Category Archives: Fishing on the Edge

Follow Barry Smith along his journey through angling!

Still at school but loving the lessons.


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:

  1. I made a glaring error but learned a valuable lesson.
  2. I added value to a team members trip with coaching of my own.
  3. I got loads of good tips from Denis on rigs.
  4. I needed to focus more on looking after myslf fo
  5. 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:

  1. 48 hr on a proper carp water hopefully “The Quarry”
  2. 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.








Welcome to the third blog of my journey “Back to school-The water shot”.  This session sees me on a spring fed complex of ponds where the resident wild carp are not an easy quarry and many local anglers can have many blank days before they land a fish here. At the request of the owner I cannot share the location of this fishery but Beechwood Baits have talked their way onto this complex for all the right reasons.  These fish are up to 20 years old and maybe older and know each pond and snags inside out. The fish go to 19lb and there is also a rogue Ghost carp which was  banked once in 2016 but often seen cruising, much to the frustration of the local anglers. So you get the picture, again I have chosen a tough venue to tackle but i believe the rewards for effort are worth my time and, lets face it, who doesn’t want to catch a 15-year-old Northern 10lb+ common or mirror?

For a novice carp angler I really am making it difficult for myself, and to set the scene for you, on this session the water in Gin clear, it’s absolutely throwing it down and i have no clue where to start. I  have no insights because the owner doesn’t fish, and my only visit for a wander, no anglers were fishing. With that said I had this crazy idea to map the place out for myself, naming all 6 ponds and naming some key pegs within each pond, this way I begin to build up a real healthy rapport with this water and strangely it makes me feel closer and more personal to the fish. Stupid right! ha ha

My biggest learn from  Blakemere Fishery on my last outing is that on a tough water where you have limited insights,  you cannot serve two masters, its course tackle or Carp tackle ….. so i am armed with just 2 carp rods, Beechwood baits and a trusty pint of maggots.


The Excelsor Pop Ups,  The Excelsor hard hookers and a Fox PVA bag contraption.

It was on this trip that i wanted to try solid bags for the first time and after some great chats with Gav Astley who put me onto his own solid bag blog Liquid PVA bags  which is very much worth a read if you fancy having a go, and also a Fox PVA bag maker,  that was  another school lesson ticked off my ever-growing list of tactics and methods to try, all aimed at helping me achieve my goal. Add to that the approach I took which was so very different to what I am used to. I arrived at this location at 8am, I didn’t go back to the car to get my gear until 9.45am and this was a massive change for me. I walked this complex several times and looked for signs of  fish, likely snag pegs with sunken trees or overhanging bushes, reeds moving, noted which way the wind was blowing, calm spots and  places that get a ripple, what pond gets the sun first, what the ducks were doing, you name it I noticed it.

The three pools i fished  in this session I have named from left to right : 1- Robin 2- Two trees 3- sunshine for my own reasons that are not too difficult to work out. Having had a chat with a local angler who popped down for a walk, it was pleasing to know that in these three pools I picked the right places to fish! That was a real motivator for me and absolutely lifted my spirits on a damp dull and cold day, but more of that meeting later.

OK now to address solid bags, a method designed to fish for a bit , instant attraction that a passing fish can’t resist, and not a lot of feed in the bag except maybe your hookbait. The debate goes on around bait in or out of the bag, and having chatted to loads of carp anglers (how lucky am I) I get the feeling it’s simply personal preference, and both methods catch. So in my mind in or out, why not try both, which I did! having watched videos on solid bags and a how to guide for the fox PVA system, it occurred to me that on this particular venue where I didn’t have to cast on a single peg I fished, it was a simple drop in and walk the rod back to the pod, there was really no need to be so fussy as to stick the corners down because it was not being cast any distance, I didn’t need to be as streamline as possible because the most i was doing was a gentle underarm  lob. Made sense to me. In the bag I used  The Mussleberry stick mix a few maggots and Hemp oil. On the hook I had a pop up on 1 rod and a hard hooker on the second rod. Making the bag with the Fox system was easy enough and towards the end of the day I had massively improved the end result taking into account the quantities and process.

