ALEX WEST recalls how his attention to detail and skill of fishing for silt-feeding carp brought success on the tricky Sutton at Hone in Kent.

 

Silt-feeding carp

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Generally, when you see carp feeding in silt at this time of year it’s worth seeing if they will respond to bait. If the feeding continues after baiting then it’s worth casting a rig to it.

Alex likes to trickle a few freebies over the spot, preferring to spook carp with bait rather than a lead. He will never cast directly onto fish, rather either side of them or in the path of the fizzing bubbles.

FOLLOW THE SUN

The sun plays a big part in the fishes’ movement during autumn and winter. With the darkness hours being longer the fish tend to follow the sun’s rays for most of the day. The south-facing bank is the area that receives the heat from the sun more. It plays a big part in Alex’s location in the colder months.

Match Your Lines

Alex uses olive green main lines, such as the Syncro XT, on account of the green coloured water. It provides the best colour match, which is only a good thing when trying to fish for such wary carp at Sutton.

I have been fishing the legendary Sutton at Hone for 12 years. During this time I have fished on many other venues but I have always returned to Sutton. The combination of the ancient carp and the lake keeps me fired up, to say the least. One factor that makes the fishing at Sutton so interesting is the fact that it is days only. This is a great leveller and means that your effort levels to get up early on the gate make a big difference to your captures.

Sutton isn’t an easy venue either, having been fished by some of the most famous anglers in the UK, but the prestige of catching such carp is more than worth the effort.


On the end of a brisk easterly wind, the fish have been showing subtly since first light.

My main target is the fully scaled. It’s an immaculate carp and one that I have admired for years. I even have it set as my phone wallpaper, constantly looking at it while at work in the hope that I can get my moment with it on my days off.

With the best time to be on the bank upon me, I was planning on hitting Sutton hard to get among the last of the originals that I wanted to catch.

It was early September and I arrived for my usual Sunday afternoon. I saw some fizzing on the lily pads so I left the wheelbarrow there and trickled a few baits over the top of the fizzing fish one at a time. I like to do it in this way. By baiting and leaving the fish to feed you can often prevent them leaving the area. It also helps to do this in a few areas you plan on fishing because you will be priming them for a rig at some point.

I did a lap of the rest of the lake before returning to the main area of fizzing. Fortunately, the fish were still in residence, and they were feeding. There are two swims that fish to the pads, but only one can be occupied at any time. So I baited both with a view to moving should the fish start feeding there. I walked the line out along the bank and cast the rig tight to the pads on the second time of asking and the sliver of dissolving foam popped up above the rig. Although the drop on the lead was soft I knew it was fishing.

At around 7pm I received a take. It was a little earlier than expected so it was most welcome. The result was a 32lb 12oz common on my first evening. I got the rod back out but it was the only action of the night, despite the fish showing in the area. I put some bait out before I left in preparation for the next day.

I got up before 4am to get on the gate first so that I could secure my swim. Fortunately, the four anglers that were on the gate that morning wanted to fish in different swims, so I happily dropped back in the prebaited pads swim. I waited until the light was a little better before making my cast. It went out perfectly, tight to the pads. I was confident of another bite because I felt that the prebaiting the night before would have at least kept the fish interested in the area. 

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Within an hour I had another bite from the pads and with minimal fight, I soon had a large common in the net. At that point, I didn’t even know which fish it was. I let the fish rest in the net and got everything sorted for taking photos.

On lifting it from the water I was shocked at the weight. I ended up using two hands to lift it from the water. We recognised it as The Peach, the biggest common in the lake. It was a truly awesome fish and at 41lb I was buzzing; another fish off the list that I dearly wanted to catch.

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The Baby Peach. An ancient Sutton carp that Alex dearly wanted to catch!

The following day I did the same again. The conditions hadn’t changed and the fish were still feeding on my bait in the pads. I was hoping that I could get at least one bite off the area before it blew. A 29-pounder the next day made it a trio of carp from the baited area. I was using a new bait in the form of the Krill and Manilla from Sticky in mixed sizes, a bait I had immense confidence in.

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I returned for my next two-day trip on the Sunday afternoon and found fish milling around in the front of the High Point swim. I set up but there were a few anglers on the lake. A westerly wind picked up and the fish moved along the bank in front of another angler. I stood with the angler in The Gate swim seeing fish over his areas. He was only doing a few hours and left and with only an hour and a half of fishing time left before the gate was closed. I decided to move onto showing fish that I had seen in that area and cast a couple of 2oz leads to it. It was apparent that the fish were enjoying feeding in the deeper silt where the naturals have congregated. Like the pads swim, I made sure to trickle a few boilies over the feeding fish before baiting with the rigs; this may have made a difference too.

Alex’s Rig Tweaks

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A large loop with a silver of putty on the knot adds weight to the hook link, reducing tangles without the need for sleeves

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Attention to detail is key. Alex likes to position hi split shot in a small hole that he makes in the wafter. A much neater arrangement. 

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By sandwiching a piece of dissolving foam between two boilies in a PVA bag, it slows the descent of the bag onto the soft silt

I got a couple of rods out to the area, with my small PVA bag and a 20mm Sticky Krill wafter hook bait on a blow-back rig trimmed down to create an awesome slow-sinking hook bait. With the lines all slackened off I sat back and watched for signs of fish. I am always meticulous about setting my lines. I feel it’s something that people don’t pay much attention to. Even when the line is slack I make sure that I pay just enough off. It means that as soon as a fish picks up the bait, I know about it.

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A rare day capture of a scaly mirror

Within half an hour I landed a 33lb 14oz common called The Baby Peach, another Sutton jewel. 

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The awesome Peach over 41lb. It’s a carp that has been held by many well-known anglers over the years

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