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tomhaggett last won the day on August 10 2013

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About tomhaggett

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  1. 8th December - Berkshire Stillwater As I mentioned in the last installment, the rest of my bait had been spread around the productive area ready for a return as soon as possible. After managing to wangle the day off I planned my return, obviously full of expectation. They'd had a free meal and a few days to get themselves comfortable. I'd already arranged to meet a mate on the canal for the afternoon so only had a few hours to play with. For some reason I thought I'd be clever and fish the area from a different swim. That would allow both rods to be fished in the hot zone and change the line angles up. First cast went impeccably well, it couldn't have been better placed by hand, or so I thought. The morning wore on with very little to report, no fizzing and generally no signs of life whatsoever. About 12am I decided to have the rigs in and take a walk... the banker rod was snagged solid despite it dropping nice and cleanly onto the silt. The whole morning I'd wasted after getting up at 6am on my day off!! That prompted a quick move back to the normal swim with only an hour and a bit at my disposal. Nothing happened in the end, though I did get a few liners so I'm confident they were still about and upon winding in a lone bloodworm hung over my hook... a sure sign that it was the perfect spot for the winter. I'll be back. The perching was utterly hopeless as well. I've yet to even see one this year. My mate had a tiddler after dark and well after I'd lost my gear in a tree and given up. Not even a blank saving jack took pity on me. Consolation did come later that night in the form of a £275 win on the football from a £2 stake . Perhaps I'll take that up as a hobby instead.
  2. 5th December - Berkshire Stillwater So, when I got in the car this morning the temperature gauge read 0.5 degrees... hardly conducive to catching carp but that was what I planned to try my hand at, for a few hours anyway. The plan really, was to lob out a couple of rods while I waited for the light to drop so I could go perching late afternoon - dusk. Never did I actually expect to get a bite on the lake, it was just a better place to waste the day than home. I arrived just after the day had dawned and had a quick chat with a guy I knew on one of the other lakes. He'd blanked for a couple of nights, as had everyone else and "the lake seemed dead". Anyway, I pottered off down the path to have a quick look at another lake, taking my lure rod with me and having a few casts here and there while checking the fettle of the river and looking for signs on the lake. A few different patches of fizzing were coming up over an area I've caught from before, and one that I expected the carp to be in given the weather so off to the car I went. When I got back to the other lake I spotted a guy on the other bank with a fish in the net so nipped round and sure enough he'd just landed a nice upper double common... perhaps they would feed after all. A long walk later and I was in my plot with slightly more enthusiasm having seen one on the bank. Rod number one went straight out onto the fizzing, casting well past and winding the lead back until it was just behind before letting it drop down on a tight line. Rod two went to a favourite spot that's ideal for the colder months, deep, silty and close to a significant snag. Obviously I wasn't expecting anything to happen so I didn't even bother turning the alarms on while the line settled for five minutes. I wasn't even paying any attention to the rods and whilst sorting my stove out for a much needed, warming coffee I heard a quiet click, turned round and saw the rod buckling in the rest as a fish tried to make the sanctuary of the roots. I almost fell over with shock to be honest but after a pretty sedate battle I slipped the net under a typical common. Feeding spells can be short and sharp in the winter so I quickly unhooked him and left him resting in the net whilst I got the rod back out. 5 minutes later, as I was sorting my camera gear out, the recast rod signalled a twitchy take... from a bream... in December... on a dirty great size 4 hook. I guess it was 6lb or so. Before I'd realised it was a bream I'd had a little panic as the net was still full of carp number one so straight after getting the rod back out I transferred the fish into the retaining sling whilst I got my tripod set up. Then I realised that I'd left my remote in the car. Nothing else for it then, I'd have to call Jimmy, the lad who keeps getting mentioned that seems to be ending up as my bank bitch too often. He was already on his way to town so promised to be along within half an hour. He's pretty good behind the lens young Jimmy and I was extremely pleased I'd rang him as by the time he'd turned up I'd just landed carp number 2, another common, a bit smaller and with a distinctive scar on one side... this was unbelievable. A December brace. The day just continued to get better and over the next few hours that same rod went twice more leaving me with 4 winter carp for my efforts before they seemed to move out of the area on dusk. I'd not lost any, I'd not lost any gear infact it couldn't have gone much smoother. All the fish were commons, the biggest going about 17lb at a guess. Needless to say I never went perching in the end. The remainder of my bait was spread around the area for a return next week. The rods are already all marked up ready so it'll hopefully be a case of two casts before sitting down to await some more cold weather action.
