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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.