Joe Chappell

Leftover Ragworm? How to Freeze it

In my last blog I mentioned that we were using frozen ragworm, left over from a previous trip. Due to popular demand and the fact I’ve been busy with school work and haven’t managed to get out fishing, in this weeks blog my dad and I will run you through our simple steps to freezing Ragworm. You may ask, why bother? The truth is that frozen ragworm works just as well as fresh and saves money when you have worm left over. We even noticed that it stayed on the hook better than fresh worms. Also, it saves the stress of not being able to get hold of ragworm at certain times of the year. As well as the blog, we also created a short instructional video too which I will link at the bottom of the blog.

Step 1: Create a saturated salt solution in tepid water. This is around a 1:4 ratio of salt to water, we used 500ml of water and 125 grams of salt.

Step 2: Place the ragworms into the solution.

Step 3: Leave in the fridge for around 24 hours.

Step 4: Strain the worms

Step 5: Pat the worms dry

Step 6: Wrap the worms in newspaper, ensuring they stay separate from each other.

Step 7: Place in the freezer until you need them. We’ve used them after being frozen for 3 weeks and they were just as good as the ones that had been frozen less than a week. We’re not sure how long they will last in the freezer, but they will definitely last for a few weeks until you are back out fishing again.

Final step: Catch fish!

Hope you enjoyed the short tutorial. If you’re looking for a little more explanation then check out the youtube video below.

Joe Chappell

The Call of The Crouch

This Tuesday, my dad and I decided to take an evening trip to the River Crouch. The tide was perfect as high tide was around eight o’clock and we planned to fish from five until nine. Our chosen stretch of the river was South Fambridge as it’s around a 10 minute drive from where we live and a venue we fish quite a lot. We were hoping to catch a thornback ray, the species that the River Crouch is pretty much renowned for however, one that we were yet to catch there. We knew that there was also a chance of some dogfish and it was inevitable we would catch whiting too at this time of year.

There are a few spots along South Fambridge that we have fished before and on this occasion, we decided to stick to what we know. My dad didn’t fancy the long walk to the Saltings in the dark and due to me leaving my tripod at home, we would have only been able to fish 2 rods there anyway. We decided to fish the first bay as you walk to the right. After visiting at low tide a couple of years ago, we found that there were almost no snags at this point of the river. There is also a farmer’s fence behind the path which I could rest my rods on.

Crouch Map

We arrived at around half past five and started setting up the rods. We both opted to fish one rod with a pulley pennel and one with a two hook flapper. Chosen baits for the evening were all frozen. We had a pack of squid, herring and some frozen rag and lug worm which were left over from a previous trip to Canvey. (We only caught a few whiting, nothing worth blogging about)

The water was eerily calm, usually at the River Crouch there is quite a bit of current however the small tide coupled with lack of wind meant that the water was calmer than some of the lakes I have fished.  Even though it was pitch black the calm water was reflecting the light and we could see and hear our leads hit the water on every cast due to there being no sound from the waves.

I got my pennel rod out first and as soon as it hit the water it was getting nibbled. Before I could set my other rod up, I had manged to catch two whiting. Both the fish were caught on a mix of herring and squid wraps. I baited the two hook flapper with the frozen rag worm and before long had caught a fish on that rod too.

That was three to me and my dad still hadn’t caught anything. However, his luck was soon to change. After I had caught my flurry of fish my dad started hauling them in while it was my turn to catch nothing. Soon my luck changed and we were both catching whiting on nearly every cast. It was frustrating as the larger baits intended for a ray, were getting stripped within minutes.

The largest whiting of the night.

About an hour before high tide, my rod with the pennel on received a proper good bite. It was such a good bite I was certain it wasn’t a whiting. I was right, it was a dogfish and a first from the crouch for either me or my dad. It wasn’t very big but a nice change from all the whiting. I slipped him back, holding him in the edge while he recovered to ensure his safe return. A little while later my dad received a good knock too, his rod tip pulled down and went back to its original position. He waited for a little while longer but whatever it was had unfortunately dropped his bait.

The lone dogfish.

The bites continued throughout the night on all baits. There wasn’t one bait which outperformed the other however, the frozen lug was a bit slimy and we only used it after we had used all the rag worm. The fish didn’t seem too bothered and my dad actually received a double while using the lug on his second to last cast.

I’d like to add that unexpectedly, the frozen rag worm performed just as well as fresh rag and actually seemed to stay on the hook much better than fresh. It performed so well that my dad has said he’ll probably start buying fresh and salting/freezing it from now on. Freezing rag is so simple and my dad is going to make a youtube video about it which I will share soon.

The fish were biting throughout the night which kept us busy, although the ray that we were hoping for never turned up. Whilst it was mostly whiting being caught, some were quite big and overall, it was our second best session on the crouch to date with around 40 fish caught between us over less than 4 hours. With my dad moving to Switzerland for work soon, it’s great spending time together while we can and for me, that’s one of the best things about fishing.

