Carp fishing is not something I get much time to do very often so when I was asked by a very close friend of mine if I fancied a trip to Todber Manor over 30th June to the 2nd July I had no choice but to say yes, I immediately set about clearing my diary for that weekend and made sure ‘she who must be obeyed’ knew not to plan anything! In the weeks leading up to the trip I turned back into the same guy I was a few years ago when preparing for my first ever fishing trip, not just in the nostalgic childish excited way though, I literally had no idea what to pack to go Carp fishing, this of course made shopping for the immanent trip very difficult. It was a good job though they have a very good tackle shop on site, as no matter how prepared you think you are there will always be something you leave behind and wish you didn’t especially in my case. This time though luckily, I had not so much forgotten, rather than left things at home I didn’t think I’d need, after a chat with the guys in the shop and around the lake it turns out the fish are very spod shy, for me was going to make things very difficult for baiting up as I only had a spod with me, so I bought a catapult and a throwing stick in the shop and headed off to find a few fish, hopefully ones in an empty swim as the lake is very busy most of the time.
After finishing our second tour of the lake and still not seeing any signs of fish, we decided to set up in a pair of swims next to each other at the quietest end of the lake, the idea in doing this was that we believed the fish would have shied away from all the lines in the water at the opposite end and hopefully made their way down to where we were going to fish. I wasted no time at all in getting the marker rod out, finding a few nice spots and making a note of distance and depth. I managed to find a slightly raised bar just over 10 wraps out which was also around a rod length in from the far island bank, this ran the length of my swim and seemed to me to be the best place to present a bait for the evening, as the temperatures fell overnight but weren’t plummeting into what I would call cold so I felt the fish wouldn’t be in the deep water. My plan from the start was to feel my way into it and set up a pair of zigs one at half depth and the other 6 inches below the surface.
My 3rd rod was cast to the bar I found with a hinged stiff rig baited with a pink CC Moore Northern Special pop up, I do something a little different to my NS pop ups though, I add a few squirts of the NS booster liquid spray, over a few weeks I will add some, wait for it to dry and add some more, I also add some of ultrasweet bait additive from CC Moore, just a light dusting each time for the 1st few times and once again 24 hours before a session, this gives them a very sickly sweet flavouring and has done very well for me over the last few years. As far as feed baits I had a mixture of Pacific Tuna and Equinox boilie also from CC Moore, I catapulted about three dozen of them 3 or 4 at a time spread out along bar, the idea was to get a fish or two scrounging around for the odd bait here and there as I feel this gives you the best chance of hooking one.
A short while past and a guy turned up in the swim two down from me, he applied the same baiting approach I had, scattering some boilie around over his rigs, he managed a nice mid double mirror within about 20 minutes of casting out, I couldn’t help but head over and see if he would share any info with me on what he was doing hook bait and rig wise. It turns out he fishes the lake at least once a month and has done for the past 2 years, he told he that in all the time he had been fishing on the complex he could count on one hand the number of fish he’d caught on a pop up or zigs. With that now firmly ingrained in my mind I ran off and immediately wound in the zigs and changed them out for a couple of wafters. On my left rod, I put a Equinox wafter these I soak in the Response+ Spice Liquid as soon as I buy them, I moved the pop up over to the left slightly to make it now my middle rod, I decided to leave the pop up on as I am completely confident in the rig and the bait attached to it! The right hand rod went back out with a Pacific Tuna wafter attached, to these though I put in a few different additives, firstly I add the L030 liquid, to this I add some rock salt and then to finish them off I add some of the GLM (Green Lipped Mussel) extract powder. My wafter rig is very simple I use a coated braid with only the hair stripped, a wide gape hook, a small piece of silicone on the shank of the hook just before the bend, finished off with a piece of shrink tubing on the eye.
Around an hour had now passed by and off went my right-hand rod, I had to be on the rods and walking to the left very quickly as there was a massive reed bed of to my right, the battle with the fish didn’t last very long as I was constantly pumping and winding it away from said reeds, I don’t think it could have been more than 2 minutes before the fish was on the surface and eased over the net cord! The first fish of the session was in the bag and what a start it was as well, 20lb 5oz of fin perfect Mirror Carp I could not have been happier with this fish, it was my first Carp since January I think and my biggest of the year as well. In fact, although it is nearly 8lb smaller than my personal best it was the 2nd biggest Carp I have ever caught.
I turned to Mark, and said to him very happily that’s the goal of the session reached for me, something we had joked about on the way down to the venue as the one and only time we came here before I had a confidence killing 48-hour blank and he had managed only a single fish on the 1st night there. I also said to him in all seriousness that if I had a fish a day I would be one very happy angler when it came time to pack up.
It took me a little while to decide on what to do next as I got a new bait on and the rod wrapped up ready to put back out, however it was when to cast that was on my mind, I couldn’t help but think that there may have been more than one fish there grubbing around so didn’t want to risk landing a lead on one’s head and spooking them off, I decided to put out another dozen or so boilie as I thought it might get them concentrating on the baits falling through the water enough they might not have noticed the rig coming in.