  3. 24th October - Berkshire Stillwater So, after last weeks result I was naturally keen to get back down there and see if I could winkle out another one or two before the cold weather really kicked in. The prebaiting seemed to work last time so I made the effort again but decided on a different area this time, the one that I mentioned had seen the only bit of activity over last time. The plan was to fish it from a swim that commands a lot of water... that way I could fish one rod out between the islands where the sporadic fizzing had been going on last week, and the other rod on the spot that had produced a few fish earlier in the year (Starburst etc.) I'd received a bait delivery at work that afternoon so took a good hit straight down there and put a good 1.5 kilos over each area. I'd be arriving, ready to reap the rewards after work a couple of days later. Of course work dragged the next two days but eventually I was hammering along the A34 in an attempt to make it before darkness set in and made getting the rods out that little bit more awkward in a new swim. Thankfully our closing times at work had conveniently come down that day so I made it with a good half an hour of light left... what a luxury! Upon arriving at the top end of the lake I couldn't help but notice a flock of seagulls dive bombing bang over the area that I'd baited. Then I realised that someone had beaten me too it and my heart sank a little. Sure enough after walking up there, one of the few guys that was fishing it regularly had decided to do his winter campaign in there and sure enough had caught one that morning, BANG on top of the spot I baited. I was left in a bit of a quandary now as I'd always bargained on getting in there and having the fish waiting for some more bait (if only). A little deliberation later and I decided to go back in over where I'd caught from the previous session. The fella had told me they'd fizzed over that way a fair bit that morning so without wanting to waste any more time I heaved the barrow around and set about getting the rods onto their respective spots. Both were fished exactly as they were before, nice long links and super slow sinking pop ups in the mucky areas of open water. A good bit of bait was scattered over each before I sat down to chat with another mate who had been doing quite a bit of time down there. He'd been there 3 nights and hadn't had a thing... in fact it transpired that the only bite since my last capture was the one that morning, over my bait... they were obviously getting on it. That shows how tricky it can be... this lad in particular had done in excess of 15 nights for 2 fish and after speaking to a few others they commented that they were really happy with their 3 fish in 12 nights. That was the moment that I realised I'd actually done pretty well this year... every session so far I'd hooked a carp and I was fishing rushed overnighters as opposed to their 2, 3,4 and sometimes 5 nights at a time! Despite the rods going out well I wasn't all that confident of continuing that roll, having set up in a swim that I hadn't seen anything in and that hadn't seen any bait since I spread what I had left over the spots before leaving last time. An hour into darkness however and a fish stuck it's head out right over the productive left hand spot. I excitedly told the lad just down the bank who replied with something like "If you catch one tonight and I blank for my 4th consecutive night I'm giving up". Around the same time as last week the left hand rod pulled up tight and after the normal kerfuffle with my shoes I was out in the darkness doing battle with a carp. It didn't scrap all that much to be honest, i even thought it was a tench until it had a little ruck in the margins. Once again though it ended up in the net with the clinically sharpened size 4 Mugga embedded in it's bottom lip. I repeated last weeks process and quickly weighed it in at 22.15 before slipping it in the sling to wait the short while for daylight. I accidentally fell asleep again shortly afterwards and missed the first half an hour of light but took great pleasure in trotting up to the guy up the bank (who'd blanked) and summoning him to do some pictures for me. He didn't actually believe me at first but after dragging him up there and pointing to the sling he eventually congratulated me. Just before I got him up on the bank we both commented on the fizzing over the productive spot and I remember saying that there was plenty of time for another. Anyway, with the pictures done and the fish returned I was just checking through the camera when the left hand rod absolutely belted into life. The tight clutch begrudgingly gave line while the rod was hammered almost around to test curve... I ran down in a state of panic, lifted into it and almost immediately it fell slack and the fish was gone. Upon reeling in the limp fluro mainline I had either been cut off or for the first time in how ever many year a needle knot had failed me. I can't see how it's possible for the knot to come undone to be honest, especially as I'd landed the fish an hour or two previously on it without any bother at all. I was seething... this time of year is really not a time to be spurning precious chances. When I'd composed myself I sent a picture of the one I'd had to my ever knowledgeable mate as I didn't recognise it. He came back instantly proclaiming it to be yet another original. I honestly couldn't believe my luck. There are only 6, 7 or possibly 8 in the lake I think and I'd had 3 of them that year and had had a couple of the others previously. The big fish that I lost after it beached itself was potentially one of the others as well. And that's it, i'm pretty much up to date. I fished one more night on the target water a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately broke the run of hooking a carp every trip. I had been down to bait up a couple of days before... this time baiting the productive spot but from a different swim that gave me more options for the other rod and changed the line angles. I'd intended to arrive at first light on a Saturday but after an impromptu night with my mates that involved me getting stuck sideways over a barbed wire fence at 3.30am, I limped down to the lake, via Mcdonalds for a hangover helping breakfast wrap, at about 10am. There were 3 anglers on, all along the same bank, and while the swim I'd baited was free the two either side were taken, making it impossible to fish my spots while retaining any form of etiquette. I actually fell asleep in a pile at the front of the swim until midday, the gear was still in the car for goodness sake. Eventually I pulled myself together and after a chat to the guys they gave me the go ahead to fish the spots as it wouldn't interfere with them in any way. I was still dubious to be honest and ignored one and fished about 10 yards this side of the other. No carp were forthcoming, though 3 showed in the general vicinity as darkness fell. All that I was rewarded with was a 7.9 tench at 11pm, prime bite time according to the only other guy that had been catching a few. It was so foggy when the tench came along that I couldn't even see the rod butts from the bivvy, let alone the lake so getting the rig back on the spot and bait anywhere near it was darn difficult. Nothing else occurred that trip and I haven't managed to get back since. I cursed the tench at the time but it was still more than any of the others had over a combined 7 nights so I stopped moping and saw it as a positive. Since then I've dug the lure rod out and had a couple of very half hearted cracks on the canal totaling around 2 hours. A good few jacks have come along but no perch as yet... it's still very coloured to be honest so I think I'll get the worms out while it drains out then give the lures a good go again.
