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A Summer's Day on the Famous Yateley Sandhurst Lake

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A Summer's Day on the Famous Yateley Sandhurst Lake

Angling's top carp-coach Ian Gemson takes a client to a stunning venue for a stupendous brace of fish.



My last trip to the Cemex Bait-Tech Yateley Sandhurst Lake had been in the depths of winter and had me chasing a personal target of a cold water 30 lb winter carp.  With the water being cold and clear it was always going to be a hard goal to achieve, however we all set our own goals and aspirations and that was mine. Despite my not hitting my target the lake still had me wanting to make a return trip to undertake another session looking to catch a huge UK carp.



 With the year racing past and the calendar telling me it was June already Sandhurst was calling me back to try my luck again. A call from a prospective client looking for a 36 hour coaching session was just the opportunity I needed.  My client Darren was a keen carp angler who had been fishing for a few years but had got a little confused with his carp fishing. He wanted to book a session to help him get his fishing back on track with the chance of catching a carp or two. It was not hard for me to convince Darren that Sandhurst was the place for us to go for his coaching session, a date was pencilled into the diary and all that was left to do was to get the tackle and bait ready for the session.

I set myself a target this year to bag a big 30lb common.  To catch a fish of this size, I first needed to find a venue that stocks fish of this calibre and one of the best places to find this information is the Internet.

Cemex have their own website http://www.cemexangling.co.uk where you can find information regarding venues, stocking levels, current lake records and catch reports, as well as other useful information.  The forums on this website are also full of very useful information from anglers who have recently fished on the Cemex waters.

Recent magazines article provided valuable information about the lake and

how it had been fishing, with stars like Ian Russel, Derek Richey and Gaz Fareham catching large numbers of fish in recent weeks when the fish went IGsandhurst3.jpgon a feeding frenzy. A visit to the local tackle shop, Yateley Angling Centre, and a long chat with Charlie painted a completely different picture for me; the recent spell of very high temperatures had the Sandhurst carp go into a spawning frenzy with hardly anything being caught.

Head Bailiff, Paul “Bidders” Bidmead, told me the same story, one I have to admit I did not really want to hear. The carp were spawning and not feeding and fishing was going to be hard.

On the morning of the coaching session I arrange to meet up with Darren at 7.00 am in the main Sandhurst car park. I had arrived early at 5.45 am to walk around the lake to see if I could see any carp showing in the early morning feeding spell.  As II walked around the lake I stumbled across Derek Richey (the Don) set up in swim 35. He had been watching the water all morning and told me he had seen a lot of fish head and shouldering in the water opposite him in front of swim 12.  I continued to walk around the lake watching the water all the time and spotted several large fish showing in front of swim 12. My choice had been made for me  and a couple of buckets IGsandhurst4.jpgwere placed in swims 11 and 12 for Darren and me. 

Whilst waiting for Darren to turn up I listened to the weather forecast. A change was about to come our way. The weather was changing from bright sunny cloudless days to overcast and windy with lower temperatures. Could this be what we needed to get the fish back on the feed? Only time would tell.

Darren had made good time and arrived early. I walked to the main car park to meet him and whilst helping unload his tackle we discussed the lake and the swim selection and how we were going to tackle the venue.  With Darren’s tackle safely transported to the swim and set up ready to go, we got my Greys marker rod out and set about looking for any features in my swim that would be good spots to target for hungry carp.  At about 30 yards Darren found a little polished clear spot in the middle of a silt bed just to the left of his swim. With a depth of 6 feet this was certainly a spot to place Darren’s baits. 

We spodded five spodfull of a mix of pigeon conditioner, hemp  and wild bird seeds blended with sugar and carnation milk  to give a sweet cloudy sticky IGsandhurst5.jpgspod seed mix that hopefully the carp would find irresistible. Darren marked up his main line to ensure his casts to the baited spot were accurate every time.

The rigs we used were very simple; a modified Korda side clip system was set up to give us a running rig. The size eight swivel was removed from the Korda safe zone leader and a quick link was put in its place. The speed clip was heated in some hot water and crushed with a pair of pliers to allow the quick link to slide into the body where the swivel would normally go. This gave us a simple running rig set up which would register the slightest of shy bites.

