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Carp Joe Chappell

Fishing as Pikachu for 24 Hours – Part 1

When a friend asked me to take part in a charity fishing match for Great Ormond Street Hospital that he was hosting, I jumped at the chance and signed up. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks after paying, another friend planned a trip up to London for his 18th birthday which was the same weekend as the match. Due to covid restrictions not easing on the 21st of June, the trip to London was cancelled and the charity match was back on! To make it more entertaining and to raise as much money as possible, I decided to do the whole match dressed as Pikachu.

In the month leading up to the match, I had had nothing but bad luck. I hadn’t caught a carp in over a month and I had lost 4 fish in a row on 3 different sessions. The first couple took me into some snags and snapped me up while just a couple days before the match, I had lost a stunning upper double mirror at the net due to weed. To say I had lost my confidence would be an understatement.  

With all preparations made on the Friday, I was up early on Saturday to make the 40 minute journey to the venue, Newlands Hall fishery. I’d fished there once before, but blanked. I arrived a little late so didn’t make the walk around before the swim draw. I drew swim 1 and didn’t know what to expect. It did mean one thing however, it was only a short walk from the car park with what must have been the most loaded barrow I’ve ever pushed.

Once arriving in my swim, I was met with fizzing and fish cruising on the surface right in front of me. I was confident of a bite but we still had over an hour before it was time to put the rods in. I set up the bivvy and prepared my rods, eagerly waiting for 9 o’clock to arrive.

Although it was a 2 rod match, I had brought 6 rods with me to cover any situation which arose. I started the day with one rod on the method feeder and one rod fishing a Ronnie rig with a small pink pop-up. Due to my swim being in the corner, I had a good set of marginal snags on my left as well as an overhanging tree to my right. I had a large amount of open water in front of me but I could only cast about 35 yards out before entering someone else’s water.

9 AM arrived and the rods went out. I dropped my method feeder under the overhanging bush to my right and used my baiting pole to ship out my Ronnie rig to the snags on my left. I had a feeling the fish were going to be hungry, so I put quite a few boilies, some pellet and some sweetcorn in the spoon too. I set my rod down before sitting back after the manic hour setting up.

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Beeeeep. My rod tip swung round after just 5 minutes in the water. It was fish on. Although I was fishing locked up, the fish had taken me into the snags. I could still feel it on, but the line was grating against the submerged branches. The rod locked up and I wasn’t sure weather the fish had escaped me leaving my hook embedded into a branch or, it was still on. I allowed the line to go slack for 5 minutes but there was no movement. I assumed that the fish had spat the hook and pulled for a break.

This was now the 5th fish in a row that I had lost and I was devastated. I wasted no time in getting the rod rigged back up and on the spot. This time, I dropped it about a foot away from where I had previously dropped it. I hoped that this would stop the fish from reaching the snags.

Half an hour later, my rod ripped off again. I put my rod tip straight under the water, this helps to bring carp away from snags as they feel less threatened being pulled under the water than up, out of it. I played the fish for a couple of minutes and it was ready to be netted. I fumbled around for the net and must have applied too much pressure. My line went slack and the fish splashed it’s way back into the depths. Now I had lost 6 in a row.

I was seething. Why was this happening to me? What was I doing wrong? I was loosing confidence rapidly. I’m not a religious person but I was so desperate that I had a little pray to the ‘Carp Gods’ asking for a little luck and forgiveness.

I prepared the bait and rod again, shipping it out with the baiting pole to the same spot as before. The fish seemed hungry and I had received 2 bites within an hour of each other. I decided to keep piling the bait in, so put a spoonful of bait out before placing my rig out with more bait.

Meanwhile, I hadn’t received much activity on the method feeder for a while now. I had been casting it under the tree to my right mainly, however after a few hours without any action I decided to move it around a bit and have a few pub chucks. I swapped the hookbait from a wafter to some sweetcorn but still hadn’t caught anything.

