Beechwood Baits were invited to fish Monarch Lakes in Lincolnshire by fishery owners Gary and Mark on 7th to the 9th of April who kindly reserving the fishery specifically for the team.This much appreciated gesture speaks volumes about the owners who have put years of hard work and finance into this new fishery which opened in January 2016.
Boasting two lakes “Hope” 24 pegs and “Glory” maximum 6 anglers with Glory holding the bigger specimen fish.No nets are allowed on site and everything you need to land and document/picture their fish is provided by the fishery which is and a direct action to preserve the safety of their fish and a pleasure to see such an investment from the lads.Add to that a substantial menu of food delivered to your peg(snapshot below) from morning through till evening this fishery is very focused on great customer service and making your visit a memorable one.
Ok so to the fishing, 6 anglers made the trip from the Northwest Gav Astley,Liam Watts,Denis Ryan,Andy Grover, Neil Thomas and myself Barry Smith.I arrived at 7am with Denis Ryan to be met by Gary who quickly put the kettle on and walked myself and Denis around the fishery giving insights and brief outline of both lakes and features. After a few discussions with Denis we decided on Glory specimen lake and picked our pegs. Soon after the rest of the lads arrived and we were all set up and fishing.
With plenty of line bites and fish showing in a few margin swims we all fancied a bite or two but the fishing proved hard on this trip . But it was not without its rewards and some lessons learned , as well as a fish banked from the team . The rewards were spending quality time in such idyllic souroundings , plenty of quiet time , reflecting , tweaking rigs and watching the water , discussing tactics and putting the world to rights , and of course there was the team banter which is a given on Beechwood Baits socials.
While fishing I kept noticing carp crashing in almost the same spot on hope lake and to my detriment I ignored this for the first day . On the second day again the same spot fish crashing and this was too much of a temptation so I decided to put a straight led out on hope lake where the fish had been crashing. Opting for the light approach and within an hour my rod bend double and fish on . I didn’t manage to land this fish so left the rod on the bank and had a think . I decided on leaving the set up the same because I knew it worked but beefing up the end tackle .By this time Andy Grover and Gav Astley had come over and sat on the grass for a chat as I cast out my modified set up . I foolishly said to Andy Grover ” if this rod goes within the next ten minutes yo can have it ” !!!! Arggggg yep you guessed it , the rod bent double and true to my word I let Andy bring in the fish ! You couldn’t write that could you !
So Trigonella had banked a Monarch carp which wasn’t a monster by any standards but we had banked a fish which was very satisfying and a team effort !
The breakfast and evening meals were excellent and great value for money , served with either coffee or tea and a smile .
If you find yourself in the Lincolnshire area and looking to fish a comfortable and well ran fishery, then look no further than Monarch Lakes .
Now then! It’s been a long time, but I’m finally hitting the bank again.
After somewhat of an unforced exile from my angling, which entailed moving areas, two job changes and a whole host of other life in the way issues (long story), I’m ready to get the rods back out! Hallelujah!!!
So, what’s in store you may ask ?
Well the fact is, I’ve never been in a situation were I’ve had such an array of local waters to go at. Plans are flying around my head all the while but I think for now, I’ve settled on a plan for spring. So make a brew, sit down and let me explain…………
So I’ll start by apologising as I’m going to be quite vague in my naming of we’re I am and the waters I have in mind. This isn’t to act “Carpy cool” but, as an act of respect, as I’m new in the area and don’t want to possibly upset anyone by bringing attention to waters people may be concentrating on. If you know we’re I am then cool, if not then please don’t ask.
Right with that out the way I’ll nip back in time a little to last summer. I had been coming to the area around six months to a girl I had started seeing and on occasion that she was in work of a weekend I would often head down for a stroll along the local river. Having never caught or indeed fished for river carp it was at the forefront of my intentions when getting back to my fishing. Over the three or four walks I had there I was lucky enough to spot the occasional group of fish and at the same time came across one or two lakes in the area, thanks in no small part to good old google earth. Unfortunately I never did get around to it that summer as life was hectic and things just never settled down enough for me to contemplate it. The fire though, it was definitely flickering away and I began slowly researching waters in the local area.
Fast forward to Christmas and plans were in place to finally settle with my girlfriend in the area. This pushed the angling opportunity’s to the forefront of my mind and with a new job in the area too, it was finally falling into place. After the final move in January I really got my arse in gear. New rods and reels were needed (that’s the long story) so bit by bit I put together enough to get me out for day sessions and really began to whittle down my choice, or choices of venue to begin with.
Now having not fished for over 12 months I didn’t want to start on a headbanger of a water and with the river due to close that too was out for now. From my research I had worked it down to two venues and contacted the controlling club to enquire about a ticket for the last few months of the season.
Now, the ticket renews on the first of June and these waters were subject to close from April to the start of the new ticket unless you had a close season waiver, obtainable by attending 8 hours of work party’s or paying for it. Seeing as I was going to have to renew in two months time anyway I opted to pop along to the first Work party I could. It would hopefully give me a chance to meet some fellow members and of course pick there brains on the venues I had settled on.
So to the venues. One is a small lake of I guess two acres, abounding with reedbeds and getting quite weedy it suited me fine. A decent stock of carp to just under 30lb and more importantly real lookers. Add to this I had walked it once or twice back that first summer and had witnessed some of them for myself. It is only a simple 25 minute walk from home and as luck would have it not far from work either, meaning I could get down to bait or fish shorter evening sessions quite regular. It was looking like I had found my water to start on but i had one other choice I had yet to set eyes on…….
On the website the description of the stock was vague, “a few carp” and looking in the gallery there was no pictures of any, just tench and scenic pics of the lake looking fantastic in the summer sun, covered in lilies and Canadian pondweed. I was intrigued and dug further, eventually finding a couple of pictures of carp, from there original stocking in the early 60s!!