If you’re interested, here’s another one of my blogs about sea fishing:

Thanks for making it to the end. Check me out on instagram here:

Thanks to Trev for the bait too.

Joe Chappell

The Beauty of Autumn Fishing

It feels like it’s been months since I was last sat here writing a blog for you. It may have only been a couple of weeks but I have loads to catch you up on.

First off, I’ll take you back to the 11th of October. It was a Sunday and work had been pretty quiet, so my boss had given me the day off and I wanted to try out my new baiting pole from The Tackle Box, I had used it go great effect the week before but wanted to give it a test at a different venue. I decided on a trip to Stambridge Fisheries as it was the place I had caught my first carp by myself and where I learnt to fish. I got my mum to drop me off, but the lake was busy. It’s only small and I could only see one swim free which was a little cramped and restrictive. I really didn’t fancy fishing a cramped swim so we took the small drive to my local park lake Rochford Res, which has featured heavily in my blogs this year.

I arrived around 9am at Rochford Res as I spent too much time talking to a few anglers at Stambridge before leaving. I loaded up my barrow and said farewell to my mum before heading off for a walk around the lake. Unexpectedly, I saw my mate Jack down there so decided to jump in the swim next to him. The chosen swim had access to the island and rushes to the left however, it wasn’t ideal for testing the baiting pole as the island was out of reach.  

I got the rods out, but the morning passed slow and uneventful. I was getting bored and knowing that the magical ‘bite time’ was still quite a while away, I decided to wet a line in the river roach which runs adjacent to the lake. Earlier that morning I had seen a decent sized carp in the river and my hopes of a bite were high. My bait of choice was worms and tactics were simple. I opted for a size 8 hook and pinched on two shot about 1ft from the hook. Before long I had caught my first fish, a little chublet. Not long after I was in again, this time it was a nice perch and my biggest one from the river.

I decided to give the swim a rest, but as I was on my way out of the swim (It’s a steep muddy bank) I slipped, fell on my backside and slid down the concrete overflow straight into the river. Luckily it was only up to my knees, but I now had a wet bottom which was also covered in green algae.

My mum was planning on coming down for a few hours in the afternoon anyway, so I gave her a call and she agreed to come a little earlier and bring some new joggers, socks and shoes. She arrived at around two and to say that I was grateful is an understatement as I was getting cold from being so wet.

Throughout the day we had only seen one other person catch. Three cormorants were out hunting all day and I suspected that they were spooking the fish.  I noticed that they weren’t hunting in the shallower end of the lake and there were a couple of swims free. I hoped that the cormorants had pushed the fish into this part of the lake. Jack and I loaded our gear into our barrows and made our way to the shallower end of the lake.

I chose the swim in the corner while Jack fished the one next to it. Both swims had good marginal snags. We got the rods back out as soon as we could as we had just lost 10 minutes of fishing reaching the new swims. These swims leant themselves perfectly to the use of the baiting pole. I even let Jack borrow the pole to place his rig perfectly.

We waited for a couple of hours and by 4 o’clock we both started to receive a few liners. Jack was getting loads of indications of fish feeding and it didn’t take long before he received a fantastic bite. He was on the rod in seconds, but the fish had buried itself in the snags. There was nothing he could do and eventually, he couldn’t feel anything on the end. After applying pressure for a few minutes, he ended up having to pull for a break. Thankfully, the lead came free and we got the bait back out with the use of my baiting pole and eagerly awaited another bite.

It didn’t take long before he was in again. This time he managed to steer the fish clear of the snags. His reward for his efforts was a beautiful little mirror, similar in looks to one I caught a few weeks before. It was beautifully dark with big apple slice scaled on its shoulders. I could just imagine the fish in a few years’ time when it was much bigger.

I however, had still not caught a fish and that was Jacks second bite. He left not long after he caught the fish, so I decided to hop into his swim. Using my baiting pole, I dropped my rig and a handful of pellet onto the baited spot in the margins.

It didn’t take long before I had one in the net. It put up a pretty lame fight, but I was relieved that I was no longer blanking.

I got the rig right back onto the same spot with the use of the baiting pole. It was nearing time to leave so I slowly started to pack up. It wasn’t long before I was in once again. This one felt much bigger and was putting up a fantastic scrap. I saw it wallowing on the surface before it dived deep again. It was a big mirror and I was pretty sure it was a ghost carp. I managed to get it in the net, and I was certain it was the biggest fish I had caught from the res. By the time I landed the fish it was fully dark so set up my head torch and another torch to do a mediocre self-take.  I was absolutely buzzing while I was packing up.

After showing Jack the pictures of the fish I caught after he left, it actually tuned out that he had caught it a couple months before from the same swim.

I’m sure that Jack and I wouldn’t have caught those fish that night without the use of the baiting pole. It’s so discreet and presents your rig perfectly with a nice scattering of bait around it. Overall it was definitely a successful evening. Maybe if I didn’t give Jack the better swim id have had a few more 😉

Thanks for making it to the end. Check me out on Instagram here. And check out Jacks Instagram here.