After a few hours of just receiving liners, I decided to re-bait. I wasn’t too happy when the rig went out in the first place because the line got caught around the pole and I wasn’t sure if the rig had been moved slightly. I reeled in and put the rod back out. 10 minutes later the rod bent round and the result was a stunning mirror – I was finally off the mark and had broken my run of bad luck. little did I know what the carp gods had in store for me.

I had also noticed many fish cruising around on the surface. I reeled in my feeder rod and tried to trip one up using some white bread and a breadbomb. It’s surprising how far you can cast with just freelined bread loading in a breadbomb. You can easily manage 30 yards. I had a couple of fish come up and nose my bread but they were obviously wary. I noticed that most of the fish on the surface were good double figure fish too. The fish seemed to have spooked off so I put my feeder back out for a little while. 

All of a sudden, I noticed a large set of lips on the surface gulping down some dog mixers which had drifted over from an adjacent swim. I quickly reeled in my feeder but it was snagged up. It was in the margin but there were no obvious snags. I was in a rush and didn’t have the time to try and free it. I pulled for a break.

My bread rod was already set up, but the bread had been on for a good 45 minutes. I decided to leave the slightly soggy, half dried bread on and flicked it out where I’d last seen the fish come up. 30 seconds later and my bread had been engulfed. I struck and it was fish on. The fight lasted a good 10 minutes and the fish was taking lots of line. I gave a shout to the guy who was fishing in the next swim and he helped me to net the fish. Eventually it was in the net and mine.

I gave Paul, who was hosting the competition a call and he came round to witness the weighing and take some photos for me. It weighed in at 18 lb 8oz and was the biggest fish of the match so far. There was going to be a prize for biggest fish of the match, as well as 3 prizes for most fish caught. The prize for biggest fish was a 60 minute tattoo session which I had no interest in, so I had won some pride more than anything. It seemed my words with the ‘Carp Gods’ had paid off.

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I slipped the fish back and sat back for a minute, looking back over the pictures. It was a stunning half linear mirror. I decided to call it quits on the feeder rod and replace it with a Ronnie rig and white pop-up. I hooked on a pva mesh bag and placed it under the overhanging tree to my right.

It had been a little while since I had caught from the left hand snags too. I decided it was time to re-do that rod too. My rod was on the bank sticks, bail arm open and alarm off. I was bringing my baiting pole in when I noticed line splaying off my spool. In panic, I dropped the baiting pole to pick up the rod for fear of the fish running into the snags. The fish was on but I heard an almighty crack. The end section of my baiting pole had snapped in half. I managed to land the fish which was a battered old common but I was gutted about the baiting pole.

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I was sure that I wouldn’t be able to catch as many without the help of my baiting pole. I scattered a good amount of bait around the spot instead. Although I wouldn’t be able to keep with the tight baiting approach which I would have preferred, the fish were obviously in the area and I was hoping it wouldn’t make too much difference. Around the lake, not many fish were being caught, there was an obvious lull in the action. I took this time to eat some late lunch and enjoy the stunning wildlife.

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If you enjoy your birdwatching while you fishing, then Newlands is great. I spotted a kingfisher, long tailed tits, blue tits, great tits, wrens, bats and all sorts of other fantastic birds while I was there.

The time was nearing 5 o’clock and a few people had started catching. I decided to trickle a few more boilies over the spot and re-cast my rod. It didn’t take long for another bite to come. The result was a pristine little common. It was my fourth fish from 6 runs, all of which had come from the left hand snag.

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I got the rod straight back out and just 15 minutes later, I landed my 5th of the session. It was looking like it would be a productive evening.

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Thanks for reading the first part of this blog. I was hoping to fit it all into one, but I’m afraid of it becoming the Lord of the Rings. The second part should be out next week, most likely on Friday. You don’t want to miss it because I had a crazy night with no sleep and managed to overtake the leader.

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