The Campaign Angle
Buoyed by the sight of Tyson on his previous trip, ED BETTERIDGE went straight to the spot where he’d seen him and the area he’d baited before he left.
The bait had gone, the area was cleared slightly, but not too much, so I wasn’t sure if the feathered occupants of the lake were responsible or whether it was the carp. Either way, the bay looked dead and devoid of fish. I climbed three trees just to make sure; after all, my focus was solely on one fish and not a group, but I saw nothing carpy.
I did a lap of the lake and I came across a number of fish in a corner swim, just milling around in the weed. At 30 yards they didn’t look too big, but I got up the tree to watch them and the closer they got the bigger they looked. I didn’t see Tyson, but I did see enough of the bigger residents to make me think that Tyson may not be too far away. I’d had a few fish from the swim previously, so I knew a couple of areas that they were likely to be in during the night and following morning.
They weren’t spots as such; in fact, they were quite weedy and no different from most areas in the swim as far as I could tell by leading about. However, I had seen them regularly in these zones and caught well from them. So I winged three chods out on the clips to the marks on the horizon and followed that up with a bit of bait.
I like to bait in two ways, one with a Spomb clipped up directly over the area and then with a throwing stick to scatter the bait about. This gives a great baited zone and really gets the fish searching, yet concentrating mainly over my hook baits.
Bites at night had been very few and far between for me on the lake this year, so it was no surprise when I woke up to see the dawn light faintly colouring the eastern horizon in front of me, and the bobbins in exactly the same position. I lay there blinking in bed trying to wake up and see if the fish were showing but not wanting to move from the warmth of my sleeping bag.
As I half watched, half dozed, the middle bobbin lifted to the rod butt, held there and the rod crippled over. I shot out of my sleeping bag, half expecting a startled, half-asleep Terrier to follow me, but then I realised that Paddy Ratdog was now banned from fishing due to picking up half a dozen ticks on the last session! This was mainly due to spending most of his time with his head in a rabbit hole!
Anyway, I had a fish on. It was hard to gauge its size because it went from weed bed to weed bed, but eventually, I slipped a big ball of weed over the net with a 21lb common inside.
A 21lb common followed by…
… a fish know as Single Scale. The month got off to a good start in Northants!
I quickly clipped the rod back up and pinged it back out to the spot.
I only had to wait an hour and a half before the same rod was away again. I had more fun and games with this one because it got completely stuck in weed, and I had to leave the rod slack for a while before the fish eventually came out and I netted a rare mirror. In fact, it is one of the biggest mirrors in the lake that has done 35lb plus in the past. However, like all the others, it was down in weight at 33lb 3oz. It’s a fish called Single Scale and it’s fair to say it isn’t the prettiest fish in the lake, with a big Bubba-esque bottom lip, fat belly and pale coloration, but was a new fish for me and another thirty, so I was happy enough.
As the morning wore on it became warmer and warmer, with the heat of the sun bringing the fish to the surface and they were drifting right in close by lunch time. I watched several groups of fish drift around the swim, each betrayed by a pale ghostie, giving the location away. One group contained a number of big fish. I couldn’t see which were present but I hoped Tyson was one of them. I waited for each group to drift off slightly before bringing my rods in and dropping them in close. I then stood at the top of the bank well back from the water, watching the fish and trying to get a few snaps with my new lens.
Young Ollie turned up and we stood at the top of the bank under the canopy of a tree watching the fish. I pointed out the group of larger carp as they came through; they took the exact same route as the previous two occasions and I had positioned one of my rods right on this path. It was a chod fished in the high Canadian weed. I’m guessing the water is about five feet deep in the area and weed was about three feet deep, which perfectly positioned the bait about two feet under. It was only about three rod lengths out, so from the top bank where we were standing we were about 25 yards away. Ollie didn’t think the fish looked that big but I had made the same mistake the day before, so I knew they were bigger than they appeared.
They swam down my left margin, turned in the corner and swam parallel to my bank. I was giving commentary like an excited kid as to where the fish were in relation to my hook baits. Just as I said: “They are right over the middle rod now,” the bobbin hit the top and the rod crippled over! I jumped down and picked it up and felt the fish on before it all locked up in weed. It didn’t take me long to get it moving and I soon had it under control. The strange thing was, another group of fish moved through as I played it and one swam right under the net, oblivious to what was happening!
