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.
I woke at 4am to the sound of my buzzer, on closer inspection it was my right hand rod and rather oddly the bobbin was doing some kind of a jig. I put it down to a small fish and, sure enough, a Catfish of around 1lb was reeled in. I recast the rod and returned to the bag. Spike woke me at somewhere around 8am, he told me that he’d had two more Carp through the night. Good news, one, because they were on the feed, and two, his swim was not too far from mine. Thursday had a dryer start, just the odd light shower with patches of blue sky appearing. I wound in the rods, set up the Marker rod and proceeded to work the swim to gauge what was in front of me. After an hour or two with the casting rake I cleared 3 nice spots near to the island and ensured that my line lay was not impaired by too much weed.
A dozen or so spods of particles and chopped boilie were distributed around each spot and with the rods back out I sat back, confident that I had given myself a decent enough chance of some action. Lunchtime came and Chicken soup was consumed Spike popped round for a while and we chatted and watched fish topping out in the more weedy areas of the lake, but, not too far from our baited areas.
The sky remained dull but the wind ceased as did the showers, I looked out across the lake and thought that with three more nights ahead, the chance of a fish or two was looking good. In the back of my mind though was the thought that The Point was renown as a Catfish swim so I was well aware that an epic battle with some creature from another world could well take place. It was around this time, whilst my mind was wandering, that I cast my thoughts to a fish, not just any fish but the fish that had been on my mind for a long time. Not a fish that lives in The Match but a more local water. After lengthy chats with a pal about the recent fish losses he told me that now would be the time to pursue her. I could start with a few midweek overnight sessions and then if, for any reason, I couldn't make it down to Yateley, I could fish the local pit. I guess the decision to go for it had been made a few days previous but now, having sat and thought about it some more, it just had to be done.
I snapped out of it momentarily and my thoughts, once again, were fixed firmly on the job in hand, a Match Lake Original. By now it was getting towards 2pm, the breeze and picked up a little but the lake was still calm. There’s a thought, a
“I sit on the bed looking out through a heat haze caused by the roaring stove until my vision is drastically reduced buy steam as the kettle boils. Whilst sipping that hot, sweet tea I wonder, wait and watch, happy in the knowledge that I have done all I can do and that it is now down to the fish to do their part, to stumble across the baited spot, like what the find and begin to feast disregarding their instincts and fearing not of what may lie within. With watchful eye and a new willingness my ears are tuned to every sound, a Wren, The Swans but more importantly I await some kind of sound from my buzzer. A single beep brings me to my feet, the heart beat goes into overdrive and the tea cup is placed rather clumsily on the floor. A few seconds pass and all is still, I resume my sipping as I, once more, listen to the soundtrack of the lake”.
At teatime the sky still looked drab, the bright, sunlit summer lake and the one I saw before me were worlds apart. But, this one’s felt better, more inviting, less moody and more Carpy. A take could come at any time of the day in such conditions. I prepared a meal, listened to the wind in the tree tops and looked toward the island for signs of fish. By late afternoon the heavy rains were back, with the sky filled in it looked as though it could be in for the night. I noticed a small puddle forming on the bivvy roof so a gentle prod with my foot every so often was required. There was a time, and not too long ago, when I’d cringe at being our fishing in such conditions, but now, such is my desire to catch, weather is no issue. “You’ll not catch them at home” I’ve heard so many times, and how true that is!!
A few bleeps coming from the receiver had me slipping on my trainers and dashing outside just in time to see my bobbin settle back to its original position, just a liner but they were at least in the area. Back inside the bivvy and due to the ferociousness of the rain I zipped up the door. A little while after I decided to make a brew so opened just the top couple of feet of the entrance. Whilst the kettle was warming up I poked my head outside through the gap ad it was then it hit me, that smell!! You’ll know what smell I mean, it’s that smell when rain has fallen onto already wet ground, and mixed with the scent of the lake I could do nothing else but smile, my face all the time being speckled by raindrops but I cared not.
9:45pm, dark and wet but I was in good spirit. I found myself constantly peering through the gap in the door and glancing at the motionless rods thinking (or hoping) that at any minute one of them might burst into life. The rain was no issue; I was used to it by now. A small candle on the table gave off a warm glow, like candles, they create just enough light and make things feel decidedly cosy. The owls were doing their usual in the woods behind me and a Heron screeched from across the lake. I was situated under some large trees so, as most will know, the raindrops falling onto the roof were frequently large and very loud.
At 10:30pm a large fish crashed very close to where my right hand rod was fishing. I stayed alert until 11:05 when that very rod produced a couple of liners, although no take was forthcoming. The next thing I heard was Spike calling me to photograph his fourth Carp of the session so far. Well done that man, some excitement at last. After the fish was dealt with and a cup of tea was downed, I returned to the bivvy. It was still raining and a Donkey somewhere in a nearby field voiced his opinion of the awful weather.
