Carp Fishing – Atomic Tackle Carp Diary
Rob Marsh is running late and with his UK water proving tricky he’s on a French mission.
OK, OK so I know it’s January and this is my December blog but December is a hectic month for all of us and I’m only just beginning to get back into my routine so bear with me!
After a very successful couple of months I was wondering whether December could possibly be as kind to me but Elphick’s West End Lake where I was concentrating my efforts was proving to be difficult and, with it only producing one take - which I lost in an unseen snag it was tough going with no reward.
By mid December I had no fish for my efforts and with news that there was a mild weather front in France and after a chat to my Dutch friend, Jerone Flokstra, about how the Abbey Lakes Complex was fishing I decided to make a trip over for a few nights. Heron Lake in particular was fishing well with some very big fish making an appearance.
The gear was prepared and on Wednesday morning I was on the Eurotunnel and hopefully on the way to another productive trip. I arrived mid morning and after a chat with Jerone who was on peg 1 on Fox Lake I decided, as most areas of Heron were covered, to go for peg 11.
This was a swim I had fished on my last trip and tactics were to fish Atomic Grenade PVA bags filled with chopped Cell boilies and Hinders’ mini combi pellets with dumbbell hookbaits fished KD style on size 8 Grabba hooks and 25lb weedy green Jel e Wyre hooklinks. I employed the usual Choppa Droppa lead system to drop the lead on the take as the swim was still very weedy. I had the rods out by early afternoon and took the opportunity to tie up some PVA bags ready for the night and it was not long before the light dropped off and the wind started to pick up.
At around 8pm I was playing my first carp but it quickly weeded me up so it was out in the boat and once above the fish with steady pressure I was back in control, however with the strong winds the fish was pulling me up the lake. Within just a few minutes I was halfway down the lake in front of peg 10 although by then the fish was tiring and I slid the net under a mid twenty common. I lifted the fish into the boat and placed her safely in the unhooking mat then had to row full steam to get back to my swim against the wind.
Back on the bank the fish weighed 24lb; I slipped her back and got the rod back out and a few minutes later I was in again and as before I found myself out in the boat having to land another common carp around the same sort of size. On the scales this one went 28lb.
By this time I had returned this fish and got the rod sorted and out again it was after midnight and I had had no sleep yet. After the early start I was feeling very weary and got into the bag but I was in there for only a few minutes before I was out playing another carp.
Once again I had to go out in the boat to land the fish; by then the wind was storm force and after netting her after a real struggle I had to row for my life to get back to my swim - I was very glad to get back on the bank I can tell you. The fish, a mirror this time, weighed 27lb and I sacked her up till first light for some pictures.
I got back in the bag and fell into a deep sleep only to be awoken by that familiar sound... It was 5.30am by now and it was my bay rod a few yards down the bank this time. With the fish weeded up I would have to row down to the swim and then grab the rod and play the fish. With the lack of sleep I was not quite thinking straight as I got into the boat and I forgot to put my life jacket on (something I don’t ever normally forget to do).
As I pushed off the oar fell off the side of the boat and as I leaned back to grab it a large wave hit the boat. In what seemed like minutes, but was in fact only seconds, the boat tipped up and I knew I was going in the lake...
Now I was wearing all my winter clothes; including woolly hat and headlamp and I knew that I was probably in the deeper water, some 8-10ft deep, and that I would not touch the bottom so as I plunged in I knew I had to swim to the bank as quickly as possible, otherwise I was bang in trouble and could easily drown.
As I plunged in the cold water it took my breath away and as I went under I kicked for the bottom but to no avail. As I hit the surface I got my bearings and swam with all my might, not easy with all that clobber on and thigh boot waders, but I made it to the bank. Luckily for me the boat was caught up against my lines as well as the unhooking mat and oar. I grabbed them all and then dragged myself out.
I was freezing so I grabbed my van keys, stripped off as fast as I could, dried myself with my towel and got fresh dry clothes on. I then sorted the boat out and got my life jacket on, got my spare headlamp as I had lost the other in the lake and then rowed down to my rod and slowly pulled myself out towards the fish which was still hopefully on.
After getting above the fish I was in and I soon slid the net under a cracking heavily clad mirror which I weighed in at 30lb 4oz, I was well chuffed and I sacked her up and gave Rupert the bailiff a call to do some photos then got my rods redone just as the sun was rising.
After a cup of tea I decided to reel in and have a look about; although I had four fish on my first night I was worried about the size of them. I was convinced if I wanted a lump, I would need to move as my last session in the same swim had only resulted in smaller than average sized fish. After a good look around I decided to move into peg 21 on Heron. Hans fishing Peg 19 had caught a few fish the previous night so it might just be the right area for a lump so I got packed up and moved in. It was amazing how quickly the time went and I only just got the rods out before dark.
The night was quiet and the only thing I got was a good night’s kip and I was woken by Rupert telling me that Hans had caught the mighty ‘Shoulders’ round at his swim. The fish was immense and on the scales she went 83lb 10oz - a new Abbey Complex record. The photos and filming were done and I was even more determined to catch that very special fish - and hopefully I will do very soon.
I got back to my swim and got the rods back out and at around 11.30am my left hand rod’s bobbin lifted a couple of inches and I was watching the line when it tore off. It felt like a good fish as it chugged off up the lake. I turned the fish and it came back towards where I originally hooked it then all of a sudden everything went solid so it was out in the boat once again. As soon as I was above the fish the fight was back on and I soon slipped the net under a good common of 41lb 13oz - the move had paid off and Jerone did the photos.