  4. 17th October - Berkshire Stillwater As you can see I really struggled to get out after that productive day session. A holiday with the new girlfriend and a hectic work routine put paid to any time on the bank for a couple of months though I tried to keep in touch as much as possible through a couple of mates that were still fishing every now and then. I think now is a good time to mention that the lake has been very different this year, mostly due to the lack of people fishing it compared with previous years. This time last year would have seen 15+ anglers fishing the weekends and often 8-10 mid week. A few of those anglers got together and baited the living daylights out of the place... getting through 400kilos at least between the 3 of them over the course of the year. They caught most of the ones they wanted and deserved every last one of them before they moved on to pastures new in the winter. The start of this year saw a lot of the old regulars still fishing but within a month or so they decided that the stock had been massively reduced as a result of the floods and nearly all of them dropped their tickets. This has left the place quieter than ever, which suits me fine!! There are only a few people fishing it at all regularly so it's almost possible to get your own thing going without people capitalizing on your hard work. The reduced pressure has had a positive effect... all the fish are looking brilliant and their weights are very good despite the massive deficit in baiting levels. Before this session I had spoken to a mate who had done really well a week or two previous and he informed me of the fish's movements and general whereabouts. They seemed to be in the area I thought they would be moving too as the temperatures dropped so I nipped down after work twice in the week running up to the session to sneak some bait onto the spots in preparation. This may sound easy, but both times it was pitch black by the time I'd arrived after work, it was absolutely hammering down and I'd slogged a good half mile up the canal to get there without other anglers seeing me coming in. The bait was spread onto two spots... one that I've done well from before at this time of the year and one roughly towards where my mate had seen the activity. It was an area that I'd regularly seen fizzing this year, just deep open water and very silty... thus completely ignored by the other anglers who were obsessed with their baitboats and the island. The spots saw about 3 kilos of bait I suppose over the two trips... I'd be rushing down after work again, getting the rods out in the dark so I wanted to give myself a fighting chance by having the spots primed and ready. The rods went out perfectly, one cast each into the inky blackness, aiming at the shadows of trees on the far bank. To combat the deep silt, I'd lengthened my hooklinks and balanced the pop ups so they only just sank, almost hanging in the water momentarily. The top bead on my rotary style lead arrangement was also pushed a good 4-6" up the leadcore to prevent the stiff boom section sitting up at awkward angles. A few handfuls of bait were spread over each area in well oiled fashion and I was left to settle down and await some action. Truth be told I was pretty exhausted and ended up falling asleep pretty early on. A good while later I was woken up by a flurry of bleeps on the left hand rod on the new spot. The hanger held at the top but didn't take any line as I struggled to get my shoes on and upon hitting the rod the fish had kited on a tight line and was a good 20 yards from where I'd hooked it. The battle was fairly typical with most of it taking place in the deep margins but eventually the pressure told and I rolled a nice, long looking fish into the net. I left him in there briefly while I checked the time and upon seeing it was about 5am I figured I'd slip him into the retaining sling and get some nice pictures when the light was up an hour or so later. I did weigh him in quickly at 19lb 8oz then got him straight into the water to chill out for a little while. In the darkness I hadn't really appreciated quite how nice a fish it was... it had looked a little washed out in the torchlight but upon bringing him ashore at dawn I was quite taken aback. It was a really cracking specimen, deep mahogany flanks adorned with a row of linear scaling on one side and a large sloping head that only an old one could wear well. I later found out from my mate who seems to know every single fish in the lakes past that it was again one of the very few originals. These date back 35-40 years and are a dying breed. At risk of sounding a little soppy, I felt quite privileged to have caught it. That was the last of the action that trip though they did have a little fizz over the productive spot as the sun started coming up. I'd watched the water like a hawk since first light and to be honest the only area that seemed like it had life in it was a bit further up the bank, out in between the islands so that was earmarked for the next trip. I couldn't wait.
  5. 15th August - Berkshire Stillwater I only had time for a day session this week, on the quiet water this time. I'd made sure to pop down a couple of days beforehand to have a look around put a bit of bait in. I found a few fish in a snag that I have fished quite a lot in the past, albeit in a slightly different part of the snag than usual. A kilo or two of bait was spread around the feature, making sure to concentrate the majority on both the spot I normally fish and the one closest to where I'd seen the fish mooching around. I'd also taken my rods along so that I could get them clipped up ready so I could be angling within one cast. I actually managed to arrive nice and early, shortly after first light, and more amazingly, got the rods out on the money within a couple of casts. I was quite surprised when a couple of hours later I was yet to see any signs but not long after my left hand rod, the one on the new spot pulled up tight and I was walking backwards to lead him away from the snag. He came away fairly easily but the battle was far from over. There is a bush to the right hand side of this swim that the fish always seem to kite towards. When fish kite it is incredible difficult to put any real pressure on them and no matter how hard I heaved this fish still made it around the bush, picking up my other line on the way. How I got it in I've literally no idea... I held tight for a minute before feeling a kick, then piled on the pressure and somehow pulled it through the middle of the obstacles. Not in a million years should I have been able to do that but the fish came to no harm whatsoever and there he sat in the bottom of my net. It wasn't a big fish but it was incredibly angry... from the second I put him on the mat until the second I slipped him back he was tensed up, dorsal fin erect, mouth fully extended, the full works!! All went quiet after that drama so I decided on a move and after some careful observation found myself in a very shallow swim full of obstacles... weed, lillies and reeds. After standing and watching for 10 minutes I'd noticed some reeds gently knocking as fish moved between them and with little else to go on thought I'd give it a go. I was a little dubious as I'd never had much, well, any success in the swim before but after only 20 minutes of getting a little pop up in the alcove that I'd seen the movement a fish was hooked and a real tussle began. Initially the fish powered into the reeds but steady pressure bought him back out fairly easily... then it kited into the bed of weed and locked up... I just held tight, keeping the pressure on but not pulling back until I felt a dull kick and a few bubbles started popping up... that was the sign that I needed so I piled on the pressure and sure enough, out he came. Now I was in a right predicament though... he'd come out on the right hand side of the weedbed which meant I now had 10 yards of solid pads in between the fish and me. Luckily he wallowed on the surface just as he reached the pads and I realised that was my chance... the pressure was once again pile on and I managed to keep him on the surface all the way through the pads and into my waiting net. What a battle. I'd spotted that it was a mirror early on in the fight and desperately wanted him in the net, having not caught a mirror from here in years. Just over 15lbs I think it went, a real beauty of a fish. Just after putting that one back I'd seen the reeds twitching in a different area so, after sorting a new rig, I gently flicked it in with a handful of baits over the top. Amazingly it only took 15 minutes or so before it was off again... I could get used to this. Gladly this one decided not to fight at all and rolled into the net with no trouble at all and even better it was another mirror... even nicer than the last one. It went just under 18lb. This had turned into a dream session, disasters avoided, no losses and 3 cracking fish on the bank in the day on a water that doesn't normally produce many bites in daylight. That was until the recast rod screamed into life again, about half an hour after the last capture. This time it steamed deep into the reeds but after landing all the others I just followed the same procedure, holding steady pressure on and waiting for it to come out. unfortunately it didn't work this time and the lead came skipping back towards me a minute or so later. A slightly dulled end to an otherwise fantastic session.
