In search of monsters with Adrian Fautley
Mon 04 January 16
Well what a year it has been. There have been so many good fish caught this year.
My old mucker Les Bowers caught some epic monsters from Frimley pit 3, plus I got the share in the absolute pleasure of my good friend John Bartley capturing the Brute from Pingewood lagoon which nearly got me the sack! With the year drawing to an end and signing to a new bait company I was enthusiastic to get out and give it a go.
I have been part of the Mainline team before and was very much humbled when I was asked to come back. We all know that Mainline bait catches carp from all walks of life but my next challenge was where to target for the winter. I don’t want to be sat on a big pit with a hand full of fish to go for, as that is hard enough at the best of times. Worse when it gets cold and the fish start to get lethargic not wanting to move or feed, so the choice of venue is always a must.
One lake has been on my radar for a while now after seeing a stunning 40lb common come out. I had been keeping a close eye on it waiting for the right time to start my winter campaign, and joining Mainline gave me the prime opportunity to start a fresh. I know the lake pretty well as I have fished it before, so felt confident of getting a few bites plus an opportunity to catch the common.
First session on the lake I found myself in the back bay casting to a far margin, where I had seen a few fish moving about. I was feeling confident so I put two singles over onto the far margin, hoping that one will come back down that same margin allowing me to snare a bite. With the vast array of hook bait choices around I chose something I used to fish with before. I was full of confidence in the cell with a milky toffee pop up fished over the top. A brilliant combination any time of the year. Rig wise I am an avid fan of the hinge stiff rig as it has served me well over the years. It seems to be a popular choice with a lot of anglers right now and it is a rig that I have always been confident in. It is a bit of a pain in the back side keeping the loops round all the time, but what a great rig.
I popped in to see the guys at Thinking Anglers to get a cup of tea and had a chat with Ben who told me about his Tungskin hooklink. I have used this before for bottom bait rigs and it is a great bit of kit. He showed me the 30lb b/s version and said to try that for the boom section, due to the braid being covered in tungsten and it is a lot stiffer. It fits the bill perfectly for me, only adding a small piece of putty in the middle which is more of a confidence thing more than anything. Matched up with a good strong hook and a stiff bristle type material I was all set.
My first session was only a quick over nighter. Although I keep getting told its not quick because it is still the same amount of time taken by Mr Russell. I was due to pack up at 6am to get to work so the traps were set and it was good to be back on the lake. That overnighter ended up in a blank but I was not deterred and still brimming with confidence. I planned my next trip for a week later, and in the meantime I did some research into the last couple of captures of the fish. I found out that it likes to live in the main central body of water, so I decided to start my winter campaign plans out there.
With only limited fishing time, I try to make the most of it by keeping my ears to the ground and finding out what’s been going on. I walked the lake to try and spot something plus bait up. Preparation work is key to a lot of my angling, as the saying goes effort equals reward.
Bait wise at this time of year you don’t necessarily need to pile the bait into the lake, more like little and often. Thats the key for me to winter success. Always try to keep the spot rocking with bait but don’t get me wrong, just because I’m priming a spot doesn’t mean I turn up and make a b line for that swim. I still do the walk trying to find shows or signs of fish, it’s a no brainier really. Fish where the fish are but I give myself something to fall back on if all else fails.
So I arrived down the lake on a Wednesday to bait up late in the afternoon. It was a pitch black walk round to the swim that I was starting to plan my session around, and I was absolutely gutted that after a 30-40 minute drive down the motorway somebody was already in the swim! That’s fishing for you though. I am fishing a club water like most people are not a private syndicate where you get the choice of swims, so after a long walk around in the dark just to see if I can hear anything I’m back on the motorway.
Thursday comes and I am back in the car again driving down the motorway to the lake. When I got there the swim I had my eye on was empty, so out came some of Mainlines finest cell. I proceeded to bait up which didn’t take too long (even in my work clothes). I didn’t want to do a massive spread, so i kept it as tight as possible with the catapult. I like to fish both rods next to each other so I only ever need to worry about one spot. I am probably putting all my eggs in one basket, but when the fish are a bit lethargic I like to concentrate on one area which is something I have learned from a few of the northern lads I know.
Baiting done it was time to get home and get the gear ready. Rigs tied and fresh hook baits on ready, so when I get to the lake if I see a fish I can buzz a rod straight out as preparation is key as they say.
Most of Friday at work was spent clock watching and thinking about the session ahead. Finally finished but got royally stuck on the motorway either a 30-40 minute journey taking over an hour and a half. No matter how much I shouted the traffic didn’t go any faster, but I got there as ever in darkness. I proceeded to do the walk but didn’t spot anything. As luck had it the swim I had baited was empty, so out came the back up plan. The common likes this area so my ultimate end goal is to target that one fish. I don’t really want to sit in the swim though if there are no signs of life, so I set up my gear (including my tea kit as I was gasping by now). I was in no real rush as most bites seemed to come between 2.30 and 6am, so I made a cuppa and gathered my thoughts. I wrapped the rods up round the sticks and set the traps so now it was just a waiting game. I tried to get some sleep but was feeling confident that something was going to happen through the night.
I wasn’t disappointed as the rod decided to go into melt down and after what seemed like an age she was in the net. By now the weather had decided to try and blow my brolly away, so I had a quick mad dash to sort that out after making sure the fish was safe of course. I got the front storm poles in the ground it was time to see my prize, a stunning mirror safely on the mat and she was absolutely nailed.
After getting her in I unhooked her and treated the marks on the mouth. As I weighed in the needle spun round to 24lb and a few ounces, that will do nicely so after a few pictures it was time to let her go.