The rest of the day was quiet, so was the night, but at 7am I was back out in the boat playing another angry carp intent on escaping but to no avail as I scooped her into the net. On the scales she went to 36lb 1oz - a nice end to my session at Abbey.
With just ten days until Christmas I did think it would possibly be my last trip of the year. If the weather turned I was supposed to fish a Medway Valley lake with a couple of mates the following weekend and after a closer look at the weather everything looked good. I had a walk around the lake a couple days before the trip and found an area of the lake I fancied might be a good bet for a bite!
I arrived at the lake at 3.30pm on the Friday to find the area I fancied was free with my mates already set up a few swims to the right. I got set up just on dark, the wind was hacking in my swim and things were not looking that inspiring as sleet was blowing into the bivvy! I sat on the phone telling Lee I was not that confident but just ten minutes later I had a carp in the net; it’s amazing how things change. The carp, although only a few ounces under 20lb, was a cracker so I was well happy. I had another chance on the Saturday night but the fish slipped the hook a few yards from the bank!
Between 27 and 31 December I often go fishing, normally to France or Belgium, but to be honest these trips tend to be a bit of a waste of time due to bad weather and the lakes are often frozen but it occasionally pays off. This year the weather was looking spot on so I booked my train on 22 December and packed the van so I could enjoy Christmas with the family.
At 4am on 27 December my alarm went off and I loaded my food and bait into the van and made my way back to Abbey. Jerone had been having a few fish from peg 1 on Fox Lake and I really fancied this swim as it would allow me to fish a couple of rods in peg 23 on Heron, getting the best of both lakes but on arrival the swim was taken so I had a good look around; it was surprising how many anglers had made the most of the good weather. I was in two minds as to whether to fish peg 12 on Fox or peg 18 on Heron. And after several changes of mind I opted for peg 18 in the end; I had not fished this peg before but I found a few good looking spots and was fairly confident.
My indecision continued and by first light I was already contemplating a move to peg 12 on Fox. As I went round to have another look I noticed that the angler on that swim was packing up so I went down for a chat. It turned out he was away in a couple of hours so I dropped a couple buckets in the swims and went and packed up.
It was early afternoon before I got set up on Fox Lake; the crays can be a real problem here so I fished plastic hook baits instead of the ever so successful Cell dumbbells, tipped with pineapple pop-ups. A quick chat on the phone to Jerone and I had my spots sorted and the rods out. You know sometimes when you sit in a swim that you are going to catch, or at least have a good chance, and this was one of those times. I sat drinking tea watching the wind swing more to a southerly direction and the cloud cover soon brought in the rain.
It was soon dark, I cooked tea and relaxed to watch a film on my laptop and got my head down around 11.30pm and slept well until I was awoken at 6am with a screaming take to my Fox Lake rod. The fish fought well and put up a good account for itself but was soon in the net and on the scales she weighed 43lb 10oz, a stunning winter common. I sacked up her up as it would soon be light and was well happy as so many of my Christmas trips end in blanks so if I did not catch again this trip it would be fine! We got the photos done at first light and just after I slipped her back I was in again and the lads watched and filmed as I played the fish, which turned out to be a cracking 20lb plus common.
I got the rod back out and an hour later it was off again. This felt like a better fish and as it rolled in front of the swim I saw it was a good mirror, one more lunge and she was mine. As I lifted the net out it looked a huge framed fish, well into the forties, but on the scales she went 39lb 14oz, a cracker and more than welcome on a winter’s morning.
I got the rod back out and was starting to see a few fish showing and it was looking good for a fair few more and at around 3pm I was playing another fish and soon had another pretty mirror, this time 29lb 15oz; it was turning into good day with four fish landed.
The evening was to be a social back at the lodge, an early New Year’s Eve bash with a few beers and a crayfish supper so I reeled in and went to the lodge for a shower and a few beers. It was a good mix of lads and we had a good evening but were all keen to get back to our swims so around 9pm we all headed back.
By the time I got my rods the rain was really heavy and I was just getting sorted in the bivvy when I was in on my left hand rod. As soon as I hooked the fish I knew it was a lump as it pulled me off my feet on its first couple of runs and felt like a bag of cement.
After ten minutes the fish showed no signs of giving up, just kiting from left to right whenever it wanted. I was soaked by then but eager to see what I had hooked; if there were cats present that would have been my first thought.
The fish rolled 20 yards out and moved a lot of water, it looked a good fish, it got closer and I could see huge tail patterns a few yards from the bank. Suddenly the fish surfaced, I grabbed the net as I saw it and was shocked at the size of it, it was massive and certainly the biggest fish I would have caught from Abbey. It kited across the top of the water and by then I was shaking with both the cold and the adrenalin of hooking such a big fish.
As it looked like the fish was beaten it took off down the margin to my left stripping line at will, I managed to slow her down and started to lead her back up but as she was bouncing off the marginal weed the hook pulled, I was dumbstruck. I simply put the rod on the rest and sat in my bivvy contemplating what it was that I had just lost. I think the fish was called ‘Cheeky’ and is supposed to weigh between 70lb-80lb. I was devastated and it must have been 20 minutes before I thought of getting my rod back out.
During the night I landed two more carp, both mid twenties but I released them both without photos, still disappointed at loosing such a big fish. That was the last of the action that trip but, despite everything, it was a great trip and I am just as keen to get back in January before it closes or maybe freezes.
By the Same Author
- Carp Fishing – Rob Marsh’s Atomic Tackle Diary
- Carp Fishing – Rob Marsh’s Atomic Tackle Diary
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- Carp Fishing - Atomic Tackle Carp Diary 2
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