If you’re interested in a baiting pole, I’d recommend giving this one from The Tackle Box a go.  

Tackle Reviews

Sonik Dominator X Rods – Review

During lockdown, I went on a bit of a spending spree and treated myself to some new kit, including a set of three Sonik Dominator X rods. I wanted to get some 10ft 3lb test curve rods and after some shopping around an offer came up on the Dominators that was just too good to turn down. Their RRP is £79.99 however I managed to find 3 for £140.

If your looking for some new rods, but are on a budget then I can say look no further than the Dominator X’s. For their price they are fantastic rods. They are lightweight and sleek and look perfect on the alarms.

I’ve managed to put a lead over 100 yards with these rods which is pretty impressive considering their size and the fact that I’m an average caster. When it comes to playing fish, they are great too. I’ve caught fish up to 24lb on them and it’s been great fun. Even smaller fish of a few pound have put up a fantastic fight.

The 10ft models are equipped with a 40mm butt ring. All the rods in the range are made from high modulus 1K woven carbon fibre and feature a DPS-18 reel seat as well as a line clip.

I haven’t got much else to say about them, I honestly can’t fault them and I’m really pleased with my purchase. After having a few casts with some friends Sonik Vader’s you can really tell the difference. The dominators really are that bit better, sleeker and lighter than their cheaper counterparts the Vader X’s.

Joe Chappell

My Twist on the Multi Rig

Around February, I encountered a problem while using the well-known Multi Rig. I wanted to use a low profile, 10mm popup but having only metal bait screws, the popup just wouldn’t pop up. The idea came to me to use a small piece of foam behind the hook shank, the idea being concealment, attraction, and extra buoyancy. Since then I have caught many on this rig, confirming that it does indeed work. Here’s a few catch shots and how I tie it.

Here’s what you need to tie it.

Step 1: Select around 8-12 inches of your hook link material. I have used soft coated braid before with good effect, but here I am using a supple braid.

One of many fish caught with this rig. This one fell to a 10mm white pop-up with yellow foam.

Step 2: Tie a loop in one end of your hook length, the height you would like the popup. This knot will be in direct contact with the fish so I would recommend a figure 8 loop knot or a double overhand.

Step 3: Thread on your hook of choice. So far, I have only used hooks with an out-turned eye, but I’m sure others will work.

Step 4: Using a gated baiting needle, thread on around 10mm of zig / hookbait balancing foam. I’ve found it best to exit the foam just on the side and thread it on at a slight angle, this way the foam sits better.

Step 5: Slide on your rig ring, micro swivel, or bait screw. If using 10mm popups I would opt for a rig ring, 12mm micro swivel and bigger, a bait screw. This is so you use less putty with the larger baits.  Thread the loop over the hook and tighten down.

A Beautiful common caught with this rig.

Step 6: Attach your popup of choice.

Step 7: Add some weight just after the knot as so. I have used putty moulded around a small shot, but anything will do the job.

Step 8: Thread on an anti-tangle sleeve, and either tie a loop on the end or attach directly to a swivel. 

Another fish to prove how effective this rig is.

Step 9: Test your rig in the margins so that it is critically balanced and adjust putty accordingly.

There is still so much fine-tuning to do with this rig, but I’m sure that this could go somewhere. If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading, maybe even test this rig out for yourself and send me in your results via email on or Instagram at @joec.carp

Joe Chappell

A Very Pleasant Surprise

Recently The Tackle Box, one of our kind sponsors, had reached out to Bailey asking who would be well suited to testing out their new baiting pole and I guess it was my lucky day.

The pole arrived a few days later and I was eager to test it out. However, last week I had a few exams at sixth form, so as much as I wanted to get on the water, I did the sensible thing and revised the afternoons I had off school. However, I couldn’t resist unpacking it and seeing how it looked and worked as this was the first time I had seen one up close. I went into the garden with my dad for a better look. The main section was telescopic, and extension poles fitted to the end. It was long, really long and with the 8m extension section that they had kindly supplied too, it nearly reached the end of the garden.

All 26m of it

I finished sixth form on Friday at 11:30 and after a KFC for lunch, headed straight down to my local park lake Rochford Reservoir. After far too much chatting with some fellow anglers, the couple of swims I was hoping to jump in became taken by other anglers (this is what you get for talking too much!). There were only a couple of swims left on the lake and after bumping into Paul, I decided to fish 2 swims up from him as another fisherman was in the swim next to him. The swim that I was in had access to the island and some small snags to the right. The man who I had just jumped in behind had managed a few throughout the morning and had been using a baitboat to get some bait out to the island. I used my baiting pole to fish in the marginal snags but the snags in my swim weren’t massive, just small overhanging trees. I cast my other rod tight to the island in the hope that I might catch some fish still feeding on the bait that had been put out.