Now I was more than intrigued, I was wound right in, hook, line and sinker.
and thought it best to get over for a look there too.
It is set on a golf course and being respectful I didn’t want to risk a walk around without first obtaining my ticket. So Work party done, tickets bought it’s now the last week of March and I’m all set, It was time to go have a look……..
24th March 2018 and with my ticket having arrived the day before and the missus in work it was a no brainer to get up the lake and have a look about. Only problem I had, seeing as I don’t drive and still hadn’t got my bike I was going to have to walk it. Well the weather was in my favour and finally it felt a bit spring like in the air, so off I go. I had already looked at a route using google maps and it seemed quite simple really.
Well let me tell you, google maps is a liar!
The “road” I was meant to follow was no more than a gravel track that ended as a narrow path and as my signal wasn’t working out in the countryside I had no idea we’re I was or which way to head!
I soldiered on though and looked at it as one big adventure. Eventually I found myself strolling into the main golf course and got some directions towards the lake and the right route I should have taken.
Unfortunately for me I misread these instructions and missed the lake completely before stopping a jogger who pointed me in the right direction via a farmer’s field and a track through the woods, yeah a big adventure!!
Two and a bit hours after leaving home and I get my first view through the trees before collapsing into the first peg I came across. With sore feet and slightly out of breath I gazed on the water before me, wow! It was magnificent. Dead trees spouting from the water in various areas, lovely overhanging margins and clear water. The long trek was forgotten and I found a new burst of energy, time to explore.
I manoeuvred from peg to peg slowly taking in my surroundings and climbing any trees I could to get a better vantage point, with only 6-8 swims on the lake I was soon approaching the two that I really wanted to see. Boards lead the way across a narrow channel and out onto the island! With only two swims on here and one that fished towards a large set of snags on the far no fishing bank and the other covering the channel to a shallow and snaggy back bay, standing there a carp came from the shallow bay from right to left, heading for the far margin snags that the other peg fished too, I thought these two pegs offered good options as the weather improved.
I had brought some bait with me, just a mix of vitalin, maples and maize mixed with some tuna in brine, nothing to heavy for the time of year but hopefully enough to entice something to feed and began making my way back from swim to swim putting around a tennis ball size or two in likely looking marginal areas to keep an eye on. Eventually I made it around and sat looking up the lake for a few hours taking it in and looking for signs. I’ll say at this point there was nobody fishing at the time so I wasn’t intruding by baiting around and I was making plans in my head to get back with the rods early the next day.
It was now around 4pm so I thought I would check the spots I had baited on one last walk before heading for home the right way!
None of the areas looked touched in the few hours I had left them, bar the odd one having been picked at by the coots. It was now that I bumped into someone fishing and it turned out it was a guy I had attended the Work party with. I said hello and we chatted a minute before I carried on for home.
It had been an eventful day but I made it home with no trouble and knew my way back in the morning.
I couldn’t wait……
It sounds silly but I couldn’t sleep that night and when my alarm went off at 4am I sprung out of bed and was sorted and making my way by half past. I was keen! So keen I forgot the clocks had gone back and I had only been in bed 3 hours!!
Despite this I was decidedly full of beans and made my way through the deserted high street heading for the country lanes. Now thinking on I had packed my head torch so I could see we’re I was going in the dark and just in case of any wannabe Colin McRaes who might come racing along. What I didn’t anticipate was how dark it actually was and my senses heightened, my pulse quickened and I won’t mind admitting I actually paused and turned around more than once on hearing the surrounding bushes rattling. I was half expecting a pack of rabid wolves or a crazy mass murderer to jump out on me haha. This sensation only lasted for a couple of hundred yards and before long I was marching along with only the lake and its inhabitants on my mind.
Now I knew were I was heading I thought I could make good time and forty minutes and a few fields later I was approaching the VERY affluent area of housing that is near the golf course. Here I had funny images of a housewife looking out and seeing me as a burglar, with my woolly hat, jumper and loaded down with what could have been my loot walking through after being busy before dawn. I was giggling to myself at the prospect of suddenly being surrounded by blue flashing lights of police!
Thankfully it never happened and fifteen minutes later I was walking alongside a frosty fairway in the half-light of dawn just minutes from the lake.
Having baited a few areas the day before I had options to start with but had decided which swim I was going to start before I left home.
Now I would never normally do so but seeing as it was my first trip, I had decided to pitch up at the far end of the lake with a view up towards the island in the hope that as dawn broke, if the fish were to show I could see them and make my move accordingly.
As night turned to-day and the sun rose above the tree line behind me the main swim on the island glowed in the warmth of the rays, as I sat quite cold hidden amongst the bushes. There was nothing for it, I was on the move. I was craving the sun and hoped the carp would feel the same.
In my new plot it was so so much more comfortable and having put the rods out on single PNBA pop ups across to the far snags I sat against the bough of a tree, got Comfy and popped the kettle on. I kept a look out but it was dinner time before I seen my first show, it was down in a channel to my left, a tricky cast due to the overhang so socks and shoes off and out up to my knees in water I could reach the area with a sideways cast and luckily got it first try. Not long after there was another show, this time amongst the knotted old branches of the far margin snags I still had a rod fishing too so my confidence was on the rise but I was far from expectant.
A few hours later and it was quiet, my feet were getting itchy but with a wind ruffled surface, spotting fish would be hard so I thought I would spend the next hour or so leading around in a few swims I fancied before heading for the long walk home. I found a couple of interesting spots and I looked upon the day as an interesting and eye-opening one. I was made up to be back angling properly after so long away.
It’s good to be back at it and I hope I haven’t rattled on to long, as you can tell I’m quite excited about the prospect and the lake has definitely cast a spell on me, I’ll keep you posted as to my progress. Bye for now and thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.