  6. 11th August - Berkshire Stillwater As usual this was an after work jaunt to the target water. The conditions were due to be spot on again so I made the effort to get the next day off work and trotted down the path full of enthusiasm. The winds were due to be blowing in strong and south westerly, similar to during the session I fished earlier in the year. Two mates had beaten me too it unfortunately and were set up at the windward end of the lake but reported that not a lot had happened. One had mentioned a couple of shows a bit further up the bank, in one of my favourite swims, so we took a wander up there together and watched in amazement as they put on an aerial display like I've not seen for a long time. We must have witnessed 50 odd shows to which I fished singles for 45 minutes or so without any indication before deciding to get the rods sorted for the night. A few flicks around, trying to keep disturbance down and I got the rods out on the spots that had been the most active during the acrobatics. Obviously I went into the night rather confident but not much happened in the end. The left hand rod did go sometime between 11pm and midnight, resulting in a small, escapee common of around 10lbs... not what I was after. By the time first light came around nothing else had happened and I was starting to get a bit agitated... you've probably realised by now that I'm not the most patient of anglers. I'm sure this costs me the odd fish but I much prefer being active and hunting them down so that's exactly what I did. Both of my mates had left by that point so I wandered down that end and fished to some sparse fizzing for an hour or so before ending up back in my original plot. I'd packed everything up and was contemplating leaving when I spotted a back breaking the surface close to the island in front of me. If I had been looking anywhere but at that exact spot at the exact moment I would have missed it, but I thought it was worth another half an hour or so, unpacked one of the rods and flicked it out within a couple of feet of the island. Not ten minutes later I saw the line start picking up before the alarm sang it's tune... and I lifted into thin air!! WHY! Anyway, I checked the rig, resharpened the hook and flicked it back out there as perfectly as I ever could. The lead took a low trajectory and sailed into the undercut of the island, closer than even the baitboaters could go. Within 2 minutes it was off and this time I lifted into solid resistance. The initial stages of the fight were a little hairy as the fish beelined for a large bush that protrudes from the island but after a bit of careful work it was out in open water where I could relax. My mate had run around by this point and got there just in time to slip the net under a nice common... 23.7 that one went. Amazed by the quick bite I set about getting the rod back out and also sorting the second one out and fishing that a little further up the island. Both rods went out unbelievably well, into the undercut where there is about a foot between water and the base of the island... casting into that, underneath the branches that hang over at 45-50 yards is not easy, in fact I've not idea how I managed it so consistently... I've tried a good few times since and can't get it in anywhere near as tight!! The rod on the new spot pulled up tight within 15 minutes and after a repeat of the first battle my mate slipped the net under another common. This one was a bit smaller at mid-upper doubles. I was running rather low on rigs at that point and as I only had a little while before I had to be off home, rather than tying up a fresh one, I picked one off my board that I wouldn't normally use... that was to prove rather costly. The recast went perfectly once more and after waiting a bit long this time, perhaps half an hour to 45 minutes it pulled up tight, much to my mates amusement. "I'd hit that if I were you". From the off it was clear this was a far bigger fish... it took off the other way along the island, tearing off line and leaving a serious bow wave as it went. It was headed to an area we call the beach... a very shallow plateau towards the corner of the island. There was a set of pads towards the back of this that I was slightly worried about so I put on a little pressure... at that moment the fish seemed to ground itself... a sure sign that it was one of the better ones but alas it wasn't to be and before I knew it the fish thrashed violently while beached and the hook lost it's hold. We then had one of those moments when you look at each other, knowingly. I was understandably gutted... the chance I'd been working towards and I'd managed to fluff it. To rub salt into my wounds, one of the mates that was there with me had one of the known fish of 30+ a week or two later that had a fresh hook mark in the exact place we expected my hookhold hook to have been!