After an hour or so the guy fishing in the swim to my left, which had much better snags left. Graham the bailiff came around and recommended I move down the bank a little and put a rod just off the edge of the snags. It was a good call and an ideal scenario to use my baiting pole. I edged the pole out, with my hook bait and a small handful of pellet and sweetcorn in the cup. The hook bait of choice was a Shimano RN20 wafter with a maggot clip used as a bait stop and a freshly dug worm threaded onto the maggot clip. I gently turned the cup so that the hook bait, pellet and corn mix all fell through the water together to ensure the entire mix would settle on the bottom in close proximity. I then retrieved the baiting pole and waited for the action to start.

Time passed slowly with no action to report of. The rain had started and although I had my brolly, I was soaked. For some reason I hadn’t moved my brolly when I had moved swims. I was sitting by my rods the whole time in the rain as I was fishing the snags because I knew I wouldn’t be able to give the fish an inch.  The light rain wasn’t bothering me at first but suddenly, the heavens absolutely opened and I got soaked. I tightened my drag a little and retreated to the brolly which I had now moved into my swim. No sooner had I sat down under the cover of my brolly and Mr Carp had picked up my bait and ran me right into the snags. Even though I was on the rod in seconds, my efforts to get the fish free were futile. After 5 minutes of keeping constant pressure on the rod and then 10 minutes of letting the line go slack in the hope that the fish would swim free, nothing had happened. After picking up the rod again and being unable to feel any movement on the other end, I concluded that the fish had spat the hook and got me caught. I tried to pull free but in the end my line snapped. Another rig lost!

After losing my fish and rig, I trudged down the bank to Paul’s swim to see how he was getting on. He explained that he had just lost one too, but his friend had just caught one. While I was there, he caught his first fish of the day. He gave me a few baits to try and I made my way back to my swim.

Slightly disheartened, I re-rigged and using the baiting pole, slipped the bait out a little further past the snags. I had filled the spoon with some sweetcorn and boilies as well as my rig. I was hoping this little bit of extra bait would encourage a bite. Thankfully, the rain had now stopped so I could sit right on top of the rods without getting soaked. The rod was in the water enough time for Paul to catch his 2nd, before it was my turn. This one didn’t head straight for the snags but did give me a good fight. The result was a nice low double common.

I put the rod back out on the same spot and fished a single hook bait on the other rod. I wanted to see weather the tight bit of bait that I could get on the spot with the baiting spoon was making any difference.  The light faded and nightfall engulfed the lake. I was hoping the fading light would encourage the fish to start biting but the time passed uneventful and eventually, Paul decided to leave. Eventually I started packing up myself, ready for my mum to pick me up at eight. I had packed away the alarms and everything else was in the barrow leaving just the rods in the water as we all know we want to give ourselves every moment we can to catch a fish.

I was just pushing my barrow up the steep bank to the path when I heard the clicking of the drag that I had been waiting for. The barrow went over, gear falling everywhere and I nearly did too as I scrambled down the bank to grab my rod. I grabbed the net nearest to me but it got stuck in the brambles. Thankfully, my other net was still set up, so I grabbed that one instead. Just as I was about to net the fish my rig flew into the air. Oh no, Had I lost the fish just as I was about to net it? I swooped my net up in the hope that the fish was inside before the rig had slipped out of its mouth. Thankfully, it was! I lifted the net onto my mat to inspect it. The poor thing had another hook stuck inside it’s gill plate. It was micro barbed and I struggled to get it out but eventually I did. I dried off the area and applied some Nash wound seal, which Graham and Nick provided for all members. I took a few quick photos and slipped the poor thing back into the water before making my way over to the fire station where my mum was waiting for me.

This was the first time in my life I had ever used a baiting pole and this one from The Tackle Box is absolutely fantastic. Seriously, I wish I had bought one myself sooner, but I always thought this bit of kit was a luxury, not a necessity. If you fish lakes where you don’t have to cast far then I would really think about getting one. Yes, you can use a boat, but lots of lakes don’t allow them and they cost a lot more than a baiting pole. In the four sessions before using the baiting pole I was on a bit of a bad run I had caught one carp, which was pure luck really as I found about 50 fish stacked up in the corner of the lake. I went fishing on Sunday too and managed to catch another two carp using the pole meaning so far, it has 100% improved my catch rate. I’ll catch up with you next week about that trip when I used the pole again.

Joe Chappell

Newland Hall – An Honest Review

Last week, I had the joy of fishing Newland Hall for the first time. A few of us from the blog decided to meet up and get to know each other better, with the hope of catching a fish in the meantime. We chose Newland Hall as Tom is pretty friendly with the Owner and it offered a range of different fishing to suit each angler’s style.

I arrived around 8.30am and although the weather was absolutely terrible, my first impressions of the lakes were great. After a chat with head bailiff Johnny and fellow blogger Tom, who was fishing on the Moat Lake, I made my way to my swim on Brook lake which is the main carp lake on the complex. Newlands Hall is your typical day ticket carp fishery which attracts all types of anglers, new and experienced.

