Sunday, 17 October 2010

2nd visit to Redmire

The day of reckoning was upon me, my second trip to Redmire, this one being a summer trip, although the weather had something different to say about that. The night before I was due to set off Hereford, and indeed most of the country, had the first frost of the year. Not a particularly heavy frost but a frost none the less and a long time since the last one.
The journey was exiting, in fact, the whole getting ready thing including preparing bait and tackle and even loading the car, checking and double checking the checklists and saying farewell to my loved ones. “I shall return in 5 days time, pray that the gods of Redmire are kind to me!” I said as I left the house.

Once I got over the Severn Bridge the scenery changed, it always does. There is something special that I love about the Welsh countryside, rolling hills, valleys, old bridges, it has everything. I got to the pub at a little before 11am and was already supping a shandy when Rich entered. We introduced ourselves and sat to talk of the prospects for the week. Whilst chatting we thought it a good idea to order a meal from the bar so that we did, polished off our meals and set forth to the pool.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Kennet Days

A special couple of day’s I’d been longing for were finally here. I drove to Newbury, around 50 minutes and waited in the pub for Martin James, angling legend, BBC radio and TV presenter, author, world famous angler, I was actually going to fish with him!!!
At around 4pm Martin entered with his very close friend and accomplished Barbel angler David Foster. With Martin on standby doing pictures for a magazine feature, David was to be my guide for the trip and the plan was to help me catch my first river Barbel. As soon as we all sat down and looked through the menu, Martin and I were at it talking about fishing’s past, Dick Walker, Jack Hilton and all manner of other Carping history. We hit the ground running and could see straight away that this was going to be a session of adventure and lots of chit chat. We had a meal and left at 6pm for the river.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Copsey is mine

Wednesday 8th September. I had the week off work and had initially planned a week away with my good lady. In the end we decided to just spend a few days out together and she, to my surprise, mentioned going fishing with me for a day. We had a chat and settled on a night on The Match Lake from Wednesday through to Thursday with me then staying on until Sunday, was I happy with that? Not Many!! We shopped that day for food and supplies and also a new bivvy, I was due a new one and this was just the excuse I needed, although the deal was that she was to sleep in it for the first night………….

Starting on Wednesday afternoon meant not too many would be there so I was confident of getting in The Birches, a swim I’d had some success in and one I thought might produce the goods once more. We pulled into the car park around 3pm and found only one car, although that angler was, you guessed it, in The Birches!!! I had a quick chat with him and it was confirmed that he was leaving the following morning so I could at least get three nights in there.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Patience pays off with a glorious common

September is probably my favourite month for Carp fishing, for it is around this time the fish start to get their heads down for a good feed before the colder weather sets in. It was Friday 3rd and I arrived at the lake sometime before 2pm. A quick stroll around the lake found that most of the swims I had I mind were taken, The Birches and The Point were where I really wanted to be but I also had my eye on Golf Tees, successful for me a few weeks before and since then it had been raked out to allow fishing a bit further out.
I barrowed my gear round to the swim and quickly set up a marker rod. I was pleased to find two channels in the line of weed that runs parallel with the bank 15 yards out. On inspection the area just behind these clearings were nice gravel patches leading out to around 25 yards. Two rods were cast onto each of these spots and the third rod was flicked up along the right hand margin under the overhang.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

CarpSpace Social @ Yateley Sandhurst

It was finally Friday 13th August and we were hoping this date brought good luck to our little social at Yateley Sandhurst Lake. Excitement was at an all time high for days now, ticking them off the calendar and hoping things would just hurry up a bit!!

The morning came, car was loaded and I went to meet the guys at MacDonald's just down the road from me. First there was Steve, followed by Tony and Bill and then Dave. After a bite to eat we set off in convoy for the 70 mile journey to Yateley and arrived at YAC at around 10:30am. A few items of tackle were bought and we set off for the White Swan pub at 11am and met with the rest of the guys. After the customary meetings and greetings and a quick drink we left for the lake, everyone was buzzing and couldn't wait to get there.

I feel that at this stage there were mixed emotions. There were those who fished last years social on this same venue, 22 fished it and only 2 anglers caught, So there minds were set on putting things right and making sure it wasn't a repeat performance. For the rest a walk around the lake was in order, checking out likely spots and marking them on their maps for the draw. Rick was the draw organiser, he had everybody's names in a hat, the names were called out and first out got first pick of the swims and so on. The draw was really smooth and everybody was happy with where they were fishing. Well done Rick!!!!

With the conclusion of the draw everybody set about lugging their gear to their respective swims and getting everything set up. Bivvies were the first things up and quite rightly too as just as soon as these were up the skies opened and the rain began to pour. Matt and I had the island pegs, this way we could set up the BBQ and the raffle tent ready for Saturday's events. The swims looked good too and we were both confident of a fish or two.

My Swim

I, for one, sat in the dry and watched the sky hoping that there would soon be a break in the weather to allow me to get some rods sorted. I had enough time before the downpour to have a quick feel about with the marker and found a nice little spot for the right hand rod in an 8 foot hole at around 70 yards. At around 2pm during one of the less heavy spells I ran out, cast a bait onto the spot and ran back inside.

At around 3:30 the rain eased somewhat, I crept outside and got the other two rods clipped up onto their spots and decided I'd fish the one that was out much closer in within catapult range, as I bent down to pick it up I noticed the bobbin was trying to get through the alarm, I'd not switched the receiver on!! I picked it up and was connected to the first carp of the social, lots of shouting and "Go on Son" was hurtling around the lake and after a very spirited battle the net was slipped under a gorgeous 24lb 4oz Mirror.

First Blood!!!