So what did I learn on this trip? Was not catching a fish disheartening? had I completely messed it up from start to finish? Did I add some valuable experience to the memory bank and will I be better equip on my next visit? The answer I can share with you all is this :

Hybrid Angling!

Let me explain …… out-and-out carp tackle wont get you as many bites, but course gear wont land the fish, so I have to find middle ground, a hybrid approach that critically balances the tackle to get bites and land fish. To do this I will be preparing tackle to suit this venue on my next visit, taking all I have learned into account which is a massive step forward, add to that the bait insights I gleaned from a local angler and some other insights around pegs and approaches which need to be very brave. I am super excited to get back there with this hybrid approach and get closer to banking a fish and getting that magical water shot!

Thanks for reading my journey and tight lines.


My Trigonella Journey 2016-Barry Smith


I was first introduced to Trigonella In June 2016 when I was out fishing with Brian Coakley and Stewart Rusling. The first thing I noticed about this bait was its pungent smell …. frankly it stinks, there is no other way to describe it. I had a 10mm Trigonella Boilie in my hand, and being the person I am, my brain started ticking away.  My first thought was to use this with a bomb, almost replacing a pellet when the going gets tough.  It’s another offering that may bring a fish when bites slow up.


So that’s what I did initially, but the lightbulb moment happened at Larford Lakes in July 2016 where this bait really came to life for me.  I will set the scene for you:

On a trip with Fishing in the Northwest, we were doing a review on the specimen lake and the three lads from the team were fishing for bream, but I was on an out-and-out carp mission and my line of attack was pellet waggler, bomb and pellet.  I had 12 mm pellets as my chosen bait ( big enough to catapult to distance ) and having had the chats with Martin the head bailiff, I pretty much had my plan in my head.  I could see the fish in the upper layers of the water but something wasn’t right.  I could not mug them.  They would not take my pellet ……. so I changed my hooklength to a 12″ quickstop hooklength and threaded a Trigonella 10mm boilie and out I went.  Boom!!  The rod bent double on the splash and it was fish on.  I had that lump on for over 15 minutes and I didn’t land it.  As you can imagine the banter was thick and fast from the lads on that lost fish because it was clearly a big fish, but I had a new bait!!  A starting bait!!  Not a plan B bait but a Plan A bait.  From that moment on at Larford I landed a lot of  lumps and had an amazing day.

The next development for me personally was honed on a local water back home.  Aimed at pellet waggler method, 12mm pellets glugged in Trigonella oil and used for high in the water fishing as well as on the deck for bomb and pellet.  It was on this venue that I practiced the glugging process and got the pellets just right and the results were simply outstanding.  I began to use this process on other waters and for the summer of 2016 I just had an amazing few months with a lot of fish falling to this bait and method.


Trigonella is an exceptional bait and I think I have only scratched the surface of this bait.  I am yet to use paste or have a session with expanders on this bait, but watch out 2017 because I will be developing more killer methods for this amazing carp bait.

If you regularly read my blogs, view my Facebook/twitter pages, this bait will be familiar to you but I urge you to give yourself an edge, and if you do anything different in 2017…….. then make it Trigonella and start fishing on the edge.

See you on the bank




When A Plan Goes Wrong…… By Barry Smith

It’s great when you set out in the morning with a plan to execute, and it all goes swimmingly well.  Nothing better!

I don’t know about you, but for me this is not the norm, but absolutely it’s nice when days like this happen.  A feeling of satisfaction and most importantly great validation that you’re a good angler, you know what you’re doing, it worked!!  I was right!!  Tactics spot on etc. …… and all those other testosterone quotes we tell ourselves when it goes well.


But what about when it goes wrong?  And adding to that you have left at home an essential piece of kit that could have got you out of a bad days fishing ..ARGGGGGGGG!

This blog is all about exactly that scenario ….. and it happened to me on 7th January 2017. So put the kettle on,  sit back, relax, and enjoy my failure 🙂

Plan A was discussed with my team-mate, Stewart Rusling, some other anglers online and John from my local tackle shop who always helps me simplify things.  A simple plan in the end from a complicated start … I like to call this plan “consistent and accurate”.