It takes 14 hours to journey from the northwest UK to Limoges in southwest central France. Limoges is a city known for its decorated porcelain, much of which is on display at the…………. Wait a minute… Stop all that …. My journey is for one thing only, Big Carp, so let’s get to it.
I am Andy Grover and if you click on my name you will find out more about me .I am going to share with you my 7 day fishing trip for big carp at Chateau Moulin , Limoges , France.A warts and all insight that will include everything from rods, reel and line , rigs, alarms, pods, bait and tactics, so get yourself a coffee , pick a quiet spot , and enjoy the journey.
Plan and Prep
I am currently working a new bait and this trip is a huge step forward in the developing stage so my tackle prep for this trip is geared around the new bait and being able to present this bait successfully. With that said , I have worked closely with Gav Astley to ensure I leave nothing to chance and have the quantity and variety I need to face into any challenges I may have over in France. My bait consisted of 20 kilo of new bait under development in 20mm and 12mm dumbbells, 20 kilo of aurora Florentine and a few kilo of Musselberry red. Particles were simply hemp and 3mm pellets.With many trips over to France under my belt getting tackle together is second nature so with my gear packed and ready to load i turned my focus to food and drink. At Chateau Moulin we are self-sufficient for the week so supplies to keep healthy and hydrated are paramount. My good friend and fishing companion for many years and many trips Mick helped with this and he is a great cooking so the help was very much appreciated.Mich has recently started to come out on socials with the Beechwood team and is one of the nicest guys you can meet with a passion for fishing so it is a pleasure to share the bank with the big man!
Friday 20th October 2017 3.40am and we head down to the channel tunnel to catch our transport over to France , a journey I have done many times and it really helps when you have company to share driving and also the standard “fishing banter” . 14 hours later we land at the beautiful Chateau Moulin where we choose pegs and start setting up . It’s really important not to rush this part of the trip because comfort , bivvy position , pod position and general peg set up has to be correct and allow for any eventuality especially if I am pegged for 1 weeks fishing . I chose swim “Pom de Pin” roughly translated means pine cones so no prizes for guessing i am among trees.The lake is stunningly beautiful and I have spent hours simply watching this water and never take for granted such a majestic looking water. It really is a sight to behold when you are sat on the bank looking out over this lake. Stunning and I hope you agree.
My rods are Harrison Acurix 3lb test curve 12ft rods as I tend not to fish long range , its just my preference generally.
Reels are Fox EOS 12000fs bait runners loaded with 15lb Asso line.
ECU bite alarms and fox short bobbins. I also tend to set my bobbins close to the blank , again just personal preference. I also color code my alarms to my bobbins and it’s just something I do but not essential.
Wireless Night light with a sensor I use under my pod which really helps me when I get a run and is also another indicator that something is moving on or around my pod. £8.99 on average as a price point and I would recommend using one.
Ok so my bivvy is up , peg ready for the week , pod and rods set up ready to fish I will show you exactly what rig I will be using for the new test bait and how I tie it in this short video below .Apologiesfor the sound quality as it was heavily raining during the video.
As you can see this rig is very much a “keep it simple” set up but strong enough to do the job and bank these big French carp. If there is anything else you would ;like to know or you are confused in any way then please hit me up online and I will be happy to help.
Ok now I am ready to fish and the next installment of my journey will be around my feed approach , tactics for my swim , target areas and watercraft.
Thanks for reading my story so far and I hope you have enjoyed the first part of my journey. Keep a look out on our Beechwood Baits social media for part 2 of my fishing adventures in France.
What happens below the surface is pretty much part of the magic of Angling so the tackle we put below can be critical to success . This blog will share with you my “go to ” rig which has always caught me fish , and no surprise my PB In June this year, as well as my favorite bait from our portfolio.
I am Jonathan Wells a Beechwood Baits angler and passionate husband and father, If you want to know more about me or the details of this blog you will find me on the Beechwood Baits Facebook pages so hit me up for a chat.
So my go to presentation that gives me confidence and catches me fish is the “Helicopter” rig with a heavy lead.With the top bead either running free or set to drop off if there is a breakage, this ensures the fish will never be tethered. In my opinion it is the most versatile set up around and one of the safest for the fish.My chosen rig for the helicopter is a simple D rig with a critically balanced hook bait .My preference being Musselberry red with one of our adjusta plugs.
My usual go to was a PNBA plug but with my last quest bagging me my new PB at a new very hard weedy water of 25 acres I though about mixing things up a bit.
With the venue in June fishing hard it gave me the chance to try all of the plugs in our portfolio to which my success came from one of our Tangz plugs so I can definitely recommend trying this and can see that being my new go to Adjusta plug .With the helicopter setup I either have a small mesh nugget slid down the rig or a solid bag with the helicopter lead inside of it. My mix includes musselberry stick mix and mixed Trigonella and musselberry chopped boilies. That is personal preference as I am still undecided what is my favorite but i can recommend both to try if you’re considering trying this rig.
So a short and sweet Blog sharing my favourite rig which worked for me in a hard weedy venue and could work for you too! Tight lines and enjoy your fishing.
I’m sure we all have those stand out moments in our angling journeys, the ones where things either take a real step forward, or due to circumstance we’re forced to change our ‘tack’, along of course with those ‘red letter’ days we all remember. Here is a short account of two such memories I hold dear in my angling journey thus far; a change of venue, and a surprise foreign adventure!
I left a well know northwest club water, slightly disillusioned with the way it was being run, and some of the of anglers it was attracting. This isn’t a slight on the club or its members at all, I fully understand clubs have to run in such a way as to please the majority, it was just that as my angling progressed I found myself more and more in the minority, seeking a different sort of challenge.
