All posts by leecolford

CARPSCAPE 2016 – By Simon Jackson

Thursday morning the day before our yearly French trip all my baits arrived safe and sound from Gav and spot on as usual, all put away in my freezers awaiting our departure Friday evening.

So the day had come we had all been waiting for, myself and eight pals were heading off to France for our 2016 trip. The venue was a friend from schools lake…. CARPSCAPE, which has been up and running for a couple of years.  I had done lots of running around and getting everything sorted as I had organised the trip. Even getting all the food shopping, as we were on a drive and survive, and picking up the van I had hired to get all our gear out to france.
At around eight on the Friday evening i set off from home. First stop was to pick my best pal up then off to the next stop to meet up with six of the other guys. Before getting all the gear loaded on the van and then heading to Dover, where we had to meet another one of my pals before getting on the ferry. We boarded the ferry a little early and arrived in Calais at 4am Saturday morning, venue punched in the satnav and we start our four hour drive to the lake.
We arrived at the lake for about 9am with a warm welcome from Lee and Zoe the owners of the lake. We had a cuppa and then went for a walk around the lake, Lee was honest from the start and said he had six blokes on last week who only managed three fish all week. The weather seemed like a winter’s day, not good for the end of April and as we walked around the lake we were spotting a few dead roach in the margins. It was due to a dramatic drop in water temperature and Lee also stated that most of the lakes in and around the area weren’t fishing well.
We got back to the lodge and the boys had given me first pick of swims for organising the trip, I picked a double swim to fish with my best pal Ian. All the other lads did the draw, swims were picked and we began unloading all the gear and getting delivered to our chosen swims.
I had picked the double swim with my best pal Ian as we always said if we were in a double swim we would work the swim to our advantage and work as a pair.
As we started getting set up it felt like the middle of winter, water temperatures were 15 degrees. The first things out were the rods, Ian took the left hand side of the swim with me to the right. I had a lovely bay to my right hand margin and it was a no brainer to put one rod in their fished over the aurora. My middle and left hand rod were fished in open water. Once we were all set up about nine o’clock  I had to go for a natural and shower. Only to came back to Ian with our first fish failing to my right hand margin rod, all 39lb 4oz of it.


The owner and my friend Lee said that not much action had been happening past ten o’clock and sure enough that was the only fish we had on the first day.
Sunday was our first full days fishing and after a very cold night the heavens opened and we were pretty much bivvy bound for the day. The only other person that had caught was my pal who was fishing too our left, he had three fish to 46lb. The rain eased off for a little while at about four o’clock and I had a screaming run again on the right hand margin rod, the aurora doing the business.Unfortunatley just as the fish was nearing the net it spat the hook, thankfully it wasn’t a lump but that was the only action for the rest of the day and again the heavens open and it was another bivvy bound night.

The following few days were cold and quiet and on the Wednesday morning Lee came over as he had done every morning and with again nothing to report apart from the freezing conditions, he  mentioned he knew of a couple of gravel spots which maybe worth a go. Lee came over in the boat and we went out having a prod about and found two gravel spots about 3 meters apart. We put the marker float out and clipped up 13 1/2 wraps on the sticks, back out in the boat we went and dropped Ian’s right hand rod and my left hand rod on the spots with probably 100 boilies over each.
Within an hour a there was a couple of bleeps on Ian’s right hand rod, we had already decided that we would take one fish each so it was my turn. I struck in and after a five-minute battle it was in the net, a cheeky 34lb 2oz that was just the start. I got the rod straight back out and within an hour we had another on the bank at 38lb 5oz. all went quiet for a couple of hours before the rods went off again. This time it was a proper lump of 44lb 2oz and just to finish the evening off,around nine o’clock again I had another at 29lb. All fish falling to the deadly Aurora.

We thought things were looking up and if the rest of the week would carry on the way Wednesday had gone, we would be two very happy anglers. We had worked hard and it seemed to be paying off or so we thought……..
On the Thursday we managed one fish, not to shabby at 38lb 8oz but then it was like someone had switched the lights off, and although we continued working our swim the lake had gone dead. Only a couple of the boys were managing the odd fish here and there although there were no more fish for us the last couple of nights, we had a great social as the weather had improved somewhat and we were able to sit outside. Joined  by my friend and lake owner Lee we enjoyed the rest of our time at Carpscape with a few drinks and a laugh, which is what it’s all about, spending quality time with pals and banking a few fish along the way. We ended with 30 fish in total for the week between nine of us so all in all not a bad trip,  but for now this trip is over and  I’m looking forward to returning in August with my son.


