Reflecting on summer 2018 – fishing in Hertfordshire and Essex

I am a year round angler and always have been. I love seeing the seasons change on the bank. After a long winter fishing in fairly miserable conditions it’s so nice when the shoots of spring arrive. I really love the sunshine so by the time summer arrives I’m quite desperate! It’s now September and this article sees me reflect on the summer of 2018 fishing in Hertfordshire and Essex.

Kinda cheating but I’ll start in late string. Well there’s only one species to target late spring / early summer and that’s the tench. So armed with a float rod and some corn I hit the local lake in search of a few tincas. I had a couple of great sessions and caught some nice fish as the temperatures started to warm up.

fishing in Hertfordshire and EssexAbove: A dark tench caught on corn early one morning.

tench fishing hertfordshire
Above: Another stunning little tench. This one thinks it’s a grayling!

On the same lake you can step things up to catch a few carp. It’s not a tricky lake and therefore a lot of fun. With well stocked lakes I genuinely believe it’s hard to beat a flat bed feeder. Fish this commercial style, ie recast frequently (like every few minutes) to build up the swim.

flat bed feeder carp
Above: You need to use a press like this to deliver a really tidy parcel of bait into the swim.

method mix carp
Above: Method groundbait and micro-pellet is all you need.

carp fishing hertfordshireAbove: A lovely little mirror caught on a flat bed feeder. A lot of fun.

In June I decided to hit the syndicates starting with a series of early morning sessions on Lavers. This year I was keen to try two things in my carp fishing. One was to try turning up early and casting at showing fish. I felt that by not doing nights I could move on fish at a time of day when they make themselves most apparent – dawn. So with a minimum amount of gear I did about 3 or 4 sessions each of only a few hours long. I’m very used to fishing short sessions. Often it’s all that my working life allows but this time I wasn’t going to even cast out until I saw something to go on.

It wasn’t until about the fourth session until I finally got my fish. It was a steady pick up on my little right hand scope. I had thick reeds either side of me and the only way to land the fish was to go out over my waist in chest waders. I don’t think the swim is fished much because of this – it’s definitely not possible to land a fish from the bank. After a brutal fight it was in the net and it was a corking common.

fishing in Hertfordshire and Essex
Above: Effort equals reward. The result of getting up at 3:30am to drive into Essex for just a few hours fishing! 25lb 10oz of immaculate common carp.

I mentioned two things that I wanted to try in my carp fishing this year. The second was to use solid bags much more in my fishing. The reason for this was simple. I wanted to try and improve hook holds whilst fishing in or around weed. I’d dropped a few fish when fishing hinged or chod rigs. What appealed to me was the rig I could use inside the solid bag more than the solid bag itself. Short rigs with an in-line lead. This meant that the fish hardly had to move before coming in contact with the lead. The lead was around 3.5oz and because it was inline there was no movement in the way of swivels or clips. And the solid bag almost guaranteed that I could get this devastating little rig on the deck even if the area contained a bit of weed – which most of my lakes do by mid summer.

solid bag fishing carp
Above: Short blow back rigs, mounted with plastic corn. I actually started to go an inch or so shorter than this.
solid bag fishing carp
Above: Avid stems allowed me to make up loads in advance.

So off I set to Fryerning dreaming of big carp! This wasn’t the first time I’d fished solid bags but here I put them on all 3 rods. I also decide to put two of them on the same baited spot. What followed was quite epic. It was only a quick overnighter and I managed 4 fish topped by one of my targets – The Zip Linear, down a fair bit in weight due to spawning but at a touch under 33lb I was still chuffed to bits! Fishing in Hertfordshire and Essex doesn’t get much better!

fryerning zip linear
Above: Fryerning’s Zip Linear at 32lb 12oz.

In the middle of the night I had another corker which which goes over 30 at the right time of year. For me it was a mid 20 but still a fantastic looking mirror. I had a couple more mid double commons before packing up after a great session. A full article on this session can be read here.
fryerning carp
Above: A stunning mirror around 26lb.

June 16th – still a magical day in the fishing calendar! Naturally I was out at first light fishing the River Lea. I had really missed the river and I was going to try the treble again like I managed the year before (3 decent fish all of different species). Read the full article of my first day of the river season fishing the River Lea.

small perch
Above: My first fish of the 2018 river season – a perch 🙂

My lure was then grabbed by what I thought was going to be a very big perch or small pike. It turned out to be a brown trout which became evident when it launched itself a couple of feet in the air shortly after being hooked!

river lea trout
Above: Quite a lump of a brown trout. Later that day I was to catch an even bigger one!