  1. Set up a 24g ground-bait method feeder with dead red maggots on the hook.
  2. Take my 2.75 Sonik carp rod, and reel loaded with 12lb line with the biggest cage feeder I had.
  3. Set distance sticks at 11ft ….. and fish 8 wraps out (27 metres for young uns)
  4. Use a mix of dark fishmeal and heavy binding ground-bait, with a pint of dead reds and a healthy squirt of Brazem.

The plan was to be consistent and accurate, casting 10 feeders out at the start of the session with my carp rod clipped at 8 wraps, leaving the swim for half an hour and then simply over the top with a method feeder for bream and skimmers, again clipped at 8 wraps.

First cast and it hardly settled and my tip wrapped, and I landed a healthy skimmer …………. I am, a good angler, I know what I am doing, tactics spot on …. I could feel the testosterone running through my veins ……… then not a single touch for over 2 hours. The odd indication, but no skimmers and no bream.  I kept the casts accurate, kept the feed trickling in, changed feeders to a smaller feeder, hybrid feeder, bomb, Olivette, changed hooks, changed baits, hook lengths, did all the usual stuff, but it just wasn’t happening.  I have no clue what I am doing, I am failing, why can’t I buy a bite???  The testosterone had all but disappeared………. I got off my box and went to the car for a coffee and a butty and a think.

Stood at the boot of my car I knew I had to make changes or face a bad days fishing.  Having had a lot of roach out of this water on short pole tactics it was my only real option until I realised I had left my pole in the house …….. DOH!

Then my lightbulb moment that changed my whole session ………….. well if I aint got my pole then why not go old school and fish how we all used to fish before poles came on the scene and tried to take away the finest way of catching fish in the world … with a float and rod!!!!!!

Plan B

  1. Set up an 11ft waggler rod with a small loaded crystal insert waggler, no bigger than 1g, with absolutely no shot on the line, just let the hook sink the maggot.
  2. Soak my dead reds in Beechwood Baits Hemp oil (3 caps to a pint ;)) because I know this works from previous sessions.
  3. Fish the waggler set to hand, so effectively a rod length out, with an ever so delicate clutch setting to give the rod tip a hand.
  4. Throw 8-10 maggots in and underarm cast the float out so the maggot sinks with the loose offerings.

Float set at dead depth off I went, first put in and a bite instantly, small roach.  Searching all around me I kept the bait going in but not in 1 place.  I literally fished at 12 O’clock  and worked the float back to 9 O’clock with each put in, then started again at 12, so I never put the float in the same place constantly.

Scary thought is how may roach could I have had if this was my plan from the outset because the fish came thick and fast so much so that I adopted a tactic to speed up the process:

Once I struck into the fish, because I was using a rod as opposed to a pole, I had the advantage of leverage, so I lifted the fish out of the water with one movement which startled them.  So to recap, what I did was strike, and continue lifting the rod in 1 movement which swung the fish out of the water and right to my hand.  It was great fun, you should try this!

The question this posed for me was “is a rod faster than a pole for short line roach fishing” ……. What do you think?

Maybe we should put this to the test with the Beechwood match team and see if the rod beats the pole.  Watch this space!!

If catching a huge amount of roach is failing, then I love fishing!

I learned so much on this session which started bad but I am sure Plan A will have its day soon.

I went back  to school and it felt great, it was rewarding, and I kept fishing on the edge!  

Hemp Oil for Silvers – By Barry Smith

The water temp has dipped, the wind is bitter, the frost has bitten and the fish have been affected, haven’t they?

1Now I do understand why a lot of anglers slow their feed down during the cold months, and I also understand why a lot of anglers don’t even bother during the winter months, I am often up at “sparrow Fart”, looking out of the window of my bedroom and thinking “Barry you must be bonkers”.  Then the Mrs turns over and actually says “you are bonkers” …. But I carry on regardless (there is a song there somewhere).

Today’s 3 hour session was simply to introduce you to Beechwood Baits Pure Hemp Oil and its potential.  The target species is a well-known lover of hemp seed so I guess using hemp oil is matching the hatch so to speak.