This fish was photographed and returned. I re-baited the rod, put it back out on the spot and quickly got the other two rods fishing. The rest of the afternoon was grim with light and heavy showers and the odd rumble of thunder. It almost felt as though the whole place had been lifted by the early capture, fish were showing well all over the lake and spirits were high.

At around 6pm Matt cast out to a show and it was as though he hooked it straight away, it felt a big fish and just stayed out there plodding around. But after a while it just didn't seem right, it was in the same position for quite a long time not moving left or right and we came to the conclusion he'd got caught up with a tethered fish. Matt got his thinking cap on and decided to slacken off a bit, he did and the fish seemed to get free and was moving around more. Then, as he was pumping the fish ashore, all fell slack and Matt reeled in some line and the rig that the fish must have been attached to. We were gutted for Matt but in good spirits he just said he was glad at least the fish was now free. Good man!!!!!


The evening came and went and night fell, the sky cleared to reveal stars and made things feel chilly. At 11:30pm the next fish was to come calling for David. Peg 19 was the location although this wasn't his original swim, he made the move to the next swim to get a better angle and it certainly paid off as soon enough he was unhooking a beautifully proportioned Common Carp of 23lb 10oz. Good angling, well in fella. Being a short session angler and predominately a surface expert David had an excellent session which we will go into further later on.

Lovely Clean Fish

Over in peg 12 was the highly talented angler and a very good friend of mine, Tony. We all knew it wouldn't take him long to make his mark and at around Midnight his delkim sung out in the clear night and it was fish on. After a few minutes of looking into blackness and seeing the odd headlamp flash there was an almighty "Get In!!!", the beast had been landed, and what a beast. Reports came in that he had just bagged his first Yateley Carp, and at 32lb it was one of the prettiest Commons I'd ever seen!! Look at how much this capture meant to him, that's a proper Yateley smile!!!

Good Angling Son!!!

Nicos in peg 2 was next to score, at 12:45am he had a flyer and landed the first of his catch, a 17lb 6oz Yateley Carp, off the mark and well happy!!!

Steve opted for peg 17; this peg is a nice secluded spot with a nice tree line to fish to and not just one big expanse of water. As I did last year, Steve went for this type of swim due to him feeling more confident in this situation and at 01:10am on Saturday morning one of his rods tore off. The culprit was a clean double figure Common, he was made up, off the mark, pressure off and the southern boys had made a good start.

Then the big girl cometh!!
When Dave G in peg 6 found a small silt patch surrounded by sharp gravel he introduced a kilo of boilies and rested the spot. Once the coots had cleaned most of them out another pouch full landed on the spot. At 6 pm the previous evening he cast out and it was at 3:30am when the take came. Battle won and safely on the matt it was clear it was a proper Yateley chunk which weighed in at a whopping 36lb 4oz. It was caught using a simple bottom bait hair rig with a single heavily soaked CC Moore Live boilies and was a new PB for Dave.

Awesome fish

Dave also likes to take a few scenic shots so here are a couple he took


Rods, glistening after the rains

And Steve's bivvies, different but effective!!!

Stax was next off the mark with a nice 20lb 8oz Mirror at 04:30am. That was to be his only fish of the weekend but he had a cracking weekend and enjoyed the events very much, his son, little Stax, had great fun catching 25 Roach to 6oz and 4 Perch to 8oz on single maggot. He even got us a mention on Virgin Radio!!! Nice one you two.

The morning was slow for Matt and I on the island. We could hear the various alarms and the fish leaping and crashing but our rods remained quiet. We had a good giggle though and sat and swapped rig ideas, which was really cool, he knows his stuff that guy.

Next alarm to scream out across the lake was the awesome Tony, yet again an audience gathered around his bivvy as he played out what was obviously another chunk of a Carp. Slowly slowly he tired the fish out until the net was slipped under yet another 30lb fish, what a brace!!! I wound in and went round to see and congratulate him. The needle on the scales settled on 30lb 14oz, what a blinding few hours, he was buzzing when I got there and couldn't believe what had just happened. The benchmark had been set!!

What a fish!!!

After the pics were done and the crowds dispersed I took Tony on a magical tour of the neighbouring famous lakes. As he is a Cemex syndicate ticket holder he can visit others. We first came to the Nursery, the lake with more islands than water, although steeped in history this is a truly awe inspiring lake. Next we found ourselves with water either side of us as the Copse Lake came into view. Then we truly were surrounded by lakes when the Match became visible in front of us, Tony was blown away by the beauty and history of these lakes and as we walked each peg of the Match I pointed out various famous swims and scenes of some of my more humble captures.

We got back to Sandy and the word was that we'd start the BBQ and Raffle at 1am, Carl was doing the rounds with raffle tickets and informing everyone of the schedule. It was great to meet Carl, the brains behind the best Carp Forum in the land and founder of the feast. Unfortunately he failed to do much fishing due to his running around the lake with camera every time someone's alarm rang out. I think he only got a few hours fishing in all weekend but it didn't bother him one bit, the social was off to a flying start and it looked to stay that way, he was made up!!!

The BBQ and raffle were a raging success. An hour before Carl visited everyone's pitches and told them that things would be starting at 1pm and also if they wanted raffle tickets. I'm pleased to say that the guys dug deep and we raised over £200 for the cause, very well done everyone!!

A few pics from the BBQ

Matt and Kenton hard at it

Carl has the raffle in full flow..

Ritchie, Bill and Sid

Kenton, Steve1 and Ethan

Stax, Tony, Dave G and Matt

Simon and Rick

Eat, Drink and be Merry!!!!!

