Month: <span>January 2021</span>

After fishing in the starter lake for a while without too much of an audience and having caught my first big carp and lost one I was feeling more confident about moving on to a more popular lake. I had driven past a while ago and knew that there would be people there.

It was sunny with a cold wind when I arrived and as I got out of the car a guy started talking to me. I presumed he knew what he was doing as he had all the gear and a bivvi set up to shelter from the wind. While he gave me the low down I had a good look around at a nice lake and also a smaller one the other side of the car park. After finishing our chat I went to have a look at this one and quickly decided that it would have to wait until another day as it was very exposed to the wind with little shelter. Back to the other lake and a walk round to find a swim.

I decided to fish in a swim on the windward side of the lake, which had a belt of trees behind it to give some shelter and then learnt my first lesson of the day. At the old lake I could just get my stuff out of the car and put it in the swim, here I had to walk fifty yards with my ragtag collection of bags, rods, landing nets, bank sticks etc. There was too much to carry at one time so I had to make two trips leaving my gear at the swim as I went back for the second load, not ideal.

Still, the swim had a nice area around it and was fairly clear of trees overhead so I was able to get my carp rod in the water while I set up my float rod and baited the swim. It was then that I learnt another lesson as a quick phone call to my wife confirmed that I had left my frozen sweet corn in the microwave! Still, I had maggots, pellets and bread so decided to carry on regardless.

After five minutes I still hadn’t had a bite! On my last lake I would have been inundated with bites from baby roach from the start with the slightly bigger fish coming in later, usually on sweet corn. So I began the tinkering, fishing deeper, fishing shallower, changing bait, casting a bit further away, feeding the swim, anything to get a bite!

Then it happened and I pulled in the smallest perch that I have ever seen, followed by one of those tiny roach, which I thought meant the bigger fish were on their way but this time they weren’t.

Then the buzzer on the carp rod sounded and I picked up the rod and started to reel in. However the fish had different ideas and made straight for the fallen tree next to the swim and broke the line. Of course, this all happened just as another angler was passing by on his way to set up at the swim next door. He looked a lot more experienced than me and even had a trolley for all his gear and as he stopped to commiserate I explained that I was still a beginner he gave me some advice on how I should have played the fish!

Carp score in my angling career so far: Hooked three, landed one. I will have to do a bit better than that!

So the day passed, a couple more tiny roach and an even smaller perch, feeling chilly from the wind, having lunch and a cuppa from the flask and casting out every now and again. I was trying something new on the carp rod using PVA mesh for the first time with a mixture of boilies and different size pellets and was pleased that I had a bite so decided to persevere with that method. By now it was mid afternoon and I was feeling peckish so I got a banana out of my bag, opened a packet of crisps and poured myself a cuppa and relaxed, looking out at the scenery. That was when the carp buzzer sounded again! I jumped up, spilling the crisps onto the floor and launching the banana into the lake!

I grabbed the rod and was into a fish. After last time I was a bit more forceful with this one but it wasn’t as lively as the first and soon came in, a mad scramble for the net and the fish was landed, 3-2! Now that I had the right gear I laid the fish on the unhooking mat and easily took the hook out then weighed it on my new scales using the new weighing net, 12lb 5oz! OK, so not a record but a good fish for only my second carp, it looked lovely as well. A quick photo then it was back in the water and I had a moment to sit down. I managed to get most of my crisps back into the bag, gave up on the banana and didn’t fancy the tea as there was something unidentifiable floating on the top!

That was the day really, no more excitement although they guy next door caught a couple and I watched him bring them in. This confirmed that he was more experienced than me, he controlled the fish well, had everything to hand and was calm and collected, everything I wasn’t.

So, what did I learn? Well, quite a bit. I have to be more organised by cutting down on what I bring. One large rucksack would be better than three backpacks and two tackle boxes and leave my hands free for other stuff so it will be back on to ebay to see what I can find. I have to be more organised at the swim and have everything in the right place for when I catch a carp instead of scrabbling around for it at the last minute. I will also have to think about warmer clothing as the winter sets in. I also learnt that I can catch carp and that the first one wasn’t just a fluke, oh yes, and another thing, I must remember to bring my bait!