  7. Hello mate. Been keeping up to date with your blogs... just haven't had time to keep mine up to date. Been a few more times since this... they'll be up in the next few days. Only carp unfortunately. Just off for a couple of hours perching now though
  8. As the title suggests, the next couple of sessions were more of a cardio session than a relaxing fishing session. Effort = reward however... unless you're me... then it generally equals a chance that I'll find a way to mess up . 25th July - Berkshire Stillwater Yet another rushed after work overnighter. The fish have seemed to become rather nomadic recently and I had to settle down for the night without seeing much to go on. Nothing happened during the hours of darkness and once a couple of hours of light had passed with no sightings I set about going to find some fish. 10 laps of the lake later, literally... I walked and walked and walked that day finding nothing until I'd almost given up hope. I'd actually organised the gear onto the barrow but for some reason decided on one last check in one of the corners. Walking up quietely, like I had numerous times already that morning, I peered over the foliage and immediately spotted a fish ghosting past, then another, this one actually flanked on the bottom... a sure sign that they are feeding in my experience. Trying to compose myself I unpacked one of the rods, checked the rig over and, after throwing in a handful of chops to hopefully move any fish that were present off the area briefly, the 1oz lead was flicked perfectly into position with a nice solid donk as it hit the deck. It was going to be a hit and hold tussle so I screwed the clutch up tight and sat with my hand hovering over the rod and 15 minutes or so later the rod was almost dragged in despite me being poised. Straight into the pads it went but for once I managed not to panic and just held the pressure on until it kicked itself free and kited away from danger. It scrapped well for 10 minutes or so in the surprisingly clear water after that but eventually succumbed, spluttering water as it went over the cord with my little orange pop up hanging from it's bottom lip. It had a big old frame for a 24lb 8oz fish... it did look fairly well spawned out to be honest. The next session followed the same theme. A blank night after seeing very, very little signs of fish at all, let alone ones that were feeding. It was a joy to be out that morning though, I remember sitting there with a cup of coffee at 5am feeling sorry for the thousands people that must never witness these beautiful dawns that us anglers tend to take for granted. Gradually the mist burned off as did my desire to sit stewing in my plot again so off around the lake I went, praying that it didn't take as long to find something as it did last time. Thankfully it only took a couple of laps before finding quite a few fish having a feed right up in one of the corners. They were on a spot that's been worked quite a bit this year, one that can't be cast to unless you get in and wade up towards it. Of course, I'd not remembered to bring my waders but after a bit of a think I figured I'd be able to cast my lead onto the bank, creep through the out of bounds area, find the lead amongst the thick trees, attach my rig and drop it in, relatively close to the corner by hand. It wasn't exactly an easy task but second cast my lead wiggled it's way through a little gap and after 5 minutes of searching round, whilst trying not to be spotted I located the lead and manged to drop it in, within inches of the reeds, between the corner and the substantial set of pads to the left of it. A couple of handfuls of chops, one on top of the rig and the other spread in a line from the corner and from the pads to hopefully draw the fish to my hookbait and I was clambering back over the fence to sit and wait. Not long after, perhaps 10 minutes, the rod screamed into life and despite me being as quick as possible and having the clutch locked up it made it into the pads. Not to worry, I'd just do as I did last time and it would kick it's way out... or not. A minute or two of stalemate only resulted in my lead skipping back towards me, minus a fish. Darn. Oh well, I'd continued my run of at least hooking a carp every trip this year. Not so bad when you consider most people have pulled off the lake because they thought most of the fish had escaped down the river.
  9. 3rd July - Berkshire Stillwater Yet another after work session that leaves me rushing around to find some fish and get everything sorted before darkness. This particular session I'd walked almost the whole way around when a really good fish crashed out close to the island in quite an unpopular peg. That was all I had to go on so I set about getting a rod on the money which only took a couple of casts before I was happy. Then the now almost guaranteed drama started.. I couldn't reach the spot with my catapult so reached for the throwing stick... which I'd left at home. No problem, There's always a spare spomb in the bag so I tied that onto my marker rod, wrapped it around the banksticks to get it clipped to the right distance, filled it with whole and crumbed baits and let fly. Half way out there I heard a rather large crack and watched as my only spomb sailed into the island and the braid hung limpy in a tangled web at the rod tip!! I'd just about had enough by that point so decided on a move, just up to my right into the swim that I'd caught Starburst from a few months previous. There had been a bit of fizzing up there and I knew the spots well so, despite being in a race against the rapidly fading light I was confident I could get everything sorted with relative ease. That was until a tufty decided it fancied my little pink pop up, that I'd forgotten was even still out there, and duly nailed itself in the centre of the bottom beak. Could anything else go wrong?!?! After releasing the troublesome little fiend I set about getting the rods clipped up in the new swim and thankfully, or I may have turned to self harming with my hook sharpener, they went out nice and easily. A good bit of bait was spread over and in between the two and finally I could settle down, put the radio on and unwind after being on the go non stop for 16 hours that day. As if to reward my efforts and to console me a little a fish showed bang over the left hand rod only an hour or so after casting so I went into the night confident of some action. When I woke a few hours later at first light and nothing happened I was a little surprised to be honest but there was the odd bit of fizzing out there so I sat back confidently. About half an hour later I'd noted a spot that seemed to have constant pin pricks coming up over it so wound in the right hand rod ready for a recast but before I had chance to get it out there the left hand rod pulled up tight and the clutch started ticking away. I tell you, I'm glad I'd wound that right hand rod in because the ensuing scrap was nothing short of ridiculous. I'd wound it straight in under my feet like a dog on a lead and there it stayed, for over half an hour, completely refusing to give up. Luckily I'd seen it early on so knew it wasn't anything special otherwise my knees would have been a' knocking. 23.12 it went, a real fighting machine covered in abrasions from spawning. I added a nice tench of 7.4 an hour or so later on the rod that I eventually got around to re-positioning on the spot I'd noted earlier.