The swims on Brook lake were well kept. Most were bark chipped and had plenty of room for a bivvy and despite the recent heavy rain, the banks weren’t too muddy either. The lake itself was beautiful. There was a large island full of overhanging trees providing cover for the fish (and snags for me) and a small bay in the corner. The swims all had great marginal features and if my swim hadn’t had already been chosen for me, then I honestly wouldn’t have known where to start because they all had great features.

I was in swim 18, and Paul was in swim 17. Both had good marginal features and an ample amount of open water to fish. Within ten minutes of arriving I had already seen one fish jump about 30 yards to my right near the margins.

Luckily no one was fishing any of the swims to my right and I was able to cast a single hook bait to where I had seen the fish show. In the half hour that I was setting up my brolly and other rods (it was still raining really hard) I managed to see another two fish jump. One was near where the other fish had jumped and the other just 10 yards in front of my swim. The signs were good despite the torrential rain and I sat behind my rods in the anticipation that one would tear off at any second.

I decided to fish three different rigs to see which would work best and then if necessary, change accordingly. I fished one rod with a multi rig and single pink pop-up about an inch off the deck. One was fished with a simple blowback hair rigged double tiger nut with a small mesh pva bag of pellet and crushed boilie and the final rod was armed with a blowback rig and double maize, one plastic and one real. Two were cast down the right hand margin where I had seen a few fish jump and one was cast out just in front of my swim.

The view from my swim.

Unfortunately, the rods remained motionless for the next few hours and by twelve o’clock I was certain I was doing something wrong. So I changed the maize rod to a small 12mm wafter fished on a German rig, flicked it down the margin and scattered a handful of boilies, pellet and crumb over the top.

A few more hours passed by without any movement so I decided to change my approach. After seeing fish show in the centre of the lake, I fished adjustable zigs towards them, altering the depth. I also fished a single pop-up in the centre of the lake. Still, my rods remained motionless. I had heard that over on moat lake, Bailey had been bagging up, but around brook lake Paul and I had only seen half a dozen fish get caught between the 8 or so anglers we had in sight.

With only an hour left before leaving it looked like it was going to be a blank for the both of us when out of the blue, Pauls rod ripped off. The anglers on the other side of the lake had left a bit earlier so he’d cast a double 15mm citruz to the snags opposite. It definitely worked because the result was a pristine common of about 8lb.

Show fish that pual caught at Newlands

As the light was fading, we packed up. I stayed about a half hour into darkness as it looked fantastic  conditions for a bite. There were fish showing everywhere as the light faded but unfortunately, the day proved fishless for me. I made my way back to the carpark where my dad was picking me up. I will say is that navigating the path in the dark was a bit treacherous and a few lights would have helped.

One thing that I had seen mentioned on social media by others was that the lake was rat infested and full of litter. This is absolutely not the case. Yes, I did see one rat. But that happened to be in the dark on my way back to the carpark and nowhere near the actual lake. Let’s be honest, we have water, undergrowth and a ready source of food dropped in the swims and thrown into the water by us. Is this going to attract non-fishy wildlife? Of course it will. I see the odd rat on most lakes I fish but like I say, today I didn’t see any near the lake, just one near the car park and there was no problem whatsoever with litter. There are ample bins provided and from what I saw everyone was using them. There’s always going to be the odd idiot that leaves their swim in a mess and looking like their bedroom probably does.

Overall, I think that it is a good day ticket venue, perfect for a serious, social or pleasure fishing, depending on the lake you choose to fish. Although I failed to catch, I think I was unlucky today and I have decided to blame the weather in order to keep my angling prowess intact! Jokes aside, the amount of rain and sudden cooler temperatures made the day tough fishing. I’m definitely returning here at some point in the future. The lake will not beat me!

Check out Bailey’s view of the venue here:

Check me out on Instagram here: @joec.carp

Check out Newland Hall on Facebook here:

Joe Chappell

Dangling a Line Down Dungeness

That feeling the night before a fishing trip that you have been looking forward to is like no other. I wasn’t quite experiencing the feeling as much as my dad. On both Monday and Tuesday, I had been fishing my local lake. My dad on the other hand hadn’t been fishing in over a month. I think it has been nearly a year since he caught anything from the sea and I knew it was getting him down. He’s been very busy and the last six sessions have resulted in blanks for him. We were hoping that it would all change at Dungeness.

A carp I caught The night before fishing
The beauty of a carp I caught the night before

Sea fishing is by far his favourite. He was brought up fishing with his grandad and uncle, fishing around Southend and Canvey. Later on, he went fishing with friends, venturing further ashore to places like Cornwall, Bradwell and the south coast but once he was married and I came along, fishing became a distant memory.

That was until my first fishing trip aged five. We blanked and I went for a paddle in the sea thinking that I would be able to cast further than my dad. I had no idea what I was doing and looking back on it I’m sure it was rather comical. However, it’s safe to say that on that day he wasn’t too happy seeing me walking into the sea.

