I was due to meet Karl from Wychwood and, unusually to a normal day on the bank, there were parameters set out for my session. Not only was I under pressure to catch, live for the camera’s, but there was a limit of £10 for bait. A kilo of boilie is often available for £9.99 or less from bait companies if you shop around, but I wanted to look at some lesser used, and often overlooked baits that have a rich history for catching carp. Seeds and pulses were my plan, and after a little bit of internet research I found a local farm shop selling either sacks of, or self-filled bags of every cook-able carp bait you can think of. A quick trip down saw me return with 2kg of maple peas, 2kg of chick peas and just 1kg of the old favourite hemp seed – I even had change for a bag of frozen corn too.
The day's bait, soaked and cooked it doubled in weight, meaning I had nearly 11kg in total for less than a tenner.
I’m well known for my targeting of big, elusive carp from wild pits… well that couldn’t be further from the truth, I love my carp fishing, and I love catching. Fishing for bites is a great way to get my fishing fix, but as this was somewhat of a challenge, I thought I’d head to a new venue too, although I did do a quick recee trip the week before, and that venue was Broadwater on the Godalming ticket. It’s a park lake of ten acres in size, well stocked with carp and a water I hoped for a good day’s sport on. Karl was due down to meet me in the morning and I told him he better be bringing some rods. I arrived at first light and with inclement rain through the first hour or so, it hadn’t put anyone off as a good few anglers arrived for a days fishing. The lake holds a large island to one end and almost certainly has fish present as the only area of cover on the lake, bar a few overhanging trees in the margins.
My second fish of the session, a cracking common carp couldn't resist the particle baits.
No sooner did I slip this common back the other rod was away.
The lake can be tricky on it’s day, but equally the lake can produce hits of fish too, exactly what I was hoping for – there’s nothing better than a day of rods doubled over and getting home in time for tea, especially when the weather was due to be so up and down with rain showing for most of the day. Reasonably shallow in depth, after a quick lead around the bottom was noticeably uniform throughout, typical of most park lakes that I’ve fished anyway. I decided to fish two straight out from a double swim I settled into, and after clipping up at the same distance I chucked both rods out to the clip, one with a double-chick pea hook bait and the other a double maple pea. I don’t recall ever fishing pulses on the hook, I certainly haven’t fished with them at all for a long time, so I was always a little unsure as to whether the carp would be interested. I know they have been documented as being incredible carp catchers, but I’ve only ever added them to an existing spod mix.
I let the first 10 minutes pass before I clipped the spomb up, just in case there were a few in the area. I’d heard the lake didn’t respond to a lot of bait, but I also knew the lake held a high quantity of fish so was dubious about them being ‘scared of the spomb’ and wondered whether it was a typical case of anglers never trying larger quantities of bait. Bear in mind that I’d cooked my chick peas, hemp and maple peas by soaking them for 24 hours and then boiling them for half an hour, the weights of the bait had now doubled as the pulses had swollen and the seed split. I’d now got, including the sweetcorn, a whopping 11kg of bait that’d cost me less than a tenner. Heavy baiting may not have been the usual tactics on the lake, but if I needed it, I had it with me for a fraction of the cost of boilie.
A small common came straight after landing the second fish.
Simple, cheap ingredients equated to a mix with at least twice as many food items as the same weight in boilie.
Spombs after each fish kept the m in the area, if i had time to get the abit out that was.
With nothing coming to the single hook baits I needed to grab the carp’s attention. There were at least five or six other anglers that I could see all adorning the banks so I began by putting 3 medium spombs over the right hand rod, which was positioned about 20 yards to the right of my second. It was like a switch had been pressed, as no sooner had I retrieved the spomb that third time did my right hand rod roar off, spool spinning, and an angry carp attached to the end – hopefully it wasn’t a fluke I remember thinking.
A scrappy battle with the carp darting in all manner of directions had me putting the rod tip here, there and everywhere in an attempt to avoid my second line, which fortunately it did. Soon enough a lovely low double common was thrashing in the margins before being scooped up in my net. With Karl half an hour away I slipped the fish back after a quick photo and set about re-doing the rod. I decided not to continue baiting until the cameras were with me just in case there were only a few fish present.
With a typical rush hour journey, it was 8.30am before Karl arrived, and I filled him in with the goings on of the day so far. I set about spombing some more bait out, a mix of equal parts maple pea and chick pea with a small handful of corn over the top to brighten the mix a little, the water was quite murky and I wanted something visual to draw the fish down to the lakebed. I think I’d put four spombs out before the same rod signalled a take again. Whether they were coming to the noise or were simply holding in the area I’m not sure, but I wanted to make hay while the sun shone, which turned out to be ironic because that ended up being the only sun we were treated to that day. Anyway, with the second fish hooked, an equally scrappy fight in an attempt to make good its escape, the fish was resting in the net while I got the rod re-clipped and cast back to the spot. Just as I was about to pick the spomb rod back up, the left hand rod was away, and by this time I was a little bit overjoyed that the pressure was off to catch for the feature. My third fish of the session tore around the swim like a fish possessed before I managed to land it. The spritely little common made several surges for freedom from very close to the net cord and I couldn’t believe just how much fight the little fella had. With a smile spread widely across my face, I held the lively carp up for the camera before slipping it back, and picked the fish patiently waiting in the net out of the margin and did much the same, still a little perplexed as to how well the session was going.