A few hours passed by and Mark managed his first fish of the trip a nice mid double ghostie which was quickly followed by another mid double mirror, Mark was in the middle of slipping his 2nd fish back when my right-hand rod tore off again. I lifted into what felt like a very good fish and this time the battle lasted a lot longer. It was a bigger fish but only by 2oz still I couldn’t believe I had managed two 20lb fish so early in the session, that was it for any action for a long while, I did sit watching the guy I had spoken to earlier land a further two fish, I had also I spotted the bait he was using whilst I was there. It is one of my favourite baits and one I use a lot but mostly in my winter fishing and with this being the case once again it was something I didn’t have with me, I did spot it in the shop when we were there so when Mark and I decided to reel in and head round the lake to have a look, I managed to persuade him to drive to the shop where I picked up a selection of baits, I grabbed a few kilo of CC Moore Live System boilie, a pot of matching wafters, a bottle of Amino Blend 365 liquid and a kilo bag of Milkimin pellets.
I put the left-hand rod back on the same spot with a fresh Equinox wafter, I changed the middle rod to a Live System wafter with a small mesh bag of Milkimin pellet glugged in the Amino 365 liquid and catapulted a couple of handfuls of matching boilie spread around it, the right rod went back with another Tuna bait on it also and that was the traps set for the evening. We spent the next 30 minutes or so searching for takeaways in the area and calling around to see if they delivered to the lakes, we eventually managed to find a pizza place that did and got some food ordered in whilst we sat back and enjoyed a few ‘hard earned’ beers. Belly’s full and tired from the days heat and travelling we decided to call it a night.
A little after 1.30am and I was playing my 3rd fish it wasn’t a massive fish so I didn’t bother waking Mark up as I could more than manage netting it on my own, normally at this point I would have snapped a picture of the fish on the mat and slipped it back with it being a low double, it was by far the best looking fish of the trip so far though so I decided to put it in the sling until morning, I got woken up again the not much before 5am by something in the water outside my bivvy, I popped out to take a look and noticed the fish in the retainer was getting very distressed, I pulled it in, got it on the mat, checked it over to make sure it hadn’t harmed itself, took a few really quick pictures and released it.
I went back to bed after this and got up a few hours later to find the retainer missing, after a short walk to Mark’s swim I spotted it in the edge so at some point between me releasing my fish and waking up he managed his 3rd. I took a few pictures for him and then put the kettle on my stove whilst Mark started up breakfast on his. Mark just sat down to eat his breakfast as one of his rods screamed into life, Mark’s personal best stood at 16lb 8oz and this was the fish we were both certain was about to break that but once it was on the scales came in at 15lb 4oz close but no cigar on this occasion or in our case the bottle of Southern Comfort I bought on the way down! We both sat back down to finally finish our breakfasts when my middle rod went again, this time I managed my first ghostie of the year a nice low to mid double and once again I was over the moon.
The rest of the morning past by with no more than a few single bleeps for the both of us and as expected so did the middle of the day, it had gotten extremely hot as the sun came up so I decided to reel in my rods and give the swim a chance to rest with no lines in the water, I did however use this time to put a bit more bait out to save on too much disturbance later, Mark decided he wanted to put a few spods out just to see if that brought him a few bites going into the evening. I think his idea was that although we had been told the fish shy off the noise, he had a good 5 or 6 hours after putting in the bait before he planned on re-introducing his rigs. I decided to use it as a test for myself I left my baiting approach the same but was keeping an eye on the water around his bait to see if there were any signs of feeding during the afternoon. 4pm had just past when I decided to put my rods back out and not 10 minutes later the Live System had produced its 3rd fish since buying it the day before, once again another mid double but another one in mint condition. Shortly after 6pm and mid conversation about whether to order or cook dinner Mark had a massive one toner off the spodded area and this time it was easy to tell this fish was on a different level to anything he had caught previous on this session, I grabbed his net for him and after an awesome battle the fish went over the cord and into the bottom of the net, I ran off the get the scales while he sat staring down at his prize. The fish was very big framed but was fully spawned out and went 20lb exactly, it was officially time to celebrate as he had finally reached the goal he set himself at the beginning of the year.
Mark started cooking dinner while I prepared a spod mix of Pacific Tuna boilies, Liquid Tuna Extract and corn, I decided that the area he fed heavily had produced his biggest fish of the trip and with me already landing five fish and exceeding expectation I had nothing to lose by doing so. After putting the bucket of bait out 1kg of corn and the same of boilie I sat down to eat the hotdogs Mark had cooked, then proceeded to open the celebratory bottle of ‘So Co’. I don’t remember going to bed however I do remember the way I felt the next day and it was not good at all! I did however hook another fish just after 8am, I really didn’t enjoy any part of playing the fish to the net as my eyes hurt and so did most every other part of my body, it weighed in at just over 17lb unfortunately though the pictures of this fish didn’t come out very good on the camera when I looked at home so I discarded them.
After a few more hours trying to sleep off the night before and realising it was more than just the hangover from hell, I was also suffering from a touch of sunstroke we decided to call it a day and began the slow pack down and drove home happy with how the trip had gone but also trying not to do anything disgusting in the footwell of his van.