Fri 07 November 14
After months of hard work searching out spots along one of Cambridgeshire’s Rivers, I hoped I might connect with an elusive river carp. It has been a tough year for river carping and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
With low rainfall equalling low flows on the rivers I decided to start my attacks on deep pools with plenty of oxygen. Weirs are always a good holding area for fish when oxygen levels are low in the water. I had three in mind that I wanted to bait up in the hope I could encourage one or two of the very nomadic carp to return regularly for an easy meal. The areas I had in mind I had already seen fish in so I knew I was in with a shot!!!
At the end of August I began a baiting campaign and kept a watchful eye on each of the spots. I would often run/cycle past the areas on my way to work baiting up as I went! On two of the spots I baited heavily with Hinders Supreme Crème Boilies, CC Moore’s XXX and the new Equinox. I didn’t want to introduce any pellet or particle to avoid encouraging smaller nuisance species on to the spots. I began very quickly to notice my spots getting clearer and clearer and even spotted the odd fish moving over the areas. I knew I had to act on my sightings, so the kit was organised and soon I was doing my first night on the river. It wasn’t until my third night on the spot that I connected with my first Cambridgeshire river carp. This session was accounted for previously but what a session it was landing a stunning 16.1lb mirror carp, which can be read HERE.
I have not managed to fit in many day sessions so most of my fishing has been grabbing over nighters inbetween work. Tiring but the rewards have been there.
After the 16.1lb mirror I moved off having spotted a large number of fish moving around one of the other pools I had been baiting. I managed to get down to the pool the following evening to do a night session with a good friend of mine, Joe. Now Joe is a top river angler and has a number of incredible carp from the rivers over past seasons including a couple of 30s. Sadly I was feeling like I had jinxed Joe as he had not had a carp out since I moved into his neighbourhood!!! To be fishing with him having already landed a carp meant I was going to have to sleep with one eye open as he had gone a little crazy having not caught in quite in a while!
With everything set up and fish showing both of us were feeling confident of a bite. I had put a mixture of the Supreme Crème, Equinox and XXX out on two spots on the far bank with some overhanging trees. I had already checked the areas and was fishing at approximately 7/8ft onto a mixture of clay and gravel. The leads were going down with a solid ‘donk’ every time so I was very happy my rigs would be doing their job should a hungry beast come along! With work the following day I was tucked up in bed pretty early. Just before first light I was woken by a one toner on my left hand rod. I was out the bag and on the rod like lightening and was into a very good fish!!! I don’t bother with shoes in the night and just wear Seal Skinz waterproof socks, it saves faffing and means you can get to the rods faster! Joe couldn’t believe how quickly I had got to the rod but had mixed expressions across his face. I was pretty sure I was going to get a smack, another fish and Joe was not a happy bunny! After a superb battle the fish was eventually slipped into the net, handshakes were exchanged whilst the fish recovered. I prepared the mat, weighing equipment and camera etc. before removing the fish from the water. With everything sorted the fish was bought up to the mat and laid down and hook removed. What we both witnessed was the most stunning linear I have ever seen. It was a gun metal grey on top with a milky under. The scale pattern along its lateral line was made up of an array of silvery grey mix sized scales which were all mint. The fish even still had its mouth in mint condition with the only hook it looked like it had ever seen being my Mugga!!!
Sadly I have no photos of the fish due to a catalogue of errors from which I haven’t learnt a great deal. On going to collect the fish for photographing I was met with a very open and empty net!!!! The main errors were 1. Having two people attempting to sack up the fish, both thinking the other had done everything 2. Not taking photographs straight away as it would be light in 45 minutes thinking it would be worth the wait!
The fish was sacked in plenty of water but sadly, and I do blame myself….. I had only pulled the toggle down to close the sack. I had not then tied it off to make it properly secure. Both Joe and I were lost for words, the chances of ever seeing the fish again are 1 in a million with so many miles of river to chase it. In future I will be photographing fish before placing into a sack, but only if it can be sacked for a short period of time, otherwise it will be photographed and return straight away! We will both never forget what an incredible fish it was, it is just a really shame it made a successful bid for freedom!! Almost forgot to mention it went 24.6lb on the funky electric Reuben’s! However size seem irrelevant for such an awesome fish!