A larger, scale-perfect common was on of several in very quick succession.
I did cast one closer to the island after seeing one show but they just weren't there in numbers.
With the camera clicking away in the background the left hand rod was re-baited, re-wrapped and cast to the clip. I sank the line through the surface layers and wondered whether my choice to move it closer to the baited rod was the right one. I wasn’t sure if the fish had spooked away from the bait toward the island cover, or had in fact been travelling from the cover of the island to the noise of the spomb when it rattled off.
I continued with baiting the one spot over the right hand rod, again with 5 medium sized spombs, with the thinking that perhaps the bigger residents would be a little more cautious than heading straight into the white water of the spomb landing, but equally for anything that spooked off.
It was approaching 10am and the rods had both been quiet for a good half an hour now. I knew there were a lot of fish in the lake, and the spomb clearly hadn’t spooked them as I’d caught so soon after using it. I began to talk through the possibility that the ‘fish don’t respond to bait’ or ’spombing scares them off’ was actually more a case of anglers not putting much bait out on their sessions. I’d already used over a kilo of bait, which in terms of average boilie prices would cost around £10, but with my pulses and seed, actually cost me around £1. Factor in the fact that there are three, five and possibly even more times the amount of food pieces in my smaller sized baits depending on what boilie size you normally use, and you begin to realise just how efficient particle baits can be. Equally, the larger maples and chick peas are big and firm enough to use as hook baits so it’s a win win situation.
Keeping the bait going in as often as I could.
Another one hits the spreader block.
With a little bit of time passing since the last bite, I re-did both rods, one to the baited spot with my double chick pea hook bait, and the other on a double maple pea, with an added golf-ball-sized PVA mesh bag of maples attached. The maple rod went five to ten yards to the left so was close to the bait, but had its own little mouthful of food for any inquisitive carp nearby. I was fishing helicopters on simple, supple coated braid rigs utilising a kicker to turn the hook in the carp’s mouth. With a barbless hook rule enforced on the venue I always had it in the back of my mind that I needed contact with the fish at all times during the fight.
Around 5 minutes passed before the left hand rod was away, an angry mirror went on a short run before I turned it and the dark, scaly character plodded towards the net chord after a short but enjoyable fight. I unhooked it in the net, and quickly tied a new rig on as the hook point had turned in the fish’s mouth – It’s absolutely essential to check your hook point before every cast as it would have certainly cost me fish if I’d have just re-cast it. The fish were clearly in front of me, and as soon as the rig was re-tied and cast out, I put a further 5 spombs of bait out over the right hand rod. No sooner had I finished that rod was away, and a cracking double-figure common was resting in my second net. With Karl on hand and his gear on the barrow there too, he set both his nets up and I got the rod straight back out just before the other rod was away, again. With three fish in the nets I chose to just leave the one rod out and get them all photographed, and remarkably I only managed to return two after photos before the left rod was away again – incredible fishing.
I've never had a session like it, four carp resting in the nets after coming within a very short 15 minute spell.
It was approaching lunch time and, with both rods now leant against my brolly I held each of the two carp up in turn and slipped them back in the margins. I’d been baiting the near side margin with a loose handful of the chick pea and maple pea mix every hour or so since arriving, and in an attempt to slow the fishing down a bit, I know mad right, I dropped one down there and put the second on the baited spot with fresh hook baits on. I sent five spombs out again once more which probably took me to about four or 5 kilos of bait used, still just half of my total amount. They were clearly enjoying the bait, couldn’t have been spooked by the disturbance of fish being played in the swim or by the spomb as the rod out in the water went just ten minutes later. Just as that hit the net chord the margin rod roared off and, with the deep margins shelving off quickly it ran a mock straight up the near side. Fortunately, my other rod was on the bank as it circled the net before eventually slipping in. This time I did decide to put both rods straight back out in the middle, mainly as I thought the margin would have been spooked heavily. Sure enough, within just two of the planned five spombs the left hander signalled a take, and I battled another lovely mirror to the net. Just as Karl scooped the fish my other rod was away, by this time I truly couldn’t believe my luck. After playing the fish into the fourth net we’d set up I was completely gobsmacked. I knew the lake had the potential to give me a good day’s fishing, but I never expected the quantity and speed at which the fish came.
I held each fish up in turn and my smile somehow grew wider when I held the margin fish up. This common was close the the 20lb barrier and I was really impressed with the stock that had already visited me but this one was something else. With various filming of the captures, pictures taken and battles undertaken, I’d not eaten or drank anything for hours so I slumped in my chair to get some calories in me, to the laughter of the cameraman of course. The afternoon slowed somewhat but I continued to put five spombs of bait out after each capture, Karl even snook his rods out for the afternoon too. By the time we left that evening I’d amassed a total of 17 fish, with Karl landing six – remarkable fishing.
Not only had I enjoyed an incredible session, but doing something I wouldn’t normally in terms of bait enabled me to keep the bait going in all day, and I actually got through around nine kilos of bait, taking all of the hemp seed home with me. My rigs were simple, my bait was incredibly cheap, but effective and importantly, I’d had a days angling I’ll never forget in a hurry. Nothing huge visited me throughout the session, but with 17 fish including a near 20lb common and just two or three under the 10lb mark, I think it’s time you got some bait on soak for your next day session…