One approach, various venues and numerous big fish, Ian Chillcott reveals his winning formula!
Following on from many of the things I have written about, which is basically doing the same thing on every water I target along the way, I thought it might just be a good idea to show three different examples. You would be surprised how many people, most of them experienced anglers, think that you have to change everything for each water you fish. However, I have set out to prove that I can fish with the same rigs and bait on every venue I go to, and with a little bit of thought you can catch whatever you are after, and catch very well. Let’s take a look at the first one…
Mercers is a very deep sandpit with depths to over 40 feet. Apart from one island and a ‘shallow end’ of around 18 to 20 feet, it was a featureless environment. I really don’t know too much about the numbers of fish in this lake, other than to say there were far less than most thought; say around 170 carp. At the right time of year there were probably six to eight 40lb-plus fish in the 40-acre lake, plus a whole host of thirties, and the single most important thing about them was just how much they loved boilies.
The problem for most of the guys was that they were allowed to use a safety boat from the sailing club to bait up with. I say “problem”, because they would generally put their bait way beyond where they could rebait. The boat wasn’t available all the time, but if you didn’t keep the bait on the area, you weren’t getting a bite – end of story!
What I did in the end was to plumb the depths thoroughly, and eventually I found what felt like areas of slate. These spots seemed to be between 80 and 100 yards from the bank, and therefore at a very comfortable range to use the spod. I would use the boat to begin with now and again, and continue to build up the bait as the session unfolded. And, boy, did it work! I used 18mm boilies, a size of bait I rarely use, for this mission because I was trying to avoid the chub, and eventually I landed 69 thirties and six forties over about five months worth of fishing. As the old saying goes, it doesn’t get much better than that!
Westhampnett was a water that I was wholly unfamiliar with and I only stumbled across it as I travelled home from another venue. As luck would have it, I had a ticket for it in my pocket because of my CEMEX gold card. Sometimes lack of knowledge can be a really good thing in my book, because I didn’t turn up with any preconceived ideas. Through a mate of mine I got some idea of the stock in the 30-acre gravel pit, and via a marker float found that the deepest points were around 14 feet, with an average of around 8ft. There weren’t that many discernible features and in the end I decided that distance would be my greatest ally. I well remember fishing right out in the middle for the first time, and one of the regulars saying that no-one ever fished out there – perfect!
I would go to work with my spod rod for hours once the hookbaits were in position, delivering kilos of 15mm boilies this time around. The bait worked right from the start, which was one of my all-time-favourite Mainline boilies, the Pulse. It was leading into the winter season when I started there, and my ultimate targets were the fish called Vern’s and Scar. As it happens it didn’t take too long to finish my time there. Vern’s was the first of my targets in December at 41lb 2oz, and amongst a whole host of thirties my second forty was a 40lb 5oz mirror. That fish was so into the bait I landed him several times after that. It was going well. Finally in the early spring I landed the final part of the jigsaw, and that was Scar at 43lb 14oz. It had been only a few short months over the winter, and for me constitutes a remarkable result. As always, my boilie-only approach had worked – no matter what others had told me!
Again, Farriers was a lake I did very little reconnaissance on. This seems to be something that allows me to play to my strengths and not be blinded by what others feel is the way forward. That isn’t having a go at anyone; it’s just that over the years doing things my way seems to bring the results I am after, and very quickly too. As it happens, this mission was to be little different, other than to say it was the greatest group of syndicate members I had ever fished alongside.
To begin with I thought it would be a good idea to use my favourite combination of 10mm and 15mm Hybrid boilies. However, that also constituted a favourite of the tench and on my first session I landed over 50 of them! There was a 27lb common in amongst the little red-eyed blighters, but it wasn’t until I moved and started to introduce just 15mm Hybrid that things started to change. I only did two three-month periods on the water, one during 2014 and the other in 2015, but what an incredible part of the journey those short months were. The carp just couldn’t get enough of my 15mm boilies, and at times I would be fishing over 10 kilos or more. Basically, the more I used the more I caught, and at the end of my 2015 time I landed a personal best common of 46lb 10oz. I had never wanted to beat my personal best common, Charlie’s Mate from Frimley, simply because of what that carp meant to me, but gazing down on that stunning fish soon made all negative thoughts disappear.
All I wanted to do was get back the following year, and the bait just picked up where it had left off. To be honest, another PB common really wasn’t on my wish list; I was there just to enjoy the fishing. However, on my last session the inevitable happened, and once again the Hybrid brought me another PB, a different common of 46lb 15oz. There really couldn’t have been a better way to say goodbye to one of the greatest lakes I had ever fished.
Bait, for me, is the key to carp fishing, and its sensible, thought-out application will undoubtedly catch you infinitely more carp. I just hope they make you smile just as much as they did me. Take care.