bounds sec­tions of the bank. There are also ar­eas of the lake that you just can’t fish due to its lay­out, with mas­sive metal ca­bles sus­pended up off the lake bed for the skiers’ slalom mark­ers. There are also masses of heavy weed growth and swarms of hungry tench – all this and more just adds to the life that is carp fish­ing on the big boat­ing lake.

I ar­rived for my first ses­sion, a bit later in the year than usual due to other com­mit­ments. It was an early May Sun­day af­ter­noon, when the coun­try was in the midst of some glo­ri­ous sun­shine. As I drove along the bot­tom bank of the sprawl­ing main sec­tion of the lake, it was clear that the ma­jor­ity of the ski­ing syn­di­cate were out in force en­joy­ing the un­sea­son­ably hot weather. There were boats ev­ery­where, with peo­ple get­ting dragged along – the skiers scyth­ing through the water along the slalom straights.

I in­stantly ruled out the main body of the lake, in­clud­ing the area we af­fec­tion­ately call the Ski Straight be­cause I knew there was no chance of get­ting the rods out any­time soon (there’s an un­writ­ten rule that when the boats are out the an­glers reel in when fish­ing the com­mu­nal ar­eas of the lake).

I headed for an area known as the Dog Leg, where the lake nar­rows and forms a chan­nel be­tween two vast sec­tions of water. It’s weird re­ally, as the lake is well in ex­cess of 100-acres and yet this area feels like your fish­ing a five or six­acre pond due to the limited vis­i­bil­ity within the nar­row chan­nel. I started to have a walk around the area but the chop and ac­com­pa­ny­ing light lev­els were mak­ing fish spot­ting hard, so I opted to gain a height ad­van­tage by climb­ing one of the many trees around the pit. This soon re­vealed two fish us­ing the far mar­gin of the dog leg, head­ing in the di­rec­tion of the chan­nel area. That was enough for me to start with, so I soon had the gear ready and the boat sorted, ready to go spot-check­ing.

Well, that turned into a right old dis­as­ter. I ended up fall­ing in as I was get­ting out of the boat and by the time I’d got my­self sorted it was nearly dark. So I had to rely on some pre­vi­ous notes I made about the swim and hope for a bit of luck

with weed-free ar­eas. It wasn’t ideal but I ended up with half de­cent drops and set­tled in for the night.

By first light it was pretty ob­vi­ous to me that us­ing the boat and then fall­ing in had clearly moved the carp away from the area. I didn’t see a fish or hear any­thing through the night, so a few wake-up cups of cof­fee were soon de­voured and I was off search­ing for them. I even­tu­ally found a few fish in the main body of the lake, in the lee of an is­land that was shel­tered from the halfde­cent south-west­erly wind that was blow­ing. Be­ing a Mon­day, the boats weren’t out, so I was able to fetch the kit and have a quick drift around some spots I knew from pre­vi­ous vis­its. I fan­cied my chances, so I put a lit­tle bit of bait on each. Two of them I could cast to, but one I needed to drop the hook­bait from the boat due to the fact it was tucked up in an al­cove un­der an over­hang­ing wil­low in the mar­gin of an is­land.

By mid-af­ter­noon I was plot­ted up in the new swim with the rods clipped and ready to go. I waited un­til about 6pm to get the rods out, just to make sure none of the ski club mem­bers were in­tent on go­ing to fire up their en­gines and head out to play for the evening. Once sorted and happy with the rods, I set­tled in for the evening, which passed by un­event­fully. First light saw the tench ar­rive though and a cou­ple of good-sized tin­cas soon had me scram­bling for the rods. I sorted them quickly enough and soon had fresh baits back on the spots. Thank­fully, the rod dropped from the boat hadn’t drawn the at­ten­tion of any tench and, not long af­ter first light, it in­di­cated my first big-pit carp bite of the year. Af­ter a pretty fraught tus­sle I soon had a good 20-pounder se­cured in the net. I recog­nised it as one I’d caught be­fore, hav­ing dis­tinc­tive dam­age to its tail, which I’m pretty con­vinced is a sign of a lucky es­cape from an ot­ter.