I woke at 5:30am, Friday morning to the sweet sound of my right hand rod screaming. I ran outside, picked it up and was immediately flat rodded!! The fish tore off a good few yards of line in one continuous burst; it was obvious what was attached to the other end. As the fish started to slow down I felt that jagging sensation being transmitted down the line as if it had plunged deep into a dense weed bed. I slowly gained line back on the reel by tightening the clutch and pumping. Every so often there would be a massive lunge on the other end, but, I was starting to win. The fish then started to kite left picking up the other two lines; I lifted the rods and was soon free of any danger. In the clear margin I could see I had caught a fairly big catfish, I reached for the net, tried to bring her over it but just as the cord brushed her flank she took off on another sprint. 30 yards went back out and I cursed the dead arm that was causing me a fair bit of grief. Another 10 minutes of pumping and this time I had her deep within the mesh. I zeroed the Carp Cradle, hoisted her ashore and recorded a weight of 36lb 8oz. Not a Carp but still impressive and an immensely powerful fish.
Spike did the honours with a few snaps and after she was released we had a quick cuppa before I set about tidying up all the mess. 40 minutes from start to finish, you can understand why people fish specifically for them. By 7am I had all the rods freshened up and back on their spots. The morning was, again, dull and miserable and more rain was forecast during the day and pretty much all over the weekend. Don’t you just love Bank Holidays!!!???
7:20am and after a series of single bleeps the same rod was away and an identical battle was endured, although this one found even denser weed and took a bit longer to get moving, but, once on it’s way I pumped it to the awaiting net and another hefty catfish was landed. Spike helped me to read the dial on this one as it felt slightly bigger. We settled on 44lb, quite some brace, and within a fairly short space of time from each other.
At lot of the weed that had been ripped up during the fight was now lying across the surface making casting back onto the spot difficult, so I left that rod in for a while until it cleared. At 8:30am the weed, due to the wind, had cleared enough for me to cast back out, then I proceeded to make a well earned cup of tea. The rain still fell and the breeze had strengthened but out in more open water a few carp topped invitingly.
A phone call from home brought news of better weather on its way, just what I needed to hear, at least I could get everything dried out. As it was, most things were wet, condensation built up inside of the bivvy which dripped on me from time to time and the ground sheet and entrance were boggy and altogether rather unpleasant. At 9:30am the rain had stopped, at least for a while. I had breakfast and thought about creating a new spot further round into open water.
At just after 10am I wound in the rods and got to work with the casting rake. The spot was near some dense weed and was an area around 5 feet by 3 feet with thickish weed all around it. The idea was to cast the rake into it and clear a channel leading to it for line lay. This job took a good hour of more but eventually I had it just as I wanted it.
It’s a good feeling knowing you've just made yourself a fishable spot. I cast around a dozen spods out onto the spot and rested it whilst I drove to KFC for mine and Spike’s lunch. On my return I stopped off and Spike’s swim, had lunch and was back in my swim by 1pm with the rods out.
At 2:30pm Darren woke me from my afternoon snooze, the Cats that morning taking their toll. I put the kettle on and just as I was about to light it my middle rod was away. On striking I was certain it was, at last, a Carp. All I had to do was try to keep it high in the water and not let it get its head down into the weed. I kept the rod tip as high as I could and pumped her in. A rod length or so out and the danger of the weed had passed, I played her out just off the marginal shelf and into Darren’s awaiting net. “The fully”, I heard Darren say. It was indeed one of the fully scaled mirrors, and at 23lb 3oz I was made up.
The photos were taken and then we released her, time to sit down and finish making that brew. I thanked Darren for bringing me luck, a splendid fish. With the rods back out and Darren on his way the sun poked through as if to celebrate my capture. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the water and baiting a few marginal spots in the bay to my right, just to keep an eye on throughout the rest of my stay. I had another thought too, on my very first session here back in April, I landed a 30+ Cat followed by a 40+ Cat and then a 23lb mirror, just as I had done on this session. Total coincidence but the way our minds work in these situations.
At 6pm I decided to freshen the hook baits ready for the night session and introduced half a dozen spods over each rod. Late afternoon into early evening brought cloudier skies, but it looked to be a clammy night rather than a wet one. Also the brisk wind that blew in the afternoon subsided and the lake was like a mirror. At around 8pm Spike called me to photograph Carp number 5, this one was special, an original Mirror called Pelvics due to the fact it had none. There is a video of Spike on YouTube with Pelvics from many moons ago so he was pleased to see his old friend once more. It weighed around 23lbs, I took some snaps, congratulated him and returned to my rods.
9pm and the clouds that had dominated the day made way for clear skies. It felt chilly and a Mosquito buzzing around the bivvy entrance prompted me to light a coil. I sat outside by the rods and looked up in wonder as stars peppered a purple sky. The moon, still low, was visible through the trees on the opposite side of the lake. Back inside my shelter I lit a candle and watched as a Beetle scurried by. A few beeps came from the receiver and I darted outside to see the bobbin on the right hand rod raise half way and fall again.