I am talking about Roach.  The species that keep feeding during the coldest of months and live in huge shoals, often in abundance in specimen carp waters.  What baffles me about this particular fact is this …… it is written about so many times over and over again in most fishing magazines, year after year, and yet many anglers overlook the potential sport that is right under their nose on specimen carp waters.  I urge you to try your local specimen carp water for roach and silvers in general; you may be very pleasantly surprised.  And I would guess you may be hooking fish that are not at all hook shy.  I also put it out there that if you have never fished a specimen lake for silvers in the winter but would love to give it a try, maybe not confident of how to go about it, just starting out with your fishing, a little shy, or feel silly asking, please don’t be ….. Contact me and I will share the bank with you and show you a specimen carp lakes potential first hand, from rigs, line, hooks, bait the job lot.

One such venue which is local to me is Rosemary Wood Specimen Lake.


From a personal point of view Beechwood Baits have a fantastic relationship with the owners Phil and Pete Dewhurst who take an active interest in our activities and portfolio, and kindly allow Beechwood Baits to test baits, shoot promotion footage and showcase the potential of the lake which we are very grateful for.  As a result of such a great relationship we have used this venue for a team social and will use it for many more.

Setting the scene:

On the peg the freezing cold bitter wind is in my face left to right slightly which makes it near on impossible to present bait at any distance on the pole so I decide to leave my pole in the car and only take out my top two sections ……. (Another added bonus with Rosemary Wood Fishery is your car is right on your peg)

Using two top 2 sections both with white Hydro set loose, I opt for two wire stem floats that cock immediately allowing me to see bites right away.

The main rig is a KC Carpa Chimp 4X10 with 0.15 reflo to a 0.12 6 inch hook length and the hook is a size 18  B911 Kamasan spade end pattern.  3 dropper shot down the line shirt button style to let the bait sink slow, set at dead depth.  (For the beginners out there or the non-savvy terminal tackle angler please don’t be flustered with all this detail, it is really very simple once you know what you’re using and setting this rig up is very easy).  Again, if you want to have a chat about it, give me a shout, you can find me easily enough on Facebook.

The second rig was identical but set shallow with a little stem cut down and a little bristle cut off ………… how easy is that!


Now comes the reason I am writing this ……. Hemp Oil!  The star of the show.

Hemp oil is super rich in vitamins, minerals, Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils and is a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. But it does a lot more than have amazing stats…….. when added to bait such as maggots, pellets or corn it not only sends the oil slick of attraction through the columns of water to the surface, creating a playground for species such as roach and skimmers, it also has the added advantage of letting you know if there is any tow in the lake, because the slick is a giveaway when your bait moves on the lake bed. The flat spots of slick tell you exactly where your bait is.

On this occasion I was using a pint of dead red maggots and remember at the beginning of the blog I eluded to slowing down feeding during winter?  Well I personally don’t and in 3 hours I used just shy of a pint of dead red maggots.

Ok so how much hemp oil do I use …… simple …… 3 lid’s full to every pint is what I have found to be the optimum balance.  And one bottle will last you for many sessions using this ratio.

My feed pattern is again very simple but logical ….. It really is.

I loose feed every single put in, regardless ……. Using 8/10 maggots and then I whip the rig over the top of the loose feed right away.

If I don’t get a bite before the float has settled and the rig is at dead depth, I will leave for around 10 seconds and repeat the process.

If I find bites are coming on the drop I switch to a shallow rig but I constantly keep the feed going in bites or no bites.

On this session it was apparent that my loose fed maggots were being pushed close into my feet because I could see the slick rising up, this gave me two options, to either drop in over where my maggots where eventually settling or loose feed further out to ensure they settled where I wanted them to settle. This demonstrates the added attention to detail hemp oil gives your bait.

To summarise, how could a shoal of roach resist seeing a constant slick of their favourite nibble hitting the water.  And all I have done is added three caps full of Beechwood Baits Pure Hemp Oil to a bait ……… giving me the edge on a hard winters day.

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Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read my blog, and if you fancy a session for roach using Beechwood Baits Hemp Oil, then contact me and we can get fishing on the edge.


Blakemere, 2nd December, By Barry Smith

Baptism of fire- Blakemere 8/10 difficulty

How about my first ever full on carp trip out, let’s make it a rock hard 8/10 rating venue, the mighty Blakemere!  Oh and let’s drop the temperature overnight to -5°C.  I dare you to freeze half the lake overnight just to add to the difficulty.  Nothing like a baptism of fire.