I was ab­so­lutely buzzing to have the first fish of the year un­der my belt, es­pe­cially on my first trip. The pre­vi­ous spring I had fished a good 12-15 nights be­fore I’d landed my first fish of the year from the lake.

Once the self-takes had been com­pleted, I set­tled down for a cel­e­bra­tory brew. How is it that a cuppa can taste so much bet­ter af­ter a cap­ture is be­yond me, but it def­i­nitely does. Whilst en­joy­ing the brew, the mid­dle rod, which had been re­cast af­ter the tench ac­tion, ab­so­lutely melted off and I was soon con­nected to an­other big pit carp. Af­ter a bit of to­ing and fro­ing amongst a num­ber of weedbeds, an­other stun­ning, scaly mir­ror slipped over the net cord, and soon enough I was hold­ing an­other 20lb fish up for the cam­era. I was as happy as

As I drove along the bot­tom bank of the sprawl­ing main sec­tion of the lake, it was clear that the ma­jor­ity of the ski­ing syn­di­cate were out in force en­joy­ing the un­sea­son­ably hot weather

could be with a brace of fish un­der my belt on my first trip back and be­fore leav­ing I went and baited a few zones in prepa­ra­tion for my re­turn and the re­main­der of the spring.

Sure enough, I was back the fol­low­ing week for an­other go, and this time I ar­rived nice and early. Be­ing mid­week, I was hope­fully that the boats wouldn’t be out to play so I could get the rods out nice and early once I’d de­cided where to fish. Af­ter a good five or six hours of look­ing, I opted for the same swim where I’d pre­vi­ously caught the carp. It’s a swim known as The Is­land due to the fact that there is, fun­nily enough, a great big one, about 120 yards away from the bank. The chan­nel be­tween the bank and the is­land is used reg­u­larly by the boats mov­ing from their moor­ings up to the Ski Straight area of the lake. Thank­fully, the skiers were be­ing kind, so I had the rods out and sorted by around tea time, and I once again set­tled in to en­joy the evening. The at­mos­phere around the big pit is al­ways elec­tric and it is such a lively place to be that you can’t help but en­joy the sur­round­ings, what with reg­u­lar vis­its from foxes, bad­gers and deer. The munt­jacs in par­tic­u­lar, can be ridicu­lously vo­cal and have a habit of bark­ing at the back of your brolly at silly times, nor­mally scar­ing the life out me!

Any­way, the night passed by un­event­fully, on the rod front at least. By about 8.30am it was start­ing to warm up and I was re­ally ques­tion­ing if I’d got the lo­ca­tion wrong. I sat watch­ing the water keenly, like I had been since first light and about 90 min­utes later, I fi­nally saw a carp show it­self some dis­tance be­yond where I was fish­ing. A fur­ther three hours passed and as I was sit­ting hav­ing a cuppa with one of the reg­u­lars, when I had an ab­so­lute rip­per of a take. Af­ter a very snatchy-type fight, with lots of short, fast, bursts of power, I ended with an up­per-dou­ble com­mon re­cov­er­ing in the folds of my land­ing net.

As you can prob­a­bly imag­ine, I was chuffed to bits at get­ting an­other bite so quickly and those first few carp re­ally ramped up my con­fi­dence in my tac­tics and how I was go­ing about my an­gling.

Soon enough the day turned into an­other scorcher for the time of year, and the boats came out to play. So I cranked the rods in and spent most of the af­ter­noon walk­ing the perime­ter of the pit look­ing for signs of fish. Even­tu­ally I ar­rived back in my orig­i­nal plot and stuck the ket­tle on. I hadn’t seen any­thing to per­suade me to move so I set about ty­ing three new hinge rigs up, bal­anc­ing off the Sig­na­ture Squid hook­baits and pa­tiently waited for the boats and skiers to fin­ish. Much to my sur­prise it was only about 6pm when I saw the last of the boats head­ing back into the moor­ings. The ar­eas that I could cast to from the bank I baited us­ing the throw­ing stick – the is­land spot had a lib­eral mix­ture of hemp, crumbed krill, krill pel­let and krill liq­uid dropped over the baited rig from the boat.

