Eager to get among the fish of the Monks Pit syndicate, ED BETTERIDGE finds success on his twelfth night by catching the biggest carp in the lake.
Fishing to reeds, Ed has to ensure that he uses an abrasion-resistant main line. This prevents cut-offs when fishing tight to them and gives Ed the confidence to fish close without fear of fish losses.
There is nothing quite like driving to a new lake with the hopes, expectations and challenge that lies ahead.
I felt like that driving to Monks Pit for the second time. The first session I had done on there was a 24-hour trip that yielded four fish to mid-thirties and I knew I hadn’t even scratched the surface of the lake. The weather on the second trip was completely different – warm with little wind –and after a lap of the lake it was evident that the fish were stacked up in one corner where the reeds were. The main reed swim (The Chatroom) was taken, so I dropped in The Plateau. This had a set of reeds ether side with a good number of fish in each. The trouble was, they knew where it was safe and didn’t want to venture out too often. When they did, they knew the swim was there and scooted past.
I found a small clear spot next to the right-hand reeds and by baiting the spot and into the reeds I was able to draw the fish out onto the spot. I had three bites doing this, landing two and losing one to a hook-pull at the net after I had done all the hard work of getting it away from the reeds. I learnt a lot about the fish that session, because I found a nice tree to climb that overlooked the spot. On the last morning I had a good few fish interested in the bait and there were decent fish drifting in and feeding right on top of the rig too. However, I wasn’t getting takes; I needed a rethink on rigs.
I was using a multi rig with a supple braid and snowman presentation about eight inches long. I’m sure it was too long and the wary fish were able to spit the rig before it straightened and brought the lead into play.
I thought about it quite a lot the over my time away from the lake and returned the following week with a couple of slightly altered rigs that still presented the bait in the same way. The first was just a shorter version of original but this time the Dark Matter braid was shortened to five and a half inches. I also tied up a fluorocarbon D rig, fished with a wafter. The fluorocarbon was a lot subtler and very difficult to see; it also kicked the hook bait away from the lead and clip. Most importantly, the stiffer material made it difficult for the fish to eject once it was in its mouth. I didn’t want to fish my usual hinge stiff rig because the spots I was fishing to were very clear and firm and I was sure a bait close to the deck would give me better chances than a pop-up.
A misty morning on Monks Pit and Ed waits patiently for a bite
This session I managed to get into The Chatroom. This gave much better options at the reeds that the fish were still stacked up in because I was fishing at right angles to them rather than within them. I found three cracking spots tight into the reeds and I soon realised I needed to virtually skim the reeds on the cast and drop the rod tip so it didn’t swing back too far. The rigs worked really well and I had frenetic action, with 15 bites in 48 hours, which is more than a season’s worth from a lot of the waters that I fish! I landed a good number, but nothing big.
The following week I got back in The Chatroom and fared much better in what I landed. I hooked and landed seven for the session, which was cut short on the second night because they started spawning. I managed a 28lb mirror and what I found out later was the biggest common in the lake at 32lb 6oz. It had been up to 38lb but it must have spawned out recently. It’s typical that I venture to a lake with mainly mirrors and end up with the big common; I have caught enough commons in the Nene Valley to last several seasons.
The fish were taking residence in the weed fronds
A Scale-perfect common
I had been experimenting with main lines during these two sessions and I had found that a very thick abrasive mono was the best in the reedy swims. This cushioned the take a little bit and allowed me to fish more locked up because of the stretch in the line. The braid produced very aggressive bites and picking up the rod quickly to get them away from the reeds caused hook-pulls. But the braid was far better in the weedy parts of the lake, cutting through some of it and giving me greater control. So it was braid in open weedy water and mono in the reedy swims, but I dare say that fluorocarbon would be better at the weedless deep end.
The following week I was at the Carp In The Park show at Billing Aquadrome. It was a good open-air show that was a pleasant change from the indoor shows that we normally do.
The next three weeks I had video shoots planned for the brands I look after. The first was Greys’ shoot for the new GT4s and Prodigy Apex rods. It’s a common misconception that we who work in the trade have it easy, we don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and it’s far better than doing a 12-hour night shift in brick factory, scraping brick ends from under a machine. I had some crap jobs to pay me through college! However, there is a lot of pressure on video shoots. It isn’t cheap getting a decent camera crew out and the expectation is high on catching.
