DAN STACEY goes into the unknown, targeting a big snaggy pit to try and uncover the mystery that surrounds the magical place.

Advanced Angle

Dan monitors the weed to find the most plentiful areas of natural food within it. The abundance of natural food normally directly correlates with the location of a few carp.


It all began right at the beginning of this year, March time to be precise. It was still pretty cold, with frost on the ground and a real chill in the air. To be honest, it was probably a little too early to be starting on a place like this, but I was so eager to get cracking having secured a ticket late the previous year. In fact, I was still unsure as to whether this place held any carp at all, having very little previous history, so it was a complete gamble that I was willing to take.

The biggest thrill in carp fishing for me is the unknown, big overgrown pits that could potentially hold huge, untapped carp. It’s what dreams are made of in my opinion. I had set aside the whole of this year to get to grips with this place, to try and uncover what it had to offer and concentrate my efforts on trying to unlock the potential. Little did I know what was to unfold over the coming year.

The snaggy pit covers around 60 acres, but due to the water being so low this year it has been split into two separate lakes. I decided to spend the early part of the year walking and using the boat on the smaller of the two divided areas, which totalled around 20 acres.

In the early stages, Dan spent time walking the put in search of big carp!

The beginning of the year was spent really getting to grips with the place. With it being so overgrown and full of snags, it became a hugely daunting task and I spent the first few weeks without a single sign of a carp. Despite climbing every possible tree and getting out in the boat with the glass-bottomed bucket, the lake was deathly quiet. I was wondering if there were any fish in here at all, never mind just carp. I was lost in time, drifting about the place on the battered old boat, desperately trying to find a clue to give away their presence, if they even existed.

After a few weeks of scouring the lake, I decided the best bet was to apply some bait to a few areas I had found from the boat. One in particular, was a deep gulley that ran centrally down the lake, an area where there was a small amount of low-lying weed. When I investigated the area from the bank, it was clear that I could get a firmer drop in comparison with other areas of the lake bed. This was a perfect area to apply the first hit of bait to see if a response was created.

I continued to apply a steady stream of bait over the following week or so, not loads, but enough to keep the spot topped up. Initially, I went in with a mixture of particles and boilies. I literally didn’t mind which fish were attracted to the bait, I just wanted to create something and monitor the activity before I started fishing.

Around a week later, I dropped by the lake to investigate the spot. I took to the boat and straightaway headed out 40 yards towards the gulley where I had baited. I lowered the bucket into the water and peered nervously down into the water to see nothing. It took a minute to click, but there was literally nothing left of the bait I had scooped in a few days previous. “No way!” I thought to myself. From what I could see, every last particle had been eaten, with clearings in the weed now present on the lake bed.

I rowed swiftly back to the bank, brimming with excitement and anticipation, ready to get the rods sorted, because I had planned to fish the night ahead.

After calming myself down, I managed to get a rod sorted, so I cast a bare lead the short distance to the clear gulley. Crack! I’ve never felt such a shock through the rod! The drop was quite unbelievable. The spot had clearly been polished up over the past week and the baited area had attracted some attention. At this point, I was still unsure as to what might have fed there, but due to the fact that the weed had been ripped up and the spot polished, I had a really good feeling that it was carp that had fed there.

Having been mixing in Pacific Tuna with my prebaited mix, I opted to fish all three rods on 18mm Tuna bottom baits, coupled with little sight toppers. I got all three positioned across the now widened gulley and spread about a kilo of 18mm baits in the area. I knew the fish would get used to picking out the boilies and I wanted to avoid any attention from nuisance species, so I opted to fish a boilie-only approach.

I spent the rest of the session sitting behind motionless rods, not even one sighting of a carp in the area, much to my amazement.

As the early spring daylight soon became night, the air temperature dropped and a chilly night ensued.

The following morning I woke to a light frost across the ground and the sun beginning to peer over the trees. My eyes were fixed on the water the whole time, and just as I was beginning to fall into a daydream watching the mist roll off the surface, one showed! Bang, right over the gulley spot. There was no mistaking it was a carp, and what looked like a lovely one at that. It dropped back down and a plume of bubbles rose quickly to the surface. I stood there in total amazement.

An hour later the rod pulled tight and all hell broke loose. For a split second I was wondering what was happening, then I realised by the power of the take that it must be a carp. Following a short battle, I slipped the net under a stunning looking 24lb common. To say I was over the moon is an understatement. The bait had obviously got them stirred up and interested. Still being early it was pretty cold, but I went about getting photographs of the lovely dark specimen.

I wasted no time in getting the rod back out to the area. A fresh Tuna bait and a scattering of Tuna boilies went out nicely to the gulley spot. By this point I was elated; the hard work from the previous few weeks had certainly paid off and, more importantly, I had unlocked the first step in finding and catching from the unknown pit. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

With the spots baited and the fish found, it’s time to tinker with the rigs.