A size 8 Korda Kurve hook tied to Korda Hybrid soft was set up blow back style, using a whittled down dumbbell boils, and a piece of yellow corn to top the rig off was how we set up our hook lengths. The rig was pulled into a walnut size PVA mesh bag of mixed pellets to ensure the rig did not tangle on the cast, and the PVA bag of attraction stayed upon the hook during the cast. 

With the lines clipped and marked and the PVA mesh bags of pellets mounted upon the rigs, Darren cast them out into the lake.  With the rigs IGsandhurst6.jpghitting the line clip, Darren removed the line from the reel clip and set about sinking my line.  Using fluorocarbon main line meant that he was able to sink the line out of the way with most, if not all, of it resting on the bottom of the lake, out of the way of the wary carp.  With the line sunk all that was left to do was to put the rods on the alarms and put the light bobbins to the mainline before switching the alarms on.  The traps were now set.

The day passed as we undertook different rig clinics, only broken up by regular tea breaks and lunch time fry ups. The weather had certainly changed with the bright sunny weather of the previous days being replaced by cloudy skies and a warm wind blowing straight at us. 

The bright day slowly changed into a warm dark cloudless night, the stillness of the lake was only broken by the occasional carp, head and shouldering in front of us. I stayed up as late as I could watching the lake for signs of feeding fish, only going to bed when I just could not stay awake any more.

Just before dawn at 3.00 am Darren’s right hand rod ripped off with the alarms screaming at us to get up and do something. A very tired Darren appeared from his shelter and stumbled across the swim to his rods which were quite literally jumping in the rod rests as the Shimano reels struggled to release line quickly enough to keep up with the fast swimming carp. 

As Darren lifted into the carp and slowly tightened the clutch, it became apparent this was no small carp. The Chub Outkast rod had been flattened and the Shimano’s clutch just could not slow down the angry carp Darren had on the end.  After what seemed a lifetime, Darren eventually started to gain line on the fish and yard by yard the big heavy ponderous carp was brought closer to the waiting net. Fifteen minutes later and after several long runs, the carp was drawn over the waiting net to the relief of us both. Darren’s first question was how big is it? Having seen the fish at rest in the IGsandhurst7.jpgbottom of the net looking very long with broad shoulders I was convinced it was a forty but felt uneasy at telling Darren he might have beaten his PB by twenty pound so I told him it was a big fish and let’s see what the scales tell us. 

With all of the fish care equipment already set up, all we had to do was to wet the unhooking mat and weigh sling then disassemble the landing net and take the fish to the unhooking mat to unhook the fish. As I lifted the landing net from the water it was obvious this was a very heavy carp. As we laid it on the waiting mat our head torches reflected off its huge flanks. Only then did Darren start to realise he had blown his old PB out of the water and this might be a forty pound fish.

With the carp safely unhooked and placed into the Chub weigh sling we placed it onto the scales and waited for them to stop bouncing. It seemed to take forever but eventually we ready: 35 lb 11oz, a new PB for Darren and a great result for Smart Carping. As Darren posed in the early morning light I took loads of pictures to ensure I had captured this memorable moment for him.

One of the bailiff team later told us the fish is known as Nigel's Fish and its normal weight is over forty pounds! 

A Shattered Darren went back to him bed at 4.30 am, tired but a very happy angler. His morning was going to get disturbed again! At 5.00 am as I stood next to Darren’s rods watching the water, his left hand rod ripped off.

I called Darren but got little response from him a second more urgent call to him was met with a disbelieving Darren telling me to stop winding him up. The third more strongly worded shout finally got Darren out onto the bank and lifting his rod into another fast running Sandhurst carp.  A very tired but elated Darren could not believe what was happening, he was again doing battle with a strong and determined carp that would not give in. The Chub rod kept a steady pressure on the hard charging carp, and all too quickly another large Sandhurst carp was lumbering in the net sat in the deep margins.

Darren’s accurately placed rigs had bagged him a nice common, not as big as the mirror but still well over twenty pounds. The scales registered 26 lb dead on. A nice fish  in anyone’s books.

 Smart Carping had achieved what it set out to do, which was to show Darren some simple and effective carp fishing techniques. Darren had learned from the lessons I had given him and shown me with the capture of these stunning fish he can catch carp given the right opportunities.

Sandhurst is home to some stunning genuine UK 40lb + fish and for the price of a day ticket it could be the place for your new UK PB.  

Tight Lines 

Ian Gemson

Smart Carping


07864 959163
email: contact@smartcarping.com




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