So after about twelve years of learning and making mistakes, that brings us to now, where I think he would agree that statistically, I’m the better angler. And dad, before you say something and complain that there was no fish around on your last six sessions, don’t forget that I only blanked on three of them. 

Back to the buzz that I could sense that my dad was feeling. He was working from home in the kitchen while I was doing some homework in my room. Every five minutes he would be poking his head around the corner, asking my opinion on what food we should take, telling me about the tides and providing the latest weather reports. I don’t blame him because he deserved a rest.

We picked up the bait from Trev Hooper in the afternoon and it was fresh as always. We took mainly lug but also some squid, a few packs of rag and some sprats that had been in the freezer since the winters pike fishing. We packed the car and headed for an early night as we were planning on being up at four to get the most out of the days fishing.

It was dark outside and I was awoken by the words “Hurry up, the alarm clock didn’t go off properly it’s five o’clock”. We got dressed and took the bait and more importantly, retrieved the bacon out of the fridge before quietly hurrying out the door.

The journey wasn’t too bad, there was some slow traffic on the A13 due to the roadworks which nobody was working on, again. But we arrived at our destination dead on seven. We couldn’t believe how bleak it was. It was like a ghost down. You could see for miles around and there was the odd house dotted around, the majority of them looking like something from 50’s America.   

The View at Dungeness

The beach was made up of stones and was much steeper than the beaches we had previously fished. We eagerly set up the rods, anticipating that it would be a fantastic days fishing ahead of us. We both used thee hook flapper rigs on one rod and pulley rigs with bigger baits on the other. The hope was to keep busy with whiting or the odd bass while waiting for one of our bigger baits to be picked up by an early cod, bass, smoothound or skate.

We were using the Gemini bait loader tool to wrap up squid, sprat and worm baits. They looked great and we knew if the bigger fish were here then they would definitely take this bait. Both of our first casts proved fishless, however, we weren’t disheartened. We still had the whole day ahead of us.

A perfect sausage of bait created using the Gemini spring loader tool.

We were halfway through cooking breakfast when my rod tip bent down and sprung back. I went to investigate and found a slack line. I started to reel in and it felt heavy. Nothing was pulling back but I was definitely into something. It turned out to be two small whiting. I wasn’t blanking but I was sure that I had missed something bigger. There was no way that those whiting had caused a bite like that. I rebaited with lug worm and cast back out to the horizon.

Breakfast was served!

My dad received a bite and he was sure something was on.  While reeling in he could feel the fish nodding it’s head so he exclaimed “Finally, I haven’t blanked”. I’m not sure what he was thinking because there was no fish on the end of his line. “It must not have been hooked properly” he remarked and cast it back out. Within a few minutes he had another bite. His reward was a schoolie bass around 35cm which was returned with care.

The fish started coming thick and fast however, bites were hard to detect. The deep water and wind were causing big bows in the line. We resorted to reeling in every ten or so minutes to re-bait, unless of course we did receive a good bite. I received one such bite and sure enough there was a bass and whiting on the end.

The whiting were coming thick and fast. On most casts we were catching two, sometimes even three fish. However, the bigger baits remained motionless. We were rebaiting these every half hour but either the whiting or crabs were stripping the hooks nearly bare.

Dad with a triple.

The action continued and high tide arrived around 11.15am. I managed to catch another bass, this one was the biggest of the day and around 45cm, but he went back to fight another day anyway. My dad also managed to catch a new species, a pouting.

We were catching so many whiting that I had the bright idea of using the spare rod and reel with mackerel feathers, tipped with squid and lug worm in the hope of a six hookup of whiting. It was working and I managed to catch a few but never all 6 at once.

The rod was constantly tapping with bites, but we decided to leave it in the hope a few more fish would come along. Suddenly it hooped over, something bigger had taken it. It was putting up a great fight and the result was a beautiful sea bass around 40cm. It wasn’t the six whiting I was hoping for, but this was better in my books.

As the tide was on the ebb, the fishing started to slow down. We were still consistently catching fish but now we were bringing in the odd empty line and the triple hookups had near enough stopped. We still hadn’t received any bites on the bigger baits and were slightly disheartened. We resigned ourselves to the fact that the bigger fish were likely out in the depths as a storm was due in the next day or 2.

Dad with another triple.

Everyone on the beach had gone two hours after high tide but my dad and I still had a few packs of worm left so decided to stick it out. A lure angler arrived a few hundred yards down from us, but he never appeared to catch anything. We felt so isolated it was spooky sometimes. Its quite odd being the only people in an area like that. By four o’clock we’d had enough.

I was putting stones in a bucket every time I caught a fish, and I had a total of 47 stones. I know for a fact I missed a few so I reckon my total was around 50 fish. My dad had got bored of counting at 20 and thought that he must have caught around 30 fish by the end of the day. If you ask me 80 fish (ok, most were small) isn’t a bad days fishing. Even though we may not have caught anything sizeable we had managed to catch four beautiful bass.

Trips like these aren’t just about the fishing. The time we spend together is so precious. My dad is moving to Switzerland in a couple of months as his company have moved his position there from London, so it was good to spend some quality time together doing something we both love.

