My Time on the Tip
Wes has fished and caught from some of the toughest waters in the south-east over the last 20 years. The Tip Lake was one that had been on his radar for a number of years – albeit he felt his greatest challenge may come from the other anglers as much as the carp themselves
WES HAS FISHED AND caught from some of the toughest waters IN THE SOUTH-EAST OVER the last 20 years. The TIP LAKE WAS ONE THAT HAD BEEN ON HIS RADAR FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS – ALBEIT HE FELT HIS GREATEST CHALLENGE MAY COME FROM THE OTHER ANGLERS as much as the carp THEMSELVES
Ifirst heard about the Tip Lake a while ago now, when a friend of mine, Dom, was fishing it. He used to call me up saying, “Weso, you have got to get on here, son”. For years I said I would think about it, but because of the bad reputation the Darenth complex had, I didn’t listen to him, but that’s a story for another time... I was fishing a special little lake over in Essex throughout the early parts of 2016 – it was a small, intimate and tricky pond with a great stock of fish. As some of you will know, the traffic for us Kent boys trying to get into Essex on a Friday afternoon is horrific, we quite often find ourselves stuck in loads of stationary traffic on the M25 for hours on end. I used to know a little cut through that took me past the Darenth complex, to avoid parts of the M25, and that always reminded me of Dom telling me to get on there. So I always had it in the back of my mind that fishing on the Tip could be a good move for me in the future, especially with it being just 15 minutes from where I live.
My time on the Essex lake came to an abrupt end with a big algae bloom sadly putting an end to most of the stock, a great shame for a very special lake. I had a ticket for a large Kent pit already, but didn’t fancy getting on there as it was now early autumn and it didn’t have much form for
the coming winter – so the Tip sprang to mind straight away.
I was straight on the phone to my old mate, as I knew he was very good friends with the guy who was running it at the time. The following day saw me waiting in the Tip Lake car park, meeting him for a winter ticket. At the time the lake was still very quiet, as word hadn’t got around about how many big fish were actually swimming around in the fishery. The Tip has a big head of large fish – being some five acres in size it contains around 60-odd carp, with 10 of them being over 40lb.
As soon as I parted with my cash for the ticket, I went for a walk around. The first thing that struck me was the sheer volume of weed that was on show. To be honest it looked more like a football pitch than a fishing lake. That wasn’t a problem in itself, as it’s a case of the more weed the better for me. In general, I think it puts a lot of people off and keeps a place quiet. How wrong was I though, as, on most Fridays during my early visits, nearly every swim was gone by 5pm!
Having said that, I did catch three fish in a short space of time after getting the ticket – a 25lb 10oz common and mirrors of 25lb 4oz and 31lb. Another swift, hard kick followed, when, after that short spell of success, I concluded that I was going to have it off over the winter... My next bite wasn’t until March! But for me it was all part of a learning curve, sometimes things don’t come easy and you’ve got to work for it.
Spending the winter on the Tip meant I was able to find some really good areas, while the weed was fairly low-lying, areas to keep an eye on come the warmer months.
Once I’d had that first fish again in March, I was really looking forward to the summer ahead, as I would have quite a few pals fishing alongside me and I knew we had some good times coming up. I was getting down every Tuesday and Thursday for quick overnighters and Friday nights too. I caught regularly throughout the summer months, fishing over big beds of Sticky Krill and particles, using hinged stiff rigs made with the help of some Gardner components.
All told, during spring and summer I caught around 25 carp – the biggest being 37lb – but for the Tip, they were small. I just couldn’t seem to get amongst the bigger fish while others were nicking them from all around me. As the weather cooled and after the previous winter being so quiet on the fish front, I decided to leave the Tip and head up to the Colne Valley, as I had just got a winter ticket on another special lake – Fox Pool. This turned out well for me as I had a few pals fishing there too. So, with good social times ahead, I managed to nick a few and also have a nice brace with a 43lb common and a 34lb mirror between Christmas and new year.
I arrived back to the Tip in March again, but this time there seemed to be a lot more anglers as word was getting out about the stock. I knew the lake well by now and knew the spots for each swim that I needed to keep bait on, so the weed wouldn’t take its toll.
Through the height of the summer I was using lots of particle, fishing a tiger nut over the top, but I seemed to be catching the smaller ones again – although as I was still getting the bites, I was happy. With the ban of tigers coming into effect and the bites slowing down while just using the particle, I decided on a change of plan. The summer before I had used the Krill but had seen some of the other guys catching a few of the better fish over a sweettasting bait, and so I decided to switch on to the Sticky Manilla. What a move that proved to be, as straight away I started to get amongst a better stamp. I also decided to tweak my rigs, switching to Ronnie rigs, tied. I felt that because I was pumping in the boilies instead of particles, I now wanted my pop-up closer to the freebies. The hookholds I was getting with the Ronnie rig were spot on too, there was no way were they getting away.