This was my first venture into syndicate water fishing, about 18 years ago now. There wasn’t a big head of carp in the water I finally settled on; high doubles, some good twenties and two know thirty plus carp and amongst them some really lovely originals. First of all I started visiting the lake with a marker rod and some feed, just looking for a few spots. A lot of my angling at the time was during midweek with my job consuming my time at the weekends, which suited me just fine.
I met a few anglers who were really helpful giving me some advice to get me going, and I fell in love with the place straight away. Not only was the fishing good, but it was a lake you could go to just to unwind and relax. After fishing the lake for about eight months I started to get to grips with the water, and having some good success. I had one of the know thirty’s, and an unknown, original 34lb pound mirror. The two rigs I mostly used were a helicopter set up, mainly because of the soft lake bed, and a balanced tiger nut rig, which was the one that accounted for the big mirror.
This change of venue ‘type’, really forced me to change my approach, and dig deeper than ever into the mind of the carp I was chasing. Its something I remember as a real change of pace in my angling, slower speed, but at the same time much deeper in thought. The rewards were amazing, and I loved it!
Oh my Cod……
The last time I visited Australia with the wife to see the family, I was told we had a family trip booked for a week, imagine to my surprise when I was a told that week we were going to spend sailing on the mighty Murray river, the first thing came to mind was fishing!! I started to do my home work, the iconic fish to go after was the Murray cod….
Sadly I never caught a one from the river, but what we did catch was carp and lots of them! They are frowned upon by the ‘Aussies’, and considered a pest; you can actually get fined for returning them back to the water, but then I’m not an Aussie that’s all I will say . I even got the family involved; nephews and, even the wife.
After our week away up the river, we returned back to the inlaws house, where there is a small lake about 3min walk away I’d been fishing, catching small carp, snapping turtle, perch, and to my surprise and everyone else’s a murray cod!! Which no one knew were in there, I was one happy and surprised angler! It just goes to show, if you make the most of every opportunity you can acheive your targets, even if they end up being a little unauthodox.
Off to Australia again soon for my nephews wedding, think I might be sneaking a bit of fishing tackle in once the wife’s done her packing, watch this space……..
Till then, tight lines everyone and keep banking those angling memories! – Stew
Given that you have a lot of patience, fishing can be great fun and also rewarding when you take the kids. Add to that, night fishing, then it becomes that little more testing, especially when one little boy is 5yrs old and has not done this before.
So we needed a safe venue not to far from home which wasn’t just about the fishing, we wanted it to feel like an adventure for the kids so were better than Lloyds Meadow, only problem there is no night fishing allowed. A little conversation with Danny and he said we was welcome just name the date.
The kids were buzzing with excitement and armed themselves with head torch’s, wildlife apps and walkie talkies for searching out the abundance of different wildlife that can be found at Lloyds Meadows and surrounding areas during the day and especially at night-time.
An early start seen Stu and I load up the cars to the max and go and set up base camp on Heron lake which consisted of bivys,cooking stove and every bit of fishing gear we could manage.
With the kids not getting dropped off until around dinner time it was only manners that we had a few hours fishing ourselves!
A few early morning munters caught on the Monster Lobster paste feeding pellets.
Kieran was the first to arrive full of smiles and a little nervous about staying out for the night, but he soon was in the thick of the action sat on his Grandad Stu’s box catching carp, this was priceless watching such a young child taking in everything that was getting said to him.
Our next visitor was an unexpected but welcome one. Friend of ours Dave turned up with his daughter Frankie who given the chance would have loved to have stayed the night with us, while she was there she helped us out with a net fish.
Soon after Lucas turned up and this ramped up the children’s conversation no end; what they were going to see in the night-time and how late they were staying up and the serious matter of catching more fish than me and Stu!
The instant bonding these two show made me think these are going to be fishing buddies for many a year.
Not wanting to stop for tea the lads fished away doing most things between them always asking questions and showing willing and patience to get better every time they put in.
The pictures below showed the great effort and team work they showed ( which was difficult at times with the fish fighting hard and using my fishing set up ).
The fishing was frantic whether it was a small roach or a hard fighting carp each was welcome like a gold medal at the Olympics!
As the day time was coming to an end it was time to make all the tackle safe from the foxes and badgers that come out at night and the pesky ducks all looking for a bite to eat, it was also time for us to have some hots dogs which the kids helped to warm up on the stove.
Now came the exciting bit head torches on it was time for us to go for a walk round the lakes just before total darkness set in, such a beautiful setting as the fish were crashing around and the buzzards were still out trying to get some supper but what we wanted to see was the friendly fox so not making too much noise we headed off to badger lake and there he was not spooked by us he just got on with his business then went back into the bushes.
Time now for the lads to settle down very reluctantly in the bivys but they carried on chatting with their walkie talkies.
A quick brew and we couldn’t resist the chance of some fishing in the dark,this brought back so many memories fishing on the canal under the stars with starlight on your float.
Myself and Stu caught and lost a few for a couple of hours in the dark fishing pellets in the margins.
By now the lads were fast asleep but the amount of noise coming from all different kinds of wildlife creatures, birds and monsters ( so I was told ) was amazing, as the ducks carried on their own party on the lake it was time to turn in ready for fishing in the morning.
A fresh start to the morning kicked off with plenty of fish for me while everyone else was sleeping.
Kieran being so popular as he is had to go home after breakfast for other commitments but this didn’t put Lucas off as he carried on where he left off from yesterday.
Every few hours emptying our nets.
Jumping from box to box Lucas even had time to pinch a few from Stu’s swim.
We caught a lot of quality fish but it was a team effort from the four of us.
The kids will not forget their time spent at Lloyds Meadows for a lot of reasons but for me and Stu what stood out was there eagerness to watch and learn asking questions and really enjoying themselves.
I know we visit Lloyds regular throughout the year but this place came alive like I have never seen it before and for that we couldn’t thank Danny enough for letting us spend the night at such a wonderful place.