I surfaced a little after 6am, it was cold. It was as if we’d skipped autumn and plunged straight into winter. Geese flew noisily by in fact everything was noisy, all the sounds of the waking world were amplified across the motionless lake. They came from everywhere; I was surrounded by Crow, Chaffinch, Mallard, Jay and Pigeon. I ventured outside, bravely, and was surprised not to see a frost such was the chill. I glanced up to see a clearish sky with just a smattering of small clouds, their undersides tinged pink by the rising sun. Mid morning came and the sun climbed high above the trees, with it came warmth, the gently dappled surface reflected onto the trees bringing them to life. A moment of tranquillity, the late summer morning was sheer perfection, I was in total awe of what was before me.
Midday came and went and after a brief walk around the lake looking for any stalking opportunities, the lake really was weedy with the most of the other end and the whole of the top bay virtually unfishable.
I settled back in the swim and got to work. I ran the rake back through the new spot and introduced some more bait. At 1pm all the rods were fishing again and an afternoon nap was the order of the day. The breeze had picked up by then but the sky was still mainly blue with the odd fluffy white cloud. The sun shone strongly and the inside of the bivvy was very warm. I lay down and closed my eyes and for a second there I could imagine I was on a beach somewhere exotic. Then I thought to myself, “I don’t need some far away sun drenched paradise, I have all I need right here!!”
At 3:30pm my buzzer woke me, the left hand rod on my new spot was taking on quite a curve, I leant into it and it had Catfish written all over it. The clutch on the reel was quite tight but still it took line and I was a fool if I thought I was stopping it. Now, deep into the weed beds, all went solid. I pumped slowly back and all the way to the net but it was only weed, whatever was there before had gone. With the rod back out I made tea and cursed my bad luck.
One night to go, although I’d already taken a very nice Carp and two big cats I was still in the hope that another Carp would show. I felt they had to visit the spots and feed sooner or later, I just prayed it was sooner. With the prospect of the social session with Rob on Sunday evening, which I was quite looking forward to, I decided I’d start getting my camp packed away around 9 in the morning.
After dinner, 7pm passed and the sun began to make its way behind the trees at the back of my swim, a Heron fished in the margin on the far bank and I could hear Jackdaws calling in the woodland to my right. The breeze slowed up and the trees were visible upside down on a lake surface alive with Pond Skaters moving to and fro. The setting sun shone for the last time on the treetops before me, they glowed burnt orange. Fish continued to show in an area out in the lake surrounded by the thickest weed, an area no anglers dare cast as landing a fish from such an area would be impossible. It was just case of fishing as close as possible and hoping to coax one out from its safe haven. The evening was quiet and was spent relaxing taking in the wonderful atmosphere whilst watching the moon climb higher and higher above the trees on the island.
At 9:30 I was up and over to Spike’s swim and what a session he was having, this one 29lb 14oz and was a lovely big framed Mirror. We were not sure if it was an original or not, but it mattered not, either way it was a splendid creature.
After the pictures we had a cuppa and I returned to the bivvy to enjoy my final night of the session whilst listening to the haunting sound of the Owls. I had my phone’s alarm set to wake me a 5am so I’d get the chance of a final morning sunrise shot; I woke a short time before 5 to the sound of my other alarm. I clambered out of my bag, rubbed my eyes whilst trying to work out which rod to pick up and lifted into a heavy weight. The fish was weeded from the off and all was fairly stuck, I applied steady pressure and started to make some progress. At around half way in I started to think that it could just be weed, not much was happening, it just felt heavy. Then, out of the blue, it started to kite to the right, I continued to pump weed and fish back towards me and finally gave out a little “Yes” as I netted a pretty little Mirror Carp, with scales like slices of Apple.
The weight was 15lb 9oz and Spike was on camera duty for the last time. Just a handful of hours left I cast the rod back out, scattered a few more baits around and sat back, happy, content and with a cup of
Yorkshire tea to mark the occasion. It is the best tea
for us carpers, Yorkshire tea. None of this
waiting ages for it to brew, I’ve spent minutes in the past squeezing the life
out of some inferior tea bag in the hope I may get the colour to resemble
somewhere close to perfection. With Yorkshire
tea you could quite literally dunk the bag a couple of times and you’re done. A
dash of milk and one spoonful of sugar and nothing comes close.
At 7:30am the sun rose on my final morning as I started to look around the bivvy tidying up and starting to get things ready for the off. It was another chilly one but looked to be another dry day. At 8:30 the barrow was loaded and I set off to the car stopping off at Spike’s to say thank for his company and well done on an awesome display of angling.
I drove the half hour or so to the other venue, met with Rob and along with catching a couple of pretty Carp each we had a really good social to cap an excellent few days. Fish and Friends, whatever more could we need!!!???