To give you some indication of what it entails, I had written the shot list and an agenda of what we needed to film, organised the lake and got the team down there. I had also taken a bit of a risk. I wanted a decent fish to set the video up, so we had gone to my syndicate lake in Northants, which is about 15 acres with 45 fish in it, and I had two days to catch, as well as to oversee the project in terms of what we filmed, camera angles and what camera to use where. After losing one the first morning and getting to mid-morning on the second day without a fish to show for it, I was getting more than a bit nervous. Then I had a single bleep on the middle rod, the tip pulled over and I was into a fish. The fight lasted over 30 minutes and I had to take to the water in a boat before the drone filmed me land a big-framed common to save the shoot.
A huge-finned mirror. The Monks Pit fish were being very obliging.
The next two shoots were less stressful because I was behind the camera directing things and putting the pressure on others to catch and it went quite well. I’m just waiting for the final edits so I can release them.
This screwed up my July fishing and I had a Gigantica trip planned in August, so that put paid to too much fishing in August. I did get out for an interesting session with the family and for a couple of short sessions on Monks but I want to cut to the session in early September.
I turned up on Friday evening. I had four or five swims that I fancied in these conditions and there were four cars in the car park as I pulled through the gate. It seemed like everyone had the same idea about where they wanted to be and four of my fancied areas were taken and the fitth looked unappealing due to weed drifting over and in front of the productive spot. Plus, it would have put a lot of pressure on one bank with four of us on there and only one on the far bank. So I dropped onto End Reeds on the far bank but I wasn’t convinced I was in the right place.
Under pressure to catch a carp live for the camera. Luckily it went brilliantly!
The first 24 hours only produced one low twenty, yet a few good fish had come off the far bank. The anglers over there were in T-shirts while I was jacketed up on the end of the cold wind.
I took a walk round that afternoon with a move on my mind. The driving rain made it miserable but I found a good number of fish showing in the far corner swim and I had all but made up my mind to push my kit the best part of 800 yards to the other swim. However, just as I was about to complete my circuit I decided to climb a tree near my current swim. I could just make out a few shadows in the reeds, beneath the rain-speckled choppy water. One was huge! It looked like the big one! The trouble was I couldn’t get a rod anywhere near it. The reeds came out near my swim and then went into a bay in the middle, which I couldn’t see from the swim never mind cast too! The area in front of the reeds was solid weed to the surface. The only place I could happily present a bait was 50 yards straight out where I had fished the night before. So I got the rods back out, which was a nightmare. The wind had picked right up and I wanted everything perfect. The spot I was fishing had light weed over most of it but there seemed to be two small clear spots in the light weed and I was obsessed with getting both rigs on them. Due to tangles, miscasts in the changing crosswind and getting more frustrated and wet, it took me about 50 casts to be happy; close enough simply wasn’t good enough. I followed the rigs in with 3kg of boilies and I must admit I thought I had done my chances with all the casts.
Just before dawn, I received a bite. I felt the fish on initially but it weeded me pretty quickly. Normally I’d be straight out with the boat, but the wind was still strong and pushing into the dense weed and reeds and it was still dark. I knew that would be a disaster with a high-sided boat and only an oar to control things.
For about 30 minutes I tried to get the fish moving, all the time slowly loading the boat with net, mat and putting my life jacket on. I picked up the rod from the final slack-line attempt and pulled tightly into it and felt out for the boat with my leg, ready to step in, when I felt a kick from the fish! I wasted no time and bent the rod as much as I dared and walked backwards, and the whole weight moved with me. I kept walking and pumping the weight in not giving an inch. I could feel a lot of weed on the line, but the fish was still there. Once under the rod tip, it kicked the weed from around its head and went on a few runs. I clamped right down not letting it find more and eventually bundled it into the net. I collapsed on my backside knackered!
Once I got my breath, I looked into the mat expecting to see 30lb, but it was much bigger. It wasn’t until I lifted it onto the scales that I let myself believe it was the big girl as the dial danced around the 50lb mark, before coming to rest at 49lb 6oz. After just 12 nights I had banked my target from the water, Porky. I was blown away and wondered if I would have played the fish as hard knowing what I was hooked into.
The monstrous Porky. King of Monks Pit at over 49lb!
We did the pictures at dawn and she looked virtually black in the morning light, and a proper lump. The thickness across her back was incredible. A few people asked if I was gutted that she wasn’t 50lb. It would have been nice to get a fifty but I do kind of like that Choco is still my personal best.
When faced with casting to marginal reeds, Ed is sure to cast as tight as possible to them. As the lead swings back as it hits the clip it will draw the rig back to a safe area. If you don’t fish tight, you could be fishing several metres off the reeds once the lead has touched down on the lake bed.