Only a few hours later the rod dropped from the boat was away and a stress­ful bat­tle in and out of nu­mer­ous weedbeds fol­lowed. Once in the net the fish looked ev­ery inch a 30-pounder to me, so I se­cured the net and rang my mate, Josh. He was fish­ing a venue lit­er­ally a few min­utes away and he agreed to come over and play cam­era man in the fad­ing light. The scales didn’t lie, and my first big-pit 30 of the year was soon be­ing held up for the cam­eras. I was gob­s­macked by the start to the year – four fish landed and only just go­ing into my fourth night of the year was more than I could have ever ex­pected.

The last night of trip passed by far from qui­etly but, un­for­tu­nately, it wasn’t caused by carp ac­tion – a shoal of tench moved through and had wiped all three rods out by first light.

I was back a lit­tle over a week later, though this time I’d tagged a day’s an­nual leave on to my rest days so I could fit in a three-night ses­sion. Ar­riv­ing late af­ter­noon af­ter work, I was soon

un­der­tak­ing the now fa­mil­iar walk around the pit and clam­ber­ing up and down my favourite view­ing trees. Yet again the skiers were mak­ing the most of the lovely weather we were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, so it was a good old fash­ioned foot-pa­trol to try and find a few fish. I even­tu­ally found a few dark shapes drift­ing in and out of patches of heavy weed growth in some shal­low water, be­tween the main body of the lake and the Ski Straight. Thirty or so years ago there were two lakes and the shal­low ground came about when the area be­tween the pits were ex­ca­vated, com­bin­ing them.

I de­cided to set up right on the point, so I could fish a rod straight into the shal­low water and then one rod each on ei­ther side. The boats were out un­til late that night but thank­fully all the spots were pretty much un­der­arm flicks to get into po­si­tion. The fish were still in the area – I had seen half a dozen or more pass around the point at close range whilst I was try­ing to get my gear sorted.

Once the rods were out I re­ally did think it was a mat­ter of when, and not if, it hap­pened. But in typ­i­cal fash­ion for the lake, when you think you’ve cracked it, it gave me a swift re­al­ity check. Come first light, all three bob­bins had re­mained mo­tion­less and from what I could see, noth­ing had been feed­ing on any of the baited spots.

That dented my con­fi­dence a lit­tle. So I sat still through the early part of the morn­ing just watch­ing the lake, as I had a fairly good view of 40 or 50 acres of water, and I didn’t see a thing. By late morn­ing I’d swung the rigs in and set off search­ing for them. The ski boats weren’t out, so I de­cided to go afloat, search­ing for the fish. By the time I had done a full lap a good cou­ple of hours had passed, so I moored up and went for a brew. Whilst I stood sip­ping my well-earned cuppa, I was sure I saw some­thing roll to the west side of the is­land – a long way from where I was stood. I jumped back in the boat and headed for the area. Once close by, I re­verted to the oars in­stead of the en­gine, so as

There, as if by magic, was a group of about eight carp. I recog­nised one of them in­stantly, a fish I’d caught the pre­vi­ous au­tumn at over 35lb. Con­se­quently, us­ing that fish as a mea­sure I knew then that I was look­ing at a some big carp

to make as lit­tle dis­tur­bance as pos­si­ble. There, as if by magic, was a group of about eight carp. I recog­nised one of them in­stantly, a fish I’d caught the pre­vi­ous au­tumn at over 35lb. Con­se­quently, us­ing that fish as a mea­sure I knew then that I was look­ing at a some big carp. I stead­ied the boat as best I could and watched as the group moved in and out of the very dense weed growth. That was enough for me and I went back to my pitch as quickly as I could, got the gear to­gether, and headed back to the is­land.

Even­tu­ally, I was sorted out and had the baits on fa­mil­iar spots. I sat back, wait­ing, ex­pec­tantly. I stayed up well into dark­ness that night, in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a bite at any time, but fi­nally I suc­cumbed to tired­ness and climbed into the sleep­ing bag.

I was soon wak­ing up to the sound of an alarm – un­for­tu­nately it was com­ing from my phone and not the re­ceiver next to it. I swung my legs out of the sleep­ing bag and fired up the stove for the first tea of the day. Bleary-eyed and tired, I was dis­ap­pointed that the bob­bins hadn’t moved even an inch be­tween them.