Hopefully, we will get that cod next time eh dad? Until then!

Thanks for reading everyone, hope you enjoyed the Blog. Catch up with me next Friday when I will be writing a review of Newlands Hall Fishery in Colchester

Tight Lines!

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Thanks to Trev for the quality bait as always. Send him a text on 07834769224 if you need anything

Joe Chappell

When a Plan Doesn’t Quite Come Together

If you made it as far as the end in my last blog, I said that this week I would be comparing two rigs. A standard mono hair rig, and a coated braid blowback rig complete with anti-tangle sleave and kicker. I lied. The goal of last weekend’s session was to put the two rigs up against each other and see if all these expensive additions to our rigs really made a difference. Unfortunately, they just weren’t the right rigs for the lake I was fishing.

The rigs I had prepared to test against each other.

The venue in question was North Benfleet Hall Fishery. It was the lake where I learnt lots of what I know today, experienced my first blank (it was sub-zero) and did my first night sesh. I haven’t been there much in recent years since the chance of a decent fish is low, but I decided it would be the perfect place to test out my theory.

My friend Brad was up earlier than me and was at the lake for 7am. After watching the water for a while, he picked a double swim just off of the main body of the lake with access to reed lined margins, open water and an island. I arrived not long after at about 8am and spotted fish jumping in our swim instantly. I was hopeful of a quick bite.

Brad was yet to catch however, he spotted some mud coming up in the margins not long after I arrived. He lowered his rig into position and within minutes was into a fish. It was a short stubby thing with a deformed spine, but at the end of the day a fish is a fish and he wasn’t blanking (like I was). Not long after he was away again from the same margin spot. This fish was a little bigger too!

Meanwhile, I had set up my rods. One with the mono rig, and one with the blowback rig. Both had the same hook bait, a 15mm glugged wafter (which sunk as had been glugged for about 4 years) topped with a single fake corn. Topping my baits with fake corn had proven effective here in the past so I was sure it would work well. A mesh pva bag was hooked onto each rig and the rods were cast about halfway between the bank and the island. I had seen multiple fish jump now and most were in that area. Within minutes I was getting lots of bleeps on the alarms. Were they liners? Were they fish picking up the hook bait and getting away with it? Who knows. After an hour and a half, I had a run on the blowback rig. I lifted up the rod and the fish was on! However, my joy was short lived. After playing the fish for a couple of minutes the hook came free.

I was getting impatient and had paid to use 3 rods so I decided to set up a method feeder on my third rod. I used a short 4 inch hair rig with an 8mm mainline match pink tuna wafter on the hook. I mixed up my ground bait, adding some cumin that I found in the bottom of my bait bag and a good squeeze of robin red glug. I flicked it about 20ft out, just past a dying reed bed. Ten minutes later my rod was being dragged into the water by a hard fighting carp. This one I manged to land. Within the next hour I caught another two carp on the feeder.

I was re-casting the other 2 rods with fresh pva bags every half an hour, but I was still yet to get another bite. I knew that something wasn’t right and I was certain that it was the hook bait size. I decided to ditch the hair rig and change over to a German rig on one rod. I used a size 8 curve shank hook, around 6 inches of fox camotex soft and a 12mm yellow Signature wafter made by Sticky Baits. Find out how to tie the German rig here

The new rig hadn’t been in the water for longer than 5 minutes before I had a screaming run. My reward was a beautiful mirror.

Seconds later Brad was in. This fish was fighting hard and taking him into the reeds to the left. Luckily, he managed to steer it away and before long it was in the net. The fished weighed in just shy of 13lb. I decided to rig up both rods with German rigs and it proved effective. Over the next hour I caught a few more carp. Brad also switched one rod over to a German rig and managed another carp in no time at all.

Brads fish which turned out to be the biggest of the day

For me, the action continued until lunchtime with fish being caught on both the method feeder and the German rigs. Brad unfortunately, wasn’t having as much fun as me. Most of the fish were around five pound with a couple being a bit smaller and one a bit bigger including a beautiful ghosty common. By 1pm, I was getting hungry so I decided to reel in my rods for a while and cook some lunch. The menu was a pork and chorizo burger for a starter and chicken super noodles for the main course. Brad, who’s studying patisserie I might add, brought the desert. It was some lovely pastries. FROM ASDA! Seriously Brad?

After some grub I put the rods back out. Usual service resumed and I started to catch fish within minutes. This continued for the next four hours, with me catching so many fish I lost count and Brad managing just a few.

At 5:30pm the bailiff came round to say goodbye and remind us that we had to be off site for 6:30. This was news to me. My mum was working and couldn’t pick me up until nearly 7. Panicking, I phoned her but there was no answer. Not long after putting my phone down I got a bite on my method feeder, fish on! I was just ready to net it when I had a hook pull and the fish swam back into the depths of the lake. I had no time to be disappointed as within seconds my alarm started to beep and I had another run. I was in again and before long the fish was in the net. I was just ready to bring him out of the water when my third and final rod in the water had a bite too. After a short battle, that fish was in too. It was a triple run, but with one fish coming off only a double bubble. I wasn’t disappointed though. I’d had a fantastic days fishing and must have caught nearly 20 carp over the course of the day.