Buzzing isn’t the word. I was happy to be off the mark and still had a night left on the lake.II made a cup of tea and waited to see if the other rod would go, as normally where there is one there is another. I was hoping that it might be possible to nick another bite straight away, but after what seemed like an age I ended up putting a bit more bait around the rods and a fresh rig on. The traps were set again but nothing happened other than gale force winds blowing over my brolly.
Waking up the next morning I looked to see if my brolly was still there firstly, then over to the motionless rods thinking about what happened through out the night. As the light started to break I looked across the water to see if there where any signs of movement. No bubblers or shows so I decided to go for a wander but the lake looked completely dead. Nothing was worth moving for so I decided to stick it out in the same swim. A pal of mine decided to jump in next to me for a bit of a social, which is nice on the odd occasion to break up the monotony of angling. The traps were reset and the darkness had set in again with the wind was still blowing through the swim. I was laughing with my pal about how long until my brolly takes off, when my right hand rod leapt into life. I bundled past my pal who was sat right in front of me on the log, finally picked up the rod and lent into the fish. This thing just kept going no matter what I done, she wasn’t having none of it. The rod was Locked up solid and bent right round just trying to get her to turn. It was pitch black and I don’t like to use a head torch so all I can feel is a very angry carp on the end of the line lunging itself all over the swim. After an epic to and fro battle she was finally in the net. I owe thanks to my pal who gave it the big stretch just to try and get it in the net, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I dropped the net down. I grabbed the net and lifted it a bit to see my prize and there was a chunk sat in the bottom of the net. I saw was some broad shoulders come up from the depths and at first thought it was that common but unfortunately it wasn’t. Believe me I was still very happy, after getting her on the scales and the needle spinning round to 32lb 4oz. Got to be happy with that. After doing a few pictures in the dark, I slipped her back and was chuffed with that result.
The next weekend I was able to get back down the lake again but was only able to squeeze in a Saturday night. One night on the bank is better than none. I pulled onto the lake to find only a few people on and to be honest I did make a bit of a beeline straight for the same swim. I was still looking at the rest of the lake as I was walking around, but not seeing any shows or signs I went with my gut instincts. The wind was still blowing a bit of an easterly so I was happy to fish on the back of the wind. Sticking with the faithful hinge rig I flicked them both back out on the spots, with a few handfuls of bait over the rods which are both fishing next to each other. Still feeling confident I got my head down and when I awoke the next morning, I was a bit gutted that there had been no action. I was sat there thinking it was surly going to do a bite and with that the bobbin pulled up tight and pulled out of the clip. After it setting in that I wasn’t dreaming, I dived out of the brolly and lifted into what by now was a screaming Neville. This fish gave it all and literally beat me up, taking me all round the swim into near by margin snags then out to open water. It was one of them fights that if you lost it you would have swore blind that it was a unit, but she did not win the fight and was safely in my net. Still a bit shocked about getting the bite, the fish weighed in at 16lb and a few ounces which was still worth the effort.
I was able to get back down a couple of times during the next week to bait up, just a good few handfuls each time to try and keep them visiting the area. The swim had luckily enough been pretty quiet during the week so it was easy to bait up. I finished work on the Friday, quickly got my gear and I was of down the motorway again. It was due to be windy but not cold and it has been the mildest winter I have ever known, so I was making the most of it.I pulled up to the lake and the car park was rammed, I was absolutely gutted but am not one to be beaten down so II parked up and went for a wander. Two people were in the swim that I had been baiting but after a brief chat I found out that they were nowhere near where I had been baiting. More to the point I spotted a swim that was empty. After having a chat with the two anglers and deciding between us that my angling would not encroach on theirs, I set myself up still rigged up with the trusty hinge.
I flicked them both out waving to make sure it was ok with him to which I got the thumbs up. A quick lead about as that side is mainly the gravel which I didn’t want to be on. I was trying to get on the edge of the silt( a bit of a softer donk on the lead is what I wanted) It didn’t take long to find so I clipped up and wrapped it round the marker sticks then marked out both rods. I tied on a couple of baits and flicked them out and with a handful of bait around the area. The traps were set and now it was just a waiting game.
It was not until Saturday that I first started seeing signs of life around the spot, a few bubbles popping up which looked banging for a bite. I had so much confidence in the bait and the rig that I knew it wouldn’t let me down. The fizzing had stopped when out of the blue the rod pulled around and the bobbin smacked the rod. Thinking back I heard the bobbin smack the blank before I heard the Nev scream. The rod gave a healthy arc to what felt like a heavy but angry carp, really plodding around the swim and heading to the only weed bed left in the swim. Locked me right up but after keeping the tension on she kicked herself out and was back into the main open water. She was staying deep and plodding around but my heart was in my mouth because I knew this was a bit of a unit maybe even the common that I was after. I had not seen her yet but after an epic battle she came up.
I got to see my prize which was a fat mirror coming towards me. My knees were shaking as I lead this fat mirror to the net, one arm on the rod and the other out stretched trying to get it it. Finally she was mine and after a quick look in the net I had a chunk (to be honest I thought I had caught a certain named fish but after a closer inspection I hadn’t). I didn’t care she spun the scales to 35lb 6oz.
I was over the moon and couldn’t believe my luck. It wasn’t the common but who would turn their nose up at a 35 plus mirror during December, not me for sure. After a cup of tea to get myself straight it was time for some pictures. I was soaked to the skin but at the time I didn’t really care. Off she went back into the depths ready to hopefully put a smile on another anglers face. I put on a fresh rig and rebaited both rods. The traps were set again but I did not get another bite until Sunday morning. A nice little double figured mirror to finish off the session. I have since been out for one more night which ended up in a blank but hey that’s fishing!
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