It started with Matt firing up the BBQ and the smell from all the goodies cooking would have been enough to draw everyone from their swims. Also, we had a wonderful salad, crisps, cakes, drinks both soft and alcoholic. The spread was fantastic and I take my hat off to Matt, Kenton and Rick who all contributed. There was more than enough to go round, Matt and I finished most of it off that evening but I'll go into that later. Once everyone had been fed and watered we started the raffle, there were some excellent prizes on offer including a stalking rod, a Chris Turnbull Carp print, and far too much more to list. There was even a few kilo's of Shoreline Skunk Oil (Thanks Dave!!!) Half ay through the raffle we had a heavy downpour, some hid in my bivvy while the rest under the party tent. The northerners stayed outside just to prove a point, show offs!!!!

I'd say the festivities ended around 5pm with everyone, quite rightly so, thanking Matt for knocking up a wonderful spread. Off they went to their swims with the customary exchanges of tight lines, slack lines and good luck.

Carl and Andy Kew with Sandhurst

The rods were freshened back up and Matt, Ethan and I hanged around talking all things Carpy and polished off a few bits off BBQ stuff. At about 7pm I had a liner and found the bobbin had lifted halfway and stopped, I crouched over the rod but nothing happened so I re-slackened off and turned round to walk away. Just as I did the alarm let out a few more bleeps and the bobbin pulled up tight, "I'm hitting that" I said and struck into a Carp. The fish kited left for a bit and I thought it was getting close to Matt's lines, with some side strain I got the fish to veer right and away from his lines, just then, as I was starting to get the fish coming towards me I felt the line ping over it's dorsal, I thought for a second it was gone and so did Ethan!! But it was still on, for a few more seconds anyway, then the hook pulled. I wound in the rig, checked it out and cast back out to the same spot, behind it went 20 or 30 baits and as I was baiting up a fished crashed out a few yards from the spot. Good signs. I looked up and a rainbow had appeared, not missing such things I grabbed my camera and too this shot!!

Rainbow over Yateley

Next up was Ritchie, at 7pm he had a one toner and hooked a good fish. It turned out to be the second PB of the session, a wonderful 23lb Mirror, he was chuffed to bits and quite rightly so.

A view from peg 20

Fish topped all around the lake and optimism was at an all time high, everyone was hoping that the next lump would be theirs, they were coming fairly spread out so it really could have been anyone.


Midnight came and it was my turn, after the lost fish a few hours earlier I was keen not to end the session on a lost fish so when the bobbin sprung into action again I was not going to lose it. Just like before the bobbin lifted a little and sat still for a while, then it flew to the top but there was no line coming from the spool. I hit it anyway and immediately felt a Carp on the other end, happy days!! I played the fish in fairly close and Ethan was on standby with the net. Just as I switched on the headlamp to see where the fish was it surged of on another powerful run of around 40- yards, it was then we knew that this could possibly be the fourth thirty of the session. A few scary moments were had in close but finally a mint condition Common was netted (Thanks Ethan) and I sighed with relief. The guesses were between 30 and 32lbs, with my PB being 30lb 6oz I was feeling fairly confident that I'd beaten it. But, it wasn't to be, the needle stopped at 30lbs exactly, not and ounce more or less.

Well pleased

Disappointed I was definitely not though, how could I be, I'd just caught my second ever thirty and the fourth of the weekend, us boys were tearing it to shreds!! Ethan, Carl and Matt all snapped away with the cameras and it was then that I decided to strip off and get in the drink with this one, first Yateley thirty and all that, so in I went, and what a great feeling. As she swam off I shouted a loud "Back Of the Landing Net" and thanked the guys for their help. I was buzzing!!!!

Back Of the Landing Net!!!!!

After that, Ethan, Matt and I had a few celebratory cans of Fosters, polished off the remaining cakes and chatted into the small hours. At 2:30 am David was back into action, this time hooking and landing a splendid Mirror of 18lbs.


This proved to be a busy time for everyone with alarms sounding around the lake at regular intervals. At the same time David was playing the Mirror, Nicos was also into a fish at the opposite end of the lake which turned out to be a special looking Mirror of 24lbs.

The action didn't stop there, it was Bill who was to bag next and this one turned out to be a new personal best for that man. 5:20 am and Bill was on the edge of his swim, rod bent and one angry Mirror Carp was on the other end. The result was a pristine Carp of a colossal 32lb 8oz, the first of the PBs. Everyone was made up for him and he was getting congratulations all morning. Well done mate, superb skills.

She's a Corker

After clearing up at the raffle it seemed that Nicos was doing the same with his fishing also, hooking and landing his third fish of the weekend, a Mirror of 20lb 8oz was photographed and returned and the boy was on a roll.

At 9am Kenton was next to get amongst the fish, after only landing a Bream thus far it was clear that this one was a Carp and a 16lb 4oz Common was brought in to the awaiting photographers.

10am and two runs sounded simultaneously, Nicos and Tony. It was hurting my neck switching from one to the other as these two both played out decent Carp. Unfortunatley Nicos lost his fish quite close to the bank but Tony landed his one bringing his tally to 3 fish. This one was a beautiful Common Carp of 25lb+ and topped off an unbelievable session from the Pompey lad. My prediction is that this man is destined for big things in Carp Angling which could well start with the World Championships coming up soon, good luck pal, bring it home for us son!!!!

Mint Cake

11am and Kenton is once again into a fish, this one being a 20lb 8oz Mirror, 2 quick fire fish for him so whatever he was doing, it came good for him.

