This blog is a continuation from my previous post, if you haven’t already, I‘d suggest checking it out before reading ahead. If not then here’s some background. The other week, I took part in a carp fishing match raising money for Great Ormond Street. The venue was Newlands Hall fishery in Essex. Going into the evening, I had caught 5 carp including the biggest of the match so far at 18lbs 8oz. Oh, and to spice things up a tad I was doing the whole thing dressed as Pikachu.
After landing my fifth fish of the session, it took another hour for the spot to produce another bite. The winning tactic was a 12mm yellow pop-up on a Ronnie rig. As far as I knew, this fish took me into the lead. The last I’d heard was that someone else was on five fish a couple of hours previous. Of course, a lot can happen in a couple of hours, but I was quietly confident.
It was now around half past six and my tummy was starting to rumble. I got the stove on and started to fry my burgers. Just five minutes later I received a savage bite from the left hand margin. The rod tip bent around, and I thought I was in. I lifted the rod and reeled however there was nothing on the end. The fish had obviously spat the hook.
I finished off cooking before re-casting my right hand rod. It hadn’t produced anything all day so I decided to move it around the swim to try and find a few fish. Just as I was casting it out, I received a bite on my left hand rod to the snags. This produced my seventh fish of the session which was another small common.
A little after an hour later, my left hand rod ripped into action again. I managed to get the fish away from the snags and it was charging all around my swim. It headed down towards my left hand margin however I wasn’t worried as there were no obvious snags. The rod locked up and it seemed the fish had become snagged. I could still feel it on and didn’t want to risk snapping up or a tethered fish.
Although the lake rules state no wading, I weighed up my options and decided to head in. The margins were between three and four foot deep so there wasn’t a risk of my waders flooding. I managed to find my rig however unfortunately whatever was on the end had escaped me. I also found the snag which the fish had taken me around. It was a large branch. It was full of line, rigs and leads including my method feeder rig which I had lost earlier in the day. I must have cast right on top of it.
I decided it would be best to remove the branch from the lake so that’s what I did. I had a feeling that it may kill off my swim for a little while, but I thought I was acting within the best interests of the lake and fish for the future.
About half an hour after losing the fish, I had finished removing the branch and my bait was finally back in the water and fishing. The next hours fishing was uneventful. I decided to swap my right hand rod from a Ronnie rig to a solid bag.
The change obviously paid off because after 20 minutes, my rod was nearly pulled off my rod rest. It was my eight fish from twelve bites but more importantly for me, it was my first fish on the bottom and away from the snags. I was worried about fishing close to the snags at night whilst I was sleeping so it gave me some confidence of night-time bites in open water.
It was now around ten o’clock and I’d just heard that Stewart, who was fishing around the middle of the lake where the island is was on 14 fish. The match was going to be a numbers game, so I had some catching up to do. Although I was already quite tired due to going out the night before, I really wanted to win this match so decided to stay up and catch as many as I could. Staying up and sitting next to the rods would mean I could continue fishing the productive snags to my left and I planned to re-cast my right hand rod every half an hour with a fresh PVA bag.
I decided to get a couple of hours sleep so moved the left hand rod away from the snags and got my head down. My next bite and ninth fish woke me up at about quarter to 11. It was a small common but that didn’t matter because it was all about number of carp.
I managed a little more sleep before being woken up again an hour and a half later. After this fish, I decided to stay wake. I had run out of solid bags so started to use PVA mesh bags instead. This obviously made little difference to the fish because I caught three more between quarter past one and quarter past two. They were a small common, a mirror around 7 lb and the biggest fish was around 13 1/2lb, this one was caught on the right hand rod in open water.
I could hear fish jumping out slightly further down the bank than I was, I couldn’t however hear anyone else’s alarms going off. I was now on 13 fish, just 1 behind Stewart who was leading on 14 going into the night.
The rest of the night remained quiet. I didn’t catch another fish until 4:40 the next morning. I had spotted some swirling almost under my feet. The previous night I had put some bait in the margins, and something had obviously moved in and was feeding on it. After having my rig in the water for 20 minutes, it was away with another low double common. This ruined this spot since it was so close to my rods.
Fortunately, there was another spot slightly further down the bank which I had been baiting up all the previous day. I noticed some fizzing on that spot and lowered my rig on top. I threw a handful of pellet over the top to keep the fish interested. It only took 10 minutes for another bite. I did this again and caught yet another fish, taking my total to 16.
I caught my fourth fish in an hour when my left hand rod towards the snags bent round and I was into my 17th fish, a small common.
I was absolutely knackered, I’d had about an hours sleep but it was all worth it because I’d found out that Stewart who was leading going into the night hadn’t caught anything all night and was still on 14 fish. Although things were looking positive, there was one downside. It appeared the fish had started spawning again. Apparently, they had spawned a couple of weeks prior to our visit however obviously, some hadn’t finished and conditions were perfect for them to start again.
The fishing suddenly died right off, and I struggled from 6 till 10. The match was meant to finish at 12 and I had 2 hours to cement my lead. I swapped one rod over to the float after seeing some fish feeding in the margins. I fished a worm over some pellet and after half an hour, my float dipped under. I’d caught a bloody eel! I had one worm and an hour and a half left. I watched my float like a hawk and by quarter to eleven, I had another bite. I struck into the fish and watched my float disappear under the water. I never saw it again because the fish had snapped me up.
I had heard bite alarms going off around the lake, everyone’s except mine. On closer inspection with my binoculars, I could see Stewart haling them in down the bank. I needed to act fast!
I re-did my rod toward the left hand snag and threw a few more boilies over it. I also put some more bait down my right hand margin. Just 15 minutes later, I was in. It was my 18th fish but only a small common. Just 15 minutes after that fish, I had another bite brining my total to 19. There was just 20 minutes left of the match and I watched Stewart’s swim with my binoculars like I was an FBI agent. I didn’t see him land any more fish, but I wasn’t sure I’d done enough either.
Midday arrived and the match came to an end. Had I done enough?
Paul came around to let me know the result. Stewart had caught 18 fish, I had won! It was quite emotional to be honest, I never expected to win, I was in an average swim without much water or an island. Many of the contestants came around to congratulate me whilst I was packing up and Paul brought round my prizes. I had won several things including some bait, a gift voucher, and a head torch. The prizes didn’t matter to me, we had raised an enormous amount of money for Great Ormond Street, and I’d had some mega fun doing so.
Thanks to Paul for running the competition and thanks to everyone who competed for such a great time. Here’s to next year?