As the temperatures soared, I also managed to get them going on the mixers on a regular basis throughout the summer months, often turning up on the Thursday and jumping out of the van with the mixer rod in hand, for my ‘walkabout’ lap. There were plenty of fish getting caught on this method, and I found the best time to be just before dark as you could regularly have five or six fish competing for them. Unfortunately, another rule came into play putting an end to this, with the introduction of a time limit on the mixer fishing –
only permitting it between 10am and 5pm.
I always fish Thursday and Friday nights, but the Thursday is a quick work night, so I didn’t go to mad on the bait. After all, on that night I’m just after that quick bite, whereas Friday nights were different, as I would still have the rods out until about midday on a Saturday. So on Friday night I would put quite a bit of bait out, hoping the fish would get on it. The problem being it was a long, hot summer and the place was packed with anglers, and just getting in a swim some Fridays was a job in itself.
I turned up on this particular Thursday, after work, and as ever the first thing I did was a lap of the lake to have a good look around. The fish in the Tip are very easy to find, as there are lots of climbing trees, each with good views of lake. As the fish are jet black you can pick them out from a distance. I climbed this tree next to a swim called The Bailiffs and straight away I could see the fish were present, as they were fizzing like mad. I sat up the tree watching for about 20 minutes before heading back to the van to grab my tackle. Once back in the swim the first rod was cast onto the end of a bar to the left of the swim, with the other two both cast, side by side, into a large hole in the weed. It’s a spot that I’ve caught from in the past. I didn’t go mad with the bait, as I didn’t want to spook them.
Luckily for me, I had the next day off work and consequently I didn’t have to pack up at 6am, so I trickled a few baits in over the course of the evening. At about 11:30pm I got four bleeps from the middle rod, followed by another two and I jumped out and hit it, as I’ve had takes like this before and straight away I knew I was attached to a big carp. I could feel its head banging as it was trying to get rid of the hook, but with this rig it realistically had no chance. You have to keep the pressure on when playing fish in the Tip, because if they manage to find sanctuary in the weed, it’s game over and only a boat will free them. I kept this one moving as it tried its very best to reach the big weedbeds – and I gained as much line as quickly as possible. By the time it was in front of me the battle was won and I slipped her in the net at the first time of asking. As it went in the net I could see which fish it was – a very special one, called Satan’s Lin – the one every angler wants from this lake. It is a ‘once a year fish’ and this was the first time it had been out since last summer.
Once it was safely ensconced in the net, and secure, I ran down to my mate, Perry, who was fishing next door. I stuck my head in his brolly shouting, “I’ve got the big Lin, come and give us a hand!” His reply was, “Yeah, whatever, Wes”. Having assured him I wasn’t messing about, he came back with me and couldn’t believe what a cracker it was. We both agreed it looked huge, as I was getting the mat ready and zeroing the scales. Then the next thing was to make sure the camera and the flash gun were all ready to go. As I lifted it up from the water, I knew it was big... On the scales it span the needle round to 46lb – that being the biggest it had ever previously weighed on the bank. I was over the moon. Perry helped do the pictures and took some amazing shots of it – never an easy task in the dark!
With the fish safely back in the water, I changed the rig and put the rod back out on the spot. An hour before light and the middle rod was away again – it was another mirror, this one weighing 31lb.
After catching the linear, I was thinking that the big common, called The Major, was well overdue a visit to the bank too. The Major is a 50lb carp and also, importantly, very friendly, coming out several times a year. With autumn now fast approaching, I started to up my baiting game, putting around 5kg of Manilla in every night I was down, as I knew the common liked a bit of bait. The common seemed to favour one end of the lake more, so I decided to concentrate my efforts around there, knowing it was due to come out any time.
I was due to go on holiday in October, so I knew that once I was back from holiday the time for the common would have gone. So I got down early one Thursday and got in a swim that I’d caught a few fish from previously and which gave me a good view of the whole lake. Within the hour I was being pulled all around the lake by the hardest-fighting fish I have ever caught. It turned out to be one I’d caught in the spring at 37lb, called the Brown Fish – only this time with all the bait that all the boys were putting in, it weighed a whopping 43lb. A few of the regulars were all thinking the same as me – if caught at the right time the Major could well be over the 60lb mark!
