So we’ve all probably had red letter days when carp fishing, and we can all agree that they don’t come along often enough! Here I recount of one such event that happened on a 12 hour overnight session on Fryerning Carp Lake – the Main Lake in May 2018.
It was Sunday. I had spent the morning thrashing around on my mountain bike at Chicksands Bike Park with a couple of mates. First time I’d riden ramps since I was a kid and it was blast. By early afternoon it had left me rather knackered. Never mind, said the wife, you’ll be sitting on your arse fishing in no time doing absolutely nothing. Now, my wife hasn’t been fishing with me and so she has no idea the amount of effort I put into my fishing. For me Fryerning is a bit like when I was fishing Walthamstow. They are large, fairly low stock venues where you’ve got to find fish and you don’t find them sitting on your arse!
Above: On large venues it’s so important to find the fish. There’s a lot of water for them to disappear into.
I arrived and it wasn’t long before I was pushing my fully loaded barrow around 20 acres of water trying to find a few carp (yeah right, very relaxing)! Sure you could fish the car park swim but that’s not my style, unless of course fish are showing in front of it. Unfortunately I have a devil inside me and so I continued to push the heavy barrow around this huge chunk of water with my calf muscles screaming!
Naturally, probably due to the devil, I find myself in a swim called The Last Swim. That’s because it’s as far as you can go. It’s the furthest from the car park and only a fool would go there just for an overnighter – I am that fool (or maybe not). It’s a swim that had been kind to me before when I last had the Roundtail Common. Having asked around the lake I knew the guy who’d come out of this swim had a decent carp called the 4 Scale the previous day. When I got there there were signs of a few fish and so that was good enough for me.
I remember not being as prepared as I usually am. I was splicing leadcore and making up solid bags which is all stuff that usually would have been done at home. Life and work had been busy. After a while all three rods were out. The right hand rod was on a marginal tree and the other two rods were both on separate baited patches. I had spombed out a mix of Mainline Cell, corn and 8mm pellets. To this I had added some Sticky Cap Oil which I love as it really helps create a nice, simple, attractive mix. Fish were there so I opted to use my smaller spomb and put out 15 spombs over each rod (except the marginal rod which was baited with boilies from the throwing stick).
Above: The Cell by Mainline
Above: Sticky Cap Oil
By now it was about 7pm and I had at last got everything sorted and was sitting watching water. What happened next was really quite bizarre. A fish had rolled at short range to my left, probably only about 6 wraps or so. Now I don’t tend to ignore something like that so I decided to reposition my right hand rod exactly where the fish had rolled. As I walked over to my rods I could see the right hand rod tip start to bend slowly right. The line had tightened right up but the alarm had not yet sounded. I hit the rod and sure enough a fish was on! The swim had a fair amount of weed and you could feel the fish coming through it. I could tell it wasn’t a huge fish and it wasn’t long before I had a small sprightly common in the net. Had that fish rolled to my left a few minutes earlier I would not have caught this fish. Most of the fish in Fryerning are large however it does contain a few small commons. The fish was slipped back and the rod was put back on the mark in hope that something bigger was knocking around.
Above: A small common taken only an hour or so into the session. Don’t you love it when the background is pin sharp and the fish is out of focus 😉
It was going to get dark shortly and so I quickly cooked dinner. A couple of hours into darkness and I received a slow and steady take on the middle rod off the baited patch. It’s a barbless rule here and there’s a bit of weed about and so I fish a tighter clutch than usual which results in slower takes. The conditions were terrible with thick fog everywhere. It was a real struggle to see what was going on. I could feel a heavy fish coming steadily through the weed. I remember thinking to myself to go steady, don’t pull too hard but keep it high and keep it moving. A decent mirror broke the surface in front of me. I could see the fine mist in the air as it passed through the light from my headtorch. After a couple more deep runs the fish was in the net and it looked a decent one! Was it one of the big girls?
I was quite surprised when the scales only went round to 25lb 3oz. I thought it looked bigger but I was still chuffed to bits. It was a lovely looking fish. The conditions didn’t help with the photography! I managed one decent pic out of about 6 but prioritised getting the fish back in the water.