The good news is it can only get easier from here on in, and that’s exactly how I intend to reflect on this experience.  Do I have a choice?  Not really.


The idea for this trip was for myself and Brian Coakley, my partner in crime, to fish for silvers in the day and carp at night.  Pretty simple idea you would think yes?  Wrong!  ……. And hindsight is the most amazing diary reminder you could possess.  This trip is well and truly in my diary reminder and not because our idea was a bad one, on the contrary, but because Blakemere felt like asserting its dominance on us and showed us just how impractical that approach can be on some waters.  With a healthy walk involving steep hills, it made getting both sets of gear to the pegs a complete nightmare ….. that experience is now stored and Blakemere will not fool me again.  Don’t serve two masters on Blakemere or it will bite you!

Ok I am going to cut to the chase here and put it on the table from the get go.  A selection of team members fished Blakemere over the week ending 2nd December and we all struggled, with a few runs had but no fish on the mat.

This trip was not just about the fishing for me and Bri ……… it was our first carp trip so we were like kids in a sweet shop because we had bivvys to put up, a stove to cook on, beds to make, rod pods to set up, alarms to set, measuring sticks to set up, captive back leads to set, rigs to modify, and silvers to fish for (which didn’t show at all over the two days) ……… but we loved it.


We really enjoyed the experience of these two Fox Royale small footprint brolly systems.

This is what I did with my two carp rods ………opting to fish old school with one rod on a method feeder at 8 wraps and set my timer for each hour to recast and create a bed of bait for the carp to investigate, using a multi rig and an Aurora pop up.  Bloodworm based groundbait with an added binder to ensure this went right to the deck.


Second rod was 12 wraps with a lead clip system and a 2oz lead, multi rig and 16mm Mussleberry Red with an Adjusta Plug of PNBA to critically balance this bait.

For the record, Adjusta Plugs were something I learned about on our social at Larford and if you want to add more than cork to balance your bait, then why not add a PNBA that is sending out the signals constantly once in the water.  Check out the video here for more on these versatile little baits.

Brian fished two rods with pop ups, left hand rod close in  and second rod at 8 wraps.


I owe Blakemere a revisit, but I will be more prepared next time and maybe I will show Blakemere a little more respect on my return and serve one master only.


It was cold, the fishing was rock hard, the water froze over, the stove froze at times, the walk was a killer, the silvers were on vacation, the carp messed with us but to flip it on its head we learned so much me and Bri ….. we spent time with the lads in the team, we had such a laugh, we ordered a curry which was delivered, we had a lovely breakfast, we practiced loads of casting, I got my head around captive back leads, I did my own PNBA Adjusta Plugs, our bivvys kept us warm in -5°C, and the scenery was absolutely beautiful.

Put this all together and I would definitely call this trip fishing on the edge!  Would you!?

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Blakemere we will meet again……….

Tight Lines all, and stay on the edge!


Thirst for Knowledge, at Blakemere

I talk to a lot of anglers and it fascinates me to hear so many variations and approaches to carp fishing.  I genuinely get a lot from just chatting ad hoc and I typically see the passion ooze out of people when we talk fishing.  I guess it’s what anglers all have in common, but with my thirst for knowledge ever greater, a few conversations have stood out recently and I have really stepped back and taken on-board some inspiring comments.


Danny Stone, a friend, a carp angler and fishery owner really validated for me that my fishing approach and my mind-set is absolutely how I need it to be, I face things sideways on , and never to change that.  Danny always says it how it is and I respect that.  A great chat around the KD Rig and he explained all aspects of it to me.  I always enjoy chats with Danny and I plan to do more of it.

Andy Grover, a team member encourages me to keep my match style head on when it comes to feeding, something I now consider since this chat  with him.  Simple words but Andy absolutely believes a match style approach can be as effective and piling in bait on the right venue.  A great thinking angler is Andy and generous to a fault …. Thanks for the leads Andy.  For the record when I saw Andy’s bait boat at Larford the theme tune to the love boat always came into my head!  #ruined

Gav Astley, owner of Beechwood Baits simply tells me I can.  And he genuinely tells me it will happen “your water shot is inevitable, but enjoy the journey, if I can help, shout me”.  Gav simplifies things for me.  Can’t beat that can you.  Gav is time poor, with work, family life and constantly making bait, but he is friends rich, and always has time for his fishing buddies.  Enough said!