To be continued………..

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Reedy Pit Adventures

The story begins when Mark and I were sat talking about adventures of a different kind…..

We where sat one night chatting about Mark’s past experiences of guesting and I instantly wanted a piece of the action. We were due to leave for a few night’s fishing at the famous Orchid Lakes. On the way we were passing a spot Mark knew about from years before, but had never fished due to the rangers being mega protective of the sanctuary. Under a fisherman’s promise I was told if I didn’t tell a soul he would show me the sanctuary as we were passing by.

On arrival my eyes were on stalks at this untouched 40 acre pit that sat before me, it was spectacular! A mature tree-lined pit full of weed beds, gravel bars, shallow spots and hugely deep holes. A carp anglers paradise. Mark instantly saw the excitement on my face and proceeded to tell me how he wasn’t sure if we would ever be lucky enough to wet a line there. The place is always manned by Rangers and thriving with dog walkers, as well as bird spotters and members of the general public. Although as if by magic, as we were about to set off, everybody disappeared. Mark and I then proceeded to get as much bait in there as possible, leaving ourselves just enough for our session on Orchid.

To summarise the Orchid trip, we fished hard on our session and had an amazing time. Whilst we didn’t catch any fish on this occasion we had an enjoyable experience and even ended our session on a highlight, where we were fortunate enough to share breakfast with the legendary Marsh Pratley and Ron Buss.

Despite being tired and worn out from our session, we left with our tails between our legs and begun the long journey home whilst joking about how we should have thrown all our bait in Reedy Pit. As we drew closer to the Midlands the smile on Mark’s face grew bigger and bigger, this indicated something was brewing in that head of his.

Then it was put out there “Liam shall we try to get on Reedy Pit?” Although I was tired, this instantly perked me up! We refueled on McDonald’s and like children, we proceeded to giggle and joke all the way there. As we pulled into the public car park of the sanctuary we were greeted by a huge carp boshing over the baited area, then bosh another carp showed us it’s pretty scales. Then something very special happened, a tench of biblical proportions slowly rolled over the baited spot. Mark and I couldn’t believe our eyes, we were like kids at Christmas! We were straight in the van and looking for somewhere safe and inconspicuous to park for the night. We found a good place to park that was around 15 minutes walk from Reedy Pit and instantly set about tackling up in the back of the van, packing as light as possible and not speaking a word to each other in the process. It was like a military operation.

The walk there was like nothing I’ve experienced before, I’ve fished big fish waters but this was something totally different. These were unknown, uncaught fish. As we grew closer to Reedy Pit we needed to find an alternative entrance to avoid being seen. After finding our way through the undergrowth, we came out the other side scratched and bitten but our adrenaline was pumping. As Mark veered to the left of the pit I took the right path. I located a bush by the water’s edge and settled myself beneath it. Within minutes of casting out I was getting liners. At this point I was a nervous wreck.

Whilst battling my new-found nervous disposition, Mark was avoiding having his collar felt by the Rangers. To avoid been taken down with him I quickly reeled in my rods and submerged them in the margins. I then hid in the undergrowth. After avoiding being captured, Mark came to find me in my hiding place, it was then agreed it wasn’t safe for Mark to return to his post so he pitched up further down to my right. After gaining composure, I then under armed my rigs back onto the spot.


As soon as my rod hit the rest I was getting violent liners. In a matter of seconds the bobbin had risen, the line dinged out of the clip and the fish proceeded to take line from the spool. As I hit into the fish, I instantly knew I was on the verge of breaking my PB. My knees trembled as the fish battled, fighting hard in the deep water. I persevered and managed to tempt the fish into the shallow margins. As the fish the fish came to the surface I took advantage of its shocked and exhausted state and coaxed it into the net. I was so overwhelmed I fell to my knees, and shrieked with excitement! (probably not the best idea on a guesting mission!)


As we weighed and photographed the beautiful specimen, it was a moment I’ll never forget. It’s golden bronze shading glistened in the moonlight, I was nothing short of mesmerised. It took several minutes for me to compose myself and several hours for it to sink in. My PB was smashed in style!


The success continued, not only did I land myself another scale perfect common, Mark also landed himself an apple sliced scaly mirror.

To conclude, the risk taking was worth it. Resulting in us both returning on numerous occasions and smashing yet another PB. Not to mention landing an array of beautiful unknown specimen carp, although the amazing tench still goes untouched.


Whilst I highly recommend any carp angler to undergo the experience of guesting, I should warn you…it’s not for the faint hearted!

Liam Watts