At 11:30 all my gear was packed away, the tent and BBQ were dismantled and all that was left to do was to reel the rods in and barrow back round to the car park for the biggest fish trophy presentation. Just as I picked up the first rod and started to reel in I saw a fish crash somewhere between Tony's swim and mine. Once I had reeled in I cast out to it and as I did I saw Tony do the same, my cast wasn't accurate so I reeled back in and the second one landed just right. I put the rod down on the rest and set the bobbin. As I turned round I heard line pouring off the reel, it was almost instant!!! I bent into the fish and played it gingerly to the awaiting net.

Strong fish



It was another pristine Common, this one weighing 21lb 4oz.

The photo's were taken and fish returned with only 5 minutes to get out of the swim and back to the car park. Thinking about it, that cast was probably more than half way and was more in Tony's swim than mine. When I got round I apologised to him for being cheeky but he just said that it was good angling and not to fret over it, that's what this guy is like, you'll not meet a nicer guy on the bank, end of!!!!

Back in the carp park the trophy was presented to Dave G for his 36lb 4oz Common, a truly wonderful lump and no doubt a fish he will remember for the rest of his angling days!!! Carl thanked everyone for coming and making this the perfect social and everyone had a chat for 5 or 10 minutes before bidding farewell and making their respective journeys home.

The Gang!!!!
Left to Right..Matt/ David/ Little Stax/ Tony/ Bill/ Me/ Dave G/ Connor/ Sid/ Kenton/ Simon/ Nicos/ Rick/ David/ Steve/ Ritchie/ Ethan. Carl was behind the camera

To sum things up it really was the perfect social. The weather was a little unkind to us but that only helped with the fishing. On a hot clear day we may not have landed half the fish we did. 5 thirty's, 8 twenty's and 4 doubles, not a bad return is it!!?? The only thing I would have changed for everyone to have caught, but although not all did, there were no gripes, nobody moaning, only massive congratulations to those who did.

I think I speak for everyone when I say a big thank you to Carl, without him we wouldn't have the best forum in the land. Another big thank you to all the kind sponsors who donated prizes to our raffle fund, Gardner, Atomic, CC Moore and many more. Also a big thank you to the forum users, both those in attendance for making the weekend superb and to the ones who didn't make it but gave their support and well wishes and kept on the forum awaiting updates of events as they happened. With the powers of technology, most of the forums users at home found out about the captures before most of us on the lake!!!

Also a great big CarpSpace thank you to the residents of Yateley Sandhurst Lake for being so obliging, we wish you many more years of growing big and hope to see you all, and your friends next time.

Friday, 25 June 2010

A Bank Holiday Scaly One

With Bank Holiday looming I had decided upon a longer session. The better half was visiting her father in Germany for the weekend so I planned a 4 night stint on The Match Lake at Yateley and Sunday night into Monday with my pal Rob on an easier local water, just for the social aspect. I had booked a couple of days off work so I left there at 2pm on the Wednesday and after a short stop at the tackle shop for a few things and arrived at the lake in horrendous conditions. The rain was just a drizzle on the way but when I got there it started to pour.

First thing I did was to find Spike, he was also down for a longer session so to find him, seek shelter in his bivvy and steal a cup of tea was my first job. Whilst drinking tea and chatting about the prospects of the session, one of his rods tore off and after a few minutes he landed a wonderfully proportioned Mirror Carp of over 24lbs. We did some pictures and returned the lovely fish. Seeing all this prompted me to don the waterproofs and unload the car ready to set up camp in the point swim.

Once the bivvy was up and all the items of tackle and bedding were in place I made tea and waited for any indication that the heavy rain would ease long enough for me to get some rods out. As it happened, it got past 8pm and it was still coming down relentlessly. So, it was back on with the waterproofs, in with the bank sticks and three baits were cast in the direction of the island with a dozen of so scattered around each one, not ideal but at least I was now fishing. Soon after retiring to the bivvy the light began to fade and night time was near. I made supper and climbed into the bag, soon I was fast asleep.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Back in the Bay

Friday 18th June, after 3 weekends off I was back on the Match Lake for a one night session. I arrived at around 1:30pm and walked the lake hoping to find some fish occupying the bottom bay. As I approached I saw quite a bit more weed than when I was there 3 weeks ago, although, amongst the weed were Carp, lots of them too! I dropped my sleeping bag into the swim and trotted back to the car to get the gear. I loaded the barrow, looked at it and was quite surprised as to how little I actually had with me, easier to push, then it dawned on me, No Bivvy!! This was going to be fun, it was warm but the sky was grey and looked very uninviting. I rang round and left a few messages but I didn’t hold much hope of anyone coming to my rescue.

Once I’d found three nice spots to fish to, baited up and unloaded the barrow the fish that were there were more displaced and fewer in number, but that was inevitable. A few remained so I was still happy with swim choice, once the noise of me setting up has ceased I was sure they would return. By 3pm the rods were fishing, I made tea and set up the bedchair keeping one eye on the sky.


At 6pm the rain started, not heavy but enough to get me and all the gear wet. I was pitched up under
some tree foliage but it wasn’t helping much. Just then I remembered that during my last session I had unzipped my bivvy front and put it in my unhooking mat. With a bit of planning I tied each end between two trees and strung the front out on two storm poles, I had a shelter!!

Just as I had finished my shelter I heard an alarm singing, the left hand rod was away. I bent into it and it tried dearly to reach the snags, I applied steady pressure and steered it clear, then it changed direction and charged right so I quickly dropped the tips of my other rods. A few minutes of steady plodding and I netted a nice double figure mirror with a nice scale pattern. On the scales she went 15lb 4oz, a nice welcome back present.