Denis Ryan, a team member has a knack of using comparisons  in match fishing to make his point in carp fishing, so I understand.  Really simple but very effective and it hits home.  Denis will always demonstrate as well as coach me which is excellent.  And for the record, he doesn’t fish in Ireland 🙂  see my video here if I’ve lost you on this one!

Neil Thomas, is a ball of energy and simply inspires me.  It’s plain to see he gets a lot out of coaching and passing on knowledge and he has gone that extra mile to help me and Brian Coakley on our last outing to Blakemere.  It speaks volumes about him and no wonder he is the team captain…..Apparently he’s not  a bad angler either 🙂

So if you whack all of them guys together you have one seriously super carp angler !!!

How lucky am I !!!!


So after all of the above the question is :do I feel closer to the water shot?


Absolutely yes I do ………..and here is why .

Since my last blog on “The water shot” I have learned so much, and loved every minute of this next step in my journey.  I have learned and practiced at Blakemere :

  • Multi rigs/KD rigs /standard hair rigs/chod rigs/maggor rigs
  • Bait floss
  • Pva tape
  • Captive Back leading
  • Measuring sticks
  • Casting technique
  • Bite alarm set up
  • Rod pod set up
  • Leads and their uses
  • Bivvy essentials

I didn’t catch at Blakemere but my spirits could not be higher, I am a better angler for the experience and loved every second of being with the team on the bank putting things into practice.

So what sticks out …. What are my hurdles?

Rigs ……. Its 4 letters, a little word…………. but in carp fishing it is one of the most essential part of catching besides sighting fish.

I am a novice at rigs but I know this …….. in order for me to fool the craftiest of fish my bait has to act natural, and this is all down to rig and hook choice so I need to practice, change, be different, see how it sits in the water, invent my own, do things different, research, experiment, keep thinking and not sit there and wait.

Rig with a 16mm Mussleberry Red and PNBA Adjusta plug


I cannot wait for my next trip out, and hopefully will be on the bank in Feb with Denis and Andy who I know will gladly share all their vast knowledge with me………… I am gonna glean so much.

Now I have my head well and truly stuck into end tackle and the part it plays, I know how important this is and I need to get it right.

I know Neil will keep pushing me and telling me “cast again” hit the spot and keep at it until you hit the spot every time.

I know Gav will be there to help me with anything I need.

Two other people I have not mentioned but need no introductions are  Brian Coakley and Stewart Rusling who are my brothers in this team.

Brian is on the journey with me and a great support because we talk and help each other along the way (and he snores like a right one), and Stew has so much to offer with carp angling.

This blog chapter has really demonstrated how we roll at Beechwood Baits and it has occurred to me that every step forward I make has been at the hands of good friends and closer to that elusive “water Shot”.

Roll on my next trip out.



Game On……… A New Challenge!


For those anglers who have maybe been fishing for a while and found your own preferred style or your “go to” approach, can  you remember the last time you felt like you knew nothing?  Like everything was new and you were a little lost with a whole new experience of fishing?  Frustrated that you didn’t know things?  Totally dependent on others to pass on their experience or having to research to understand what you were doing and why?  The little things that are alien to you but second nature to others?  Feel reluctant to ask because you feel stupid?  It may have been a while since you felt this way if you have been fishing for a long time, but that feeling of not knowing, of doing something totally different to what you normally do on the bank …………. It`s familiar to me and humbling, it excites me……  and I am full of it!

Let me explain why I am feeling like this and what has led me to this amazing place in my fishing …… .

Here at Beechwood Baits we are a bunch of anglers that believe there are massive benefits to getting together socially and fishing as often as we can as a team.  Having experienced two socials at Rosemary Wood and Larford Lakes it occurred to me that although I have my “go to” methods which I absolutely champion, I also have an abundance of experience around me in the form of big carp anglers.  It would be criminal of me to not use such experience that this team of anglers have to offer,  and come on now …. who doesn’t want a whacker!  I have a huge passion to get that “water shot” with a big old Northern thirty (but to be honest I won’t complain with any big fish, or where it comes from for that matter!).