Moving on, I went on to have six nights of blanking and decided that the swim had blessed me with one fish but it was time to move on to swim number three! Both Joe and I were once again optimistic with river levels up slightly with a bit more colour pushing through. I had also seen a decent fish moving over the baited area a couple of mornings prior to our session.
With a mix of boilies out over my two areas I set my traps and kept my fingers crossed. I was on my fifteenth night and with two carp under my belt including a river twenty I was more than happy. But I always just want one more…..
At about midnight I got a liner which set my heart racing. I always find it difficult to sleep for at least an hour after getting a liner. You just never know when the bobbin might smack the rod and the line will started to peel off the reel. Well I didn’t have to wait for an hour as about twenty minutes later the rod sprang into action. An epic battle proceeded with the fish making numerous attempts to break away and head to sunken trees! Eventually, the fish held up the white flag allowing the net to slide underneath it!
Now I know the rivers have been tough going this year but I was definitely on a bit of a roll and whoever has been watching down on me is more than ok to carry on.
Joe and I thought back to the experience of the last fish and decided to learn from our mistakes. It was quickly unhooked and photographed. Due to the hours before day light it was decided the fish would be released. This fish was not as pretty as the linear but looked like it had a few stories to tell with its huge frame and battle scares. 27.15lb of pure river beast. I was incredibly overwhelmed, I couldn’t quite believe the run of good luck I was experiencing. How much longer could this continue?!!!!
As the sun rose and warmed my face the following morning I watched two deer move along the opposite bank completely oblivious to me. This was followed by a pair of kingfishers chirping and going about their daily routines. When it comes to it, it isn’t always about catching, but being out and experiencing our incredible countryside and sharing it with real friends!
I managed to get a bit of time off work which is a rarity and saw the opportunity to get a two night session in. An area I have been fishing is known further upstream to produce double figure barbel and double figure bream. I had thrown the idea around of catching a 20lb carp, 10lb+ barbel and 10lb+ bream within a week!!! A tall ask you say, well……
This particular swim was going to require the art of concealment so I put my new Jack Pyke camo screen and poles into good use. The screen allows me to carry on with rig tying, cooking etc. without the worry of being seen! An absolute winner on open swims!
My first night was very uneventful, I knew baits and rigs worked but sadly the fish just weren’t there. Around 11am I decided to create a scent trail. I oiled up some Hinders Elips Pellets with Molasses, and Nod Oil. Was it coincidence or was it down to the trail I had created that I got my first bite at 1.30pm?!!! All I know is I was one target fish down. I had banked my first Cambridgeshire River common carp at 20.1lb. I contacted Anglers Mail employee and mate Ben Hervey-Murray to come down and get some photos for me, to which he obliged. On Ben’s arrival I went to put on the kettle explaining the scent trail and showing Ben the pellets, as if by magic one of my alarms screened off and bang I was into another fish. This one didn’t have the power of the previous fish but the fight still awesome, it wasn’t long before we saw the distinctive dorsal of a big barbel!!!!
I was not expecting this at all as I was well down stream of where the barbel are normally located. I thought I was going to have to find them not them find me!
The barbel was a fantastic 11.13lb and completed target number 2! I couldn’t believe my luck, not only had I had these two incredible fish from a difficult stretch of river but I now had the opportunity to get a brace shot that I may only have this chance ever to experience.
With photos taken and coffee drunk Ben bid his fair well. It was only a couple of hours before I got yet another bite in the form of an 11.14lb barbel!!!!
A 36 hour session, one more carp to the collection and 23.11lb of stunning barbel.
Strangely the Barbel were falling to the very sweet Equinox bait tipped with a blackcurrant and peach popup made by a good friend Tom Oliver. The carp took a shine to a XXX tipped with the same popup.
I feel incredibly lucky to have caught these fantastic fish and can’t wait to get some more on the bank. I really hope my luck continues. Let’s hope I also find the big bream!!!
I shall be covering the rig and bait details in a following article which will go live soon. Until then I wish you all the best and hope you too have lady luck on your side!
Joe has since broken his spell of blank sessions with a cracking 23lb leather carp. I have no doubts he will now go on to land an absolute monster in the next few weeks.
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