Carp Fishing â€“ The Bait-Tech Sponsorship Final
Lee Morris recounts a memorable competitive carp fishing session during which a Bait-Tech sponsorship was up for grabs...no pressure then!
The long-awaited, Bait-Tech Carp Sponsorship Final was approaching and, in order to be ahead of the game, I made my way to Suffolk Water Park on the Tuesday before the event for a couple of nights’ practice prior to the competition, which was later in the week. I barely had any sleep the night before due to the excitement and this was a competition so I was doubly excited!
On arrival the friendly lads that run Suffolk Water Park greeted me and chatting to them, looking at the catch report board and the fact the weather was spot on I just hoped I could get a swim close to where the fish obviously were. The howling south-westerly wind and low pressure were perfect and pegs 1, 21 and 22 at the end of the wind on the north-easterly part of the horseshoe-shaped lake were ideal - and what is more they were already turning up fish to the anglers in them.
Looking at the water in front of the swims it was quite an incredible sight to see how many fish were cruising and fizzing up but looking at the swims near the bays, and the amount of anglers who would be fishing, made me think what the fish might do with 36 lines being cast at them. My thoughts straight away were that the fish would ‘do the off’ and head out of the bays into open water away from the angling pressure.
With this in mind I set up camp on the end of the point in peg 12, The Drop Off, in the hope the fish would move out of the bays into open water in front of me. With the rods out I felt confident as more anglers turned up and more pressure was put on the fish. I had a good 36 hours ahead of me before the competition to get a real feel for the lake and the excitement was getting worse!
Those 36 hours flew by with me only catching a few bream and I couldn't believe the carp actually stayed put at the end of the two bays where they seemed happy enough to get caught all day long.
In the last 12 hours I did try and move as close as possible to them but it just didn't feel right; I still had it in the back of my mind that they would move out of the bays - but they just didn't! That's weird and wonderful carp for you - they now had well over 42 lines being cast at them but still they were happy to stay put and keep munching.
On the morning of the Carp Sponsorship Final I packed up and went round to the cafe on the complex to meet the five other lads fishing in the final and to meet Bait-Tech’s wonderful Hayley Goldsmith and Andy Neal who, along with Pete the film director, filled us in on what to expect in the next 24 hours.
Once we were all told where we were fishing I couldn't help but have a cheeky smile as the section we were going to be on was where I had chosen to fish the previous two nights! I felt I knew that part of the lake very well and the fact I hadn't caught didn't really matter as I knew that if I got any of the seven swims on the point of the lake I knew where to fish straightaway without having to get the feature-finding rod out as I’d done the work with that already!
We drove our cars around to the north/east end car park and were told that the swims were going to be put in a hat and whatever we pulled out we had to fish – crikey, that’s match fishing isn’t it?
Along with that there was a second hat with six ‘challenges’ to randomly pick and these had to be used on one of our three rods, using Bait-Tech products. The six challenges were: creating a spod mix, creating a stick mix, using the method feeder, using pop ups on a zig, margin fishing and using a range of pellets. I wouldn't have minded any of these challenges as they have all played a part in mine, and I’m sure most carp anglers’ lives.
I drew peg 9/10, The Little Point, which I was more than happy with as not only was that the closest swim to where the fish were still held up but also if they did move out I would be the first person they would come to. It was also a double peg so I had space to bait a quieter margin in the hope that one of the carp might creep in to have a feed.
Many thoughts were already running through my head of what to do, how to do it, when to do it and I hadn't even chosen my challenge yet. Once all the lads had drawn their pegs the challenges were next and after unfolding my piece of paper which said ‘stick mix challenge’ a hundred thoughts went running through my head: what to use, how to use it and when.
Now I say ‘when’ because speaking to the locals the prime time seemed to be from around 4pm until dark. I decided there and then that the rod with the stick mix challenge would be cast out around this time, so not only was it put out at bite time but it would also gave me plenty of time to create a really good stick mix which I would be 100% confident in using.
Once I had set up camp I went to have a look at the products Bait-Tech had on offer for the stick mix I was going to create. There was so much to choose from so I grabbed a load of stuff I liked the look of as well as some of the products I had used in the past and caught and trotted back to my swim with more than enough to catch me a fish or two.