  10. The next date in my photobucket account seems to be this, though I think I'd sneaked a quick overnighter in on the target water and drawn a blank. I had managed a take at first light that session but unfortunately it shed the hook very early on in the battle. You win some you loose some. 22nd June - Vale Farm With the warm weather well and truly upon us a mate and I had decided to start venturing over to Vale Farm for a few hours fly fishing after work. It is great fun, if a little tiring... The place is so heavily stocked you could walk over to the islands on the backs of fish, I'm sure of it. After a couple of evenings we started getting a bit bored of catching 30 + fish in a few hours so concentrated our efforts on trying to single out the bigger fish by feeding them in a lot closer to the bank. That way we could pick out the bigger mouths and try and place our flies almost inside them. It seemed to work as the average stamp soon became far more impressive... another old mate from college had a fish of around 25lb while we were there but I think ours topped out at 18 or so. This was one of my fav's... Stevie Wonder eat your heart out . 26th June - Berkshire Stillwater Another quick overnighter post work, though this time on the other specimen water that the ticket offers. I cut my teeth on this lake 10 years or so ago, back when the stock was far more impressive. It's a shadow of it's former self now to be honest, hence why I only fish it a handful of times a year. All that said it is ideal for overnighters because of the easy access, short walks etc. Anyway, I'd set up in the smaller of the two bays after finding plenty of fish moving in and out of the out of bounds area the evening before whilst having a recce. I'd hatched a plan, one that I was sure would give me a bit of an edge. The swim is quite a popular one as the fish spend a fair amount of time in the out of bounds corner and this swim allows casting access towards it. The problem is that your line tends to stretch across the entrance which can instantly put the fish on edge. My plan was to cast over onto the far bank, walk my rig down a little towards the out of bounds and drop it by hand, without compromising the fish's safety of course. I'd then stick a storm pole in the far bank, tightly wrap an elastic band around it and slip my line under this. I could then go back to the swim and carefully tighten the line up to the elastic band until it pulled completely clear of the water, resembling a washing line and leaving nothing for the fish to be wary of. Much to my surprise I got the rig in fine and baited with a few handfuls of pellet that I'd got from work before sneaking quitely back around to my swim, happy that I'd done something well for once. Within half an hour the odd telltale bubble started to pop over the spot and over the next half an hour it really intensified. How I didn't receive a take I'll never know but they fizzed like mad all over it for over an hour before it went dead and upon walking around to check that entire end of the bay was churned up as they'd been feeding so hard! Anyway, I re-positioned the rig and re-baited but they never came back!! I'd got everything set up by then and there were obviously a few fish about so I settled down into the evening, leaving the rods fishing on their respective spots and kept my eyes on the water for any signs. That was until I started feeling rough... really rough. For once it wasn't alcohol to blame and I went from fine to being doubled over in the bushes, hurling my ring up, in no time. I was shaking, sweating, the full works and even contemplated packing up and going home, despite it being 10pm. Somehow, through determination or more likely stupidity, I convinced myself to stay and I'm glad that I did because a rod that I'd just re-positioned after seeing some consistent fizzing along one line screamed off half an hour after I'd laid down in what I was sure at the time would be my death bed. Miraculously, as soon as I picked up the rod, I felt far better and following a really drawn out fight I slipped the net under a chunky looking mirror. 25lb 10oz it went and a nice welcome back to my old stomping ground. Those red marks have always been present on this fish... odd as they looked fairly fresh. A mate dug out a picture from 3 years ago of the same fish looking exactly the same though. I think the picture shows how rough I was feeling... I look like a miserable umpa lumpa! The next day it was terribly quiet in the little bay, so I'd gone around to the other bay and baited a couple of spots, right in the edge with my mix of pellet. An hour or so later I was bored again so decided to check it just in case and low and behold both spots were fizzing like a good'un. I quickly nipped round and grabbed as little gear as possible and came back around full of enthusiasm. While I got the rods prepared the fizzing had abated so I took that opportunity to swing the rigs in before sprinkling a couple of handfuls of pellet over each and laying back quietly on my mat. It didn't take long for the fizzing to start again and the right hand rod screamed at me briefly before falling slack again... I'd be done. This was a trend that was to continue. 8 hours I sat on that mat while patches of fizz the size of my bivvy erupted over my hookbaits. Twice more I was sussed before finally one of the rods twitched off and stayed there. Not much resistance was forthcoming to be honest but a quick roll under the tip revealed it to be a small carp, probably one of the stockies from the previous year... I'll never know because the hook came whizzing past my head a couple of seconds later!!!!! Incredibly frustrated I packed up the rest of the gear, gave the lake the middle finger and made my way home to contemplate over what I could/should have done differently.
  11. Cheers Paul. Cheers to you too Rusty... I religiously take me dslr and various lenses fishing with me, recently coupled with a 35mm prime which has had a massively positive impact on the quality of my pics. It's a really big part of it for me. That's very similar to my stove so will suit the Diablo fine... I do tend to prop the handle on a cup or something though. I can't believe how useful it's been.
  12. 11th May - Berkshire Stillwater Looking back through my pictures I can't believe how much fishing I was getting in over late Spring. Unfortunately the lakes remained mostly closed for that whole period so it was difficult to really make most of the best season of the year. I remember this session well. The lake was still 3/4 closed with only the same 7 swims open for angling. I had pulled out all the stops to be there this day as the conditions were due to be bang on... big westerly winds and a healthy drop in barometric pressure. The problem was that I knew there was only one peg to be in while the weather was doing it's thing. The swim in question was the last one along the open bank, situated with the end of the island inline with the right hand edge of the swim so by fishing long and off to the left it was possible to access the far side where the fish were obviously more comfortable. Of course this hadn't gone unnoticed and the swim was always the first of the 7 to be taken and had done a few fish, including the biggest of the year so far. The westerly wind would be hacking down that end of the lake making it even more appealing. It's very rare that I go fishing with preconceived ideas regarding swim choice but this time I just knew. It was a Sunday if I