I returned the fish, repositioned the rods and made dinner, Beef casserole. I put the radio on ready for the England game and relaxed under my makeshift shelter. After the match I noticed that the rain was getting slightly heavier. It was starting to get dusky and the corners of my sleeping bag were getting dripped on. Just then I had a few bleeps on my right hand rod which was just up the margin. I crouched over it and looked out to find a sheet of bubbles rise over my spot. Within seconds it roared off, I struck and could tell straight away I was connected to a Catfish, bouncing along the bottom of the lakebed sending up huge sheets of bubbles as it bored away into the weed. It was quite some battle but eventually in the half light I netted the beast. It wasn’t very big, defiantly over 20lbs though. I had to land this one as it had taken the hook quite far back so needed the forceps. Whilst it was out I got a quick snap for the album and returned it.

I got back onto the bed trying to dodge the raindrops. At 10:40pm I received a fast take on the middle rod, I ran out with just my socks on, (the floor was wet, not a good idea!!!) lifted the rod and felt a carp on the other end I got it away from the snags this time by walking back up the swim, I got it out into open water only for the hook to pull. I was gutted, I cast back out onto the spot as best I could in the dark, the spot was only 30 – 40 yards out but was in a small gap between the overhangs. Once again into the bag and now I had Mosquito’s buzzing al around my head, along with the now even heavier rain, I buried my head and went to sleep.

I woke a little after 6am, no rain and the sun was trying to peer through the clouds. I freshened up the rods and started to hang up the stuff that was wet. By 8am the sun really started to warm things up so the ritual of firing out mixers began. 830 and the left hand alarm went into overdrive, I went through the usual routine, walking up the bank to steer it away from underwater obstacles and once in open water it was a case of trying to tire the fish out all the time praying thee hook didn’t fall out. I landed a lovely dark mirror of 20lb 2oz, what was destined to be a nightmare session was shaping up to be a good one! The shots were done and fish put back I was fishing again by 9am, still early doors and plenty time to bag another.

By Midday the breeze had strengthened and was quite chilly, the sun popped it’s head out now and then but on the whole it felt cold. The odd fish drifted in and out of the bay but the rods stayed still. At 1:30pm, whilst making lunch, I received a half take on the middle rod which came to nothing. Lunch was pasta and meatballs and two cups of tea. I freshened up the baits after lunch ready for the tea time feed.

Unfortunately the tea time feed didn’t happen, all afternoon I relaxed and watched Kingfishers, Jays and Herons. I tried to get the floaters going but the Seagulls soon put a stop to that.

By 7pm a few dark clouds started to drift over, I didn’t much fancy the prospect of getting al my stuff, which was by now dry, wet again. I slowly started to pack things away. It was an enjoyable session and it was good to be back, I was already looking forward to next weekend’s trip. All that remained was to stop of at KFC on the way hope and have that celebratory meal I have when I don’t blank.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Redmire Work Party

Friday 4th June, a blinding day and at 12:30pm I left work and headed home to load the car ready for an extremely special weekend. Funnily enough there was to be no angling involved, but a weekend work party at Redmire Pool. After a few hours of stop start in the Friday rush hour, I finally arrived at Bernithan at 6:30pm. I found myself to be the only one there; I guessed the others would arrive in the morning. As soon as I parked the car I walked to the dam, looked out over the pool and took a deep sigh, the most beautiful sight in carp fishing, Redmire in her summer colours. She looked spectacular, almost untouched.

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Bay

Friday 21st of May, another hot weekend was forecast so spawning was obviously a possibility. I arrived at the lake at 2pm, went for a wander around the lake all the way I kind of had my mind on the Bottom Bay swim I got to Golf Tees and looked across the lake, my favoured swim choice was unoccupied, result! I trotted round to the swim, dropped my bag, had a little look around and then popped next door into Dalymore’s swim for a catch up. He’d had 2 fish but was moving out that afternoon which was good news as the lines across from the Garlic swim kind of cut of the bay. After a cuppa and a chat I got back to the car, got the barrow loaded and returned to my swim.

The Bottom Bay is a little bay of around half an acre, right up my street with overhanging trees, snags and bushes all around its margins. Also, I’d heard that a few fish had been visiting it during the day, just the news I was hoping for. After a quick ead around I settled on 3 spots, 1 to the left along the margin at the end of the bay, 1 across to the far bank just off the tip of an overhanging tree and the other just off the big bush to my right, it was nice and gravely here and shelved off quite steeply. I visited each spot and was able to feed a few freebies by hand from the bank. After loading new line onto my reels I attached Sausage criticals to each rig and got the wheels in motion by gently casting onto each spot.


It looked good, most of the lake was covered with white fluff that had fallen from the trees but the bay was one of the only clear areas on the lake. The sun was shining, the breeze mild and it felt like a proper summer’s day.

At 6pm, as I was getting stuck into pasta and meatballs, I had a few liners on the middle rod. Just then a fish rolled just behind the tree I was fishing to, promising signs. There was talk of a bit of trouble occurring from some Horses nearby running along the paths in this corner of the lake, this pleased me no end what with my past experiences with Horses and rods! The plan was to build a barricade so that if they did come along they would be directed behind the bivvy and away from the rods.


By 8pm the rods remained fairly quiet but I was optimistic, I felt that if any fish visited the bay they would need to come within sniffing distance of my baits. The sun started to dip behind the trees making things feel just a little bit cooler. 10pm and night had fallen, the moon shone through the trees and Bats littered the sky. I lay in on my bed listening to the creatures of the night, which included a few Carp rolling in the bay. I continued to get liners, mainly on the middle rod. At 2:30am the middle rod tore off. I lifted the rod and immediately felt a solid resistance, the fish tried to gain the sanctuary among the snags I was fishing to, but steady pressure saw it clear. It charged left and right and I wasn’t sure at this stage if it was a Carp or a Cat. It kited right and found a weedbed, all was solid for a minute or two but I kept the pressure on and suddenly it started moving again. A good scrap was endured and I slipped the net under a fine looking Match Lake Mirror Carp. On the mat she behaved wonderfully, I weighed her at 23lb 10oz and called Spike to come round and assist with the pictures. He did a great job with the camera and we shook hands as we watched her swim back to her watery home. I recast the rod, had a cuppa and sat back with a huge smile on my face. Just then I heard a Cuckoo.

