Carp Fishing - Memories of Darenth Tip Lake 1986
'No Knot' reminisces on a memorable session on one of the iconic big carp venues of the day.
This one goes back to the 80's, March 1986 to be precise and ‘The Nurd’ and myself ventured forth to Leisure Sport Angling's fabled Darenth Tip lake, legendary home of big carp and a venue where the anglers knew their stuff!
The anglers on there at the time included the likes of Terry Dempsey, Ted Hadaway and Geoff Bowers amongst others – oh, and a pair of crazy bikers with all the hair and leather jackets (who turned out to be pure gents!). Then there was old Bernie, who had been angling for carp for a millennium!
So as you can see I was surrounded by class anglers, did I feel intimidated? No not really but as this was my second ever session on the Tip, I was just a little nervous, this is always a good thing in my experience as it keeps you sharp and totally aware of the job in hand, which ultimately was to catch one of the Tip's very prized but leery carp!
Enough waffle, down to business!
On arrival we were greeted to the sight of quite a few bivvies, which is never good as the Tip is not a big water and the carp were very pressured indeed, but as this was so near to the end of the old close season it was inevitable! We had a quick look around anyway and opted to fish two swims which were next to each other along the fence bank, Nurd on the right, myself to the left.
I must say that I was happy with my choice of swim: To the left of front was a small chain of islands and to the right, at longer range, was the main island that split the lake in two with the back channel behind – the area where Steve Briggs scored well with some excellent catches! Between these islands I also had a major gravel bar that ran the length of the lake and ended in front of my swim at around 30 yards out!
Tackle, baits and rigs:
My favourite carp rods at the time were 12ft 2lb test Fibretube through action models, which were coupled with ever faithful Cardinal 55 reels. Delkim conversions completed the set-up.
We were using our own HNV high protein mix using Premier Baits’ ingredients. It was silly not to seeing as old Bowers – who ran Premier Baits - was fishing along the bank at the time and, if you know Geoff, you will know that he can sure rattle on and he would ‘red card’ you in a second for any slight error in judgement. You will have to use your imagination as to what was written on the reverse of the said card due to me not wanting to be banned from FM!
I must add that at that time I was really into neutral buoyancy balanced hook baits that would only just sink very, very slowly - in fact you had to look away as they were so slow! These baits were microwaved then, when cool, glugged in sesame seed oil with no flavour added!
Were a camo braid / Dacron that we had found and it looked good, with it I used a size 6 carbon specimen hook and a 3oz lead, fished semi fixed by my own design.
So on to setting up house, rods in position, a curry on the go and it was time to settle back and watch the water...heaven!
That evening and night were totally uneventful, not even a beep from the Delkim or a twitch of the monkey! The following morning started off bright and sunny, it really looked perfect and the Tip Lake looked stunning too!
Mid morning Terry came into my swim for a chat and said, "Kev, I’ve just seen a couple of carp moving along the bar towards your swim, maybe it’s worth a go?”
Now I'm not slow to listen to one of the best carp anglers in the land when he gives me a tip off so I wound in the right hand island rod, mounted and balanced a fresh bait, then cast the 30 yards to where the end of the bar broke down to a large gravel patch. That was it, a single hook bait with no freebies.
A short while later Geoff came wandering along, mug in hand, so on went the kettle for a mid morning coffee and a chat. A short while later, whilst enjoying the warm early spring sunshine something really strange and alien happened - the tip of my right hand rod slowly pulled right, then back, then right again. Geoff said, "Did you see that?" I said
"Yep" and picked up the rod, placed my finger on the spool and bent into a powerful Tip Lake carp – clutch set tight and into the backwind mode!
As I mentioned there was a chain of islands to my left; well, Mr. Carp tried his hardest to get behind said island! But with the superb fighting curve of the rod and the positive action and gearing of the 55, I coaxed it back in front of me again and the fight continued in the clear, deep margin. By this time there were around six other anglers in attendance - that helped - my knees were a knockin’ and the mention of the lake’s 30's did not help matters!
I played the carp out with steady pressure and the tackle did a fine job; eventually the carp came to the surface and spat water as it was engulfed in my net! There was a cheer and a few slaps on the back for my first Tip Lake carp!
I got the swim sorted out: mat, sling etc, but it was not until I unhooked the carp did I realize how special it was, not so much the weight at around 21lb but the fact that it was dark and scaly with no pelvic fins - and none of the guys had ever seen it on the bank before and only one of them said he ‘thought’ he had seen a print of it!
I was totally made up, I had caught one on my second ever session on the Tip, it was a twenty plus and a virtually unknown carp for such a heavily pressured water!
God I love this game, and I will be back soon...very soon in fact!
It’s a funny old world as twenty plus years on I am planning my first session in the UK after I returned here earlier this year - and I will once again be fishing with my old friend Ted!