With autumn now fast approaching, I started to up my baiting game, putting around 5kg of Manilla in every night I was down, as I knew the common liked a bit of bait
I decided to fish every Thursday and Friday night, down that end of the lake – until my holiday – turning up at 6pm and leaving for work at 6am. That was no fun, especially when it involves packing up in the dark! On one particular night I couldn’t sleep, due to the sound of carp crashing all over my end of the lake. Every now and again I could hear one that sounded so much bigger than the rest – it had to be the big common. I was convinced that if I hadn’t had to go to work that morning, I would have had it. But work comes first as I’ve got a mortgage to pay!
As luck would have it, I managed to get an early finish on the Friday, so I was straight down to the lake, knowing what I’d seen the night before and hoping no one had jumped in behind me. As I pulled into the car park there were a couple of vehicles present so I jumped out for a quick lap and, as luck would have it, someone was in the swim. Not what I wanted at all! I jumped up a tree opposite, next to a swim called Churchills. This gave me a view over the same area of water and there were still some big chunks about, so I decided to fish the same spots but from a different angle to where I was the previous night. Sometimes a different line angle can make a big difference. I put the rods out with the minimum of fuss, spreading 2kg of
Manilla between the three areas. The traps were set and it was time for a brew. I only had until midday on the Saturday to bag myself a pre-holiday carp, as I was heading to Barbados in the early hours of Sunday, for a fortnight with the better half. I knew in my mind if I didn’t have the common tonight, it would mean coming back the next spring, to have another go for it.
It’s funny, this carp fishing game, as that night I was on the phone to a few friends saying, “Wouldn’t it be great to catch the common before I head to Barbados” – especially as every time I go on holiday, the lake fishes its head off. That night I didn’t see much and decided to have an early visit to the bedchair, as I wanted to get up early and watch for showing fish.
I was awoken by the sound of a buzzer just as the first pale streaks appeared on the horizon. As I struck it didn’t feel like a good fish, it just rose to the surface and, if I am brutally honest, I just reeled it in to tell you the truth. If I would have lost it, I’d have definitely said that it was a small carp. As it went in the net, I could see it was a common, and a big one at that. I thought there’s only one common of that size in here. My mate, Rich, was fishing the big pit in Kent that I held a ticket for, and he had messaged me in the night to tell me he had caught his first carp from there. So I called Rich to congratulate him. Rich was also amongst those that I was talking to the night before, about the big common. Once I congratulated him on his capture, my words were, “You won’t believe what I’ve got, bro.” He said, “No way, you’ve got it?” I simply said, “Yes mate, it’s the big common!”
With the help of a couple of the other syndicate members, we set about weighing the fish. With all the other carp up in weight, I thought it could be massive. Once on the scales that proved to be the case, with it weighing 57lb 12oz. This equated to not only a lake record but it also represented a personal best for me, as well as my second UK 50.
I just couldn’t believe it – it was an absolute unit of a carp. I called my old mate, Mark, who was working at the time. He was another one who I had been talking to the night before, and he knew that a phone call at 6:30 in the morning meant only one thing. Being good with a camera, I had to get him down to share the moment with me and, being a true friend, he was in the car park within half an hour. The photo session seemed to be over all too soon and wound up with me well out of my comfort zone in the cold margins. In hindsight, I could have done without the water shots as it was bloody freezing!
We got some photos though and slipped The Major back safe and none the worse for wear. This was to be my 57th carp from the Tip Lake all told, and at 57lb, it was also going to be my last.
After catching The Major it was time to move on. I’m not the type of angler to stay and keep catching the same fish year in, year out, as you potentially take the prize away from somebody else. I’ve got to say how much I enjoyed fishing the Tip Lake – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s run very well by Darren and Lee and I’ve met some really good guys too along the way.
And so, with that, I’m heading back up to the Colne Valley to Fox Pool to see it I can catch another Christmas cracker.
With all the other carp up in weight, I thought it could be massive. Once on the scales that proved to be the case, with it weighing 57lb 12oz
ABOVEThe small fully
RIGHTI had been keeping an eye on it for a while. This is the Tip Lake, in full bloom
BELOWTHE BIGGEST FROM My first season was this 37lb mirror A nice, long link helped to allow the rig to settle over any low-lying weed I encounteredLEFT
INSETI changed over to Ronnies at the same time I made the switch to a boilie approach
LEFT One of the Tip’s characters – different enough to stand out from the crowd
THE flip SIDE. SATAN’S at 46lbBELOW
ABOVEThe one everybody wants – Satan’s Linear!
LEFT The Major, we were hoping it may have been over 60lb, but that would just have been greedy! 57lb 12oz would more than suffice Just in the nick of time. I could enjoy my fortnight in Barbados now... Time to move on .... She was big, really big! MIDDLE RIGHT BOTTOM RIGHT TOP RIGHT
LEFT It had put on 6lb since the spring, the Brown Fish at 43lb