I sat back and watched the morning unfold. The swans were happily drifting about and enjoying the quiet of the lake. I made a brew and watched closely across the water, now and again getting up and peering down the length of the lake for any signs of carp. The shrouded bank was tucked quietly out of the way and felt separated from the rest of the busy world. The quiet atmosphere was soon shattered by the piercing sound of my Delkim receiver, which out of nowhere went into complete meltdown! I lifted the rod, only to be physically pulled forward by what felt like an unstoppable steam train of a fish! It completely flat rodded me and there was literally nothing I could do to stop whatever it was I had on the end. At this point, it had easily stripped 50 yards of line clean off the spool. I dare not touch it in case I burnt my finger, it was that savage. I could see the line pick up in the water as it kited to the left of the spot, at which point everything came to an abrupt halt. It was solid! I tightened up in an attempt to move it from where it had found sanctuary but it became apparent that it had found a large submerged tree. I couldn’t believe it.

At this point, it was starting to grate a bit, so I dropped the rod back on the rest, made a brew and watched the line for any movement. Moments later, the line tightened up and the fish had freed itself. Tightening up to it, it wallowed closer into the margin that I was standing on. After a bit of a tussle in the edge, I managed to bundle the fish over the net cord, despite the horrible gunky weed that was about. I peered over the cord and there lay, to my amazement, a mega-long, jet-black common. I left it there in the net while I got the camera kit sorted. I hoisted her up onto the mat, a weight confirmed my first thoughts, and 40lb plus of solid uncaught carp lay there in front on me. A few shots rattled away and I returned her one extremely happy angler.

After the incredible spring result, I calmed off on the fishing front over that the snag pit. I still made the effort to get down and bait at least once a week, sometimes twice or thrice. The spot was still regularly being visited, but I wanted to keep it that way, leaning off on the angling pressure in the hope that the fish would still feel comfortable visiting it.

Baiting with a mix of seeds and boilies helped clear the spots.

Dan soaked his baits to try and tempt the fish away from natural food.

I did a few nights through May and managed a lovely mid-twenty common. I spent a lot of time out in the boat now the weed growth was getting up, and the fish were obviously becoming more active. I thought it was a great time to get out and find some.

I spent a day afloat on one of my days off, searching the entire lake, well as much of it as I could. It was getting late and the light was fading quickly. Up until now, I hadn’t seen much in the way of carp – plenty of bream though! I skirted round the side of an island, where a shallow bar joins another mound. As I peered over the side there was a huge-bodied fish, a mirror by the look of it, gliding straight past the boat. I froze and tried to keep eyes fixed, but it moved quickly out of sight. That really had me going again and it was surely time to get back down with the rods for another good go.

A hard-earned jet-black common carp for dan!

Mid-June I finally had the time to get the rods back out down the snag pit. I had been baiting up regularly after work and the spot had become bigger and bigger than when I started in early April. Like most of the summer, we were having a hot spell and conditions were muggy the morning I arrived at the lake. A light drizzle smothered the surface of the lake, which was like a millpond, with not even a breath of wind. A few fish were cruising on the surface in the distance, with the odd tail becoming visible now and again. The lake looked prime and I was keen to get some rods out to the baited gulley once.

Once again I positioned the Tuna hook baits right in the area of the gulley, which went down with a thud, harder than previously. A scattering of baits went out across a line that covered all three rods.

As I was setting the bobbin on the final rod, I heard one wallow out down the lake. The ripples dispersed across the flat calm surface, heightening the tense anticipation even more. The day passed with no action and night was soon upon the lake, still ghostly still. I started to receive hefty liners in the early hours; some had me out of the bag and checking the rods.

Boost your bait

By adding extra soluble attraction to the boilies he feeds, Dan gives the baited area a huge halo of attraction. This can really help improve feeding over the area, especially when his bait has to compete with an abundance of natural food.


It wasn’t until first light that any action occurred. All of a sudden, the spool on the middle rod started ripping so fast that the alarm head was struggling to recognise the take. I frantically slipped into the waders and rushed towards the rod. Like before, the fish was trying hard to escape, bow waving across the surface like a military submarine. I knew instantly that it was a big fish by the amount of water it was moving.

Before long it had found a great big weed bed and stalemate ensued. After a tense few moments, the fish swam straight out and at that point, I managed to turn it. It wasn’t over yet, ripping more line from what was already a fairly tight clutch. I turned it again but this time managed to get some line back on the beastly creature. It plodded about in the weeded margins, now and again trying to bury its head in the weed. Eventually it tired and I drew the fish over the net, scooping it up first time. To my amazement, it was another big common, similar to the one I had a few months back. After calming myself down, the scales confirmed 43lb of unknown, torpedo-shaped carp. I couldn’t quite believe it, what a place this was turning out to be.

This 40lb common is a just reward for Dan’s considerable effort on the demanding pit.

A few snaps later, she was back in the water to fight another day. With autumn just around the corner, I think it’s the perfect time to venture over to the other lake to see what mysteries that contains. Here’s hoping for another unknown whacker.