This weekend I planned a visit to Vale Farm, the perfect venue to see exactly what Carpathia has to offer. I asked Johnny if he’d like to come along, very handy with a camera is Johnny, and what’s more, he offered not to fish, but to hone his camera skills and pictorially document the day from start to finish. So, with this in mind, I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.
I picked Johnny up at 7am and after a quick stop for supplies we hit the road and arrived at the venue an hour later. He particularly enjoyed the final mile or so, weaving through narrow country lanes, which of course are compulsory when nearing fishing lakes.
The pools weren’t particularly busy, the middle pool seeing the brunt of the traffic and my favourite, the lower pool, being the least populated. The few anglers that were on there were congregated at the top end of the pool, leaving around three quarters of the pool free for me to wander, perfect. Johnny loved the venue, the flora and the fauna all around it and couldn’t help himself.
Johnny got busy setting up his camera kit as I set up the fishing kit, he snapped away whist I went about my business and began watching the water. I found a pocket of fish and quite soon had a few of them taking mixers off the surface; it was all very exciting stuff. She was matched with a Hardy Altex with 5lb line for the mid water angling.
A few missed strikes later and Carpathia was into its first carp, and it felt wonderful. The tip bent beautifully, the middle absorbed the lunges and the butt power enabled me to steer the fish away from danger whenever I needed to. Soon the first carp of the day was safely netted and awaiting the photos.
With the fish returned it was time to flex Carpathia’s muscles again, and out went more mixers in an attempt to get the carp back up again. More missed strikes were made which became a joking point throughout the day. All good angling days contain some form of banter, and this was to be no different.
More carp were caught though and Johnny kept busy with arched rod shots, tackle shots, lake shots and some marvellous shots of the surrounding wildlife.
That carp was a stunner; it was a beautiful bronze colour and had irregular scales.
The biggest fish of the day was a common, a glorious fish of around 12 - 13lbs.
After a stop for lunch we visited the smaller top pool, but as we could find only small commons we returned to the bottom pool in search of a mirror carp. Under a marginal bush we noticed a few carp, a perfect time to switch reels to the new Brown’s Barbel Centrepin I was also testing out A magnificent reel with a wide drum and mouth-watering looks. As I attached it to Carpathia we both gasped, if ever there was a match made in heaven, this was it.
With 10lb line straight through and a strong size 4 hook, I felt confident of extracting anything I should hook from said bush with ease, and that’s exactly how it turned out. Just so long as I acted quickly upon striking, a swift move to the left saw the tip cushion the impact, then as the fish tried to bore deep the middle section came into play turning the fish on a sixpence and forcing it to change direction.
At last, a mirror…
It seemed that I’d confirmed early on that we’d done what we set out to do, to create a rod that carry’s on where the Mark IV stop, the extra length to gain added control, yet to keep the slender feel. But I think, possibly the most important factor, the tippy front end to alleviate hook pulls yet the progressive middle to turn fish and make them head your way.
After a couple of fish, including the desired mirror carp, were removed from said bush, the spot went somewhat quiet. We retired to the opposite bank next to the magnificent willow tree and before getting busy with then mixers I baited a few marginal spot with pellets with a view to float fish them later. We sat down a while and had lunch before the angling commenced.
…and homemade sausage and pickle rolls
Once again I soon had them scoffing the freebies off the top, though to get a connected strike was becoming more and more difficult as the day wore on. The bream however were making no mistake though and every time I switched to a small piece of bread-flake I hooked one of them, much to Johnny’s amusement.
With me concentrating on the angling and being focused on the job in hand, Johnny continued to snap away from various angles looking for that shot a little different from the norm. I was also oblivious to the fact he was getting some superb wildlife shots, with the bug population of Andover putting on a real show in front of his lens.
Eventually I did make contact, and a couple of quick succession mirrors came my way. These were not big fish by any standards, but they were welcome all the same and put up incredible scraps. The fish here do, really powerful for their sizes making this the perfect venue to test tackle out.
Later in the day and drawing close to home time the carp were seemingly impossible to catch, with only one hooked carp in the last hour or so, which shed the hook before I got it in. I sat it out though and kept trying, and was rewarded for my efforts with a last gasp common which absolutely stunning, quite small, but almost jet black In fact, it was the little black carp I saw a few times that day and really hoped to catch.
Reluctantly we began to pack down. Carpathia and the Browns Barbel pin were wiped over and returned to their respective bags. It had been a truly marvellous day, Johnny worked tirelessly to capture the day with photos, and I worked my socks off to keep the action constant for him. The rod was an absolute dream, did just about everything I asked from it and more. The reel is equally stunning and performs at the highest level. I can't wait to get out with these two again.