Luke Valory reflects on a superb 2016 season and hopes he can have an equally successful 2020.
Winter 2016 was incredibly mild and I wasn’t one to pass up the opportunity to get out as much as I could, mainly overnighters. I planned to fish a few local club waters which held some lovely commons. I kept the Manilla going in, baiting fairly heavily at times, and I was catching pretty consistently. One January morning I managed to catch one of those I really wanted, a long, dark common of over 35lb. I caught a number of other lovely carp too, but come April I was itching to get back on the big pit.
I had an awesome season in 2015 using the Krill, but having had such a great time in the winter using Manilla, I was in a bit of a dilemma. It was a good problem to have, being super-confident in two baits, but after a conversation with Dan at Sticky I decided to carry on with the Manilla. Whether it was coincidence or I made the right call, I don’t know, but I got off to a flier on the big pit. I lost a good fish on my first trip, which was hard to take. The lake paid me back in style on my next session, though, with one of its biggest mirrors, a fish known as Baby Bazil at over 46lb. It was such a special carp and one of the fish that I dearly wanted to catch. I continued to catch during the spring and things were going really well, but little did I know what was to happen next…
I turned up for an overnighter and knew the area the fish had been holding up. I decided to fish up tight to an island where the carp like to patrol up and down. I put a good 15 Spombs of bait out there and everything went bang on. Nothing happened during the night, but one of the rods was away just as it began to get light. I knew it was a big fish from the off and my theory was confirmed on my first sight of it. I eventually slid the net under a huge mirror, almost certainly the one called El’s, which is the biggest in the lake. While she rested in the net, I quickly tied up another rig and got it back out to the spot. Before we even weighed her, the rod was away again. I couldn’t believe it, but what surprised me most was the fish that was on the end. It was Bazil again – the two biggest in the lake as a brace. The big mirror went 53½lb, which was a new PB, and Baby Baz went 46lb 6oz. That made it just 3oz short of a 100lb brace, and a morning I will never forget for sure.
I was a bit unsure where I could go next, but fortunately I had secured a ticket on another large lake with some lovely carp. I didn’t do too much fishing on there, but the time I did do ended up being quite a success. I am sure it was something like seven nights in total but I ended up catching some of the lake’s most wanted, if you like. I had three in one session, which included a mirror known as the Friendly, a nice old fish of 31lb. I had a mirror known as Apple Slice the same morning, which was a lovely old fish of 29lb, and the following morning I caught a really nice common of 39½lb. I went back for another two nights and caught nothing on the first, but had an incredible 33lb fully on my last morning. I did one more trip, but didn’t have any joy.
I’d had a certain fish on my mind for a while. She was one of the oldest fish in the valley and one that I had always wanted to try and catch. I caught some lovely fish up 37lb while trying, but sadly the one I wanted passed away a few weeks into my campaign. I was a little lost, so I went back on to the big pit in search of the remaining big fish that I had yet to catch. Unfortunately I didn’t get any of them and ended up repeating on the lake’s biggest fish again, so it was time to move on.
I was totally lost as to where to go, but had a trip planned on Gigantica in the autumn. The plan was to feed 5kg of washed-out Krill boilies each evening, all mixed sizes. I had big old hookbaits on, too: 20mm bottom baits tipped with 15mm pop-ups. My plan was to fish a little bit differently too, using long and supple hooklinks and hope that it would trip up these often tricky carp. It seemed to work as I landed a gorgeous, scaly 41lb mirror on my first night. I gave them another 5kg of bait each evening and the fish would visit me in the morning. I had another one the following morning, a nice looking mirror of 31lb. On the third morning I caught a real whacker, a 61½lb mirror, the biggest carp I had ever caught. I got done a few times and even lost a couple, but on my fifth night I caught an immaculate common of over 56lb which totally blew me away. I lost another fish before I left, but I was blown away by the whole experience and totally loved the place.