Well after 18 months of planning and watching endless YouTube videos, our lad’s trip to France had finally arrived. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert when it comes to fishing in France having only ventured over the channel once before, but I think I’ve learned enough from the boys at Beechwood to hopefully catch that fish of a life time. The venue chosen was Le Queroy in south-west France, some 7 hours from Calais and home to some very big carp, the smallest being 28lb and going to 69lb with an average weight of 45lb; I think it was fair to say whatever we hooked was going to be big!
It was soon Friday afternoon and with the minibus loaded we made the trip down to the channel tunnel, negotiating the m25 with some relative ease we hit Folkestone 6 hours early. Now I like to be early but this was silly even for me, so after several coffees and reading the latest edition of Carp Talk front to back god knows how many times it was our time to board the train, 25 minutes later we had arrived in France and made the long journey down to the lake. After several wrong turns and a few pit stops we rocked up at Le Queroy around lunch time very tired, and were met by Dan the owner. He told us the lake had been fishing hard the week before with only 1 fish coming out, so straight away I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
Itching to see the lake we made the short walk from the cottage down the path towards the lake making our way through the trees to be greeted by the most carpy looking lake I’ve ever seen, over hanging trees on every bank 2 bays made for stalking, it had everything. Now the draw had been made in advance over a few pints and guess what, yes I had come out last, so I was walking round keeping my cards very close to my chest so not to give the other lads any ideas. After much deliberating the swims were chosen and off we went in search of the prize.
I set up on the far bank next to one of the bays to my left and open water in front of me, the rods were baited with single Trigonella and plastic corn toppers and sent out about 40 yards. After a few hours of no activity I decided to have a lead around and find something for the night and introduce some bait. The night passed without even a beep all round the lake but I had heard in the bay to my left what could only be described as a pig falling of a boat not once but on several occasions. Once breakfast and a catch up with the lads had finished I had decided to move and get a better look at the bay to my left.
The move was made and almost instantly it felt right, I was looking down the lake from the point in the middle of the lake and the bay was on my right with plenty of places to put a rod. Not much happened for the next few days apart from several big fish showing me their stomach in the bay over the bits of bait I kept trickling in, trying to give the fish a bit of confidence in feeding without being fished for. On the Tuesday after days of unforgivable heat we had a mighty thunder-storm, this perked us all up hoping it would cool the lake and the fish would get their heads down. Wednesday morning brought the first fish of the trip in the form of a very nice 34lb grass carp for one of the lads, and this bit of action had me itching to get a rod on the baited areas in the bay. I was soon tying up a new rig baiting up with Trig and casting it towards an overhanging tree on the far side of the bay where big fish had been showing.
2 hours had passed and with no sign of fish I was becoming frustrated and worried I had spooked any fish in the bay, then a few beeps followed by a twitch of the bobbin grabbed my attention and just like that the bobbin hit the rod and I was in. A battle followed which felt like hours but I was assured only lasted 20 minutes, and a carp was sitting in my landing net. “That’s a good 30” one of the lads said looking into the net which I was more than happy with, it was a fish and that’s all that mattered. Placed into a sling I tried to lift my catch and soon realized it was no 30, and placed on the matt I drew back the net to gasps at the size of the mirror, it was obvious I had caught a beast of a fish.
My capture was placed in the weigh sling and with a little help from my friends hoisted up to reveal I had captured my first 50, 51lb 2oz to be precise and just like that my legs turned to jelly and were shaking like a sh***ing dog. The usual photos were taken; the bucket of water on the head and of course the all important water shots. But it wasn’t till I sat down and looked through my pics and videos that the size of the fish I had just caught hit me.
A few cat-fish that week followed and all the lads caught a carp so everyone was happy but no one was happier than me, a 50 and the biggest fish of the week, all down to a bit of patience and the mighty Trigonella!
Wow its been a while since I last blogged about my journey into specimen carp fishing, January to be precise. So many things have happened since January so sit back and relax and I will tell you all about it.
Firstly I have moved into the position of “promotions manager” for Beechwood Baits which is an awesome appointment for me and I am really pleased. Beechwood Baits attended the NAS held in events city Manchester in April which was simply brilliant , and my fishing journey has really began to gather momentum with trips to Monarch lakes and Larford Lakes on two social events, to me that meant i had a load of carp anglers around me and I am not shy asking questions:)
My plan was always to get a “starter kit” and really begin to understand the kit ,challenge myself and above all take my time and let the journey unfold as organically as I can. So choosing Blakemere as my very first carp venue was that clever? I tell you now i would not change a thing, not a single thing because every single trip i have been on I have come away with so much more understanding and a little bit of practice and experience, and there is no rush right!
This blog is all about what changes I have made based on my fishing experiences, conversations with team mates, pegging next to experienced anglers ,making mistakes, recognizing the mistakes and lastly catching fish! None less important than the other.
The pictures above are at Monarch Lakes in Lincolnshire and a good place to start. The team was invited to fish Monarch Lakes by the owners and for the first time in my fishing history I was with a bunch of carp anglers and no course buddy to keep me company, just my carp”starter kit” and a load of Trigonella. I felt a little bit alone , and that’s not in any way referring to the lads I was fishing with , or how I was treated by them , on the contrary , this team are an awesome bunch of people who could not do enough for me. What i mean is I was feeling a little out of my depth and not felt like this in a very long time. Add to that the place was not fishing well and although we all had indications , the fish were not playing ball. It was at this venue that I actually did something that Andy Grover discussed with me at Blakmere , we were sat there at Blakemere discussing siting a fish and what to do should you sight fish …….. put a bait on it ! Sounds simple right! So this is how it went down……The first day I continually saw a fish crashing in the other lake to where the team were fishing , but did not do anything. Second day this fish kept crashing in the same spot so I had enough of sitting on my hands (Sorry Denis I know you tell me i have to learn to sit on my hands ) and put a rod in the other lake over the crashing fish .10 Minutes later Boooom! and fish on .It was a good fish and unfortunately I didn’t get this fish in.What i did do was stir up the team and create a little excitement and by this time Gav and Andy had come over and sat on the grass while I upped the rig strength and put out another bait right on the same spot. Now call me stupid or risky but I turned to Andy Grover and said “if this rod goes within the next 10 minutes you can play the fish”. Thats right , your spot on ….. it only screamed off and true to my word Andy played the fish in , Gav landed it and Beechwood Baits had a fish on the bank at last!
