Carp Fishing by the Barbel Angler.
Over the past 15 years I have had a great time teaching others how to catch barbel on the premier rivers in the UK ranging from my local rivers Kennet, Loddon and Thames to the mighty Severn, Trent, Wye and the Teme.
Knowing that my last ever tuition session with eight anglers was planned this July on the Wye, I decided that I would try and catch some of the carp that reside in a very special lake of around six acres.
My wife had a friend from her BA stewardess days, that we had promised to visit quite a few times before, but never managed it on the frequent trips to our cottage in Herefordshire. When the friend indicated that she had a lake on her Estate, I immediately found the time to divert!
Since that time I have spent a few sessions there targeting the tench, with the best being a 9lb 12oz fish. I had however spotted a number of large carp, and had indeed been “done” a couple of times on my float tackle, using 6lb line and a powerful match rod. One that I did manage to land was a beautiful fully plated mirror of 34lb 6oz that didn’t manage to make it to the sunken tree 50 yards away.
This spring I decided, that I would have some serious, short 8 hour sessions over a four week period, giving me time to drive there early morning and get back for a late lunch. My Torrix 1 Â¾ barbel rods would have to suffice.
A Magic Start
I was determined to keep it very simple, but bearing in mind the clarity of the water, knew that I would have to work on the normal barbel rig used to help in fooling the fish. I opted for a hook link of tough fluro in 11lb with a 12lb mainline that was multi coloured to blend with the weedy and gravel bottom.
I also used sliding back leads about 6 feet above the end rig. Bait on the size 9 hook was to be simple Elips pellet topped with artificial floating corn to make the bait balance neutral. A small golf ball sized pva mesh bag with some mini and a few larger pellets attached to the hook before the cast..
I catapulted a tin of sweetcorn and about half kilo of loose small Elips out in the general area, about 30 yards from the bank in a weed free gap and sat back and waited…………….but not for long.
Within 30 minutes the rod bucked in the rests and a powerful fish headed out into the centre of the lake. It did not speed off but simply kept going at a steady walking pace. Big fish I thought, Big fish. I tightened the clutch up on the 5000 reel and realised that the rod was bent pretty much to its full capacity……Finally the fish kited and headed left towards a sunken branch on the nearside bank. No choice but to hold on tight and pump to the maximum pressure I thought I could apply.
Out into the lake once more, but the Torrix rod was finally beginning to make an impression and the ache in my arm was starting to recede. After another series of shorter runs the fish slid into view, and then into the net, A stunning old fashioned mirror carp.
Fish rested, angler rested also but still a shaking wreck, the fish was weighed at 35lb 5oz and returned. It took me another 30 minutes to recover my breath and cast out again. A beautiful olive green, red-eyed tench of around 8lb finished the session.
Two days later
Over the moon with my immediate success, not surprisingly I made the journey again two days later. Again it was a windy, rain spotted day with an east wind to help the rain along, but kindly blowing into my corner. I knew from my earlier tench sessions that indeed this did tend to move the fish nearer to my baited spot.
Hours passed with no sign of the large bubbles that often indicated a carp or the smaller pin****** of tench feeding. Just before packing up time I noticed a slight tap on the rod tip, waited a further 10 minutes before another softer tremble….Bang! the rod top arched downwards and I lifted into what was obviously another carp.
This one made straight back towards me, and then as I wound down towards it, changed direction to head for the inside left tree again. Rod low and applied pressure turned it just in time, with my line catching the strands of the weeping willow on the inside. The fish pinged the line free from the branches as it headed out into the lake. After a further 5 minutes I slid the net under a fully scaled common carp.
It showed evidence of milt from its vent so it was quickly weighed, and after a quick poor quality self take video rested and returned. A matched weight pair to the Mirror at 35lb 5oz.
Out went another tin of corn and some more pellets before I departed for home. The grin said it all.
A further five days
Again a wet, windy day. A slight change of bait, with some self made 12mm boilies added to the free bait put out at the session start. One rod with the boilie and corn, the other with the pellet and corn hook bait.
Three hours in, the boilie rod twitched repeatedly so I took a chance and landed a tench of just short of 9lb, happy that the boilies had worked immediately. This proved even more so when the rod again bent around just 30 minutes after casting out.
These fish can fight. I never thought I would land this one as it just simply powered at the normal walking pace towards an Island 80 yards away, leaving me with no option but to lock up the reel and simply hope that the tackle would manage. It did, just.
I don’t ever think I have been so frightened about losing a fish and sank down when another beautiful mirror carp graced the net. Another 35lber this one beating the others at 35lb 11oz.
Once again, the shakes had got me, and after a long rest in the net for both of us the fish was photographed and returned.
Another five days later
Back again. Three indications on the rod tip. Nothing positive. A ten hour longer session that was fruitless apart from seeing a pike take two of the young coots from the surface. The strange thing about this lake is despite using maggots and corn for much of my tench fishing, I have never caught a perch, roach or bream. It seems to hold tench, carp and pike. That’s all. I see lots of perch and roach fry each season but none seem to make it to any size.
The next day
Luck has been so kind to me that I now believe that it’s probably due to desert me and leave me fishless for a time. As these thoughts are mulled over in my mind after a biteless five hours, the rod literally takes off towards the lake, the baitrunner not coping with the sudden action. I grab it just in time and connect with what immediately shouts Carp……
Heavy and steady, the fish makes it straight into the nearest weed bed and sulks as I try and exert steady pressure. It finally frees itself, but heads straight out towards and into another patch of thick growth.
I can’t move it, so put the rod down, take off the pressure and sit on my hands. The line starts to trickle out after a few minutes that seem like hours and I reconnect to the fish.
Has it got a mould growth I ask myself as it finally slides towards the waiting net? No it’s a beautiful two-tone Mirror. And very big.
The biggest of the Bunch, a truly stunning 38lb 11oz.
I admire its beauty. Appreciate how very lucky I am to even see such a fish, and release it back to its watery home. Elated. Not half!
Another 4 days.
My wife is starting to see the glint of madness in my eyes as I again set of for the long journey from home, and reminds me that the “proper” fishing season starts in a few days…! And that’s when she expects me to become absent for a fair bit of the time.
I tell her that this will be my last session, for a fair bit, on the lake. I cross my fingers as I say it, but realise, it should be so.
The weather has changed, it’s hot and humid and I have noticed some carp moving around the near bank margins by the thickest weed beds as a prelude to spawning. The air is filled with hatched damsel flies and the nymphs crawl up the bank.
The pellet does the trick this time after along wait, once again a stunning mirror carp of 29lb 10oz. Dark and plated. Two quickly caught tench of around 7lb follow it.
I pack up and look at the lake, dip my hands into the water and splash the water into my face. A quite unbelievable set of fishing sessions. I realise how privileged I am to have experienced the time I have spent there.
I thank the lake for its kindness and hope to return again next year. I have had my share and then some its time for us both to have a break.
I am planning for the latter end of the season now. A big roach and a very big perch are on my target list. Wish me Luck.
Some small technical bits for those that like that sort of thing.
Main Line - Korda Adrena- line
Hook-Link – Gamma Edge
Hooks – Raptor D7
Weight 2oz to Enterprise Snag –free link
Reel – Shimano 5000 XTEA
Rod - GPE Barbus Special – Built by Custom Fishing Rods
Copyright retained by the Author 2013