So I find myself driven to learn new ways of fishing that will get me closer to my  goal, that “water shot” ….. and my journey begins.

Chapter 1- planting the seed and watching it grow

It really all started while having a conversation with Brian Coakley and Stewart Rusling around wanting to throw a rod in through the night while on socials.  We felt that we were missing a trick by not having a line in the water while all the carp lads in the team were buzzing away all night with runs.  That was all the excuse I needed to plant the seed in my head.  So where does this “water shot” passion come from that burns inside me?  I could not tell you is the honest answer, other than to say every time I look at an angler in the water with a fish I say to myself I want one of those shots!  There is something magical about the connection with a fish when you are in his/her world and gently capturing the moment, actually worshiping the fish if truth be told. I want it to be me!



Taking a methodical approach the first steps of my journey were to simply seek out advice from the team, and get a feel for what type of equipment I would need to be able to fish for carp through the night while on socials, and really getting advice on the important aspects of this new style of fishing without breaking the bank…… wow!  You know what, I learned so much with just a few conversations with the lads in the team.  Cheekily I also asked them to keep an ear to the ground and give me a shout if they see any set up that fitted what I was looking for:  The sound advice I received was ………….

  • A good Bivvy is a must, keep warm, keep dry, get best quality you can afford.
  • Focus on the reel quality more than the rod quality.
  • 2.75 test curve seemed to be the solid advice for rod.
  • Start with 1 or 2 rods for now.
  • Don’t pay the earth for Delks just yet, get some good value for money alarms that do the job.
  • Don’t worry about end tackle just yet, we will get to that .


With all of the above in mind I have lost count of the numerous bivvy videos I have watched, testimonials I have read, Ebay searches I have done, links I have been sent, messages I have had from the lads  ……. It goes on and on.  However there was a breakthrough from none other than Gav Astley who spotted something on Facebook and sent it over and I am now the proud owner of :

2 x Sonik SKS 12ft 2 piece Carp rods (2.75 and 3Lb test curve)




2 x Diawa Regal 4500 Baitrunner reels


2 x fox Micron m+ Bite alarms and Nash H-Gun 2 rod pod


Fox Royale 60” Brolly system



Ok, so now I have the rods, reels, alarms, and a small footprint to keep me warm and dry.

But I know nothing about end tackle  argggggggggggg………………..

Suppose I better get back to school and learn all about basic end tackle so I can begin to turn my dream into a reality.

Join me next time for a lesson on rigs, weights, wraps, PNBA, hooks, spods, spoms, throwing sticks, stick mixes, PVA and whatever else I can glean from the lads.


Oh that elusive water shot is a little nearer now!







Secure Your Rod! – By Barry Smith

Social media is littered with examples of rods being pulled in by fish! The majority of the time it’s down to human error, or maybe a little lack of experience.  None the less you have lost a rod and reel…… and the impact of this happening is not always discussed or considered ….. fish care!  Can you imagine the strain this would put on a fish, or even long-term damage?

My short video (link below) demonstrates that if  you follow three simple steps that I know 100% works, you can vastly eliminate this from happening to you.

Step 1

Secure the butt section of your rod with a suitable butt rest, don’t put it on your knee.  The Guru Reaper butt rest is a fantastic piece of kit that grips the butt section of your rod tight.


Step 2

Use a rod rest that lets your line run freely and will also keep your rod within the rest.  The Preston Rod rest in the video is ideal for bomb and pellet fishing and does exactly what you want it to do.


Step 3

Set your drag so line can be taken from your reel and this will simply put a bend in your rod, allowing the fish to take its first run safely.

The measure of success is simple …. If you are diving for your rod in a blind panic when you get a bite, then your rod set up could be improved.  You don’t need to dive dramatically or panic and lunge for your rod and strike like a mad man if your tackle is set for your quarry.  Simply allow the fish to take the bait,  some line may be taken by the fish and gently lift the rod up, no panic, no flustered actions ….. calm and in control!

Check out my video which shows my set up and footage of a fish taking line, clearly demonstrating how effective this can be for you.

Tight Lines all, and stay on the edge!