I was so proud of that fish because I used the knowledge that was passed to me and it actually worked. So on this trip I learned that its ok to feel vulnerable because it keeps you on your toes and makes you work hard. I also learned that I am a “make something happen” angler and if the fishing is hard then I will up the ante and go looking for them. Extremely proud to have had the guts to get off my backside and do something different and it paid off! After all ,I may be changing , but the carp remain the same! A few other things worth a mention is the patience and team support I got from Denis Ryan who took the time to show me the best way to get my bivvy up quick, thanks Denis something so simple like 5 minutes to show me through many years of experience really helped.
Larford was the next social and armed with my “starter kit” I made my way to the venue feeling less vulnerable and a little more confident . I was meeting Denis early and knew before I even got there I was going to peg next to him simply to bombard him with questions , poke my face into his rig box and basically get some 1 on 1 tuition .I mentioned rig box because on this trip my desire to understand my rigs VS. the other lads rigs could only help me to improve and in turn catch more fish. I was feeling confident with the rods and the set up , it was the end tackle I wanted to improve.
Larford was significant for me with my carp fishing for a few reasons:
I made a glaring error but learned a valuable lesson.
I added value to a team members trip with coaching of my own.
I got loads of good tips from Denis on rigs.
I needed to focus more on looking after myslf fo
I really got to look at Anthony Tolleys approach and nicked a load of brilliant things he does and gadgets he uses to make the most from his fishing.
My error was a simple small attention to detail when tying a rig which resulted in a lost fish ….. Denis noticed the mistake and when I rectified the mistake I didn’t lose another fish.
As for coaching ….. I coached Liam Watts on pellet waggler and he literally took to it like a duck to water, and had a ball , bagging on the waggler!
Anthony Tolley shared how he gets self take pictures using a gadget he found on eBay which I have since ordered and have to say its a great bit of kit to have. If you want to know more about this gadget ask me or Ant.
And what can I say about the enigma that is Denis Ryan, what a team-mate he really is. I learn so much from Denis but its his willingness and enthusiasm to share years of experience that really is the measure of him. So thanks Denis, its greatly appreciated.
From the outset with my carp starter kit, apart from the obvious thicker rods, bigger reels, the single biggest difference from my course tackle to carp tackle was the reels. with my course gear I use Diawa Matchwinner reels so i have been used to quality reels that do a great job.My carp reels were making it difficult so i decided on upgrades but it was not only the reels that made me consider upgrades to be fair.I looked back on my last two years and realized that 99% of my fishing was with rod and reel and I had been busting my guts carting really heavy course gear to every venue to basically sit on and catch carp, along with a pole I hardly used ,so time for a change. The change i am making will take time but its work in progress. For now the upgrades I have chosen will take away heavy gear, focus on making my carp angling a little more updated but still give me the option to fish pellet waggler and bomb so I get the best of both worlds. So I upgraded with new reels that felt closer to what I was used to, new alarms that had enough about them to give me options in any peg I may find myself on and a receiver because apparently I slept through a run at Larford and Ant Tolley couldn’t wake me , and the all important ridgemonkey pan that is simply a brilliant piece of kit and so versatile.
I am still after the water shot but something about this goal has changed and it’s not my desire to achieve it , I am simply not in a rush to get it. I would rather keep learning and gaining experience and when it happens it happens. What I am craving next is two-fold:
48 hr on a proper carp water hopefully “The Quarry”
24 hours on my own and savor every moment.
Until next time , tight lines to you all and may the carp gods shine down on you when you need it the most.
Arrived at the lake, Etang Cache, late Tuesday afternoon as my flight had been delayed. I was feeling ready to unwind and get the rods out. I didn’t think I was going to be able to fish the snags as there were some lads on them before me, but they chose to move as they had done two nights and had no fish. I set up and got talking to one of the owners and was told that there hasn’t been a fish out of the swim for 3 days but over 75kg of bait had been put in that week. So, I opted to fish little bags of crushed Musselberry and just flick a few boilies over the top of each rod, just a hand full on each.
The night went by with no bites and I woke to rain and wind. Great! So, I thought I would leave my rods in as I knew they were on the spots, and the bailiff came and had a chat with me before breakfast. The lads also come over from their peg to have a chat. I am now getting to know them pretty well, and as we are all talking, the middle rod lets out a few beeps…..
I’m fishing locked up fishing tight to the snags, I run down heart in my mouth, hit the rod and try to turn the fish. I managed to turn the fish and 5/10 minutes of a mental fight ensued with the fish going in and out of the snags. It was intense! I eventually managed to wrestle it away from the snags and land the fish. A few minutes after thinking to myself that was an epic battle. Little did I know that every battle after that was to get more, and more insane. The fish went 28lbs so I was made up as it was bigger than my UK PB and was off the mark.