First Blood……

I woke at 5:45am, looked out and could see that the cast in the dark the previous night had been across some floating weed rafts so the line lay was all wrong. I wound in and recast, this time sinking the line nicely, closely followed by half a dozen baits on the spot, time to make tea. The sun was just peering through the trees but I could not see the sunrise. I walked along the bank and found it across an adjacent field, it looked splendid!


At 6:45 am the middle rod was away, for a second or two it managed to get into the snag branches but they were only very spindly twigs so it was easy to guide the fish out. Then it kited to the left under the weedbed, I steadily pulled until it came free once again. Soon enough a pretty Mirror was safely with the folds of the mesh. A gorgeous half linear which weighed 17lb 2oz was photographed and returned. I was on top of the world.

At 8am whilst eating breakfast I saw a Kingfisher fly by, then the floating white fluff slowly started to drift into the bay, not good! At 8:20 I saw a coot acting funny, it was looking into the water just a few metres off my middle spot but suddenly backed off and looked spooked. A minute later he was back but once again saw something he didn’t like. A few minutes later the bobbin on the middle rod rose half way, dropped a little and then pulled up tight. I hit it, felt a resistance for a second or two but then it was gone, perhaps a strong liner?

At Midday the sun was high and hot, I started to spot more and more fish visiting the bay whilst perched up my little observation point, one group in particular caught my eye; it was a group of 6 fish, 4 dark fish and 2 much bigger Ghosties. The Ghosties go well over 30lbs!! They swam towards my middle rod spot by the overhang, as they got directly over the spot they sank out of sight, just then the bobbin on my middle rod raised a little and my heart was pounding! I jumped down and crouched over the rod, the bobbin raised some more and then fluttered for a second but dropped back to its original position. Just then I noticed some of the group swim off, I quickly wound in my right hand rod, attached a 6 foot zig and cast out to where the fish had been patrolling. Just as I put the rod on the sticks the middle one screamed off, I struck and went through the same routine as the other two, snags, weed and everything it could find. Eventually with my heart racing I netted a nice Common of 22lb 2oz, I was ecstatic. It had a bit of a humped back and some irregular scaling, an easily identifiable fish. The snaps were taken, the fish returned and I was wondering what I’d done to deserve such a session. I cast the rod back out and made lunch of pasta with Tuna and Sweetcorn.

At 4pm I decided to rest the swim for a while and stretch my legs. I visited a couple of friends and soon got stuck into their tea supplies. A quick tour of the lake and by 5:30pm the rods were freshened up and back on their spots ready for the night. The afternoon was a scorcher and I was looking forward to the cool evening. At 7:30pm I was stood at the edge of my swim doing something I’d done on every session so far but failed, floater fishing. I love surface fishing so always firing out a few mixers has been the norm, only on this occasion something promising happened. From nowhere a Carp cruised through happily chomping on the mixers, followed by another. By 8pm I had 6 – 8 Carp all feeding strongly. I cast out my rig and watched in anticipation, they were being their usual selves, being cagey and taking all but the hookbait, although I did received a few swirls behind the controller which made my heart skip a few beats. Then, just as I thought that one was going to slip up at any moment in came 2 Swans!! Game over, not a happy bunny!!! It was 9:30pm when I packed the floater gear away, I had to rely on the bottom baits which, to be fair, had served me well so far. I’d just have to try with the floaters again tomorrow. All that was left to do was make some tea and nurse the 6 million Mosquito bites I’d just gained.

At 12:30am I woke to a liner on the middle rod, 5 minutes later I was sleeping and didn’t stir until 5am when I had another liner. Apart from the 2 liners the night was eerily quiet, nothing showed, the bay was almost devoid of fish. I wound one rod in and attached a zig, just in the hope of intercepting any fish that may swim into the bay. The rod on the far tree line and the right hand margin were freshened up and at 6am I made tea. The morning was chilly although another sunny day was on the cards, with no fishing next weekend I was prepared to fish on later than usual hoping to have another crack at the surface fishing. The sun peered through the trees to my left causing columns of light penetrating through. Once the sun had climbed above the trees it felt so much warmer and again the bay was visible.

I waited eagerly for the groups of fish I’d seen yesterday, maybe the bay would remain quiet, I’d just have to wait and see. Deer ran through the wood and I was visited by another Kingfisher. By 10am the sun was very hot and the breeze had blown the white fluff back into my swim. I heard a lot of disturbance coming from further down the lake, upon closer inspection I saw what I didn’t really want to see, Carp spawning!! The odds were now stacked up against me. The white fluff also brought lots of floating weed and within an hour the swim was unfishable.


I wound in and went for a walk to see a few friends and try to decide what to do, I couldn’t fish my swim and the frolicking fish didn’t seem at all interested in feeding. After a chat I decided to move to the swim to the right of the bay, the Garlic. This swim controlled a lot more open water and had lots of fish cruising around; maybe some of them would be up for it.