Somehow, I had managed all of this before my mum had even rang me back. After a quick call, we decided that I would just wait outside the gate and she would pick me up from there as soon as possible.

I decided it was time to pack the feeder rod away and gave the carp rods one last cast. The last half hour before reeling them in passed uneventful for me however, Brad managed to catch another one. By now 6:30 was drawing near and we still had lots to pack up. The farmers who own the land had turned up to lock the gates but with no barrow there was no chance we would make it. Luckily, they were friendly enough, unlike Orwell’s Farmer Jones. They told us to put the gear in the back of their pickup truck and then drove us to the carpark where Brads grandad was waiting for him. I unloaded my gear ready for the farmers to lock up and then waited for my mum. It’s safe to say that it was a rather entertaining way to end the day.

Check out my instagram @joec.carp

Check our Brads instagram @brads_fishing

Joe Chappell

Fishing a Two Hundred Year Old Mill Pond

The Bank holiday weekend just gone, I was lucky enough to get some time off work. Half of my family live 280 miles away in Lancashire and my eldest cousin was moving to a new house so we decided to visit for a long weekend. Although my cousin doesn’t fish himself, he loves the outdoors and his new house literally backs onto a beautiful lake called Lowerhouse Lodge. It was used by the textile mills during Lancashire’s booming cotton industry, and later by a local slaughterhouse. I purchased my membership for Pendle Burnley & District Anglers Association from Padiham Angling Centre and as always when you visit a tackle shop, I spent more money than I should have on random bits and bobs. The ticket covers five still waters, including Lowerhouse and three stretches of the picturesque River Calder. For £45 a year it’s a bargain if you ask me.

The view from the garage window.

After helping my cousin move on the Friday and a lovely curry for all our hard work (thanks Ste), I was up early on Saturday to go fishing. I have fished the lake a few times in the past, so I knew a couple of the hotspots but unfortunately all those swims were taken. I settled down in a swim in the centre of the lake and baited a spot to my right margin with a few handfuls of pellet. I fished a small white popup over the top of the baited area for a couple of hours but all was quiet. I decided to change tactics and used small pva bags of pellet cast towards a central wall that runs the length of the lake. By midday I was still blanking so I switched back up onto the baited spot in the hope that something might have moved onto the bait.

My first swim was down the bank on the right. I was fishing between the two blue pumps.

The man fishing the corner swim, next to the out of bounds area had packed up and left. He had been there since 4am and been baiting up the swim heavily. I knew that the fish would be around that area so I decided to move.

The corner swim, and the rope separating the non-fishing area

Not long after I settled down a family walking around the lake threw a couple loaves of bread into the no fishing area to feed the carp. Almost instantly the fish came up for the bread and it got me thinking. After fishing the same tactics as before without any luck, I decided a change was in order. I only had a few slices of bread with me, so I needed to use it sparingly. I broke up one slice and threw it a foot or so from the rope dividing the out of bounds section from the main body of the lake. The fish weren’t taking it, and it slowly drifted under the rope and into the no fishing area where it was soon slurped up (fish are not stupid are they?). The wind was blowing right down into the corner, and the bread I had thrown in was drifting pretty quickly. I cast some bread in, as close to the rope as I dared and undone the bail arm so the line was free. After five minutes the wind had blown my bait under the rope and into the danger zone (surely this is acceptable, right?). It wasn’t long before a hungry carp had engulfed my bread and hook. The result was a fantastic hard fighting common.

I managed to catch another two fish using this tactic however I had now run out of bread. I packed up and walked around the corner to my cousin’s house where my mum, dad and uncle were helping clear the garden. After nipping to the shops for a loaf of bread, I enjoyed some late lunch and spent some time in the garden with my cousin’s kids before heading back down to the lake again.

Excuse the poor photo it was a self take.

To my relief, the swim I’d had previous success in was still free. I threw in some bread but the fish didn’t come to the surface as they had done before so I decided to use some critically balanced foam and maggots on the hair in the margins instead. It wasn’t long before I had caught my fourth fish of the day.

The maggot rig that done the business.

After an hour or so my fifth fish was in the net. It wasn’t massive, but it was definitely the best looking fish of the day. It was getting cold (remember, this is the north and winter is coming) and I wasn’t feeling too well. My phone was on 1% so I wasn’t sure I would have enough charge to do a self-take photo. I gave my dad a call and he came down to take a few pictures for me.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Come back next Friday, when I’m going to be testing out if all these additions to our rigs are worth the money. I’ll be heading to a local runs water so hopefully I’ll get a good bend in the rod while I’m at it too.

Check out my Instagram @joec.carp

Oh and heres a picture of a duck to cheer you up!