remember correctly so there was the vague likelihood that the weekend anglers were pulling off and that the swim would be free In reality one of the dole scroungers would probably be ensconced in the swim for the next 5 days or something stupid. Anyway, I arrived mid morning and was amazed/excited to see only one car parked up... that said the dole scroungers get dropped off so it didn't fill me with hope. The barrow was loaded and with a right sense of trepidation I trotted off on the long walk, praying there wouldn't be anyone in there. As I approached the lake I saw a brolly in the first peg... result, that was hopefully the only car accounted for. Nearer and nearer I got, the reeds obscuring my view so I couldn't tell if I was in there until I was literally on top of it. BINGO... it was free... I don't think I've ever felt so relieved. Now I was in there I could start to relax and hatch a plan. The bivvy went up first, again, something I VERY rarely do but I was so sure where the majority of the stock would be I thought I'd get everything sorted in case it rained. Anyway, it gave me a chance to wallow in the glory of getting in there. Even as I was organising my things I'd spotted a couple of subtle shows. On the corner of the island lies a prominent bed of pads, spanning probably 5 or 10 yards wide and the fish had shown behind these. It was off to the left of the pads that I was planning to fish, casting well past them to access the far side. A couple of mates had caught by fishing in a similar manner and had assured me that the pads wouldn't cause an issue if/when I was to hook one. Finally, once everything was looking neat I set about getting a couple of hinged stiff rigs out into the area of silty open water that when the lake is fully open is totally ignored. It was quite a chuck compared to what I'm used to but after a few attempts the 4oz leads were sailing the 100 yards or so. I left them out there with singles, to minimise disturbance and because it was physically impossible to get any bait out there in the wind. An hour or two had passed and a few fish had shown in the vicinity but I was getting itchy feet about the singles. I felt I should have had a take so, as a mate had arrived, I left him to watch the rods and sneaked around the closed area of bank with my bag of bait and a catapult. This enabled me to spread about a kilo of bait around the zone in an attempt to get them going a bit. I put in a kilo in one go because I thought it would be enough for the night and I didn't fancy trying my luck in the out of bounds too often. Within just 5 minutes of getting the bait out one of the rods pulled up tight and I was in. It was hard to tell in the wind, especially at that distance, but it didn't feel all that big and sure enough, after a brief flirtation with the pads, a tench rolled into the net. Not what I wanted but before I could do anything the other rod signalled a few shrill bleeps as another fish hooked itself. A similar battle with a slightly longer flirtation with the pads and tench number 2 went into the net that my mate had gladly emptied of tench number 1. This one was left in the water while I set about getting a rod back out as soon as possible and second cast lucky it was in prime position again. Tench number 2 was unhooked in the net but before I had chance to have a look at him the recast rod was calling for my attention. This time there was a much more substaintial resistance pulling back over 100 yards away. Thankfully it kited in the opposite direction to the pads so I was left to enjoy the battle worry free and sure enough after a few minutes a pretty looking mirror was resting in the mesh. Once again I was left with no rods in the water so, after slipping the hook out of my prize and popping him in the retainer briefly I got a couple of new hook sections tied, baits screwed on and balanced and set about winding up for a couple more big chucks. One of them I managed to crack off so that needed completely re-tackling and it was probably 20 minutes before both rods were back on the money... by that time the feeding had either subdued or the kilo of bait that was supposed to last the night had all been cleared in the space of half an hour. I needed a bit of time to sort myself out anyway so after everything was re-organsied I hoisted the fish up onto the scales which read 20lb 6oz. Without wanting to become a slave to cliche's, the weight really was immaterial in this case, it was a beautiful fish and one we later figured out was one of the handful of remaining originals, 35 - 40 years old and a rare visitor to the bank. From there on in things just went downhill. I had ridden my good fortune and I was due to pay for it. As I said I cracked off one of the recasts, something which I later repeated as I was getting the rods sorted for the night. I was also running low on bait so had to borrow some from my generous mate. Darkness was soon approaching and with ol' Jimmy (he's proving useful) left in charge of the rods I sneaked round for another covert baiting up mission. I had to be a bit more careful this time as a couple of guys had set up a few swims away and could potentially see me as I tip toed along the closed bank. All was good however and another kilo or so of bait was scattered over the area ready for the fish to feed their heads off during the night. Wishful thinking ay... the rods remained silent all night, bar the incredibly persistent bleeps from the wind. The rods were left as they were that morning to minimise disturbance and thankfully that paid off half an hour later as one pulled up tight. This time the fish had other ideas and kited towards the pads and at that distance it is difficult to put any real pressure on them... just as I thought I'd salvaged it and the fish seemed to have cleared the pads I felt a grating and all ground to a halt. Giving up on the out of bounds nonsense I walked down to change the angle but before I'd even put any pressure on the line parted!! Sick as a parrot I was but not as much as when the exact same thing happened an hour or so later!!!! By the time I'd finished licking my wounds the wind had subsided, the action seemed to have slowed and I was more than ready to leave. A good start ruined by my incompetence... sound about right then!!
  13. 3rd May - Berkshire Stillwater After catching that lovely 26lber, a fish I now realise was one of the known ones called Starburst, I was due to go for a night out with my mates. Naturally that all ended in the debauch it always does and of course I was hanging out of my *** the next day. Only one thing for it then... The gear was still in the motor so I nipped over to Berkshire with the idea of flicking a couple of rods out in the easier lake next door to the one I normally target before falling asleep in the sun on my unhooking mat. I'd scattered some sesame oil glazed baits around a couple of spots before getting the rods re-rigged and it really didn't take long for the fish to find it. By the time both rods were ready to go, though granted it took longer than usual due to my state, both spots were fizzing away and the surface had a fine slick over it. To cut a long story short, I fished for around 3/3.5 hours and didn't get any of the sleep I'd hope for because I received 7 takes over that time, landing 6 of them. All were commons which was hardly surprising as the lake only contains a very small handful of mirrors. The biggest went 19.4. The last of the 6 took it down so far I had to reach for the forceps...