A few hours after the first fish I decide to go around to the stalking swim. I fished the same rig and bait but instead of casting out then bait up I choose to put 10 boilies out about 5 minutes before I cast out so I could spook the fish with food not a rig. I get the rig sorted and drop it on the spot first time, only a 20yrd cast but tricky so I was happy. Within 5 minutes I see a fish roll over the spot. I turn my camera on and start to record the rod. A few more minutes go by with no signs or shows. I roll myself a cigarette and just about to light it and the siren lets out beep beep! I look and the rod is wrapped round to the left, I hit and again an epic battle unfolds. I could see the fish in shallow water scraping along the bottom, turning it up. Shaking its head trying to get the hook out. I’m using barbless so I’m thinking it’s going to throw the hook but luckily, I manage to get it over and into the net. I Lifted the net up and saw a chunk in the bottom of the net and see that it is a fish known as ‘Little Lumpy’ (Lump’s little brother) I’m buzzing. I have the cigarette to calm me down. I am sure it will go over thirty so I wait for the owner to come around and help with the weighing and the photos. The fish went 36lbs and was a well know fish that hasn’t been out all year so I’m proper buzzing now. I give it a few more hours with nothing so decide to go back to my main swim and sort my rigs out for the night.
I get the rods out just before dinner casting from the bank, not opting for the boat. Same approach few boilies and a little stick but this time with a little special hook bait which I tried for the first time. Dinner was a mean chilli cooked by the owner Dave. After having a mint tea and a great time catching up with the owners, I get settled down for the night. Just is I’m nodding off the left rod screams. “It’s taking line, I’m locked up, really!?” I thought to myself as I hit it. It’s like hitting a bloody train. I don’t think I’m was going to be able to stop it before it hits the snags. I wound down and gave it some proper stick and just managed to turn it as I start to feel the line rubbing on the roots of the snags. After a dogged battle for 20 odd minutes it goes into the net. I look down at the net and it’s another chunk, but this time a common. Gav did say these hookbaits would pick the commons out! Its late just after 1am, so no one is up to help with photos. I get the camera on the tripod and get my selfie face on. Then I get the fish into the sling, then out of the water and on to the mat. When I weighed it, the fish goes 36lb, epic! Get the shots down and let the beast go back home. I went on to catch another two that night with every rod going, only high twenties but I was not complaining.
The next day I go stalking and manage to get a small low 20lbs with a little damage to it, as all carp I catch I treat it with a little carp care and sent it back on its way. Nothing happened after that just like the day before, so I went back to the main swim and started getting set up for the night. I get all the rods out really quickly 1st time on every rod, a little scatter of bait over the top and I was fishing for the night. Sitting tying new rigs for the next day and out of nowhere the middle rod is away, and its going. I run and pick up the rod. There was no stopping this fish, it just took line and ended up going into the snags. I was gutted. I had that sinking feeling in my gut, and just knew I wasn’t getting that fish back. I wanted to make sure the fish wasn’t snarled, so I jumped in the boat and made my way over to where the line was exiting the water. I get right next to where the fish is snagged and can see that the fish and managed to go around one branch and then into the snags, and throw the hook. I manage to get all of my tackle back and then made my way back to my swim. Sulking!
On getting back to the peg I was met with the owner who was watching my other rods while I was in the boat. “Never mind” he said, plenty more. I laughed. He was right there were more. Got my head straight and concentrated on getting the rod back out on the spot. New rig on the rod went out first time. I’m getting good at this casting thing. I set the rod on the rest, clip the bobbin on, and sit back watching the rods. I’m sitting there enjoying the sun for the short time it was out. I then go back into my bivvy because of a passing storm.
As I’m waiting for the storm to pass, the middle rod screams. I go to hit the rod. But as I’m running out of my bivvy the screamer just stopped, like just stopped, I look up at my spot and see a fish crashing. I lift in to the rod knowing there is going to be nothing on the end. Again, the sinking feeling. That’s two fish out of two I’ve lost now. What is going on? I reel in and inspect the rig. All seem to be fine. Hook still sharp. Putty hasn’t moved. Everything was fine. I had just been done. I was not happy, I take this time to reel in get my myself sorted mentally. I head over to the lads for a chat.
We are trying to organise a trip when we are all back in England. As we we’re talking one of their rods was away. One of the lads runs and hits the rod. Rod hoops over and we all look at each other and say this has to be a chunk and a long hard battle commences. I have the pleasure of netting the fish and manage to get the fish on the first attempt. The owners are here at this point and as we lift the net to see the prize there was 5 of us, all round this one net. As we are looking we can see that is a really good fish and it came in at a whopping 44lb. I am over the moon for the lad as it is his new PB. I get some shots for him and a few with him and the owners. It felt so good to be a part of that event. To me that is one of the best things about fishing, all coming together having a laugh and catching carp. I stay there celebrating with beer, wine and good food. At this point I’m feeling good and have completely forgotten about the two fish that I had lost only a few hours before.
I head back over the swim feeling really good for a bite or two that night. I end up taking a long time getting the rods out, I think that beer had a big part in that. I eventually get them where I want them and sit back and relax watching the sun set, enjoying the last of the wine. I roll myself a smoke, and enjoy the whole atmosphere of this place, it’s completely different to what I am used to. I can’t put it in to words. After watching the sunset, I retreat into the bivvy and just as I’m going to sort my bag out the left rod is sprung into life. As I hit the rod I can just see that the fish has made it to the snags and I can feel the fish grating against the snags. I was only in contact for 5 to 6 seconds and it snapped me. I throw the rod on the floor and walk away holding my head in my hands. Why can’t I catch a damn fish? 3 fish out of 3 lost. At this point I don’t even want to be there I want to go home.