As I eased the hooked fish closer, “I could see it was a chunk and it wasn’t long before I notice the stocky frame, dark colour and big eyes”. It was one of the bigger fish that had recently done 40lb, a fish called Swing Swang. I soon had her safely in the net and turned to Ollie, who had filmed it on my camera, and pronounced it was a forty!
Swing Swang at the plump summer weight of 39lb
It fell short by 1lb and it had inexplicably dropped nearly 11/2lb since its last capture a few days previous! But I wasn’t complaining with a 39lb dark common!
Over the next couple of weeks, I banked a couple more fish from the water, including a 33lb 6oz pale common and then a black mid-twenty mirror. The mirror was a cracking fish, but it was the fourth time I had caught it, which really cemented that I needed to catch Tyson and move to pastures new. I felt I was getting close and I knew he would slip up soon, but the problem was I couldn’t be there on the days I really wanted to be. Tyson had been out in the same two or three day period on the previous two or three years. Because it hadn’t been out this year yet, I felt that there was a very strong chance of him coming out over the bank holiday weekend.
This 33-pounder has some ghost carp in his blood…
A complete contrast to the fish before; black as your hat!
The weather was also prime, as was the moon phase, but I was at an open day for the new Erics shop at Farlows. I was representing Greys & Chub and fishing the lake with Matt Eaton. We had a good session, taking a number of fish off the top, and we met some nice people who came down to see the shop and have a walk round the lake.
I like fishing with Matt, we always have a laugh (and a glass of wine) and he loves cooking on the bank and I was treated to duck breast in a home-made (well bank made) red currant jus. It was spot-on and a good session, until I had a phone call Sunday afternoon from Ollie. I knew what it was about before I answered – Tyson had been out. My heart sank! It turned out that, like the other fish, it was right down in weight at 44lb, which is a big drop from 50lb, for what I think is a male fish.
This left me completely stuck for somewhere to angle, because a few days prior I had been told that my other target fish, Kitch from Northey Park, had died. So I was left in the all too familiar position of not having a real target to chase in the next few weeks and needing somewhere new to angle!
I gave my situation quite a lot of thought on my 21/2-hour journey home and made some calls. I managed to secure a ticket on Monks Pit in Cambridgeshire. I had driven past it loads of times and never really fancied it for one reason or another and I wasn’t really expecting to like it that much if I’m completely honest.
However, after turning up for the first time my opinion started to change. It’s a stunning looking place, and quieter than I expected, despite the A14 running nearby. I had fished Pingewood and I hated the road noise from the M4 to the point where I dropped my ticket, but this was nowhere near as bad and I could actually hear when a fish crashed! The fish are all UK born and bred and had darkened up nicely over the years, with a number of mixed strains.
My first session was 24 hours just to get my head around the place. The weather was terrible, with strong northerly winds and persistent rain, but the fish were on the end of it, showing in numbers. So that’s where I set up.
Rods out now it’s just a waiting game…
I had a good lead about but I couldn’t find a spot as such, just small gaps in the weed. There really is a mixture, with areas of blanket weed, big beds of Canadian and other forms of oxygen weed and then there is the kelp. I hadn’t really fished in kelp before, well not of this magnitude. It was a bit of an eye-opener and I knew I had to play the fish pretty hard to get them out.
I managed to get three goodish drops, one near the kelp, one near the Canadian and one in close. The evening passed without action but I opened my account with two 27lb mirrors either side of dawn; one was spawned out and the other was still full. I then lost one and had a 16lb common. “The icing on the cake was a cracking 36lb mirror!” It had come from the kelp spot and I really had to lean into it to keep it moving but it eventually went in the net with a good portion of kelp. It really was a nice fish and I felt happy about my new water.
First session on Monks Pit and Ed made a great start with this scarred-up 36lb mirror.
Autumn Tip –
- Watch out for big weed beds dying off and drifting off into the lake. They can often expose areas of silt or, more importantly, expose bloodworm beds that the carp can now get to easily. This suddenly creates a big natural larder where a weed bed used to be. Well worth positioning a bait on!