Getting Ziggy With It!!!
It was just after midday and I cast out a zig with a yellow popup. The lead landed and I feathered it down, put the tip under the water and started to sink the line, just then something felt weird and I felt this strange pulling sensation on the rod tip. It took me a few seconds to take in what it was but I was in!! I struck and the fish charged off up the lake towards the middle of the road swims. I couldn’t believe the fish had actually taken on the drop!! After a short burst all went horribly solid, the fish was stuck fast in the weed. I kept on the pressure for a good while but nothing budged, I wasn’t even sure if the fish was still on. I pulled one last time and everything was gone.

I retackled, recast and started to set up a second rod. Whilst tying up another zig I had a screamer on the one rod that was fishing, although when I lifted the rod I felt nothing. I eventually managed to get 2 rods out and put the kettle on. At about 3pm I was again into a fast swimming fish, and again it got stuck fast in the weed and was lost. One thing I learnt from that afternoon was the fierceness of the weed from that swim and that I’d have to step up the BS of my line. It got to about 5pm and no more bites were forthcoming. It was far to hot and I decided to slowly start packing away and heading off home.

On the way back to the car park I spotted a few fish cruising about in front of the Stumps swim. I stopped, grabbed the catapult and starting firing a few mixers out. Within half an hour I had them feeding really well, I tackled up a rod and began to try to catch one, just then Stewi arrived and couldn’t believe what he saw, me, sat there with my controller out among a fair few Match Lake Carp, some small ones but a good number of better fish, in the sunlight they were so visible. Again they were being very cagey and we sat catching up on our weeks watching these amazing fish swimming along in front of us. At 7pm Stewi decided to find a swim for the night and I was looking forward to stopping off at KFC on the way home. I left the lake quite happy with a weekend of highs and lows but most importantly having learnt so much more about the place. I’d be back in two weekend’s time; hopefully they’ll have got all of the love making out of the way by then and its back to the serious job of trying to outwit an Original or two.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Spring Stocky

Friday 14th of May, a warm day and after a weekend off fishing I was eager to get to the lake. I had already been food shopping and collected my bait on Thursday evening so I left work at 12:30pm and headed straight for the motorway. I got to the lake at around 1:15pm, grabbed my stove bag and did a circuit of the lake. There was a steady and fairly chilly breeze blowing down towards the Party swims but once out of the wind it was warm. I walked past the Point and stopped for a look; it was flat calm down this end of the lake and looked lovely.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Learning Curve

Friday 30th April, bank holiday weekend so rain was imminent! I left work at the usual 12:30pm, hit the tackle shop and supermarket and on for the M3. Just before the A34 turn off I hit tail backs, after a while of not really getting anywhere I started to move only getting hampered by more queues for the rest of the journey. I finally pulled into the car par at 3pm to find 7 other cars present. It was obvious that with the bank holiday it would be busy. I did have a few spots in mind but didn’t hold much hope of getting one.
Over the bridge I saw that Common Corner and Lazymans were unoccupied, pushing on Birches and The Point had anglers in so I carried on round hoping Golf Tee’s or NF’s were empty. Luck had it Golf Tee’s was empty so I dropped my bivvy in there and stood watching the water for a few minutes. I looked across to the Beach and NF’s which were both occupied, just then a Carp crashed out just in front of my island, that’ll do nicely!

Friday, 23 April 2010

First Match Common

Friday 23rd of April was my third visit to the Match Lake, a 2 night session and this time I fancied the larger end of the lake. During my other visits I had noticed a fair few fish cruising down that end, doubling up with the surface fishing possibilities during the lean period in the middle of the day. The swim I chose was the Gate swim in the far corner of the lake, a small secluded swim commanding a nice section of snaggy margin to its left. I barrowed my gear to the swim and ten went for a wander round to Gravely’s and NF. In front of these swims were a few fish swimming just under the surface, their big dark shapes giving them away. I trotted back to my swim, set up a floater rod and returned for a bash at the cruising fish. I cast a few times but nothing was interested and the wind was all wrong blowing a big bow in the line making contact difficult.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Second trip and two more carp

Friday 16th April, my second visit to The Match Lake and this trip was to be a longer one than last weekend, with Monday and Tuesday booked off work I’d planned to fish 4 nights. I finished work at 12:30 pm and after stopping for supplies I got to the lake at around 2:00. When I pulled into the car park I saw 6 cars, not a great sight as there were certain swims I wanted to get into. As I crossed the little bridge I saw that Common Corner and Lazymans were both occupied. I walked on past the Jungle and to my surprise found The Birches empty, Result!!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Match Lake Intro

I stepped out onto the hotel patio at dusk, my favourite time of the day, when Bats flit in the purple sky and the Owls, woken from their daytime slumber become active, noisy, the socialites of twilight.
Then daytime arrives and although all I can hear are Finches and Sparrows; the Owls and Bats are still out there somewhere, but no matter how many times I walk those woods, no matter how much I strain my neck looking up amongst the deepest darkest branches I have yet to see them. The transformation between night time and daytime is complete, like two different worlds.
It’s the same whilst fishing; anglers get to experience this almost Jeckle and Hyde land where they are visited regularly by day yet haunted at night by the unseen. After nights their ears are trained to pick out each one, scurrying, rustling and hunting. There are also the sounds of the pool, great fish leaping and crashing, usually at the other end of the pool to where I am fishing, but sometimes close by, and it is at this time that I become alert, optimistic, ready to be acquainted with some creature from another world. For it is this other underwater world we become addicted to, yearning to unlock it’s secrets, longing to make contact with its residents, deep, dark and mysterious, a puzzle we try so hard to solve.