I pick myself up after a few cups of tea. I questioned the owners if I was doing anything wrong or was it just me. They reassured me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that all this is a part of fishing. At this point it is dark and I decide to pub chuck the rod, I know it’s only say a 40-50 yard cast to the edge of the snags so clipped myself up at just over 40yards. It went out like a dream, hit the clip, landed nice and soft on the silt lovely! After all this I get woken up at an hour I didn’t know existed by the sound of a screaming siren. Boom I’m in. I run out of the bivvy still in the sleeping bag and hit the rod. It’s a beast. It frights hard for nearly 10 minutes right on the edge of the snag. I wasn’t losing this fish. I pulled hard and the fish pulled harder turning me. My god this is a strong ass fish. I end up playing it for 40 minutes all in all and I would say 90 percent of time was next to the snags. In all honesty, I didn’t think I was getting it in. I eventually netted the hardest fighting carp I have ever had. I was right, this is a chunk and by far my PB. But as its 3.30am no one is awake. So it is up to me again to get my best selfie face on and get the camera set. I get the fish on the bank and recognise it as the fish that my cousin had the pleasure of naming.
The fish was ‘Golden Two Tone’ and was an absolute beast. A stunning common, long and deep, a proper fighting machine. One of the most impressive fish I have ever caught. It went 43 and a half and was a new PB by 4 pounds. I have no words for how I felt. Only the pictures can show how I was feeling. An epic fight, an epic carp, from an epic venue. I am so made up after losing those three fish. I got the fish back safely, it went away strong drenching me in the process. I went on to have another three fish that night to 37lbs and it was the most productive night yet.
I was woken up in the morning with a sausage and egg bap being shoved in my face along with a nice cup of tea. It was the owner, I told him about the night before and he was made up for me. I said I think I might have had two-tone. At this point I still wasn’t too sure but I know by the size of it has to be. I show him the fish and he confirms it as Golden Two Tone for me, and congratulates me. He asks what rig I’m fishing so I show him. It’s a size 4 curve hook with a swivel on the shank no hair, down to a little kicker tied with supple braid as I was fishing on soft silt. He looks at the rig then looks at me and nods. It’s just a nod but I knew the liked it just be the way he was looking at it. I have a drink with him, then head off stalking. I manage to catch a low 30, 32 I think. It was a lovely fish, perfect in fact not a mark on her. She was full of eggs as they were close to spawning so a quick pic and off she went.
It goes dead after that, just like the days previous so I enjoy the sun with just one rod in the water whilst listening to a bit for music, I just chilled as I was knackered from being up all night with fish, and I ended up falling asleep. I woke to an alarm but not mine one of the other lads. It was 6 o’clock. I was asleep for 5 hours, luckily in the shade. I decide to pack up and go around and see the fish. As I get to the back of the lad’s swim one of them is still playing the fish so again I get to do the netting and while other lad is getting the photos. The fish goes in the net, it’s a low 30lb common, an immaculate fish. We get the photos and I head back to my swim.
Tonight, I was going to change tactics a little; I would be keeping the rig the same but I was going to place them with the boat and fish particle over the top. Just standard pigeon mix with added maze, a few boilies and jobs a gud’un. I get all three rods out with the help of Dave the owner, I get back to the swim and unload the bait from the boat set the rods up and wait for the bite. Within around 30 minutes there was bubbles starting to appear over the middle rod, I focused in on them as they started to get more and more aggressive until my whole spot was pretty much fizzing. I start getting liners, I’m bricking it. I’m crouched over the rod waiting for it to go, liner arrr liner arrrr liner ARRRR. I can’t take this. The rod never goes. The fizzing stops and I know my chance has gone. That night all I had was liners. No fish just liners. I woke the next day like a zombie, slept through breakfast it was like 11am. I was trying to come to terms with why I didn’t get a fish. I put it down to that they were just interested in the particle not the boilie. As I was fishing boilies on the hair and pop ups they didn’t even give them a second look. The day went by with no fish, I slept mostly and thought of a new attack for the last two nights. So the new attack was just fish the pellet that they feed the fish on and boilie. NO PARTICLE. The pellet breaks down fast and creates like a fluff on the bottom. So when the fish come in hungry looking for food they start to eat the pellet, find the boilies as an easier, more satisfying meal and start looking for the boilies. This worked a treat and had the best two nights of the trip. Another hand full of fish, and a new PB at 44lb!
Also another known fish, known as Steve at 39lb. Right at the last-minute as I’m packing up I caught the last fish of the trip, a beautiful mirror at 34lb that just topped the trip off for me.
All in all, catching 17 in total I was made up. This trip was the best trip I had been on and will definitely gong back next year.
Probably the least fished of the 3 lakes at Larford but wow I think we would all love to have this at the bottom of our garden! No fixed pegs with a high bank on one side and a bank that enters the water on the other side letting you stay protected from the wind if you choose so.
Today was the day I tried out Feed+SSP. My SSP had been glugged in Trigonella for near two weeks now and smelt delicious!
on the waggler and bomb rods feeding 8mm trigonella pellets
Not using this bait before it was a bit of a learning curve for me so I started off on 15″ hook lengths on both waggler and bomb and a size 16 hook with a bait band on, the shape of the SSP suits the band perfect, firing in 2/3 pellets every 30 seconds soon got the carp turning on them but it took about 30 minutes to get my first fish.
A few more were netted whilst we still had cloud cover keeping the feed going in which was keeping the fish very competitive in my swim
Swapping over to the bomb casting in over the feed from the waggler kept the fish coming still feeding 2/3 pellets and casting regular
This session was going great I was firmly into my groove my feeding pattern was steady and the cloud cover was dictating my method of fishing
The fish were of a really good size not going below 4lb but fighting like fish twice their weight.
The highlight of the day was a stunning Common carp just over 16lb caught on the pole using the SSP this took me over 20 mins to get in from a swim I had been feeding with several large balls of ground bait and glugged small pieces of meat.
Finding a flavor that suited the venue I was fishing and then adding it to SSP really worked a treat for me today and as I mentioned before they were all good size carp plenty of them knocking on around 10lb, this product excites me because it seems to have possibly filtered out the smaller carp and the bream and has so many variants whether it be bomb, waggler or even the pole. Still a bit more tinkering to get the finished product but until then its been a pleasure!