I love the first few hours of day­light, par­tic­u­larly in the spring. Ev­ery­thing in na­ture at this time of year is so fresh and vi­brant and full of en­ergy – but the carp ap­peared to be us­ing their en­ergy to avoid me! Un­til around 8am that is, when it fi­nally hap­pened and one of the rods burst into life. Soon enough I was on the rod and

wound down the slack be­fore lift­ing into the fish, which was ob­vi­ously a carp be­cause as I put the pres­sure on I was forced to give 15-20 yards of line al­most in­stantly. Be­fore long, the deep, pow­er­ful runs the fish was mak­ing be­came shorter and shal­lower and I was soon stood waist deep with the net out­stretched draw­ing a big set of scaly shoul­ders to­wards the spreader block. Then it was done – the Horse, as it’s af­fec­tion­ately known, the one I recog­nised from the group be­cause I’d caught it be­fore, was sulk­ing in the land­ing net, the white hook­bait bob­bing back and forth as the fish took in and ex­pelled water.

As much as it was a re­peat, I was ab­so­lutely buzzing be­cause any­thing from the big pit is a re­sult. I popped it care­fully into a re­ten­tion sling and called my good mate Lewis, who lives only half an hour away and he kindly came down to help. At just over 36lb it was an ab­so­lute mon­ster.

All too soon it was time reel in the other two rods and I set off on my now fa­mil­iar route around the pit, stop­ping at all my usual climb­ing trees and snaggy over­hangs, where I thought I might see fish. Within a cou­ple of hours I was back by the rods hav­ing seen noth­ing to make me con­sider mov­ing. I had sorted some fresh rigs and topped up the spots with some ex­tra bait. A lit­tle later the rods were back out, wait­ing for the fi­nal night’s

events to un­fold. Once again an­other rel­a­tively quiet night passed by, apart from a cou­ple of the old red-eyed devils in­ter­rupt­ing the peace and tran­quil­lity of it all.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing was quite pro­duc­tive by the lake’s stan­dards. The weather be­came favourable – muggy but not hot, a light south­west­erly breeze with fall­ing pres­sure and rain – and the carp re­sponded. By the time I had to wrap up and leave, just af­ter mid­day, I’d landed a belt­ing up­per-dou­ble mir­ror and also a mid-20lb mir­ror – one I couldn’t place ini­tially which I was ab­so­lutely buzzing about. Three fish in a trip was be­yond my wildest ex­pec­ta­tions re­ally, and to have caught con­sis­tently from my first visit of the sea­son was what I was most pleased about.

My next trip was about 10 days later, due to work com­mit­ments, and it was to be a film­ing trip with my good mate Lewis Porter. I man­aged to get down the night be­fore Lew and Harry the cam­era­man, which I thought was good an­gling. I didn’t ar­rive un­til late in the af­ter­noon, but it still left me plenty of time to have a good look around. It was a hot, and I mean re­ally hot, June day, but the carp were ac­tu­ally pretty help­ful as it turned out. The boats were out in num­bers and I kept see­ing fish show­ing in the wakes that the boats left be­hind them. I’d seen this be­hav­iour be­fore and had gone on to catch, so my con­fi­dence was al­ready start­ing to climb.

The ma­jor­ity of the shows were well to the left

of the is­land swim, in an area where we haven’t got per­mis­sion to have swims. So, once again, I opted for the is­land swim, fig­ur­ing I could wade as far left of the swim as I could safely ne­go­ti­ate, then cast onto the shows be­fore walk­ing the rods back to the swim – which went par­tic­u­larly smoothly once the boats had moored up for the evening. All I did was en­sure my hook­baits were crit­i­cally­bal­anced on the hinge rigs and then I moved the top beads on my he­li­copter set-ups as far up the leader as I could get them, to en­sure that I would be fish­ing ef­fec­tively pro­vid­ing I could get the small­est of drops on the cast.