The time had come to go fishing in a still water and try out my new carp rod. I chose one of the club’s less popular lakes as I didn’t want a big audience for my first time. When I arrived there were a couple of other anglers but we were well spaced out, which was good for social distancing. I set up the carp rod with a method feeder and cast out then tackled up the float rod. This lake is fairly shallow so the rig wasn’t set too deep, I put some groundbait in and was catching fish immediately. A little roach, followed by another and another and another. I am always pleased when I catch a fish but I moved away from the canal to try and catch something bigger so a change of tactic was in order. I swopped from maggots to sweet corn and at last a chance to re-cast the carp rod and have a sit down. 

Things went quiet for a bit, giving me chance to have a cup of tea out of the flask and notice the heron paddling in the margins opposite and briefly glimpse the kingfisher which flew over the top of me and away over the lake like a streak of lightning. Then the float dipped and I was into a bigger roach, still only a few ounces but a proper fish!

I won’t go on about the day because the story is all about what happened at the end, but it is enough to say that I caught more roach, bream and a baby carp and had a good session. Early in the afternoon I had moved the carp rod and was fishing in the margins next to the swim. I was thinking about packing up and going home when the rod started shaking and moving so I grabbed it before it disappeared into the lake! I gave it a yank and could feel something big, my first ever proper carp!

I tell you, I was sweating! I knew all the theory but here I was with a real live fish to play and desperate not to lose it! I had fairly strong gear on and was able to pull the fish in after a few minutes and get it into my landing net. 

Wow! What a feeling! There it was laid out in front of me, the biggest fish I have ever caught! It was hooked nicely in the lower lip and I was able to pull the hook out with my fingers, take a photo and slip it back in. I then had a sit down with a big grin all over my face and an amazing sense of achievement and an understanding of the attraction of carp fishing. Then that was it for the day, nothing could top that so I might as well pack up and go home while I was still on a high. One thing is for sure, I will be back!

My first ever big carp! I didn’t have any scales so don’t know how much it weighed but the diameter of the landing net is 20ins or 51cm. And yes, I now have a proper carp landing net and unhooking mat!


So, I had been fishing for a few weeks in the canal and river and been catching small fish and it was not enough. If I was going to carry on I wanted to catch something bigger and a bit more interesting and thought about the club’s still waters. I wasn’t feeling confident enough just to rock up and start fishing so I spent a couple of days driving round to find the lakes and chat to anglers there, at a social distance of course!

It was all quite interesting, it was clear that carp fishing was the “in thing.” Every lake I visited had their fair share of carp anglers with their alarms beeping every now and again and I saw some good fish being caught and thought that I would like to have a go at that. I also looked on YouTube and other sites and fishing forums and was getting overwhelmed with information! Let me give a shout out here for Carl and Alex as I spent a lot of time watching their YouTube videos and learnt a lot. In case you don’t know them they are two brothers who have been posting videos since they were kids and now that they have grown up have gone full time. They are well worth a watch.

What I realised was that if I wanted to catch bigger carp then I needed a stronger rod and a suitable reel. I was still not sure at this stage if angling was going to be a permanent thing for me so didn’t want to spend too much money. Normally I would have gone into the local tackle shop to support local business but as we were shielding I decided to buy online. I did some research and it was then that I realised that I was a tackle snob! I could have bought a rod from Sports Direct for under £20 but I didn’t want to be seen on the bank with really cheap gear, I could imagine the pitying looks that I would get from proper anglers! I ordered a 12ft Daiwa Black Widow rod with a 3lb test curve which I thought would be a good allrounder along with some method feeders, hair rigs, boilies, pellets , line and other bits and pieces that I thought I would need and they all arrived within a few days. I also ordered a baitrunner reel, a NGT Dynamic 6000 from Ebay at a reasonable price and when it came I was all set to go.

I had a practice at rigging up in my garden then I was ready. The plan was to go to one of the club’s smaller, less popular waters and catch a carp. Whether I did or not you will have to wait and see in the next blog entry!

I will leave you with a picture of one of the more exotic inhabitants of the canal!