I noticed at this point that all of the other lads had already got their rods out and although I did have two rods out, the Bait-Tech challenge rod needed consideration. I was going to take my time and get it perfectly ready in every way for when bite time arrived.
After opening a few packets of groundbait, smelling oils and reading what was in the many products I had in front of me I choose to use the N-Tice Meaty Mix for the main body of the mix with the addition of a tin of tuna in sunflower oil. Then I added some Corn Steep Liquor, chilli flavour, a handful of Super Seed chilli hemp and some X-Cite Chilli oil. I also added a few crushed Super Halibut Marine pellets along with a few whole pellets (6mm) and some rock salt to bring out the flavours.
Peter filmed me mixing it all together – this was part of the final, to see how we came across on camera - and I took the opportunity to add in one of my own top tips! It smelt so darn carpy it was unreal, I just knew it was going to catch me one, it felt so right.
I was planning to fish this rod to the reed-fringed far margin – an area out of bounds to anglers and roughly a 70-yard chuck. Using my marker rod I cast a lead to make sure the spot was clear, which it was; then clipped up to it, picked a tree marker to cast at and I was ready to go.
The likely bite time was fast approaching and I know in normal match circumstances you should have your rods out for as long as possible and as quickly as possible but with my knowledge from the last few days I knew just one fish would probably be enough and getting it right was far more important than getting it done quickly. I put that final rod out at approximately 3.45pm bang on the money - the cast couldn't have gone any smoother and, feeling it down after it hit the water, I felt the lead smack down perfectly.
After spending some 15 minutes sinking the line because of the howling cross wind I set the bobbin and then sat back to take in the experience of it all so far.
I had never done any sort of filming before and so that aspect of this session was different! I started by introducing myself and telling tales of memorable catches, embarrassing moments and the story of my lucky charm, which is a cremated ferret - yes I did say ferret - in a hand carved wooden box which has been my fishing companion for many years. You will have to watch the footage to get the full story I'm afraid...
Bite time passed without action but as it got dark I stood in my swim and looked out at the water and it still just looked perfect for a bite. It was at 2am, just as I was about to drift off to sleep, that it happened and the Bait-Tech challenge rod signalled a few bleeps and I looked up to see the bobbin was jammed but the line hadn't pulled from the clip.
Straightaway I thought I had a bream to deal with and at that time in the morning it was the last thing I needed! I turned the alarm off, released the bobbin and began to reel in. As it got halfway across the lake it gave a tell-tale sign it was a bream with a few small lunges then, as it neared the margin, I readied myself by turning my head torch on and kneeling down to unhook it – then all of a sudden the water exploded!
The head torch spooked the fish and it completely flat-rodded me against a tightly set clutch and it took a few seconds for me to realise I was doing battle with one of Suffolk Water Park’s carp!
The battle was epic - every two turns I gained on the reel was met with another 20-yard flat rod dash; my heart was in my mouth, my legs went to jelly and all I kept saying to myself was “please, please don’t do this to me, please be nice Mr Carp, please come back to me.”
I finally got the fish under control and once it was back in the margin I did the most stupid thing - I turned my head torch on to try and get a glimpse of it - this was met by another explosion as the fish just powered off again. “You idiot Lee” I said to myself...
At the third time of asking there was no mistake I grabbed my net and scooped up my prize “YESSSS GET IN THERE!” and at that moment I was the happiest man alive! Looking at the fish in the water I thought it might go 30lb but the scales said 27lb 8oz but it really didn't matter how big it was, I had finally caught one!
I got the rod back out on the money and sat back to take in what had just happened and decided to get the kettle on instead of some much needed sleep while the sky started to change to that dreary purple colour as the sun slowly began to rise.
Halfway through the best cup of tea of the new day my middle rod copied the previous bite and the bobbin jammed up against the Delkim without pulling out of the clip. This time I knew it was no bream before I even picked up the rod! I would like to tell you it was a dramatic fight just like the first one but that wasn’t the case, the fish came in fairly easily, a few lunges in the deep margins and that was about it. It was a mirror of 20lb 8oz and yet again it made me more than happy with my session and the way I had gone about it.
As far as the session is concerned nothing could have been more perfect - other than a few dodgy moments I had while being filmed – which, I must say, is the weirdest feeling! When a film camera points at you, everything changes but after a while I think I got into it, I haven’t seen any footage yet but I'm sure there are many entertaining moments for you all to look at...