Around 8pm I was sorted and set­tled, and full of an­tic­i­pa­tion for the trip. I love the feel­ing I get when I think I’m fish­ing well and my con­fi­dence is high. It makes the time fly by on the bank and I al­most ex­pect some­thing to hap­pen, which it did around mid­night. One of the rods fished well left was picked up, and af­ter a dogged fight I saw what I thought was a very fa­mil­iar set of shoul­ders slide over the net cord. On closer in­spec­tion I was right – there was the Horse again.

It was just af­ter first light when I re­ceived my next in­di­ca­tion. I had fished one rod up against the is­land, on the spot that had been do­ing me proud through the spring ses­sions, and it was this that was now away. Dur­ing the whole time I was play­ing the fish it felt heavy, plod­ding back and forth, and when I first caught sight of it I was con­vinced it was a cer­tain scaly beauty that I was

Un­der the rod tip the fish just would not give up, strip­ping line off on sev­eral oc­ca­sions – and with me stood there, promis­ing to be a good boy for­ever and ever, if I could just land this one fish!

des­per­ate to catch. Upon see­ing a photo of it a few years pre­vi­ously, I’d said there and then that I couldn’t move on un­til I’d caught that fish – and here I was at­tached to it on a misty June morn­ing. Un­der the rod tip the fish just would not give up, strip­ping line off on sev­eral oc­ca­sions – and with me stood there, promis­ing to be a good boy for­ever and ever, if I could just land this one fish!

Af­ter what seemed like an eter­nity, I even­tu­ally guided the fish over the wait­ing net and scooped up my prize. I quickly peered into the net des­per­ate to con­firm it was the one I so dearly, dearly wanted from the pit.

I rang Lewis who I knew wouldn’t be far away by then, and soon enough both he and Harry joined me, and we weighed and pho­tographed the in­cred­i­ble crea­ture – all 34lb of it. A scaly carp that is nearly 40 years old, and, to be per­fectly hon­est, I was ab­so­lutely blown away.

We all sat to­gether, cel­e­brat­ing with a brew. Soon enough the sun was high in the sky and the tem­per­a­ture was head­ing north rapidly. I read­ied my­self for the usual big pit rou­tine. The rods were reeled in and I set to, search­ing, both from the bank and the boat, find­ing a num­ber of fish pass­ing over the shal­low ground be­tween the main body of the lake and the Ski Straight. Fool­ishly, I didn’t move onto these fish for some rea­son and de­cided to stay put in the same swim. I suf­fered a very quiet night as a re­sult!

The fol­low­ing day the weather fol­lowed the same pat­tern and the tem­per­a­ture hit some very

high num­bers for this coun­try. Sure enough the fish turned up in the shal­low, weedy water again, and this time I made the ob­vi­ous de­ci­sion and moved.

Once the skiers had fin­ished for the day I set about get­ting the rods out, and un­der-armed them into po­si­tion – one I even dropped from the rod tip as I waded it out, which feels weird on such a big pit. Once the rods were all in po­si­tion, Lew, Harry and I set­tled down for a BBQ and a catch up. No sooner had we fin­ished eat­ing, than my right-hand rod was away, and af­ter a very ar­du­ous fight in the dense weed, I had a mid20lb mir­ror wait­ing for the cam­eras. The ef­fort mov­ing had paid off and it cer­tainly rounded off a bril­liant trip and a very pro­duc­tive pe­riod of fish­ing for me.

The fol­low­ing week the big pit carp spawned, and that was my in­vi­ta­tion to leave them to it for a while. I had a new water to fish, which is fairly lo­cal to me for once, and holds a num­ber of good fish. I’ll bring you up to speed with that next time.

BE­LOW When the boats are out in force

ABOVE Sec­ond fish of the sess­sion FAR RIGHT Rods out in the Is­land

BOT­TOM RIGHT An up­per dou­ble com­mon from an early ses­sion in the cam­paign BE­LOW The weed was up and heavy this year

LEFT TOP THE FIRST REAL BIG UN OF the big pit cam­paign

ABOVE TOP The Horse about to be re­turned

ABOVE Hoist­ing up a prize for the cam­era

ABOVE Moody night skies

BE­LOW Bend­ing into a big pit carp

ABOVE The buzz of a big pit cap­ture

ABOVE RIGHT Weigh­ing my prize

ABOVE Misty morn­ing VIC­TORY flag

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.