Above: A fantastic 25lb mirror taken in middle of the night. Visibility and photos were a bit of a nightmare.
I put the fish back. Getting the rod back on the mark was impossible. The fog was so thick that there was no way I could see my horizon marker. I wrapped up the rod and sent it out into the darkness. I vowed to stay awake until the fog cleared so that I could position it properly. A couple of hours later and it was still dark but the fog had cleared slightly and I could just about see the silhouette of the trees on the far bank.
I had a feeling that I’d now been cleaned out and that any bait on the patch was now gone. So I did something that I don’t often do. I put out a reasonable amount of bait via spomb in the middle of the night and repositioned two rods smack bang on the spot. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I really felt like something was going to happen.
Just as it was getting light a fish rolled close in. In the same spot as the evening before. I’d also been getting a steady stream of liners. This told me that the fish were closer in. This time I did manage to bring in my right hand rod (leaving two on the patch still). I knew there was weed close in. Not horrible thick weed, in fact it was like long grass coming up to almost the surface. Tricky to present a bait in. I decided to tie up a solid bag to make sure that I didn’t get hung up in the weed. This worked a charm and within 10minutes the rod was away and after quite a scrap another mid double common was in the net.
Above: Another common taken 10minutes or so after re-positioning the rod.
The fish caused quite a commotion and so I put the rod back to the right to the marginal tree. About 45mins later I remember sitting there feeling surprised that one of the rods to the patch hadn’t gone off. Then all of a sudden the middle rod let out a couple of beeps. As I walked over to the rod I could see the line tightening up. I didn’t hesitate to pick up the rod and lean into what felt like a very heavy fish.
Again I felt it coming through the weed. My legs were shaking. I was preying for it to stay on as it dived deeper into the grass like weed. Again I hoped that if I kept my head and went steady I’d be OK but this fish was stronger and much more difficult to control. It moved from left to right pretty much doing whatever it liked – I couldn’t do much with it. A number of times I got it close to the bank just for it to go on a deep hard run back out into the lake. It started to head for some reeds down to my right and I had no choice but to clamp down a bit heavier to turn its head. I managed to get the fish back in front of me. It felt like it was tiring and eventually a huge set of shoulders appeared on the surface and as it rolled over the net I caught a glimpse of its flank and I knew exactly what fish it was! It was one of the A Team and one of the main fish I wanted to catch from Fryerning. The Zip Linear with a perfect row of giant mirror scales running down its lateral line. I was stunned!
For a split second I just stood there in a daze. The battle had been immense and this was a fish I’d looked at in pictures so many times … and now it was in my net, incredible!
Above: Definitely one of my target fish. The Zip Linear, 32lb 14oz.
I could tell that it had recently spawned. The lakes were closed a couple of weeks prior to this to let them spawn in peace. It was still a big fish though and on the scales it went 32lb 14oz. Earlier in the year it was 38 and it’s been over 40 before. It’s not unusual for these big fish to lose a bit of weight after spawning. It will be an upper 30 again in no time.
Above: The other side. Not as perfect but still a stunning looking creature!
Anyway, the weight was irrelevant, just look at it. I’ve always wanted to catch a big Linear and this one was perfect in every way. What a fish!
Above: The cameraman needed to be in the water really but still quite a nice water shot.
At the soonest opportunity I was in the water with the fish. Making sure that it went back safely and it swam off strong. I’d put bait out after each fish and I was now pretty much cleaned out. What an amazing short session this had been. I packed up and spent a few hours stalking around the rest of the complex before exhaustion caught up with me. I’d had very little sleep but drove home with a big smile on my face. Several days later and I still couldn’t believe that I’d landed such a gem. I’ve caught bigger fish but the Zip is just such a stunner!
So 4 fish in one night on Fryerning carp lake – the main lake. I learnt later that the small commons were possibly part of a re-stocking but still this was a great achievement. To put it in perspective, this was more carp than I caught from the main lake last year! Fingers crossed I’ll get amongst a few more this year! I’d love to hoist The Netted Fish up for the cameras – a 40lb + leather no less. Now you don’t see many of those around. Thanks for reading. Be lucky 😉