  14. So leading on from that guest session I had the carp bug back, good and proper. It had been a good start to the season and I obviously wanted to try and continue that run for as long as possible. 21st April - Berkshire Water Another day session, this time on the quietest of the "specimen" waters after a baiting up recce a couple of nights previous. I got down nice and early for once, just after first light and amazingly got the rods onto the prebaited spots with only one cast each. That left me to settle down and marvel over my latest purchase, a portable toastie maker that fitted perfectly on my stove. Aka a Diablo. If you haven't already got yourself one I have to prompt you into doing so... it's the best thing I've bought in years. After a hearty breakfast of garlic naan breads, generously filled with beans and sausages I suddenly realised that it was 10am and I hadn't seen so much as a bubble. I actually started to get itchy feet and was just starting to organise the gear for a scout around when the banker rod signaled a take. The fight was fraught, as they always are on there, but eventually I bundled a small but prehistoric looking common into the net. The rig had certainly done it's job... That was the end of the action unfortunately but it was a good start after a Spring of not being able to get near the lakes as a result of the flooding. May 2nd - Berkshire Water First trip back to my usual target water. Over half the lake is still closed with only 7 swims, all along the same bank being open. The far bank is inaccessible and when you have two islands effectively dissecting the lake into 2 halves it was very easy for the fish to remain safe behind the islands. I think it was a Saturday night, rare for me, but as it had been quiet I thought I'd throw the gear in the car just in case I fancied it after a walk around. There were only 2 people on when I wandered down, one of whom had had a few fish so I quickly dropped a bucket into a swim a couple down from him, allowing me to fish a spot that had produced well for me at this time of year previously. It was getting on a bit by the time I'd got my gear down there so, after a quick flick to get the rods clipped up at the foot of the island shelf, I got busy with the catapult and rained a hundred or so baits down over the top of my soon to be favourite pastel pink pop ups. The day quickly turned to night and with the lake pretty quiet I drifted off to sleep, confident that I would be doing battle with a fish at some point over the next 10 hours. Thankfully that confidence was founded as sometime around 2am my right hand rod was in meltdown. I don't remember much of the fight, something that often happens when you've been woken from your slumber but I soon came round when I realised there was a decent mirror in the bottom of my net. Once it was unhooked and the necessaries were dealt he was quickly weighed in at 26.11 before setting about getting some night time self takes, the first time I'd attempted such a thing. I think they came out alright... Again, that was the last of the action, apart from a lost tench after sitting on my hands as the spots fizzed intermittently for a couple of hours from first light. The roll continues...
  15. So it's been a ridiculously long time since I last posted in here so, as I've got some more time on my hands with the shorter days, I thought I'd recount a few of the trips I've had between then and now. April 14th - Berkshire Club Water So I'll kick it off with a nice day trip I had as a guest to the "other" club in the Berkshire area. A mate of mine was just getting into the fishing on this particular lake and following a visit for a brew and a chat while he was fishing the night before I decided to come down the following day as his guest. Starting early wasn't an option unfortunately as I had to go via Tony's to get the ticket so it must have been around 9am by the time I arrived. A quick stroll around to my hosts plot revealed a blank night but the plan was for us to bait some spots in the edge and try and stalk one or two out over the day. The clear water allowed us to view our quarry, similar to how i had at Linch a month or so previously. It's a way of fishing that I really enjoy but unfortunately cannot make use of on the usual waters due to their poor clarity. Anyway, my host already knew a few likely spots from previous trips so I left him to it and went on my first of many walks around the lake, peering into every nook and cranny as I went. Unfortunately I only spotted one fish but baited the extreme margin of the swim closest to that sighting with a couple of handfuls of crushed boilie, along with a few other potential feeding spots further up the bank. While the bait did it's magic I planned to have a little play on the lake behind, a real runs water according to everyone I'd spoken to... they weren't wrong. Before fishing I baited with a few handfuls of boilie, just off a prominent snag before having a wander about for 10 minutes. Upon returning the area was fizzing away like a cauldron and it must have taken 2 minutes before the first rod was off to a flier with a surprisingly pretty low double. A couple more within the next 10 minutes, followed by 3 tragic losses and I was running short on bait and hooks so the gear was packed up and I whizzed off the check the spots I'd baited earlier. Creeping up to the edge I checked the one closest to the sighting first and soon realised that all the bait had gone before spotting a carp sitting literally under the platform at the same moment as it spotted me and left the swim looking rather agitated. BUGGER. I'd potentially ruined my chance before even getting a rod in the water. Feeling rather stupid I rebaited the swim and after checking the others that remained untouched I thought I'd better see how my mate was getting on. Peering around the corner I spotted him, in the water on the opposite bank with a bent rod in one hand and net in the other... perfect timing. Sure enough he'd had one, a nice mirror of just under 20lb, though he'd come agonisingly close to hooking the lakes big koi, a fish that goes 30lb+, just minutes before. After shooting off a few water shots, only feet from where he'd hooked it, I hotfooted back to the area with renewed enthusiasm and upon checking the spot the bait had once again all gone. That was more than tempting enough for me, so a fresh rig was quickly assembled and dropped in on the gravel with another handful of bait over the top. All that was left to do now was wait for them to come back. Unfortunately I waited a couple of hours and only saw a couple of fish drift through, completely ignoring the bait below them. I'd all but given up by then so in came the rig, a handful of bait was lobbed back in and off I went for a chat with another mate that was about to leave following a successful night. This manner or fishing really does seem to wear you out, perching in a tree and staring at your spot for hours, praying for a fish to visit it grows tedious so going off and taking a break for a little while can help you to re focus your efforts. 15 minutes later I was back at the swim, contemplating packing up to be honest, but as I peeked over the branches in I was amazed to see a few fish feeding hard over the bait. Anxiously I waited for them to drift off before dropping a rig in with yet another handful of crushed baits and awaited the "inevitable". This time they did come back in, but were extremely cagey in the shallow water and avoided feeding anywhere near the rig. Seeing that prompted me to move the rod out a little into the deeper water where they would hopefully be more confident. Within minutes a plethora of bubbles erupted over the spot and continued for 5 minutes before stopping without the line so much as flickering. This went on for a good hour or more, they'd come in, clear the bait and leave... I'd rebait, they'd come back and the process repeated itself over and over, leaving me a frustrated mess. A few people had sat with me and watched and all were gobsmacked that I hadn't had a take. There was only a short while before I had to leave so in a last gasp attempt I put on the subtle pop up rig that had succeeded at Linch in an attempt to keep the hookbait just out of the thick silt. I also put less bait in this time around to try and increase the competition. 5 minutes later and right on cue the fizzing started and got more and more vigorous before finally, the alarm twitched into life as a fish made it's mistake. A short but hairy fight ensued but there was only going to be one winner after the stress they'd put me through... It went 22.15 in the end, a real corker of a common and one that left me sorely tempted to purchase a ticket myself. This was the spot. One rod in the right place proved it's worth again.
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