John Claridge’s season-long campaign on a Cotswold Water Park venue comes to a satisfying conclusion.
I always look forward to October as it has been my big-fish month in the past and I hoped this one would treat me well.
I’d been having an exceptional year in terms of numbers of carp on my syndicate venue in the Cotswolds, known as Sand & Gravel, but as yet had failed to catch one of the four forties that reside in the 60-acre pit. The last month had seen me concentrating on a particular area that I felt was the one for the autumn and had form for the biggies. So far I had nailed a couple of the lake’s mid-double stockies and a clonking scaly 31lb mirror.
I had been baiting with Sticky Manilla boilies all season and had stepped up the quantity of bait in recent weeks. After my baiting trip on Sunday 9th October when I had to bait up in my pants as I had foolishly left my chest waders at home, I returned with a dose of man-flu after work on the Tuesday for a two-night session. As I knew I would be running out of daylight I already had hookbaits attached and my lines clipped to their respective distances. This made things a bit quicker getting sorted before darkness. I was fishing each snowman hookbait (pop-up over a Tuff One) over 1½-2kg of mixed size boilies which needed to be Spombed out over each spot. The stiff north-easterly breeze was making accurate baiting trickier than normal, but all went relatively smoothly and with darkness descending I erected the Supa-Brolly and got out of the chilling breeze.
I had been getting bites at 1.30am, but when this time had passed I feared the carp might not be about tonight. However, at around 5am I started to get the odd little liner on the right-hand rod and, full of cold, I drifted in and out of sleep, dreaming of big fat carp up to their gills in Cloudy Manilla and Hemp oil as it oozed out of the boilies that had been soaking.
At the first hint of dawn I snapped out of slumber as the blue LED illuminated and the line cracked out of the clip on the rod that had been receiving those small ‘feeding liners’. With the rod in full battle curve I was forced to give a few feet of line before the carp started to kite left. Donning the chesties I stumbled into the water and continued battle as a strong, heavy beast dragged me down the left-hand margin. In the half light I was unsure how far down the treeline the fish was and concentrated on gaining as much mono back on to the spool as possible. After a bit of stalemate I was winning and when a back surfaced under the overhang I repositioned the net and scooped it up. Eagerly pulling it close I could see the immense bulk and felt sure the beast was the Twin, due to its depth in the net. However, on closer examination, the right-hand flank was missing the set of scales that belonged to the lake’s largest inhabitant.
With the net secured I assembled the weighing stuff and really struggled to hoist the heavyweight up to the mat. On unfolding the mesh I could only gaze in admiration of the awesome beast. The scales whizzed around to 46lb 3oz and I felt it had to be the Look At The Length Fish, now over 5lb up on its last capture at 41lb. The feast of Manilla these fish had been served up this year was benefitting their waistlines, methinks! With my mate James called and on his way, I smugly got the kettle on and awaited his arrival before hoisting up a very special carp for the lens.
With the trickiest biggie under my belt, I was full of confidence and kept the bait going in on my spots. The following week saw a return of a stockie and with just a Wednesday night available, possibly my last night before a return to Farriers for the winter, I hoped to record my tenth original of a magical season. The cold easterlies of the previous fortnight had thankfully gone and with a light south-westerly blowing baiting was a lot easier and the temperature much improved. The rod I had taken the Length on went particularly well; I was especially happy with the drop on the cast and the dozen Spombfuls landing on the money.
The light breeze died at nightfall and for once the pit was flat calm and looking very carpy. A ‘ploop’ noise alerted me to a small set of rings and that evening I witnessed very subtle signs of carp activity; something I would never had been able to see or hear if a ripple had been on the lake.
Full of confidence I hit the sack about 10pm, to be woken once again as the same rod cracked into life at the same time. With no breeze, a thick fog had fallen, but I could soon tell that what was attached to was no stockie. It slowly took line before grudgingly coming my way. Standing up to my waist I brought it in between the other two lines, with the occasional bleep as it bumped the inside line. Not being able to see a thing under the blanket of fog that surrounded me, I gingerly coaxed the carp towards the net and at the second attempt she was mine. Securing the net I called James, who was fishing just up the bank. With the torch shining on its side, this time there was no mistaking the unmistakable scale pattern of the Twin!
Elated I waited for James to assist and with the line cut we heaved the lake’s largest inhabitant to the mat. This time the needle on the scales went an ounce further, resting on 46¼lb! Two 46-pounders in two weeks and both stunners at their best ever weights – it doesn’t get any better than that!
You wait all season for a whacker and then two come along. Did I say I love October?