Sat in the grounds of the country lodge the sun shone upon my neck as I contemplate, pen in hand, of where I really want to be. The challenge of a new season and a new water beckons. I closed my eyes, felt the warmth on my neck and pictured myself sitting by that pool, secluded, quiet, waiting in anticipation of connecting with my first fish from that most intimate of pools. The stories from long ago are fresh in my mind having read the tales of adventures past. My mind’s thoughts move onto such things as pitch shall I choose, will I find fish among snaggy bays and under overhanging trees, can I implement my favourite method and catch them from the surface. These things I considered everyday leading up to my maiden voyage to a place previously explored yet so new to me. Will I be as successful as the legends that have passed before me and emerged victorious, conquerors of a place once thought impossible, true masters of the gentle art of angling. Sadly some of the monsters of the deep have retired, gone to swim happily in another place but the survivors, growing in both size and cunning are the legends of the future, and hopefully the prizes of the next chapter in my quest.
As I sit here and write of a place I have yet to see through my own eyes the news comes through of a friends triumph. So they are real, they are catchable! Confidence and enthusiasm heightens and I build a picture of a paradise yet to be discovered, where every fishless hour will be like catching a twenty on some other, less beautiful pool such is the passion I already feel.
On the way home from Nottingham, whilst watching Buzzards and Red Kites the phone rang, I looked at the screen and saw it was my Mum, I asked her to call if a letter came through the door with CEMEX stamped on it. She confirmed that it was indeed my ticket and I quite positively gleamed. All the way home my mind was on one thing alone, Yateley!! What swim, what bait I should take, all these thoughts were making me dizzy. When I got home I gathered the kit from the shed, loaded the car and left for the motorway via the shop for supplies. A quick stop at Yateley angling centre for a few bits and it was on to the lake.
I pulled into the car park to find quite a few cars already there. I crossed the little bridge across the river and there it was, The Match Lake!! The first part I came to was a bay with a fair few anglers camped around it. A bit further on and I came to the out of bounds area they call the jungle, and I could see why. The swim to its right, The Birches, was one I’d like to have got into but it was occupied, I suppose that’s the problem with arriving on Saturday afternoon. I did a quick circuit of the lake and the area I liked the look of was opposite a long island, an area called the Canopy Swims.
I barrowed the gear round to the swim and got the marker rod out but after getting hooked up on countless underwater obstacles I decided on a swim a few along called First canopy. In front of me was a large sunken tree in the water off the island with clear spots either side, two Sausage Oil baits were cast into these spots and the other rod down along the right hand margin.
A couple of views of my swim


I set the house up and lay on the bed taking in the atmosphere of this wonderful place wondering what fate has in store for me.

There were a few Geese and Ducks in front of me but they left me well alone. I brought with me the water rules which came with my ticket and I had just started to read them when my left hand rod screamed off. I ran out in my socks and struck into what felt like a Turbocharged snag!! After ripping a good fifty yards of line off I started to gain some back ever so gradually. The fight was immense and after 15 or 20 minutes I saw a Catfish tail slap the surface. Just as I thought it was beat and I reached for the net it found a sudden burst of energy and went on another 30 yard sprint. Eventually after quite some tugging and pulling with tired arms I netted the beast. It was very well behaved on the mat and posed beautifully for the self takes. What a fight and at 33lb 8oz it was my first Yateley fish and a new PB Catfish!!!

33lb 8oz

I got the rod back on the spot and after pulting out a few freebies I sat back to watch the sun set, I sat there and with a big smile on my face I said to myself “I think I’m going to like it here!!”

At 8:15pm the sun had almost set, the temperature started to drop and the first Bats made an appearance. I could hear Ducks, Geese and a distant Peacock. Dusk was beautiful and I could think of no place I’d rather be. The evening brought the odd liner and I drifted off to sleep, quite contented at around midnight.
At 2:15am I woke to the sound of my alarm, the left hand rod was once again away; I sprang up from my bed and struck into another hugely powerful fish. Obviously another catfish but this one tore off even more line and its charges even faster. After around half an hour of holding on for dear life I gradually gained whatever line it let me until I had it quite close in and then slipped the net under what looked like another PB. This one weighed 47lb 12oz and although well mannered on the matt, it did make the self takes somewhat difficult, as you can see from my facial expressions!!

So, 2 fish for 80lbs, not a bad start, although I was longing for a Carp. I didn’t think my arms could cope with another Moggi, not tonight anyway!! I got the rod back out as best I could in the dark and hit the sack.

I woke up at around 7am on Sunday, the bird life was noisy and planes queued up overhead ready for their decent into Heathrow. Apart from a few liners the rods remained quiet. The sky was grey and I was in need of an extra layer. By 9am the sky had cleared and there were bright sunny spells appearing, it looked like it would be a lovely spring day. The cold breeze coming from the east came and went, gaining pace then subsiding, then only to gain pace again. All through the afternoon the rods only sounded when a twig or some weed drifted into my lines.
At 5:30pm, whilst listening to the FA Cup Semi Final on the radio I had a slow lift on the bobbin of my left hand rod, I ran out and hovered but it just slowly fell back to its original position. Just as I sat back down I heard my alarm tear off so I turned round only to find that it was in fact my middle rod this time. I struck and could feel that it wasn’t a Cat this time, I steered the fish towards me but it kited to the left and into the bay. I applied pressure and persuaded the fish to head back out into open water in front of me, then I saw its dorsal fin break surface and a dark back, a Carp at last!!! I netted my prize and admired a definite 20lb Mirror. On the scales she went 23lb 5oz, Result! I took a few self take, released her and got the rods back into position.
23lb 5oz

An hour later, football over and it was sadly time to get packed away. It was time to call an end to
this wonderful session. I bid farewell to the marvellous lake and prayed that she be as kind to me on my return visit.