I figured the swim was wrecked and so I moved a swim further down from which I’d had decent perch before. After about 30 mins or so I was into a good perch. What a great start to the season!
perch fishing river lea
Above: A smidge over 3lb. Cracking!

By now it was mid summer. It’s become a bit of a tradition to go fly fishing for carp. If you’ve not done this then you should try it. I have another article about how I go about fly fishing for carp so click here.
fly fishing for carp
Above: Like playing a Marlin on a wet noodle! Great fun!

summer carp fishing
Above: Fishing in summer. Simply a fantastic time of year to be outdoors.

So something I wanted to try for a while is surface fishing for pike. I’d seen some videos and it looked absolutely explosive! We used little surface frogs and dragged them slowly across the water.

surface fishing for pike

Your heart nearly leaps out of your chest when a pike hits it from nowhere. The eruption on the surface is vicious!

surface fishing for pike
Above: A little pike that absolutely hammered a surface frog lure.

It was then back to Fryerning for more solid bags and hopefully another epic session like the last one. It wasn’t to be quite as productive but I did manage a very hard fighting common early morning. This one had an interesting scale pattern and properly beat me up!

fishing in Hertfordshire and Essex
Above: A very angry common of around 20lb.

Going into August I was back on the river. I headed for a spot of barbel fishing on the River Lea. Short sessions produced lots of barbel and chub which was fun on my way to and from work.

River Lea barbel
Above: Typical barbel. They really do go like the clappers!

I also spent some time fishing the River Lea for chub. I used mainly bread and pellets and had some great fishing. No monsters but had some really nice chub on the Lea around Hertford.
River Lea chub fishing
Above: Chub fishing on the River Lea
River Lea chub fishing
Above: Bonus chub caught before work

The chub were fun but I decided to try and get amongst the carp from the River Lea. I’d caught them around Ware and Hardmead stalking with bread but I decided that I wanted an easier life by fishing more local and fishing on the deck whilst sipping tea from a flask! Maybe I’m getting old but my river fishing often sees me covering a lot of miles on foot and a few more static sessions were needed and near home so that I could just go for an hour here and there.

My new approach worked a treat. Before I could finish my first cuppa the rod was away. A stunning, dark, hard fighting common was in the net. Carp from the River Lea are so special, proper characters. Only 17lb 10oz but this could be my favourite carp of 2018 I reckon.

river lea carp fishing
Above: Wow. Just stunned to catch this lovely dark common from the River Lea.

The next session was almost identical. 5:30am and the first rod is away before I even manage to get the second rod in.

river lea carp fishing
Above: Amazing. I’ll be doing this again next year but now it’s time to move on!

Back over to Fryerning and I’m struggling to get through the smaller fish which appear to be more prolific than recent years. Fun though and shows me the rigs are working.
carp fishing essex
Above: Only a couple of day sessions and catching several of these from Fryerning main lake.

At the end of one of my day sessions on the Fryerning main lake I decide to do a little experiment. As mentioned I’m experimenting with solid bags and I decide to head over to the prolific Car Park lake on the complex. I fish two rods, on the same baited spot – one with a solid bag and one with a standard bottom bait rig. The results? In 2 hours I have 5 fish in total. 4 on the solid bag and just 1 on the bottom bait rig. Again this only goes to increasing my confidence in my solid bag fishing. I think maybe the fish are ‘getting away with it’ on the bottom bait rig which is a wide gape with a kicker on about 8” of braided hook link and a lead clip set up, balanced bait, boilie tipped with corn – kinda standard. Was it a coincidence that the biggest fish was on the bottom bait?

carp fishing fryerning essex
Above: The biggest of the bunch on a bottom bait but out-fished by a solid bag.

So we come into September and summer is behind us. A bit premature but I get the perch rods out for a bit of perch fishing on the River Lea. My perch fishing doesn’t usual start until October but I can’t wait any longer!
river lea perch fishing
Above: September 2018 and an amazing looking 3lb perch from the River Lea.

Well that’s the highlights of my summer fishing in 2018. As always it’s been a fantastic time of year to be outdoors, regardless of the captures. Whatever your pursuit, be it fishing, hiking, running, exploring or camping, enjoy being outdoors through the summer months. I feel it’s so important for us with the stress of work and everyday life to put all that to one side sometimes and to simply enjoy being outside doing what we love! Thanks for reading my little article about fishing in Hertfordshire and Essex over the summer 🙂

Leave a Reply